Heard To Find: The Dynettes – “Witness To A Heartbreak”

    Artist: The Dynettes
    Track:“Witness To A Heartbreak”
    Release: New Guy / Witness To A Heartbreak (7″)
    Year: 19675
    Duration: 2:30


    Maurice Williams scored a huge hit in 1960 when he and his group The Zodiacs put out the single “Stay”. At just 1:36 in length, the single would become the shortest song to ever reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the United States. After groups like The Hollies and The Four Seasons laid down their own versions of the song and pushed it into an international audience, Maurice & The Zodiacs would reap the benefits. Jackson Browne interpolated it into the finale of his 1978 masterpiece album Running On Empty as “The Load Out / Stay” which brought the song to new audiences. It wasn’t until the song’s inclusion on the 1987 soundtrack to the film Dirty Dancing, though, that it would sell it’s highest amount of copies.

    In 1965, Maurice wrote and arranged a pair of tracks for the girl group The Dynettes to record. I can’t seem to find much on The Dynettes individually, but as the record suggests the song was recorded in Chicago, Illinois around 1964 under the production of Bill “Bunky” Sheppard. According to the comments section of this Nerdtorious.com post, the lead singer’s name was Idella and she was last known to reside in Charlotte, North Carolina. That’s it. That’s all we can find, and that’s assuming the comment is legit.

    As for the song itself, it bounces along like a typical mid-60s soul jam with a nice clean guitar chasing the messy drumbeat backed up by an organ and a call and response type vocal setting. It’s a shame this one didn’t make it further up the charts. The Constellation Records catalog has all kinds of hidden soul gems from 1964-65 and you can currently find a compilation of them on streaming services. Give it a dig sometime, these songs are the epitome of “lost treasures”.