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Not Friday On My Mind 35: RIP Cilla Black

I know it’s not good form to speak ill of the dead but I’m afraid I can’t share the “National Treasure” stuff surrounding the passing of Cilla Black. She was undoubtedly a substantial entertainment figure of the 1960s though, with several big hits and many smaller ones. Yet to my mind her singing voice became too harsh when she upped the volume. In softer tones she could be quite effective though.

As to her later incarnation as a television presenter, I saw Blind Date once. It wasn’t for me. I never watched Surprise, Surprise.

I went off her completely when she was introducing some awards ceremony or other and mentioned Margaret Thatcher, at which the audience booed. Cilla then protested (against all reason) “But she’s put the great back in Great Britain.” Maybe for successful entertainers, but not for those left behind.

This was Cilla in her 1960s pomp, in a clip from Top of the Pops:-

Cilla Black: Surround Yourself With Sorrow

And here she is in her softer register. (Interesting that in the intervening almost forty years since I first heard her perform this song, to reflect our modern sensibilities the lyric has been changed from “ye’ll gerra belt from yer da’,” to “Ye’ll get told off by your da’.”)

Cilla Black: Liverpool Lullaby

Priscilla Maria Veronica White (Cilla Black): 27/5/1943-1/8/2015. So it goes.

Live It Up 22: Song for Whoever

Sweet tunes, romantic tunes, The Beautiful South certainly had them; but allied to bitterly ironic – even cynical – lyrics.

The opening line here, “I love you from the bottom of my pencil case,” is just about on the bounds of tastefulness but the lyric goes on (partly to comment on the process of writing a cheap love song) by listing a series of girls’ names with the tag, “I wrote so many songs about you, I forget your name,” then adds a cutting parenthesis, “(I forget your name)”.

The cynicism is increased in the second round of the melody where we have, “Oh Cathy, Oh Alison, Oh Phillipa, Oh Sue. You made me so much money, I wrote this song for you.” Jennifer, Deborah and Annabel are added to the list in the next two lines. It’s brutal in its lack of regard.

The Beautiful South: Song for Whoever

Friday on my Mind 114: Rhubarb Tart Song

The B-side of The Ferret Song (see last week) had a tune based on the middle part of one of John Philip Sousa’s marches, The Washington Post, and had a lyric which became typical of the Monty Python style since the song references a slew of philosophers and artists and also includes nods to popular culture as well as Shakespeare – all wrapped around an idea of the utmost silliness.

I really like the cleverness of the rhymes with the word tart, though.

John Cleese with the 1948 show choir: Rhubarb Tart Song

Friday on My Mind 98: RIP Gerry Goffin. Goin’ Back

I woke up this morning to the news that Gerry Goffin has died.

In his collaborations with Carole King hewrote the lyrics to some of the most enduring popular songs from the 1960s. The list is stunning. At the end of the article in the link are songs he wrote with others.

His lyrics tended to be carefully worked out and belied the frothy nature of the productions of the era.

Look at the words of Will You Love Me Tomorrow. Their underlying poignancy was highlighted in King’s own version on her album, Tapestry.

Tonight you’re mine completely/You give your love so sweetly.
Tonight the light of love is in your eyes/But will you love me tomorrow?

Is this a lasting treasure/Or just a moment’s pleasure?
Can I believe the magic of your sighs?/Will you still love me tomorrow?

Tonight with words unspoken/You say that I’m the only one
But will my heart be broken/When the night meets the morning sun?

I’d like to know that your love/Is love I can be sure of.
So tell me now and I won’t ask again/Will you still love me tomorrow?

This, though, is the early 60s take by The Shirelles.

The Shirelles: Will you Love Me Tomorrow

And then there’s this:-

A little bit of freedom’s all we lack.
So catch me if you can I’m goin’ back.

Dusty Springfield: Goin’ Back

Gerald “Gerry” Goffin: 11/2/1939 – 19/6/2014. So it goes.

Reelin’ In the Years 81: Benediction

This is perhaps my favourite Stealers Wheel track.

It was never released as a single as far as I know and came from the third Stealers Wheel album Right or Wrong. By the time it appeared the group had long since ceased to exist and both its leading lights, Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan, were no longer working together.

From the outside I would say that the lyric maybe says a lot about a West of Scotland RC upbringing.

Stealers Wheel: Benediction

Reelin’ In the Years 79: Sail Away

Who says USians can’t do irony – or satire?

Randy Newman certainly can. Biting sharp lyrics against jaunty or haunting tunes.

Has anyone ever made an invitation to enter into slavery more beautiful?

Randy Newman: Sail Away

Live It Up 15: The Whole of the Moon

One from 1985. A mine of quotable lines.

“Too high, too far, too soon,” “trumpets, towers and tenements, wide oceans full of tears,” “every precious dream and vision underneath the stars,” “you came like a comet, blazing your trails.”

The Waterboys – The Whole of the Moon

Friday On My Mind 92: and Reelin’ in the Years 75: Abraham, Martin and John

It’s an anniversary today. You might have heard some mention of it.

This song was written as a response to that and later similar events of a turbulent decade.

From a fifty year perspective the lyric now seems overly sentimentalised.

The first version of this was by Dion but the UK hit came in 1970 from Marvin Gaye.

Dion: Abraham, Martin and John

Marvin Gaye: Abraham, Martin and John

Play Me?

When we were in Cockermouth earlier this year we were in an antique/junk shop where a radio was playing.

I was wandering round looking at items for sale vaguely listening, though the sound was quite muffled. On came the song below. I knew the correct words but for some reason when it came to the, “I’ll be home,” line I heard the next one as, “I’ll be your xylophone, waiting for you.”

It does make a weird kind of sense, though; as most misheard lyrics do.

The Foundations: Build Me Up Buttercup

The sound on this is from the record but the video was taken at a live gig, so goes on beyond the song.

Live It Up 13: Our Lips Are Sealed

Lyrically this reminds me of the hymn, “Christian Dost Thou See Them?” a version of which is on You Tube here.

The best known version in Britain is the one by Fun Boy Three, whose lead singer Terry Hall co-wrote it – a restrained, almost gloomy, treatment with more than a hint of menace.

The original by the Go Go’s (whose guitarist Jane Wiedlin was the other composer) is much more carefree; a typically bouncy pop song.

Fun Boy Three: Our Lips Are Sealed

The Go Go’s: Our Lips Are Sealed

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