‘I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party’ by Rosanne Cash and by The Beatles
Don’t believe it. Rosanne Cash could care less if she spoils the party. Her guy has not shown up to join her. He’s ditched the party. He may have ditched her as well. Still she remains at the party. Just for awhile. She has a couple of drinks but there’s no fun in it. Feeling lousy, she decides to leave, take a walk and hopefully find the guy.
“I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party” was one of the Beatles’ first and best attempts at creating a song in the country-western style. The original version appeared on their UK album, Beatles For Sale, released in December of 1964. The song was first released in the U.S. in February of 1965 as the flip side to “Eight Days A Week,” then appearing five months later on the U.S. album, Beatles VI. Their recording did not include steel guitars or fiddles. It may have been louder than most American C & W songs recorded then. However there is a definite country-western feel to the song with its woeful narrative, the plain-spoken singing by John Lennon and spirited guitar playing by Lennon and George Harrison.
Rosanne Cash’s version is not so spirited. Her usual crew of Nashville’s best musicians show little spark. At times her singing is more pouting than sad declarations. The last words in the song are “I think I’ll take a walk and look for him” are softly voiced. That delivery compares weakly to Lennon’s, which indicates real resolve.
The Cash version of “I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party” was a number one single on the Billboard country charts in 1989 and was included on her album, Hits 1979-1989. She was on a real roll at the time. Her preceding album, King’s Record Shop, featured four songs that made number one. The best of those is “The Way We Make A Broken Heart,” a remorseful song written by John Hiatt about adultery. Rosanne Cash summoned one of her finest performances on that one. That cannot be said for her Beatles cover, although it seemed a natural.
Her recording of “I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party” lacks the flair of the original, even though it’s patterned on the Beatles’ version. That was likely her undoing. Maybe she didn’t feel challenged enough. The Beatles worked hard on their recordings. They were studious when it came to quality control, taking nothing for granted. It was also very helpful to have a producer like George Martin who could work with them on taste and tone. Perhaps Rosanne Cash should have taken a chance and created a rendition she could really claim as hers. That would have brightened up some parties.