Operatic Rock: God Gave Rock And Roll To You

I have featured this song here before. But it is worth another look.

I was watching a TV show late last night. It was showing classic performances from 1970s bands performing live on the now defunct BBC music show, The Old Grey Whistle Test.

Rod Argent founded The Zombies. He later met singer-songwriter Russ Ballard, and they became Argent. In 1973, when they released this song, I was still rooted in my love of Soul music, though also a big fan of David Bowie.
But this anthem from Argent swept me away, with Rod’s amazing organ playing, and Ballard’s brilliant guitar skills.

It was a song with scope, one meant to be seen and heard played live, showcasing the talents of all involved.

Forty-six years later, I am sad to hear that many people associate the song with the American band, KISS. Ballard wrote the song, and together with Rod Argent created a wall of sound to accompany it.

This is the original version, and it never gets old for me.

Lyrically Evocative (24)

My wife is a huge fan of the singer Lewis Capaldi. The Scottish singer-songwriter has enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame, and has been compared in both style and substance to the world-wide pop phenomenon, Ed Sheeran.

I didn’t take too much notice of him, leaving her to enjoy her new favourite. But then I heard this song.

The lyrics.

Someone You Loved
Lewis Capaldi

I’m going under and this time I fear there’s no one to save me
This all or nothing really got a way of driving me crazy
I need somebody to heal
Somebody to know
Somebody to have
Somebody to hold
It’s easy to say
But it’s never the same
I guess I kinda liked the way you numbed all the pain
Now the day bleeds
Into nightfall
And you’re not here
To get me through it all
I let my guard down
And then you pulled the rug
I was getting kinda used to being someone you loved
I’m going under and this time I fear there’s no one to turn to
This all or nothing way of loving got me sleeping without you
Now, I need somebody to know
Somebody to heal
Somebody to have
Just to know how it feels
It’s easy to say but it’s never the same
I guess I kinda liked the way you helped me escape
Now the day bleeds
Into nightfall
And you’re not here
To get me through it all
I let my guard down
And then you pulled the rug
I was getting kinda used to being someone you loved
And I tend to close my eyes when it hurts sometimes
I fall into your arms
I’ll be safe in your sound ’til I come back around
For now the day bleeds
Into nightfall
And you’re not here
To get me through it all
I let my guard down
And then you pulled the rug
I was getting kinda used to being someone you loved
But now the day bleeds
Into nightfall
And you’re not here
To get me through it all
I let my guard down
And then you pulled the rug
I was getting kinda used to being someone you loved
I let my guard down
And then you pulled the rug
I was getting kinda used to being someone you loved

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Benjamin Kohn / Lewis Capaldi / Peter Kelleher / Samuel Roman / Tom Barnes
Someone You Loved lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

If you have ever broken up with someone, been dumped, divorced, or come off worse in a loving relationship, then you are sure to identify with every word.
And it sounds great too. Here is Lewis performing the song.

That’s not him in the video. It’s his cousin, the famous actor, Peter Capaldi.

Lyrically Evocative (23)

In 1991, I heard a great love song on the radio. It was very much of its time, a ‘Power Ballad’. Great saxophone work, and smooth vocals, I just had to get it. So I bought the CD album, by Curtis Stigers. Playing it over and over, I found that the lyrics of this song were very relevant to some situations in my life.
I haven’t played it for many years now, but I heard it again a couple of days ago, and it all came flooding back.

The Lyrics.

Love is a hunger
That burns in my soul
But you never notice the pain
Love is an anchor
That won’t let me go
I reach out to hold you
But you push me away
You always convince me to stay
And I wonder why
We hold on with tears in our eyes
And I wonder why
We have to break down to just make
Things right
And I wonder why
I can’t seem to tell you goodbye
Yeah, I wonder why
I’m no angel
With my selfish pride
But I love you more every day
Love is an anger
That builds up inside
As the tears of frustration
Roll down my face
Why does love always have to turn
Out this way
I don’t want to fight again tonight
About the little things please baby
I just want to find my way
Back to love
And I’ll meet you there, baby
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Curtis Stigers / Glen Ballard
I Wonder Why lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., The Bicycle Music Company

And here is Curtis performing the song. He plays that great Sax too.

Curtis is still performing and playing, mostly Jazz these days.
He is 53 now, and has much shorter hair.

Guest Post: Thom Hickey

Music and writing, poetry and memories. Thom’s blog has it all. There is NO better music blog out there, believe me, and Thom covers every genre of music with a passion, love, and in-depth knowledge that is apparent from the first word you read. And if you enjoy an Irish connection, he has a wealth of those too.

As much as I am delighted to showcase British blogger Thom, he really doesn’t need too much promotion. His blog is HUGE, with loads of followers, and umpteen views and comments on every post.
But see for yourself, just how good the best music blog can be.
https://theimmortaljukebox.com/

Charlie Chaplin, Judy Garland, Lyle Lovett & Toots Thielmans : Smile

Exploring the genius of Charlie Chaplin featuring :

Chaplin himself, Nat King Cole, Judy Garland, Jimmy Durante, Lyle Lovett & Toots Thielmans.

