I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself (H David/B Bacharach) 1976 and You (T Snow) – Marcia Hines 1977
Boston-born to Jamaican parents, Marcia Hines arrived in Australia in 1970 after Harry M. Miller and Jim Sharman auditioned for singers in the US to star in their upcoming Australian production of Hair, Hines was only 16 and pregnant with her daughter Deni, who would later follow her mother into the music business. Following her success in Hair Marcia replaced Michele Fawdon in the role of Mary Magdalene in the 1973 production of Jesus Christ Superstar, she then proceeded to carve out a successful recording career in the 70’s and was the reigning Queen of Pop for three years 1976-78. As the resident soul diva she developed a reputation for soulful ballads – in 1975 she re-birthed the majestic and haunting James Taylor autobiographical take on life, love and broken dreams with Fire and Rain (#17), followed up with a cover of Artie Wayne’s From the Inside (#10), and in 1977 she turned her attention to a cover of the Dusty Springfield ballad I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself.
This song began life in 1962 when Bert Bacharach and Hal David wrote it in the Brill Building (NYC), and was originally recorded by R&B singer Chuck Jackson, but not released, a cover of the song using the same orchestral backing track was used in a version by Tommy Hunt in 1962 but again it failed to chart.
It’s unusual that this song was not offered to Dionne Warwick who was the go-to-singer for such soulful ballads by Bacharach and David, and she was famously touchy about any other female singers getting first options on their songs. But Dusty Springfield did, as she was offered the song in 1964, took it back to London and recorded her version in the Olympia Studios there and it became an international hit.
Marcia Hines version of the song was very similar to the blue-eyed soul version of Springfield, like many Bacharach/David songs it has a dramatic ebb and flow, clever pitch and tempo shifts, immaculate rhymes and here clever transposition of the word “just” “I just don’t know what to do…followed by “Don’t know just what to do…,” a string-drenched arrangement reinforced the sense of desperation and heartache at the core of the song.
Produced by Robie Porter (Rob EG) it was a typically soulful rendition by Hines and charted locally at #6 and was the 23rd best-selling record of the year.
Marcia followed up with another hit ballad, What I Did for Love (#6), a song taken from the score of the musical A Chorus Line, so a dance record was not the obvious choice for her next single. Her producer Robie Porter had initially rejected You as he believed that Marcia was such a convincing ballad singer she would never cut it as a dance diva, eventually he had to be persuaded by Hines then-fiance, session drummer Mark Kennedy, who had seen the sheet music and liked the song, he agreed to have another listen to the song.
You had originally been recorded by the composer, Tom Snow in 1975, and subsequently covered by Merrilee Rush two years later, she had previously scored with her group the Turnabouts with Angel of the Morning in 1982 for a #7 hit in the US, but neither of the previous versions of You had really impacted on the US charts
Robie Porter changed his mind, and You became Marcia’s fifth and biggest hit reaching #2 in October ’77, it was a convincing dancefloor number, which also showcased Hines impressively powerful vocals, it was also covered by Rita Coolidge a year later as a more soulful ballad and charted #25 in the US.
Marcia would follow up in 1979 with a cover of Something’s Missing In My Life formerly recorded by Donna Summer and Jabara, which was a #9 hit here and a #5 charter in NZ for Marcia, and then in 1981 with her last top ten hit single, a dance version of another former hit by Dusty Springfield, Your Love Still Brings Me to My Knees.
In 2003 Marcia became a popular judge on Australian Idol for a number of seasons but she returned to recording with her collection of disco hits entitled Discotheque which climbed to #6 on the album charts in 2006, she followed up in 2010 with Marcia Sings Tapestry her tribute to Carole King which was also popular at #16 and in 2014 she charted yet again with Amazing, an album of original songs which peaked at #27.
Marcia has several famous cousins, Colin Powell the former Commander-In-Chief of the US Armed Forces and 1980’s diva Grace Jones, she was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2007, in a stellar field which included Frank Ifield, Hoodoo Gurus, Jo Jo Zep & the Falcons, Brian Cadd, Radio Birdman and Nick Cave.