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Aug 06

ESTHER AND ABI OFARIM – “Cinderella Rockefeller”

FT + Popular49 comments • 12,103 views

#245, 2nd March 1968

Esther - or Abi?I find this song absolutely infuriating, but from a safe distance I can see that it gets the unselfconscious tweeness of love spot on – baby talk, fond banter, silly nicknames and all. That’s admirable, and the Ofarims are good comic actors too (“I love your face” / “It’s in the right place” for instance) but combine the goo-goo talk – however satirical – with the wheezing old-timey backing track and you have a fairly toxic listening experience.

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Comments

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  1. 1
    markgamon on 6 Aug 2006 #

    I agree. I agreed at the time, too.

    Let’s move on, sharpish…

  2. 2
    Doctor Casino on 7 Aug 2006 #

    Wow, what the hell is this? I went and downloaded it out of curiousity, as I can assure you this one has not really made it into US oldies formats if it was ever a hit here at all. As a number one it’s a total failure (textures and motifs in search of a hook)…would love to know more about the context surrounding this. Were these people on the covers of magazines and stuff? Were people really excited about them? Was it selling to the people who bought old-timey records when they were new, or was it a post-“She’s Leaving Home” hipster old-timey? The only point of comparison I have is something like “Winchester Cathedral,” which makes much more sense as a hit…

    I have to give this one credit for flat out weirdness in the context of hitdom. Look for it to show up as background music in some wacky sequence in a hipster movie, with an implied creepiness slid in somehow. The kids in Ghost World could have caught this on late-night TV or something.

  3. 3
    Tom on 7 Aug 2006 #

    Not only were these people famous, they had their own TV show for a season or so!

  4. 4
    Annie on 7 Aug 2006 #

    Hi Tom, sorry, this comment is not connected with your post but I couldn’t find an email address… I’m looking for a pop quiz in London, & came across references to Poptimism in my search. I wondered if there will be any more Poptimism pub quizzes, particularly in September? (If not, maybe you or your readers know of another music quiz that you could recommend in London?) Many thanks.

  5. 5
    pˆnk s lord sükråt cunctør on 7 Aug 2006 #

    was this eurovision-related fame or did the fame come first and eurovision killed it?

  6. 6
    Tom on 7 Aug 2006 #

    Their Euro-entry was in c.1963 I think! And for Switzerland (cradle of foreign ringers stars). So I guess probably not.

    Annie – there are no current plans for a Poptimism pub quiz follow-up cos we’re too busy trying to sort out a Poptimism club night. But maybe as the nights draw in we’ll tilt at the quizzing windmill again.

  7. 7
    pˆnk s lord sükråt cunctør on 7 Aug 2006 #

    so cinderella rockerfella wasn’t eurovision??? haha even aged eight i had mentally filed it in that niche!

    (i speak as one who carried a torch for mary hopkin until i reached double figures)

  8. 8
    Tom on 7 Aug 2006 #

    I think they parlayed Eurovision semi-succcess (they came second!) into pan-European light entertainment stardom, they seem to have picked up a succession of golden roses etc.

  9. 9
    Marcello Carlin on 7 Aug 2006 #

    Song written by Mason Williams of “Classical Gas” fame and premiered on the Smothers Brothers Show. Also very fine Tropicalia cover by Rogerio Duprat featuring Os Mutantes as the Ofarims.

  10. 10
    Tim Hopkins on 7 Aug 2006 #

    (Annie the best pop quiz I’ve found in London is on Tuesday nights at a very good pub called The Rosemary Branch, which is off the New North Road, north of Old Street.)

  11. 11
    wwolfe on 7 Aug 2006 #

    Count me as another American who’d never heard of this one. Color me amazed that it was written by Mason Williams, though. I guess he wasn’t quite a one-hit wonder, after all.

  12. 12
    Doctor Mod on 7 Aug 2006 #

    How I managed to hear this in the US I can no longer recall, but somehow I have (twice, I think) in the past forty years. Twice was more than enough.

  13. 13
    Erithian on 8 Aug 2006 #

    Worth bearing in mind that February 1968 saw the start of Ed “Stewpot” Stewart’s Junior Choice show on Radio 1. Maybe too late to boost the Ofarims, but I wonder if the success of the likes of “Lily The Pink”, “Sugar Sugar”, “Ernie”, “Two Little Boys” and “Grandad” over the next few years is somehow related?! Kiddie pop never had such a shop window before or since.
    BTW, the Ofarims had the same manager as Scott Walker!