Genius is an extremely overworked term when applied to popular artists of the twentieth century.

Nevertheless, without any hesitation I can assert that Charlie Chaplin was a genius.

He was a master of every aspect of film making – writing, acting, producing and directing.

And, he did something only the very rarest artists do – he created an iconic character (the Tramp) who has become part of the very fabric of popular consciousness.

He was a Poet of the Cinema with a deep tragi-comic vision.

A vision whose beauty and truth was recognised and welcomed whatever the age, language and culture of those who encountered his films.

The best definition of genius I know comes from Arthur Schopenhauer :

‘The genius … lights on his age like a comet into the paths of the planets, to whose well-regulated and comprehensible arrangement its wholly eccentric course is foreign.

Accordingly, he cannot go hand in hand with the regular course of the culture of the times as found; on the contrary, he casts his works far out on to the path in front …

Talent is like the marksman who hits a target which others cannot reach; genius is like the marksman who hits a target … which others cannot even see.’

Charlie Chaplin fully meets that definition.

Oh, and in addition to the honour board of talents listed above he was also a talented composer who wrote the music for one of the most affecting songs of his and any other era – ‘Smile’.

Chaplin, of course, thought in cinematic terms so let’s kick off this tribute to his genius with ‘Smile’ in its first incarnation as part of his score to his masterpiece from 1936, ‘Modern Times’.

Every element of this scene reflects the enormous pains Chaplin took to achieve the exact effects he was seeking.

Chaplin knew all about the Fear and Sorrow that beset so many lives.

He knew that a smile was often your best disguise and perhaps your only defence against the sadness that might otherwise overwhelm you.

The Tramp always keeps alive a spark of Hope, of determination to survive – to be present for what, who knows, may, just may, turn out to be a better tomorrow.

Chaplin’s whole cinematic persona – in the delicacy of his facial gestures and the gamut of his physical pantomime amounts in a sense to an alertness to the promise of Life – no matter how dire the circumstances.

With his mastery of mime and the balletic grace of his movement he was able to convey more nuances of emotion than a hundred lines of dialogue could convey.

His genius was both to acknowledge the Fear and Sorrow but not to surrender to it – to grandly and magnificently literally laugh in the face of it.

And, if Charlie can survive so might we.

As cinema goers, a spring anew in their step, left a Chaplin film they were reassured that light and laughter could outshine the darkness.

Smile, though your heart is aching
Smile, even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky
you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through
for you ….

The lyric and a title for Chaplin’s melody came from John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons in 1954.

The Premier recording was by a peerless balladeer of Golden Age American Song – Nat King Cole.

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile what’s the use of crying
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you’ll just Smile.

There is no grandiloquence in Nat’s performance.

Knowing that he had a rare treasure here he simply presents the song allowing the beauty of the melody and the poignancy of the words to travel into the hearts and minds of the audience.

‘Simple’ for Nat King Cole because of the burnished gold of his voice which makes us all gladly share any emotion he is evoking.

If I imagine an exhausted couple slow dancing to Nat’s version in the sanctuary of their home I can only imagine the next take as a solo dance underneath a waning Moon.

Judy Garland.

If ever an artist was born to sing a song it was Judy to sing, ‘Smile’.

Fear and Sorrow and Heartbreak surrounded her all her days.

And, those circumstances were fully incarnated in her voice when she sang – especially when she sang, ‘Smile’.

Her Version is filled with tears and sadness – the gladness and the smile is in the going on, the going on.

I am going to repeat something I wrote about Garland before because I don’t think I can say what I mean to say any better.

Her singing on this song seems to me to be almost miraculous.

It’s as if her singing really came from secret chambers of the heart all the rest of us keep under guard.

No wonder she has such a deep impact on us – we know she is expressing a profound truth about the human condition – our need to love and know we are loved.

Judy Garland paid a high price in terms of personal happiness for living her life and art with such an exposed heart and soul but she fulfilled a vocation given to very few and left an indelible mark on her age and will surely do for aeons to come.

There are hundreds and hundreds of versions of Smile but not a single one sounds anything like the depths that Judy Garland does.

And now for something completely different!

Jimmy Durante brought his own very real magic to Smile.

A straight from the shoulder, Hey Bud, have one on me, growl that’s surprisingly affecting.

Lyle Lovett knows songs having written many fine ones himself.

There is always consideration and deliberation involved in the way he approaches a song.

So, his Smile is ruminative, baffled and melancholic.

To conclude here’s something really special.

The great Jazz Harmonica virtuoso Toots Thielmans, at 90, bringing a lifetime of craft and experience to bear on Chaplin’s insights into the changeable weather of the human heart.

In a previous feature on, ‘The Third Man’ I noted that it had one of the great endings in the Film Canon.

Well, Charlie Chaplin was a supreme master of ending a Film in a highly memorable and emotionally satisfying way.

The melody plays, the camera rolls and our hearts are uplifted.

Smile, though your heart is aching
Smile, even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky
you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through
for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile what’s the use of crying
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you’ll just Smile

If you just Smile.

Now I think you will agree that this is how to write about a song!

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.

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.