“Make Your Own Kind Of Music” — Mama Cass Elliot/Paloma Faith
Paloma Faith has just released a tremendous cover of the old Mama Cass song “Make Your Own Kind Of Music”.
While I’ve written about both these artists before…Mama Cass is possibly my all-time favourite female vocalist and Paloma Faith is an artist I’ve a lot of time for…it shocked me to realise this was the first time in over 200 articles I’m writing about a Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil composition.
Barry Mann had a brief mention in an earlier article as the composer for Dan Hill’s “Sometimes When We Touch”. But despite them writing some of the 1960s’ biggest hits, I’ve not written about a Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil song before now.
You might not know their names, but I guarantee you know their songs…”Walking In The Rain” by the Ronettes, “You’ve Lost The Loving Feeling” by The Righteous Brothers, “I Just Can’t Help Believing” originally written for Bobby Vee although Elvis Presley’s version is probably better known these days…and many, many more.
“Make Your Own Kind Of Music” was originally recorded by The Will-O-Bees (their version here… https://youtu.be/_B5gtS0lhTg ) but it was picked up by Mama Cass as the follow-up single to her hit…and another Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil composition…“It’s Getting Better”.
Although the Mama Cass version does have a Mamas and Papas feel to it, “Make Your Own Kind Of Music” was a solo project.
On the back of the song’s success, “Make Your Own Kind Of Music” was speedily added to Mama Cass’s “Bubblegum, Lemonade…And Something For Mama” album.
Although Barry Mann certainly knew how to write a delightful melody, it was his wife Cynthia Weil who wrote the words.
And although they weren’t originally written for Mama Cass, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate song for that most unconventional of 1960s pop stars than “Make Your Own Kind Of Music”.
For most of her life, Mama Cass struggled with feeling she would never be god enough to find someone to love her. She spent her life looking, and occasionally found someone she cared deeply about, but never felt her feelings were reciprocated…not least of which was Denny Doherty her bandmate in the Mamas and Papas, who was also previously in the Mugmumps with her.
More than anyone, Mama Cass needed to listen to the words she sang so often…
Nobody can tell you
There’s only one song worth singing
They may try and sell you
’Cause it hangs them up
To see someone like you
But you gotta make your own kind of music
Sing your own special song
Make your own kind of music
Even if nobody else sings along
Of all the songs she sang so brilliantly, I’ve always felt that there is something special about Mama Cass’s performance of “Make Your Own Kind Of Music”.
It wasn’t her biggest hit — either as a solo artist or as part of the Mamas and Papas. It’s perhaps not even the song you’d immediately think of if someone asked you to name a Mama Cass song — most people would choose something from the Mamas and Papas era.
But there’s something in her voice as she sings “Make Your Own Kind Of Music” that makes me wonder if this was, somehow, a song that meant more to her than any other.
Maybe…just maybe…she took a little bit of inspiration from “Make Your Own Kind Of Music” every time she sang it, because it reminded her just to be herself whatever anyone else might say.
As Cynthia Weil put it…
You’re gonna be nowhere
The loneliest kind of lonely
It may be rough going
Just to do your thing is the hardest thing to do
Mama Cass felt that most of her life until in 1974, at the age of 32, she passed away after a concert in London.
But until then, she kept “doing her thing” as best she could and made some of the greatest songs of all time into major hit records. Her voice was a thing of beauty…a God-given talent of the highest order. In the 40-odd years since she’s passed away, nobody else has come close to matching that talent.
That said, Paloma Faith’s cover of “Make Your Own Kind Of Music” has come closer than most. Her version of the track is a pretty faithful rendition of the Mama Cass version, even down to the musicians in the studio.
I mean it as an immense compliment to say the track sounds like Phil Spector was sitting behind the mixing desk while the Wrecking Crew were playing away on the other side of the glass as Paloma Faith laid down her vocals. (You can find her version here… https://youtu.be/LHey3FIyujQ )
“Make Your Own Kind Of Music” is a wonderful and inspiring song. As well as great advice. In the final analysis, making our own kind of music is all any of us can do.
Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil wrote the perfect song for one of my all-time favourite artists, the delightful, extremely talented and much-missed Mama Cass…here she is…
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for spending a few moments in the company of one of my favourite songs. The video is below, but if you prefer listening to your music on Spotify, you can find today’s song here… https://open.spotify.com/track/4ZaAmweDaiOpbkLPty81Zw