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. 🙂
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 (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.

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.

Lyrically Evocative (19)

The Beautiful South was a British group, popular from 1989 until they split in 2007. It was formed by two members of The Housemartins, Paul Heaton and Dave Hemingway. They used various female vocalists over the years, and had a small string of hits, mainly in the UK. A distinctive style, quirky songs and arrangements, and a very English feel brought them some success, and a large fan base. I used to enjoy their very different records, and although they never made it to the ‘big time’, they continued to release their songs on and off over those years. One song from their debut album in 1989 has always stayed with me. ‘A Song For Whoever’ is a gentle ballad that contains one of my all-time favourite lines in a song.
“I love you from the bottom of my pencil case”.

That took me back to my first big crush, at the age of 13. I was mad about a girl at school who sat next to me in some lessons. She knew it, and didn’t mind at all. But we were very young, and unsure of ourselves. One day, I bought her a random gift, a small coin purse with a fake rabbit’s foot attached. Too embarrassed to be seen handing it to her, I slipped it into my plastic pencil case, which was in the shape of a huge pencil. During a lesson, I got it from the bottom of that case, and placed it on her lap.

Twenty fours years after shyly handing over that gift, I heard this song, and it was like I was back sitting next to her. The power of music.
They didn’t know about my first big love in 1965 of course. It was written to thank the girls at the local radio station, for promoting their songs.
But that didn’t matter to me.

Here are the rest of the lyrics.

Song for Whoever
The Beautiful South.

I love you from the bottom, of my pencil case
I love you in the songs, I write and sing
Love you because, you put me in my rightful place
And I love the PRS cheques, that you bring
Cheap, never cheap
I’ll sing you songs till you’re asleep
When you’ve gone upstairs I’ll creep
And write it all down, down, down, down
Oh Shirley, oh Deborah, oh Julie, oh Jane
I wrote so many songs about you
I forget your name, I forget your name
Jennifer, Alison, Phillipa, Sue, Deborah, Annabel, too
I forget your name
Jennifer, Alison, Phillipa, Sue, Deborah, Annabel, too
I forget your name
I love your from the bottom of my pencil case
I love the way you never ask me why
I love to write about each wrinkle on your face
And I love you ’till my fountain pen runs dry
Deep so deep, the number one I hope to reap
Depends upon the tears you weep, so cry, lovey cry, cry, cry, cry
Oh Cathy, oh Alison, oh Phillipa, oh Sue
You made me so much money, I wrote this song for you
I wrote this song for you
Jennifer, Alison, Phillipa, Sue, Deborah, Annabel, too
I wrote this song for you
Jennifer, Alison, Phillipa, Sue, Deborah, Annabel, too
Oh Cathy, oh Alison, oh Phillipa, oh Sue
You made me so much money, I wrote this song for you
I wrote this song for you
Jennifer, Alison, Phillipa, Sue, Deborah, Annabel, too
I wrote this song for you
Jennifer, Alison, Phillipa, Sue, Deborah, Annabel, too
For you, for you
I wrote this song for you
I wrote this song for you

Songwriters: Dave Rotheray / Paul Heaton
Song for Whoever lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

And here they are, performing the song.