Gene Pitney

Backstage (I'm Lonely)

Song Review by

As anyone with even a passing knowledge of '60s pop knows, no performer was more noted for self-pitying showstoppers than Gene Pitney. "Backstage (I'm Lonely)," which made the Top 30 in 1966, was part of the mini-genre that had been explored by some other songs, most notably Rick Nelson earlier in the 1960s in "Teenage Idol": the superstar, so successful on the outside, so lonely on the inside. In "Backstage," it wasn't so much loneliness as something more shameful for a man to admit to: heartbreak over a broken love affair, which kept him from concentrating or enjoying his fame (presumably as a singer) to the utmost. Like most Pitney hits, it had a catchy chorus in which the melodrama swelled, with the line about dying a little every night a nice touch, as in showbiz lingo to "die" on stage is to have a poor performance. Actually the song's strongest section is the bridge, with its sudden ascensions of key and dramatic pauses, as Pitney emphasizes that every night sees a different girl and a different world, but he just can't get the special girl out of his mind. The grandstanding reaches a yet higher pitch at the end, which doesn't sound far from the finale of a theatrical musical, especially with Pitney's musings that things could be put right if only the girl he loved would appear. It could be argued that "Backstage" takes Pitney's schtick to ludicrous extremes, and to a degree with which the listener might find it hard to emphasize. Sure, it's tough doing all those shows to adoring crowds, doing interviews, and seeing all those girls, isn't it, Gene, especially when you're making more in a week (at least in 1966) than many of us see in half a year? But as a mini-pop operetta, it's well done and enjoyable to hear. An obscure, zany folk acoustic version of "Backstage" was done in the mid-'80s by the Muskrats.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
No Image 1966 Musicor 2:35
20 Great Hits 1976 Movieplay Music 2:38
The Very Best of Gene Pitney 1985
20 Greatest Hits 1967 1987
Various Artists
Deluxe 2:37
EP Collection 1991 See For Miles Records 2:37
More Greatest Hits 1995 Varèse Sarabande 2:35
No Image 1995 Rhino
The Best of Gene Pitney [Laserlight] 1995 Delta Distribution 2:34
Ultimate Anthology 1995 One Way Records
Golden Hits 1996 Intercontinental Records 2:38
Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 [Golden Stars] 1996 Golden Stars 2:38
Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 1996 Golden Stars 2:38
20 Greatest Hits [Galaxy] 1997 Galaxy Music 2:36
25 All-Time Greatest Hits 1999 Varèse Vintage / Varese 2:36
The Definitive Collection 1999 Charly Records 2:39
Gene Pitney [Magic Collection] 2000 2:39
Looking Through: The Ultimate Collection 2000 Sequel 2:36
Jukebox Hits of 1966, Vol. 2 2000
Various Artists
Jukebox Hits / Jukebox Records 2:37
No Image 2000
Various Artists
Disky 2:36
The Story 2000 EMI Music Distribution 2:37
Complete Collection 2001
Various Artists
Disky 2:36
I'm Gonna Be Strong: The Hits and More 2001 Goldies 2:38
The Great Pretender 2002 Disky 2:36
The Very Best of Gene Pitney: I'm Gonna Be Strong 2002 B.R. 2:39
Greatest Hits of the 60's 2006
Various Artists
Disky 2:36
The Best of Gene Pitney [Collectables] 2008 Collectables