Delaney & Bonnie’s Last Call

One of the quirkier books on the shelves here is The Last Time When, a 1981 volume by George Gipe. From the last play by Aeschylus (The Oresteai, performed in Athens in 458 B.C.E.) to the last words of Carl Jung (“Quick, help me get out of bed. I want to look at the sunset” in 1961), Gipe’s book chronicles endings both significant and trivial.

Opening the book at random, we learn the last day in the 834-year history of the Les Halles Market in Paris was March 2, 1969; the last empress of Russia was Catherine the Great, who passed on in 1796; the last survivor of the first World Series, which took place in 1903, was Fred Parent of the Boston Americans (later Red Sox) who passed on in 1972 at the age of ninety-six; the last of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s twenty-six “Fireside Chats” took place on June 23, 1944; the last L’il Abner comic strip appeared in U.S. newspapers on November 13, 1977; and on and on.

Many more endings have taken place, of course, than Gipe could list in his book, and I ran across one of them today. In the Billboard Hot 100 for May 6, 1972 – forty-three years ago today – Delaney & Bonnie’s “Where There’s A Will There’s A Way” sat at No. 99. It was the second week for the record in the Hot 100, and it was the last. And it was the last time that Delaney & Bonnie would be listed in the Hot 100.

The single – as noted on its label – came from the 1970 album On Tour With Eric Clapton. Since that tour, the couple had released three albums: To Bonnie From Delaney in 1970, Motel Shot in 1971, and Country Life in 1972. But that last album was withdrawn by Atco shortly after its release in early 1972, and the Bramletts’ contract was sold to CBS; the same material was released on Columbia with a different running order as D&B Together.

So the Bramletts were at Columbia by the time Atco released the single version of “Where There’s A Will There’s A Way,” two years after the release of the live album. And the track was likely reconfigured some (perhaps severely): On the live album, “Where There’s A Will There’s A Way” has a running time of 5:20; the single lists a running time of 2:28 on its label (but as I’ve noted many times, running times on singles can’t always be trusted). I’ve never heard the single, and I would guess by its two-week chart run and its peak at No. 99 that not a lot of folks did.

Here’s what the track sounded like on the 1970 album:


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