  14. 14
    Alan Connor on 9 Aug 2006 #

    I had it pegged as something to do with the Avengers as a child in the 1970s – did they perhaps try and camply tribute Steed and Peel in a proto-promo? Also, I suppose I presumed that this kind of music was indigenous to the 60s, cf Bonnie & Clyde etc. I might also have liked their relationship: they seemed like Morecambe and Wise.

    Resurrection Watch (should anyone care): only Lulu and Basil Brush spring to mind, though I doubt that was ever a single. Scott Walker fraternised with Esther (because of the commerical relationship Erithian mentions?) – on the TV show, I think, and on Til The Band Comes In, though the pair of them performing this song with melancholy strings remains a fantasy AFAIK. And Walk On Water, a movie about the friendship between a Nazi war criminal and a Mossad goon, uses the track for a disconcerting duet. No adverts spring to mind, which seems odd…

  15. 15
    Alan Connor on 9 Aug 2006 #

    What was the first Jewish #1, by the way?

  16. 16
    pˆnk s lord sükråt cunctør on 9 Aug 2006 #

    there was a million-selling cylinder called “cohen on the phone” in the teens — tho it is entirely possible that the singer (name not to hand) was not himself actually jewish

  17. 17
    Diego on 9 Aug 2006 #

    Whenever the question about what’s the most irritating song of all time arises, I immediately think about this song. The videoclip is on VH1 sometimes and it’s even more infuriating…

  18. 18
    anatol_merklich on 15 Aug 2006 #

    I think they parlayed Eurovision semi-succcess (they came second!) into pan-European light entertainment stardom

    That seems to have been quite a conscious aim — this entry reminded me that when I was v small, my uncle had an E&AO 7″ of “Ack Värmeland, du sköna”, ie the “regional anthem” of the Swedish county Värmland. Yes, sung in Swedish.

    The B-side was Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” if I’m not misremembering.

  19. 19
    Oh No It's Dadaismus on 1 Sep 2006 #

    Abi Ofarim ended up as the manager of Can by the way!

  20. 20
    pˆnk s lord sükråt cunctør on 1 Sep 2006 #

    *frantically rewrites chapter of book*

  21. 21
    Pete Baran on 1 Sep 2006 #

    You’d have to frantically write it first!

  22. 22
    Oh No It's Dadaismus on 1 Sep 2006 #

    “Andrew Lauder, head of A&R at British UA, found himself in a meeting with Abi Ofarim, the latter clutching a copy of Can’s album – “… the first pressing of Monster Movie, which I thought was a tremendous record. We never heard from Abi again.””

  23. 23
    dumont nicole on 9 Sep 2008 #

    j’adore cette chanson cela me rappelle mon jeune age

  24. 24
    The Intl on 10 Sep 2008 #

    Mason Williams, Smothers Brothers … makes sense somehow, in a “mainstream-edgy, cool-but-not-in-a-smoking-pot-way-except-maybe-with-Lou-Adler-at-a-key-swapping-party” way, if you get what I’m trying to say. Like, my mother would’ve hummed this while cleaning the house. Which means it’s pure shit. Anyone out there remember when the charts were peppered with “grown-up” hits, because moms & dads were occasionally buying singles? I mean, there was this, “Winchester Cathedral”, hell, ALL of Petula Clark, Matt Munro…Y’know what, tho? I’ll take that over today’s teen shit anyday. At least you knew where you stood.

  25. 25
    Mark G on 10 Sep 2008 #

    Try ebay then, there’s tons (literally) of it.

    I was tortured as a child by my parents playing the “That’s my song” album by Abi Ofarim and Abraham (as they were)… At least this song was bearable.

  26. 26
    Mark G on 10 Sep 2008 #

    top moment: When Abi sings “razzamatazz” with the jazz hands inflection in his voice, to which Esther repeats the line like she has no idea what it means..

  27. 27
    DJ Punctum on 10 Sep 2008 #

    Seems to me that parents are still buying or downloading singles; how else could the Script, Noah and the Whale etc. be having such big hits?

  28. 28
    rosie on 10 Sep 2008 #

    I should imagine that a fair proportion of those keeping Popular afloat are parents.

  29. 29
    mike on 10 Sep 2008 #

    I think that the demographic of the singles charts widened again once download sales were introduced. Mums and Dads might not buy physical singles, but they’ll happily pay for single-track downloads – and the evidence has been all over the charts for the past three years or so.

  30. 30
    Tom on 10 Sep 2008 #

    #28: I can confirm that 100% of those keeping Popular afloat are parents!

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