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Friday on my Mind 178: Jackie

One of the most distinctive and influential songers of the 1960s and 70s (and beyond) left us this week. Scott Walker.

In the Guardian there were no less than three pieces about Walker and his legacy in the Monday issue (25/3/2019).

Had he only been a member of The Walker Brothers his memory would have been secure via that string of huge hits they had in the mid-60s. Then there was their monumental cover of Tom Rush’s No Regrets in their “comeback” in the 1970s to which his phrasing made such a difference.

The clarity of his voice can be heard in his solo recording of Joanna, a Jackie Trent and Tony Hatch song to which he contributed some of the lyric and which managed to reach no 7 in the UK charts.

His dissatisfaction with simple balladeering though led him to wider and wider experimentation and a uniqur place in pop history.

Among his many signature moments was his version of the Jacques Brel song Jacky in a translation by Mort Shuman.

Scott Walker: Jackie

Noel Scott Engel (Scott Walker): 9/1/1943 – 22/3/2019. So it goes.

Live It Up 51: Robert de Niro’s Waiting

This is one of those songs whose jaunty sound hides a darker underside in the lyric. The video here more than hints at that but undercuts it at the end.

Live It Up 51: Robert de Niro’s Waiting

Live It Up 48: Good Tradition

Tanita Tikaram had an unusual background for a 1980s pop star, born in Germany to a Indo-Fijian father and Sarawakian mother, moving to England in her teens.

This is one of those jaunty-sounding pop songs which has a lyric that hints at something darker.

Tanita Tikaram: Good Tradition

Not Friday on my Mind 50: Elenore

This song’s lyric is surely the only pop song to include the word etcetera. Or at least to attempt to rhyme it.

The Turtles: Elenore

Reelin’ In the Years 148: Lonely Days

Another outing for the word nonchalant in a lyric; except here its inclusion is a little more forced.

The harmonies on the verse of this are sublime.

The Bee Gees: Lonely Days

Friday on my Mind 164: When You Walk in the Room

Another song which has the word nonchalant in its lyric, When You Walk in the Room was written and performed by Jackie DeShannon but is more familiar to Britons via the cover version recorded by The Searchers which got to number 3 in the UK 1964. The song’s title is never actually sung in its entirety during its course; only its last four words.

The Searchers: When You Walk in the Room

Here also is Jackie DeShannon with the song on US TV:-

Jackie DeShannon: When You Walk in the Room

Reelin’ In the Years 147: Wherewithal

Clifford T Ward was an unusual pop star. Who else would have based a popular song around a Robert Browning poem in Home Thoughts from Abroad? (See here track 7.)

Not only did Ward use the word wherewithal in this song, he made it the title.

And I doubt you’ll find non-pareil in any other song lyric. (Granted, nonchalant is less rare.)

Clifford T Ward: Wherewithal

Something Changed 4: Hello

A song packed full of cultural references from around 1990.

I especially liked the line, “Leslie Crowther, Come On Down.”

The Beloved: Hello

Something Changed 3: Something Changed

This is the song with which I would have started off this category in the best of circumstances.

It’s the lyric on this that I really like. It has that sense of contingency, of paths that might not have been taken, and in that context reminds me of Abba’s The Day Before You Came which you may remember I waxed lyrical (ahem) about some moons ago now.

It was the last single taken from Pulp’s big breakthrough album Different Class but not the least.

Pulp: Something Changed

Not Friday on my Mind 49: Legend of a Mind. RIP Ray Thomas

Ray Thomas, who died this week was a multi-instrumentalist not very well-served by most of the time on stage with The Moody Blues merely flourishing a tambourine or otherwise not seeming to do very much. That perception would be to undervalue him greatly.

It was his contribution as a flautist where he really counted, a contribution that only added to the already distinctive sound of the band. As a flautist in a rock band he was for a while unique. (Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull came along later as did Peter Gabriel with Genesis.) That flute embellished mightily the power of Nights in White Satin, the song which became emblematic of the revamped Moody Blues.

A founder member of the band in its first (bluesy) incarnation – Go Now etc – his solid bass voice enhanced the vocal harmonies which were so much a part of the re-incarnated band’s sound.

For some odd reason there seemed to be a regular order of song-writers in those early albums by the “new” Moodies with Thomas always having song three* on side one as one of his spots.

Among his songs were Another Morning*, Twilight Time, Dr Livingstone, I Presume?*, Dear Diary*, Lazy Day, Floating*, Eternity Road, with his collaborations with Justin Hayward, Visions of Paradise and Are You Sitting Comfortably? being especially memorable.

It was song five, side one on In Search of the Lost Chord, though, that was his apotheosis. That song was Legend of a Mind with a lyric about Timothy Leary and supposed mind expansion, “Timothy’ Leary’s dead, No, no, no, no, he’s outside looking in.” Apparently Leary once told Thomas the song made him more famous than anything he had ever done for himself.

But who needed drugs when music itself could be this transportive?

Here’s a promotional film for Legend of a Mind made around the time of its first release. Thomas’s flute solo here is sublime.

The Moody Blues: Legend of a Mind

Ray Thomas: 29/12/1941 – 4/1/2018. So it goes. Thanks for the trips round the bay.

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