By Olive Butler
I’ve said many times that the playlists I tend to enjoy most are those comprising songs which are the least familiar to me, but this week there were quite a few well known tracks nommed which were so utterly on point that it would have been perverse to exclude them.
Elvis Presley – Western Union
We begin with a hymn to the intermediary tasked with delivering the singer’s message:
“I love you is my message / Just three words and no more / If she won't let you deliver / Slip it underneath her door.”
Ed Townsend – Tell Her
’Tell Him’ by The Exciters is zedded, so instead I’ve chosen the terrific gender swap version by Ed Townsend (co-writer of ‘Let’s Get It On’).
The Jackson 5 – Skywriter
Another plea for practical assistance from a middle-man:
”She don't read the letters I write anymore / Sorry I upset her / But I wasn't sure / Now I know I love her / I hope that she will see / A message high above her / That you write for me.”
Dusty Springfield – I Don’t Want To Hear It Anymore
Here’s a unique take on this week’s topic – the singer discovers her partner’s true feelings by hearing her neighbours gossip about them through paper-thin walls:
“I hear the neighbours talking 'bout you and me / I guess I heard it all / 'Cause the talk is loud / And the walls are much too thin / ‘He don't really love her’/ That's what I heard them say / ‘He sure wasn't thinking of her today’.”
The Lemonheads – Frank Mills
‘Frank Mills’ enjoys the distinction of being the third best song from the musical ‘Hair’ (after ‘Ain’t Got No/I Got Life’ and ‘Aquarius’) and comes with an irresistibly cute pay-off:
“I would gratefully appreciate it / If you see him tell him / I'm in the park with my girlfriend / And please tell him / Angela and I don't want the two dollars back - / Just him!”
Paul McCartney & Wings – Listen To What The Man Said
It’s all in the title, folks.
Dr Hook – Sylvia’s Mother
This was the song I heard on the radio a while back that gave me the idea for this topic, so it has to be included!
Joan Armatrading – No Love
Joan adds further degrees of separation to the art of indirect messaging – not just a friend, but a friend’s friend told another person:
“Your best friend's friend told someone / I was the hurting kind / And they've planted that seed / And it's growing there in your mind.”
JJ Cale – I Got The Same Old Blues
Rumours usually come with unreliable provenance and can be employed to send messages both indirectly and anonymously:
“Have you heard that rumour that's going around / You got it made, way across town /
It's the same old story, tell me where does it end / Yes, I heard the news, it's the same old blues again.”
Nina Simone – Just Say I Love Him
Incredibly atmospheric recording that throbs with heartbreak and yearning, all the more moving for being addressed to a third party:
“Say I was a fool to leave him / Tell him how much a fool can care / And if he tells you he's lonely now and then / Just won't you tell him that I love him / And want him back again.”
Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass – This Guy’s In Love With You
Several noms this week for ‘Message To Michael/Martha’ and a couple for ‘I Say A Little Prayer’, but if we’re going to have a Bacharach/David composition, then it really has to be ‘This Guy’s In Love With You’ – probably my favourite of all Burt’s melodies, married to one of Hal’s most affecting lyrics: simple and poignant:
“I've heard some talk / They say you think I'm fine / Yeah, I'm in love / And what I'd do to make you mine / Tell me now, is it so? / Don't let me be the last to know.”
Diana Ross – And If You See Him
Written and produced by Ashford & Simpson, the lyrics might suggest a ballad, but the tempo and arrangement create the impression of a putting a brave face on the anguish:
“And if you see him / Tell him I miss him / Tell him I feel so bad / For messing up what we had.”
No wildcard this week – the three tracks I was keeping up my proverbial sleeve were nommed, so instead I’m awarding bonus points to George, megadom and attwilightlarks for pre-empting me with JJ Cale, Diana Ross and Dusty Springfield respectively. And with that I bid you all farewell for a few weeks – we’re heading off to France on Friday and have agreed that this holiday will feature a full digital detox. When we get back, no doubt I’ll have stories of imaginative methods the kids employed to contravene the screen ban… à bientôt à tout le monde!
Answer My Call A-List Playlist:
1: Elvis Presley – Western Union
2: Ed Townsend – Tell Her
3: The Jackson 5 – Skywriter
4: Dusty Springfield – I Don’t Want To Hear It Anymore
5: The Lemonheads - Frank Mills
6: Paul McCartney & Wings – Listen To What The Man Said
7: Dr Hook – Sylvia’s Mother
8: Joan Armatrading – No Love
9: JJ Cale – I Got The Same Old Blues
10: Nina Simone – Just Say I Love Him
11: Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass – This Guy’s In Love With You
12: Diana Ross – And If You See Him
Break In Communication B-List Playlist:
1: The Slits – I Heard It Through The Grapevine
2: Wreckless Eric – Semaphore Signals
3: Ricky Valance – Tell Laura I Love Her
4: Morrissey – Ouija Board, Ouija Board
5: Buddy Holly – Peggy Sue Got Married
6: The Ink Spots – Please Take A Letter, Miss Brown
7: Josephine Baker - A Message From The Man In The Moon
8: Paul Evans – Hello, This Is Joannie
9: Kevin Coyne – Sand All Yellow
10: Chuck Berry – Memphis Tennessee
11: Johnny Cash – Give My Love To Rose
12: Charlie Rich – The Most Beautiful Girl
These playlists were inspired by readers' song nominations from last week's topic: Tell my wife I love her so: songs containing indirect messages. The next topic will launch on Thursday at 1pm UK time.
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