Sunday Morning Coming Down

A double-header for you all this morning. But first, an apology. I’m writing this very late on Saturday night/early on Sunday morning and having just finished it, I realise I’ve posted both of the songs featured today on the blog before, but not in the Sunday Morning section. Frankly, it’s too late/early for me to be bothered with thinking of something else to post. So, y’know: sorry ’bout that.

Anyhow: I’ve always loved it when someone releases a song in response to someone else’s song. They follow three basic rules:

  1. The “Response” song should use very similar music and tune as in the original – just changed enough to avoid litigation – with the lyrics changed to form the “Response”;
  2. The “Response” song will be nowhere near as good as the original, and will genuinely be viewed by most as a brazenly opportunistic attempt to cash-in on the original’s success;
  3. The “Response” song will be performed by someone you’ve never heard of before, and will never hear of again.

In case you’re not quite sure what I’m banging on about, then perhaps the most famous example is when Michael Jackson released Billie Jean back in 1982. Billie Jean is, of course, about a woman who claims that the narrator is the father of her newborn son, conceived during a one night stand. The narrator insists that “the kid is not my son”. (I’m not going to post it here partly because it’s not a Country record, but mostly because it’s Billie Jean by Michael Jackson, one of the most famous records ever made, and frankly I can’t believe I just took the time to explain what the song’s about to you.)

Anyway, shortly after Billie Jean was released to worldwide acclaim and staggering record sales which saw it top the charts in pretty much every country that had one, a record called Superstar followed in its slipstream.

Released by Lydia Murdock, it was written and performed from Billie Jean’s point of view, the lyrics challenging Jackson as to the validity of his non-paternal status assertions. And just in case any casual listener to Superstar didn’t understand, it contains lyrics like “I’m Billie Jean, I’m mad as hell. I’m the woman with a story to tell.” (I’m not going to post it here partly because it’s not a Country record, but mostly because it’s bloody awful. And those of you who just thought “That doesn’t normally stop you” can go and stand on the naughty step.)

Pop history is littered with other examples, but these two are my favourite. The first tells of how a young woman leaves the singer – on this occasion, Hank Thompson – to have fun joining in the nightlife and all that entails:

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Hank Thompson – The Wild Side of Life

…which inspired this, written from the woman’s point of view, shifting the blame for her infidelity back to the man, and also pointing out that for every unfaithful woman, there is a man who has led her astray:

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Kitty Wells – It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels

Hank 0 – Kitty 1, I think.

And before anyone says it, Kitty definitely disproves Rule 3.

More soon, maybe even something I haven’t posted before, you never know.

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Which Reminds Me…

I don’t know about you, but anytime I hear the name “Gordon”, which cropped up in my last post (linked to Sting, but every cloud, eh?), I think of this:

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Jilted John – Jilted John

Still one of the greatest records ever made, in my book.

And the name of one of my favourite blogs is taken from it. Do yourself a favour and pay Crying All The Way To The Chip Shop a visit.

The first time I remember hearing “Jilted John”, I would have been 17 or so, and it was played to me by my old chum Richard, who owned it (or at least had access to it) on 7″ single. (Coincidentally, on the same afternoon, Richie also played me Springsteen’s “The River”, again the first time I’d heard it, and which featured in this week’s Friday Night Music Club.) I owe this man a lot (Richie, not Broooce, as you will see soon enough if you stick around).

Immediately after playing me that, he flipped the single over and, with the words, “Well if you like that, you’ll love this…” he played me the B-side, and proceeded to act out the song in what I can only describe as being in a Rik Mayall stylee. Consequentially, whenever anyone mentions “Jilted John” (after I’ve corrected them for calling it “Gordon Is A Moron”, or course) I point them in the direction of this:

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Jilted John – Going Steady

I think I love that song even more than “Jilted John” itself, probably due to Richie’s impeccable miming capabilities.

It’s the lines “I used to think that girls didn’t like me, but Sharon’s a girl, and she loves me! She says I’m dead sexy and butch, and much better looking than Starsky or Hutch” that get me every time. Mostly as I remember the mime that accompanied it. Our little secret, Richie.

Seriously, if you don’t know “Going Steady” give it a listen. Have I ever let you down so far? (Don’t answer that!)

There’s a long standing tradition in pop music of response records, by which I mean acts recording a record which is supposed to act as a reply  to the original. And “Jilted John” attracted one such song; purportedly recorded by the Julie and Gordon mentioned in the original:

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Julie & Gordon – Gordon’s Not A Moron

Hmm. Methinks the lady doth protest too loud.

And when I say long standing, I mean it. The earliest example dates back to 1902 and this (apologies for the sound quality and the lack of a picture sleeve but these came out over a hundred years ago, what do you expect..???):

Arthur Collins – Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home

…and the response (curiously, also by Arthur Collins, who seems to have some sort of schizophrenic condition):

Arthur Collins – I Wonder Why Bill Bailey Don’t Come Home

Going off at a tangent for a moment, I can’t really let that pass without mentioning the other Bill Bailey, which affords me the opportunity to post this, possibly the most glorious and affectionate ribbing/tribute you’ll ever hear:

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Billy Bragg & Bill Bailey – Unisex Chip Shop (Live)

Back on track, there are more famous records which inspired a response:

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Big Mama Thornton – Hound Dog

..which, long before some pelvis swivelling chap called Elvis recorded his own version, prompted this:

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Rufus Thomas Jr. – Bear Cat

But my personal favourite is this, from 1952:

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Hank Thompson – The Wild Side Of Life

…which prompted this:

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Kitty Wells – It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels

and also, since I’ve not mentioned them for a while, this:

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Status Quo – Wild Side Of Life

I sense a new thread forming….

More soon.