Thursday, February 16, 2023

“Hurry Sundown” by Little Richard

Little Richard brings his formidable vocal talents to the powerful ballad “Hurry Sundown.” He delivers a soul-stirring, gospel-drenched vocal performance that will make the hairs on your arms stand at attention. The song touches on the many hardships and struggles of Black Americans and their endless quest for freedom and true equality: “I can feel the change a' coming/Freedom drums/ In the distance/Lord, they are drumming.” “Hurry Sundown” is one of Little Richard’s most underappreciated songs.

It was written by Buddy Kaye and Hugo Montenegro and was the B-side to Little Richard’s 1967 single “I Don't’ Want to Discuss It.” Both songs were included on Get Down With It: The OKeh Sessions, which is a sterling collection of tracks that the Rock & Roll pioneer recorded for OKeh Records in 1966 and 1967.

“Hurry Sundown” was used effectively in a scene from the Emmy-nominated crime drama TV series Better Call Saul. It was featured in the season 3 episode “Sunk Costs” in 2017. Many people discovered the song through its appearance on the popular series.

Two choral versions of “Hurry Sundown” are featured on the soundtrack of filmmaker Otto Preminger’s drama Hurry Sundown (1967). Both were performed by Hugo Montenegro and His Orchestra. Little Richard’s version is not featured on the soundtrack, unfortunately. The film focuses on racism and greed in a small Georgia farm town right after World War II in 1946. The film was based on the Southern Gothic novel of the same title, which was written by K.B. Gilden, a pseudonym for married couple  Katya and Bert Gilden. It was adapted for the big screen by Horton Foote and Thomas C. Ryan. The cast included Jane Fonda, Michael Caine, Diahann Carroll, Faye Dunaway, Robert Hooks, Beah Richards and George Kennedy.

In 1967, Harry Belafonte released his own version of “Hurry Sundown,” which was shortly after Little Richard’s release. Belafonte’s rendition is also pretty amazing. 

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