Never Assume: ‘Don’t Let Go’

You know what they say about what happens when you assume. I assumed that the Jerry Garcia Band was covering Isaac Hayes’ song “Don’t Let Go.”

Definitely made one outta me.

This story goes back, way back, to a man born in 1901, a big band leader in the ’20s through the ’40s and the first black who worked at Atlantic records. His name was Jesse Stone, who often went by the pseudonym Charles ‘Chuck’ Calhoun. He was responsible for penning some of the best-known R&B classics of the ’50s, starting with his first big hit for Big Joe Turner in 1954, “Shake, Rattle, and Roll,” and its hit follow-up “Flip, Flop, and Fly.” He wrote “Smack Dab in the Middle” that Big Joe Williams made famous with the Count Basie Band, “Money Honey” for Little Richard, and “Your Cash Ain’t Nothin’ But Trash” for The Clovers.

In 1958, Roy Hamilton had a huge hit with the Jesse Stone song “Don’t Let Go,” which hit the R&B (#2) and Pop (#13) charts on Billboard. After that, many others covered the song, including Shirley Ellis (“The Name Game”), Clyde McPhatter, The Four Seasons, and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen recorded it in 1974.

Garcia and band played this song often. Here is a version from 1976.

The Manhattan Transfer also recorded it in 1976.

And, yes, Isaac Hayes did have a big disco hit with the song in 1979. 

Never assume.

Hear that whistle, it’s ten o’clock.
Don’t let go, Don’t let go.
Come on, baby, it’s time to rock,
Don’t let go, Don’t let go.
I’m so happy I got you here,
Don’t let go, Don’t let go.
Keeps me grinnin’ from ear to ear.
Don’t let go, Don’t let go.
Oo-wee, This feelin’s killin’ me;
Ah shucks, I wouldn’t stop for a million bucks.
I love you so, Just hold me tight.
Don’t let go!

Thunder, lightening, wind and rain,
Don’t let go, Don’t let go.
Love is stormin’ inside my brain,
Don’t let go, Don’t let go.
I’m so eager, I’m nearly dyin’,
Don’t let go, Don’t let go.
You’ve been keepin’ your lips from mine.
Oo-wee, This feelin’s killin’ me;
Ah shucks, I wouldn’t stop for a million bucks.
I love you so, Just hold me tight.
Don’t let go!

Hound dog barkin’ up side the hill,
Don’t let go, Don’t let go.
Love is draggin’ him thru the mill,
Don’t let go, Don’t let go.
If it wasn’t for havin’ you,
Don’t let go, Don’t let go.
I’d be barkin’ and howlin’ too.
Oo-wee, This feelin’s killin’ me;
Ah shucks, I wouldn’t stop for a million bucks.
I love you so, Just hold me tight.
Don’t let go!

One day, baby, you’ll quit me yet,
Don’t let go, Don’t let go.
I’ll be cryin’ and soakin’ wet,
Don’t let go, Don’t let go.
One thing, baby, I’ll never stand,
Don’t let go, Don’t let go.
Your lips kissin’ some other man.
Oo-wee, This feelin’s killin’ me;
Ah shucks, I wouldn’t stop for a million bucks.
I love you so, Just hold me tight.
Don’t let go!
Just hold me tight, Don’t let go!

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