SONGS OF OBSESSION: DARONDO’S "DIDN’T I"


Darondo: Didn’t I + Let My People Go (snippet)
From Let My People Go (Luv N Haight, 2006)

Darondo: Didn’t I + Make It Right(?)
From Taped Interview with Justin Torres and Dave Gabriner (2005)

The last time I wrote about Darondo (and misspelled his name), people responded strongly to his song, “Didn’t I,” and hey, I can’t blame you: it’s one of the most sublime songs I’ve ever heard.

I recently had the opportunity to write about “Double D” Darondo (when the piece actually runs, I’ll let ya’ll know where it appears) and he’s such a fascinating figure. Raised in the Bay, he was leading a house band in Albany as a high school student. Became a pimp in the 1960s and stayed pimping until the early ’80s and in the middle of that, he dropped three singles (six songs total), all of which are ridiculously rare. Then he left the music business and hasn’t been back since.

Thankfully, the folks at Luv N Haight, with help from my friend Justin Torres, just released Let My People Go which not only includes those six songs, but also includes three songs from a previously unreleased reel recovered from some dusty box in Darondo’s attic (or so we assume).

Just because I like Darondo’s story and voice so much, I’m dropping a few cuts on you, including some special tracks. I had to put “Didn’t I” back into play just because it’s that damn good. I also put up a snippet of the album’s title track, a really amazing Black Power anthem that appeared on his last single, done for Af-Fa Records.

Now, here’s the bonus: Justin Torres and Dave Gabriner interviewed Darondo last fall, happened to borrow my mini-disc recorder for it. During the interview, he asked Darondo to blow the dust off his guitar and play some tunes; he hadn’t played or sung in a long time and there are points on the tape where he’s fumbling to remember what the lines are or what key the song was supposed to be played in. That said, even when fumbling, he’s mesmerizing.

With Justin’s permission, I included a short version of “Didn’t I” (he tried the song three times but never got past the first verse). I also included a song that Darondo never released (I don’t know if he ever recorded it) and lacking a title, I just dubbed it “Make It Right,” taken from one of the lines. You can hear Justin and Dave at the end, expressing how blown away they are by it. I second that emotion.

(I forgot to mention, in the early ’80s, Darondo started to host a variety of programs for Soul Beat, a local cable channel. The Luv N’ Haight website has clips from the show: truly bugged stuff. My favorite is “Wish you were here.”


2/25 Update: Weekend America ran a segment on Darondo today. In fact, they interview Justin and he mentions the songs taped above.


3/13 Update: “Didn’t I” is today’s NPR Song of the Day

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