Significant Songs (204/205)

Good Luck, Good Luck.

I know I can come across like a grumpy old man, most of the time. I moan about the weather, complain about getting old, and generally like nothing better than to be grumbling about something or other.

But I have another side, and that’s my musical one. I have loved all kinds of music for as long as I can remember, and even now I am that age that I complain about, music brings out the youth still lurking in my soul.

In 2004, I was 52 years old. But I didn’t let that number affect my taste for funky music. Give me a good beat, some powerful vocals, add a catchy chorus, and I was on board.

Basement Jaxx was a British duo, and their forte was electronic music, sampling, and creating a very British version of Dance Music. Not the sort of band your average fifty-plus man was listening to at the time, I grant you. They wisely chose not to sing themselves, instead recruiting some of the most talented vocalists around at the time, and using many of them to front their lively record releases. One of those was Lisa Kekaula, an American singer with a retro sound, and huge voice.

They came together on this standout track, ‘Good Luck, Good Luck’, and I was on it as soon as I heard it played on the radio.

Fifteen years later, it still makes my feet go, and my body move.
Though perhaps a little more slowly…

And writing this reminded me of another one of their songs.
Great Bollywood/Dance Music fusion! And classy video too. 🙂
Romeo.

Lyrically Evocative (21)

A song doesn’t have to be very long, to have an impact on the listener. It doesn’t need lots of verses, or tricky construction to get its message across, if the first line can resonate with almost everyone who hears it. Some of the great songs have lots of lines, but others are short and to the point.

So you have been betrayed by someone, or perhaps abandoned by a thoughtless lover. It has upset you, made you feel like life will never be the same again. Whatever your gender or persuasion, that emotion will be familiar to anybody who has ever lost a love.

But then they contact you, regretting their actions. They are unhappy, and feel the need to reconnect with you, hoping for more. Too late. You have become hardened to them now, and your life moved on after all. You wish them the same heartbreak they made you endure.

Those emotions have been explored in countless novels, poems, and films. It is perhaps one of the oldest scenarios, dating back to the earliest known writings of mankind.

Then in 1953, songwriter Arthur Hamilton summed it all up in his short song ‘Cry Me A River’. It was recorded and released by singer Julie London, in 1956. Her sultry vice suited the mood, and left us with one of the most perfect torch songs ever put onto a disc.

These are Arthur’s lyrics.
Now you say you’re lonely
You cry the whole night thorough
Well, you can cry me a river, cry me a river
I cried a river over you
Now you say you’re sorry
For bein’ so untrue
Well, you can cry me a river, cry me a river
I cried a river over you
You drove me, nearly drove me out of my head
While you never shed a tear
Remember, I remember all that you said
Told me love was too plebeian
Told me you were through with me and
Now you say you love me
Well, just to prove you do
Come on and cry me a river, cry me a river
I cried a river over you
I cried a river over you
I cried a river over you
Songwriters: Arthur Hamilton
Cry Me a River lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

And here is the divine Julie London, singing them.

One Song: 300 Versions

Always On My Mind.

You could be forgiven for thinking this song is much older than it is, I know I did. But it was written as recently as 1969, which I suppose for many of you, is old enough. 🙂

The first recording of this song was by B.J. Thomas, the singer who sang ‘Raindrops Keep Falling On Your Head’, on the film soundtrack to ‘Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. But it had to wait until Elvis Presley recorded his version, in 1972, to become a huge worldwide hit. I confess that I was never a fan of Elvis. However, I did like his version of this song, (and also his recording of ‘Suspicious Minds’) as the big ballad with a theme of lost love suited Presley well, and he really nailed it.

Cover versions continued to pour in, with this simple love song becoming one of the most covered songs in the history of music. In 1982, Country singer Willie Nelson had a big hit with it, considered by many to be the best version. Five years later, British pop duo The Pet Shop Boys took the song into the electronic age, with their fast-paced version reaching number one in the UK. It is still being recorded and covered in live performances, to this day. Fifty years after it was written.

Here are four versions for you to enjoy. You may well already have your own favourite.

B.J. Thomas.

Elvis.

Willie.

Pet Shop Boys. (This looks blank, but does work)

Significant Songs (203)

C’est La Vie

In 1987, I heard a really funky song on the car radio. It had a catchy chorus, great vocals, and was incredibly well produced. In a few short minutes, it delivered that ‘wall of sound’ feeling that got right inside me. The radio DJ announced that it was a single released from the new album by Robbie Nevil, an American I had never heard of. I went into my local record shop, and asked about it. I was told that it was only available as a single at the time, and was already in the Top 40. I bought a copy immediately.

