It sucks being a little sister


especially when your big sister is international star Dionne Warwick. Hell, even the French call her the black pearl!

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enter Delia Mae “Dee Dee” Warwick

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I thought of her today since it’s been slightly over a year since this member of the Drinkard Music dynasty that gave us her, her sister Dionne, her aunt Cissy Houston and her cousin, Whitney Houston (*CRACK IS WHACK* sorry, you can’t help yourself with that now can you) passed away at age 63… and also how much it really sucks to be a very very talented person… in the shadow of your big sister, possibly because she’s thinner or more attractive.. or by the realities of birth order, just got to grab the brass ring first.

But Dee Dee also had the misfortune of recording great songs, for what I assume are labels with no idea how to promote them. Betty Everett can’t claim Linda Ronstandt stole “You’re No Good” from her (despite the extremely familiar arrangement) cause Dee Dee did the grinding original. Nor can Madeline Bell get all butthurt that The Supremes/Temptations version of “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” totally eclipsed her top 40 version a short 7 months later… since her version eclisped poor Dee Dee’s sweet original.

It’s enough to think a great soul sister should give up trying… but… then there were still stellar moments like her fantastic song about being totally embarassed by your husbands mistress, who has no clue he’s actually married, at a dinner party in “She Didn’t Know (She Kept on Talking).” I love how despite how angry and hurt Dee Dee sings the song, she seems most upset that her husband is fucking this brainless idiot.

The odd thing is, if you were to listen to Dee Dee not knowing who she was related to, you’d probably think she sounded familiar. Despite having a more deeply rooted alto than her older sister and her aunt, there is a similarity in tonality and phrasing between all 3 relatives that to me shows, “oh here’s a group of people that grew up singing together.”

Also, if you give her Mercury years a good listen you’ll get to see where early 1960s New York Uptown soul found it’s way up the Hudson River to Albany and basically died trying to absorb every trend in R&B within it’s smooth nonchalant gait, from Phil Spector pulverizing drumming (“You Don’t Know What You Do To Me” you can barely hear Dee Dee, a strong singer, in the center of the mono mix, a lot like the way he drowned out The Cystals) and weird Vandellas/Aretha hybrids (“Worth Ev’ry Tear I Cry”).

Long as she’s not the forgotten lil sis.. I’m totally ok with that.

(after the Gene McDaniels Phil Spector alike, Dee Dee sings her first two real chart successes, “I Want To Be With You” and “We’re Doing Fine.” We’re Doing Fine is one of my favorites)

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