Sunday, 3 October 2010

Sunday Night is... The Rhythm of the Rain

The Cascades. I am thirteen in 1962 and this worms its flimsy way into my still tin, newly-English ear; and now, watching the rain - stopped right now for a few minutes? - it comes back. The potency of cheap music and all that: the music of nothing much but a few chords, a sad trite tune, some clean cut boys whose faces merge with that of other contemporary clean cut boys, Bobby Vee, Bobby Darin, The Bachelors, Cliff and the rest, just ticking over, waiting for the real Sixties to begin. It's coming, lads. It's almost there. Just round the corner, in 1963, you can hear Gerry and the Pacemakers singing How Do You Do It (those girls! I knew them all! thought about them, went to school with them) - or was it I Like It - as I did, in the school corridor, after a football match, near the hall on a Saturday when somebody brought in a transistor radio, and I thought: This is new.

The early Sixties are to be taken only in small doses. I think this is small enough.


Poet in Residence said...

How gentle they let it all fall, those appropriately named Cascades clean cut boys with snow white collars and dentifrice smiles
over leopardskin ties...was it really such an innocent time?

George S said...

Oh, I wouldn't claim innocence for any time or anyone, Gwilym. It is true the past is always innocent in one sense - innocent of us and of what we know was to happen because for us it is past and for them it was the future.

For all I know the Cascades were a bunch of brigands, but whoever they were they sang this simple little thing with simple effectiveness. Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain / hey nonny nonny...

James said...

As a general rule, aren't love songs written by those who (might think they) need them least? In terms, at any rate, of the needs of their chronological age, and I'm thinking there of e.g. the laughable gap between the lifestyle promoted by the songs of the Mamas and Papas and the lifestyle they in fact pursued. Now there (isn't) innocent for you..

What I'd like to know is if there's any discernable link between bands who wrote apology songs (the Hollies did this, didn't they: "I'm Really Sorry Suzanne" is one) and their (what to call it) on-the-road conduct. I tried to come up with a list in the pre-internet age for a while before something that meant taking less trouble happened along.

I'm interested that it did sound new, George: it's completely impossible not to hear this kind of thing now without knowing what came after and without what came after making it all sound like a badly-failed attempt. (Like reading all those Graun profiles of Bush II in 2000 that warned of the problems an isolationist President would cause as he withdrew America from the world).

George S said...

Retrospective newness is an unlikely condition. But it is possible to remember the sensation one had at the time. If we are talking about Gerry and the Pacemakers it was partly the accent, off-centre English; partly the jaunty four-squareness of the insistent beat. I think it was these two things that struck me. Not like Dion, not like Bobby Vee, not like Elvis. None of that heroic boyish-manly stuff. It was probably more what it was not.

As for the congruity between the lives of artists and their works, James, I give it a life chance of zilch.

'If I told a lie / If I made you cry / I'm sorry. / From the bottom of my heart, dear, / I apologise'.

Quoting P J Proby from memory. One of the masters of truth to life.