Once home, I played it over and over, as it seemed to get better every time I heard it. This was very much my kind of music, and I was looking forward to see it climbing the charts, and appearing on TV music shows. When it got into the Top 20, (eventually reaching number two in the UK) I saw Robbie performing it on television. I was suitably surprised. Instead of a smooth, sharp-looking young black man, here was a skinny white guy, with long hair like a rock performer, and a totally different image to the one I had stereotyped.

I was very impressed.

Robbie continued to record for a while, and had a couple of lesser hits. But he never repeated the success of this great pop song.

And I never did get around to buying his album.

Significant Songs (202)

Many Rivers To Cross

I was 17 in 1969, and I heard a new song by the Jamaican Reggae artist, Jimmy Cliff. He wasn’t much older than me at the time, yet it seemed to me to not only contain a timeless message, but also have its roots in Gospel, and early Soul music. Over the decades since, it has been covered by so many other singers, I started to lose track. But I do recall excellent versions from the likes of Joe Cocker, Cher, and Percy Sledge. As with most cases of covers though, nothing quite hit that feeling of hearing the original, by the person who had written it.

These days, the song is still popular, and often showcased by aspiring young singers on TV talent shows. It has also been featured on film soundtracks, including the 1972 film ‘The Harder They Come’, a film that Jimmy starred in. He is still working and performing today, and still singing this wonderful song.

My Favourite Hairstyle

For some reason, I was thinking about Louise Brooks again today. So, here is a totally random post about female hairstyles.
Since my teens, I have been fascinated by that beautiful star of silent films, her turbulent life, and captivating 1920s style. But mostly, it was all about her hair. Nobody has ever carried off a bobbed hairstyle with such allure. It was so famous, it became her personal trademark.

Then in 1985, along came the wonderful British group, Swing Out Sister, fronted by the lovely Corinne Drewery. I thought their songs were great, and then I saw them performing on TV, and was taken aback.

I knew immediately where I had seen that hairstyle before.

Lyrically Evocative (20)

Over a year ago, I included this song in my series ‘Significant Songs’. It was number 144, and a real favourite of mine. I recently saw it performed again, on TV, and realised that the lyrics were worthy of inclusion in a different post. Before you listen to the song, cast your eyes over what may be some of the best love song lyrics ever written. I have reprinted some of the information used on the October 2017 post.

Holly Johnson became famous as the front man and lead singer of the controversial group ‘Frankie Goes To Hollywood’. Although I was not a real fan of their music, Johnson’s powerful voice was an indication of real vocal talent. Released as a single from the top-selling album, ‘Welcome To The Pleasuredome’ in 1984, this track was very different to the commercial beats associated with them at the time. Written in part by Holly himself, and produced by the experienced Trevor Horn, this record enjoyed considerable success.

Here are the lyrics.

I’ll protect you from the hooded claw
Keep the vampires from your door
I, feels like fire
I’m so in love with you
Dreams are like angels
They keep bad at bay, bad at bay
Love is the light
Scaring darkness away, yeah
I’m so in love with you
Purge the soul
Make love your goal
The power of love
A force from above
Cleaning my soul
Flame on burn desire
Love with tongues of fire
Purge the soul
Make love your goal
I’ll protect you from the hooded claw
Keep the vampires from your door
When the chips are down
I’ll be around with my undying
Death defying love for you
Envy will hurt itself

Let yourself be beautiful
Sparkling love, flowers and pearls and pretty girls
Love is like an energy
Rushin’ in, rushin’ inside of me, yeah
The power of love
A force from above
Cleaning my soul
Flame on burn desire
Love with tongues of fire
Purge the soul
Make love your goal
This time we go sublime
Lovers entwine, divine divine
Love is danger, love is pleasure
Love is pure, the only treasure
I’m so in love with you
Purge the soul
Make love your goal
The power of love
A force from above
Cleaning my soul
The power of love
A force from above
A sky-scraping dove
Flame on burn desire
Love with tongues of fire
Purge the soul
Make love your goal
I’ll protect you from the hooded claw
Keep the vampires from your door

Songwriters: Brian Philip Nash / Holly Johnson / Mark William O’toole / Peter Gill / Rudy Perez

And here is Holly, singing them.