Significant Songs (207)

Since You’ve Been Gone.

Many of you will be well aware that I am not a fan of the musical genre commonly known as ‘Rock’. However, I was a fan of the band Argent, and this was written by the genius behind that band, Russ Ballard, who released it in 1976.

It was covered after that, and I generally managed to ignore those cover versions. In 1979, British band Rainbow came along with their version. That band was what was known as a ‘super-group’, comprising former members of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, and fronted by Deep Purple’s Richie Blackmore. Until they released this song, I could take or leave them.
Mostly leave them.

But the arrival of a new lead vocalist, Graham Bonnet, made a difference for me, and I thought this was a storming vocal that lifted the song to new heights. I went out and bought it, though it remained something of a one-hit wonder for me, as the only record of theirs that I ever liked.

They have sold 26 million records, and continued to perform in various incarnations, until this very day.

Significant Songs (206)

Midnight, The Stars, and You.

I was still in my teens when I became a fan of Al Bowlly. The 1930s crooner really hit the spot for me, and still does. I have featured his songs before on this blog, and make no excuses for another one. In my mind, this was my era, and my music. In the middle of the flower-power generation, this is what I was listening to. And a lifetime later, I am still listening to it.

This lesser-known song of his was always a big favourite of mine, and it was recently revived, in an unexpected fashion.

As long ago as 1934, Al recorded this version with the Ray Noble Orchestra. The popular singer was killed in London during the Blitz, in 1941. So his stellar career was short-lived, but no less valuable, as far as I am concerned. You either get him, or you don’t. And if you don’t, dear reader, then I think that is your loss.

I was recently amazed to be sent this song by special online friend. We had connected over similar tastes in music and films, and were exchanging favourite tracks. Imagine my delight when she sent me this, considering it to also be one of her best-loved songs. That made it doubly significant for me.

Lyrically Evocative (22)

There are times when a song becomes associated with a certain singer. It gets so that anyone hearing the title will imagine that one person singing it, often being totally unaware of the original recording. In many cases, though not always, that original is far superior. It may not be sung better, and the arrangement might not be the same as the one everyone knows and loves. But it will have heart, and the true spirit of the song, fresh and new.

The Very Thought Of You is a simple, very evocative love song that I have adored since before I was a teenager. I knew it from my dad’s record collection, as he had the version recorded by Nat King Cole, who had a big hit with it in Britain, in the late 1950s. It became associated with Nat, and later with Frank Sinatra too. Most of the people who bought the record at the time might have heard it on the radio without realising that it was written and recorded as long ago as 1934.

Written by British band-leader Ray Noble, and performed by his orchestra, it was sung and later recorded by his resident vocalist, Al Bowlly, in April 1934. I wasn’t aware of that at the time, and it wasn’t until I was 16 years old that I heard the first version. I loved it immediately, and despite Bowlly’s signature ‘crooning’ style, (or perhaps because of that very thing) I much preferred it to the numerous other versions that arrived later. The song is short, but anyone can identify with the sentiments of the excitements of a new attraction, one that might be developing into true love.

This song has remained important to me for over 50 years. I played it again today, and it moved me as much as the first time I ever heard it.

Here are the lyrics, by Ray Noble.

The very thought of you and I forget to do
The little ordinary things that everyone ought to do
I’m living in a kind of daydream, I’m happy as a king
And foolish though it may seem to me that’s everything
The mere idea of you, the longing here for you
You’ll never know how slow the moments go till I’m near to you
I see your face in every flower, your eyes in stars above
It’s just the thought of you, the very thought of you, my love
The mere idea of you, the longing here for you
You’ll never know how slow the moments go till I’m near to you
I see your face in every flower, your eyes in stars above
It’s just the thought of you, the very thought of you, my love

Songwriters: Ray Noble
The Very Thought of You lyrics © Carlin America Inc

And here is Al Bowlly singing the song. Eighty-five years ago.

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. 🙂

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.



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.