three songs

As a friend pointed out the other day, LimeWire is perfect for retrieving those old songs you loved way back when, you can just pull them out of the ether without needing to search through bins or buy whole compilation albums full of other stuff ... so in that spirit I went searching yesterday for three faves from the sixties. Intrigued to realise as I looked that, although these songs have been part of my (mental? musical?) life for forty odd years, I'd never owned a recording of two of them and the third I'd bought only belatedly, after the singer (Dusty) died, and lost soon afterwards. Which means, I guess, that my memory of each is formed entirely by radio listening and probably over a relatively short period of time, refreshed intermittently and randomly since. Because they are so clear in my mind ... nor was I in the least bit disappointed when I recovered the originals, they sounded just the same and just as good. The surprises were in the lyrics, which I'd misheard here and there, as you do, or never figured out properly.

Anyway, they are:

Walk Away, Renee - The Left Banke; written by Michael Brown about Renee Fladen, the girlfriend of another band member, bassist Tom Finn (that must have caused tensions in the band room; their next two hits were also by Brown about Fladen) and sung by Steve Martin, a recent migrant to New York from Puerto Rico; released 1966 and subsequently covered by all sorts of people, most famously The Four Tops; but The Left Banke version has a plaintive quality no subsequent renditions quite got, because of Martin's voice I think. The lyric I'd never understood in this is the awkward last four words of:

Now as the rain beats down upon my weary eyes
For me it cries

The First Cut Is the Deepest - PP Arnold; was surprised to learn that this was written by Cat Stevens; released on Andrew Oldam's Immediate label in London in mid-1967; another much covered song of course, but apart from a reggae version by I can't remember who, none of the others comes close to this one; there's a moment in it where you really do hear PP Arnold's voice doubt that it will ever again be possible as she sings but if you want I'll try to love again ... I'd never figured out the terminations to the spendidly twisted last two lines of the chorus, which go:

But when it comes to being lucky he's cursed
When it comes to loving me he's worst

Goin' Back - Dusty Springfield; written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King for Dusty to sing and released also in 1967, this was a song that always made me feel gloriously sad, like the most ancient 15 year old on the planet, lamenting my lost youth when it had barely even begun ... now, a few decades later, when its message might seem more appropriate than it did then, it just makes me feel 15 again. Revelatory lyrics? The first line of this couplet:

Let everyone debate the true reality
I�'d rather see the world the way it used to be

How'd they get away with that?


mark young said...

Nice selection. & though I carried the Four Tops' version of Walk Away Renee round in my mental jukebox for about 25 years, it was replaced about ten years ago by the version by Townes van Zandt.


Martin Edmond said...

thanks, Mark - don't know (& can't find) the TvZ version, take your word for it though.