Jackie Wilson’s diction

Sixty Minute Man” featured a bass lead and was a major hit for Billy Ward and His Dominoes. After some time, Ward wrote a sequel to the song called “Can’t Do Sixty No More.” This song was recorded after Jackie Wilson joined the quartet, but again, it featured a bass lead. Eventually, Ward wrote a tune that more or less formed a trilogy with these songs but featured Our Hero on the lead vocal, “That’s How You Know You’re Growing Old.”

One of my longstanding, nagging questions related to a Jackie Wilson vocal arose from this recording. Jackie developed beautiful diction under Ward’s tutelage, but this particular song, recorded well into Jackie’s tenure with the quartet, contained words I could not decipher. Thanks to my friend Dennis West, I now have the lyrics straight. And thanks to my friend Extinct 327, it is now available again on YouTube.

“That’s How You Know You’re Growing Old”
(Words and music by Billy Ward)

Look out, then, that’s how you know you’re growing old!

She wants to tease you
She wants to squeeze you
She whispers, “Love me, Baby”
You’re getting sleepy
You’re feeling creaky
You only whisper, “Uh, uh, maybe”
That’s how you know
That’s how you know you’re growing old

Lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover
You’re at the end of your road
Like old Jack Horner in the corner
Lay down your heavy load, load
That’s how you know
That’s how you know you’re growing old.

She loves the moon rise
Up in the June skies
It makes her feel so grooo-vy
You get no kicks, man
You’re in a fix, man
You want to see a movie
That’s how you know
That’s how you know you’re growing old

4 thoughts on “Jackie Wilson’s diction

  1. jackiesam

    Jackie Wilson has fantastic diction. “My Girl” is the only song that comes to mind where I’ve EVER heard a blunder from him. Billy Ward fine tuned Jackie to his best.
    Jackie is the very best :)

  2. jackiesam

    “60 minute man” was quite the most x rated song I have ever heard I think, wow. The sequels were not playable or allowed I think yt said. I just thought id tell you incase you may not know. You are right I must listen to the Dominoes.

    1. jackiewilsonlover Post author

      Hello to your side of the world. (You’re probably asleep, since I am awake.) One of the wonderful features of 1950s rhythm and blues was its sweet-natured raunchiness. Sex was a favorite topic, but it was treated with humor and enough discretion that small children overhearing the recordings weren’t aware that the topic was sex.

      Some of the best examples of this type of material come from Hank Ballard and the Midnighters: “Work With Me Annie” and “Annie Had a Baby.” Yes, this is the vocal group Faye Pridgeon put in her “Repertoire” en masse. Hank is older in the clips I have linked, and I am not sure whether or not the Midnighters featured in the clips are the same ones on the recordings. This group’s work was frequently banned from radio play.

      I should do a post about The Midnighters, since Jackie Wilson may have sung with the group for a while (pre-Hank Ballard, when The Midnighters had just changed their name from The Royals. Alonzo Tucker was still in the group.)


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