Too Far

The Beatles enraged the guardians of virtue in many ways. At first it was their unconscionable hairstyles and the yeah-yeah-yeahs in their music, and later it was when John Lennon told a British journalist that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. After that firestorm, Lennon would avoid outraging the public decency for a while, at least until he posed naked with Yoko on the cover of Two Virgins late in 1968.

A young performer who called herself Rainbo was trying to make a living as a singer in New York, performing at clubs and singing on jingle sessions. As such, when opportunity knocked, she answered. In early 1969, that knock was in the form of a song called “John You Went Too Far This Time,” written by John Marshall and Ron Dulka. The song expresses great disappointment with Lennon’s judgment regarding that album cover: “I love the things you showed me up to now, John / But since that picture I don’t think my love will be the same.” Rainbo went into the studio with producer Ron Haffkine (known later for producing Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show) and recorded it. The finished performance, released on the Roulette label, has the feel of something that was slaved over for a long while before everybody involved decided they’d done all they could. Rainbo’s limitations as a singer are painfully obvious; her acquaintance with the proper key is casual at best.  She may have done fine in a coffeehouse or club with an audience distracted by caffeine or alcohol, or as part of a group where she didn’t have to carry all the weight, but as a solo artist, she was out of her depth. “John You Went Too Far This Time” sank from sight immediately. For Rainbo, the best thing about the record may have been the songwriting credit she got on the B-side, a song called “C’mon, Teach Me How to Live.”

Rainbo never got another chance on Roulette, and she eventually channeled her performing energies elsewhere, joining the Actor’s Studio. She finally got a credited movie role in 1972, and she appeared on some early 70s TV shows, Love American Style, The Waltons and The Rookies. It wasn’t until 1976 that she became truly famous, however, with an Oscar nomination for the title role in Carrie. In Rainbo’s second career as an actress, she went by a different name: Sissy Spacek.

By the end of the 1970s, Spacek would be singing again, and doing fairly well at it: in the 1980 Loretta Lynn biopic Coal Miner’s Daughter, she did her own singing in her Oscar-winning performance, and her version of the title song hit the country charts. Three years later, the erstwhile Rainbo recorded a whole album of country songs called Hangin’ Up My Heart, with the single “Lonely But Only for You,” which has that perfectly polished early 80s country-pop sound, and which outperformed her “Coal Miner’s Daughter” on the country singles chart.

She did not choose to go back and re-record “John You Went Too Far This Time.”

One thought on “Too Far

  1. porky

    and Sissy went too far in the shower scene from “Carrie” but me and my pals didn’t mind when we went to see it, even if those “high schoolers” were pushing 30.

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