Dawn (as made famous by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons)

“Dawn (Go Away)” is a song written by Bob Gaudio and Sandy Linzer and recorded by The Four Seasons[1] in early January 1964 as the Four Seasons were involved in a royalty dispute with Vee-Jay Records. As the lawsuit was making its way through the American judiciary system, the group recorded “Dawn” and a handful of other songs and withheld the master tapes from Vee-Jay, which then claimed breach of contract. The dispute would not be settled until 1965, a year after the Four Seasons officially left Vee-Jay.

Later that month, Atlantic Records rejected “Dawn”. The group signed with Philips Records, a subsidiary of Mercury Records, shortly thereafter. “Dawn (Go Away)” was released even later that month. It took only four weeks for “Dawn” to climb the Billboard Hot 100 chart to #3 on February 29, 1964[2] – and was prevented from going higher by the then-omnipresent “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You” (which turned out to be the top two singles for 1964, according to Billboard). “Dawn” remained at #3 for three weeks, then dropped to make way for two further Beatles singles (“Twist and Shout” and “Please Please Me”). During its entire six-week run in the Top Ten only Beatles hits ranked above it in the chart.[3]

Originally written as a folk song, arranger Charles Calello sped it up and at Valli’s suggestion added a galloping rhythm guitar borrowed from Kai Windings version of “More”. Drummer Buddy Saltzman accented the recording with bombastic around the kit fills and ghost notes while never using a cymbal once.

The single version (with a two-line sung introduction) was never recorded in true stereo. Early “stereo” album releases were rechanneled (with the high and low frequencies on one channel and the midrange on the other); later stereo issues, from the Edizione d’Oro greatest hits album onward, offer different takes of the recording, One begins with a short drum intro, featuring a louder perhaps even more frantic drum backing by legendary session drummer Buddy Saltzman, and slightly different vocals. Both versions state they are two minutes, eleven seconds long–neither is. The stereo Dawn is two minutes, thirty seconds. The mono Dawn with the “Pretty as midsummer’s morn. They called her Dawn” intro is two minutes 45 seconds.[4]

“Dawn (Go Away)” was the only Philips single crediting the Four Seasons that did not have the notation “featuring the ‘sound’ of Frankie Valli”.