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Jan 07

DIANA ROSS – “I’m Still Waiting”

FT + Popular36 comments • 5,124 views

#303, 21st August 1971

Doomed childhood sweethearts are a perennial pop topic, somewhat unfortunately since it’s hard to write a song about them that isn’t cloying. In fact, it’s hard to write a song about them that doesn’t make the singer sound like an abject emotional cripple if you think about the lyrics for more than five seconds. The highpoint of the micro-genre, Hot Chocolate’s demented “It Started With A Kiss”, faces this squarely (Errol Brown howling “You don’t remember me do you?!”), but “I’m Still Waiting” tries to magic its mentalism into poignancy. How does it do?

The song’s theme of endlessly deferred love suits Diana Ross pretty well, as she’s never been the most torrentially emotional of singers: her stock-in-trade is a slight aloofness, a sense that she’s never really singing in top gear. She tackles “I’m Still Waiting” with a particular balance of daydreaming and detachment. She can’t – and doesn’t try to – sell us the idea that the singer actually loves her age-five sweetheart, but she can sell us the idea that she’s used her belief in that ideal love to wall herself off from any other. It’s a cold, sad, effective performance, marred slightly by a rather bored spoken word sequence and backed up by a suitably opulent arrangement (it’s easily the most expensive-sounding Number One of the period). Ultimately maybe it’s even too effective – the walls the protagonist puts up stops the song from touching me that much. But I admire Ross for having the poise and intelligence to save “I’m Still Waiting” from its lyric’s luring sentimentality.

{democracy:29}

SPECIAL POPULAR REQUEST: To my horror, I have discovered that my copy of “Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West)”, cuts off before the end. This obviously makes it difficult to review properly, also I want to know what happens. If anyone can provide freakytrigger at gmail dot com with an MP3, I’d be very grateful. Benefactors can remain anonymous if they wish.

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Comments

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  1. 26
    wichita lineman on 15 Oct 2009 #

    Every time he’s played it since 1971! I suppose I’d be pretty proud of plucking an album track, convincing UK Tamla to release it, then watching it sail to number one. Even more astonishing that UK Tamla did the same with Tears Of A Clown, then watched the parent company copy them back home where it ALSO went to number one.

    Waldo, I love Remember Me too, but always struggle with the line “remember me as a big balloon.” More likely to remember her as a tiny twiglet.

    A similarly unflattering description – yesterday I saw a copy of the original Rave magazine* that featured Peter Frampton, “the face of ’68″, on the cover. Except the actual wording was “the big new face of ’68″.

    *in the Beatles To Bowie exhinbition at the NPG which is very good indeed.

  2. 27
    Jimmy the Swede on 21 Aug 2011 #

    On POTP this week, this was top and I braced myself for Tony’s usual party piece about how he had personally got this released as a single. To be perfectly fair, he only mentioned it in passing this time. Five seconds max. Sensational!

  3. 28
    punctum on 22 Aug 2011 #

    He seemed agreeably bamboozled by Family’s “In My Own Time” and by Loud Heavy Rock in general.

    A curiously affecting chart, that 1971 one; all songs about or by the dispossessed, whether “Back Street Luv” or “Soldier Blue.” Made me irresistibly think of the current, astonishing top five.

  4. 29
    wichita lineman on 23 Aug 2011 #

    RIP Nick Ashford who wrote Di’s two hits either side of ISW – Surrender and Remember Me, both magnificent. The latter received much love on Mike’s Which Decade blog, the former was first performed by UK girl group The Carrolls, with comedienne Faith Brown on lead vocals. From ’66, very different to D Ross’s take, but it’s marvellous: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHbRdQSpy_g

  5. 30
    Jimmy the Swede on 29 Aug 2011 #

    The intro to “In My Own Time” is enough to bamboozle anyone. I think it’s a pity that “Monkey Spanner” was ignored but had to smile when Tony’s rundown merely mentioned “Leap Up And Down” without even the group name. Why this silly record is still airbrushed out beggars belief.

    Wichita – As I opined upthread, I think “Remember Me” was/is a fabulous offering from Diana and a good deal better than Tony’s love child, which he clearly still adores.

  6. 31
    AndyPandy on 29 Aug 2011 #

    He might have ignored ‘Monkey Spanner’ now but the TOTP clip from 1971 when ‘Double Barrel’ is number one is on Youtube and he seems genuinely please its number 1 – says “it’s” sensational or words to that effect. Those 1971 TOTPs are in a different league to 1976 or anything subsequent and once again show you what we lost with the mass wipings.

  7. 32
    wichita lineman on 30 Aug 2011 #

    I thought TB’s intro to In My Own Time was pretty funny – I wouldn’t want Roger Chapman moving in next door to me either.

    Did anyone mention Chapman as an influence on Feargal Sharkey? Never occurred to me at the time but hard to miss in retrospect.

  8. 33
    Jimmy the Swede on 1 Sep 2012 #

    Blackburn played this chart again today and once again: “I got that released as a single. I may have mentioned that before..” Ho hum.

  9. 34
    wichita lineman on 2 Sep 2012 #

    Bit harsh there Swede! It was very much in passing (as it was last year). I just caught the end of the ’71 chart but heard all of the ’84 one. Holy crap. It may have been a year for “event” number ones (and “party records”) but it was a godawful chart. At least he didn’t play On The Wings Of Love.

  10. 35
    Jimmy the Swede on 2 Sep 2012 #

    Perhaps I am a bit unfair on Bannockburn, Lineman, but I’d just love him to just for once play the record and say nothing. At least he played Family again.

  11. 36
    punctum on 3 Sep 2012 #

    From the playlist it sounds like the exact same programme he did last year. Wonder if he made the same crack about Roger Chapman, except I don’t wonder at all.

    All these chart shows (I say all; there are two) have to realise that there’s only so much you can get from juggling the same floating crap game of charts year after year and when so many charts are ruled out for stupid demographic reasons – can’t play G*ry Gl*tt*r, don’t play punk or New Pop or rap or dance music, don’t play anything liable to wake the audience up – the exercise becomes pointless.

    We gave up on POTP ages ago and now are either out or listening to 6Music. Much more pleasant.

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