Mar 08

TAMMY WYNETTE – “Stand By Your Man”

FT + Popular107 comments • 5,219 views

#370, 3rd May 1975

I only have a surface-skimming knowledge of country music, but it’s pretty obvious what’s great about it: songs about grown-up situations and emotions, with clear, well-turned lyrics, whose singers often have gorgeous, expressive voices – what’s to dislike? But stereotypes stick to the genre – particularly at an ocean’s distance: sentiment, traditionalism, religiosity, a willingness to be trite or didactic. These are big hurdles for a lot of listeners, though none of them is as true, as often as the people who utterly dismiss country might imagine. None of them are even a deal-breaker for me – something I like about country is that I can disagree with what’s in a song at the same time as I enjoy it.

Country is a near-total absence from British charts now: in the 1970s, though, there was a clear market for it and the big hits did extremely well – especially if, as in this case, they had year to build up demand before an eventual release. I didn’t know, coming to write this entry, that “Stand By Your Man” wasn’t a 1975 hit, and knowing that Wynette and George Jones divorced in the mid-70s I’d heard bitterness in its tears, and its lyrics that essentially present men as helpless, defective children. My Dad, who loves the song, used to chuckle over Wynette’s multiple real-life marriages, understanding that the pleasure in country lies partly in how it briefly, artfully paints a life and situation in a few minutes. Whether the singer lived the song didn’t seem to be the point.

I may enjoy country but ultimately I don’t share its sensibilities: the lachrymose wobbles and almost-cracks in the vocal do feel over-the-top to me, and the record can’t quite win freshness back from crushing over-familiarity. But the sardonic, wounded intensity of Wynette’s performance is a keeper whether it’s your first time hearing it or your thousandth.



  1. 1
    crag on 11 Mar 2008 #

    Wow! Am I really going to be the first comment?!
    I too have a less than huge knowledge of Country buti know what i like and two of my favorite kinds are the 40s/50s “white mans blues”sounds of Cash, Williams, etc and at the other extreme the ultra-syrupy, funny-if-it-wasnt-slightly creepy Porter Wagoner, “Drop Kick Me Jesus” stuff. This falls between the two stools-too genuinely soulful (for want of a better word)to be a cheesefest like, say, Red Sovine but on the over hand, too maudlin and over-sincere to compare with Dolly or Kenny’s work in the 70’s. Not a bad record by any stretch of the imagination but it doesnt really move me. 5 out of 10.
    (PS Wheres ur mark out of 10, Tom?)

  2. 2
    Rosie on 11 Mar 2008 #

    I know it best from its appearance in the Jack Nicholson film Five Easy Pieces (one of his best, if not the best). That film was from well before 1975 so yes, I knew it before it was a number one, and I’m not sure I knew it was a number one.

    Country music is an area where I feel uncomfortable treading. I’m well aware that I share many of the prejudices that Tom alludes to, and in the past I’ve been liable to say things like “I like all kinds of music – except Country”. But then, there’s a lot of country music that I have liked a lot. I like Johnny Cash, for example. We’ve just been discussing Buddy Holly, who would presumably have regarded himself as a Country performer first and foremost. And where would we be without Bob Dylan, after all?

    But still, while I can appreciate the intensity of what, if you either ignore the mawkishness or treat it as irony (almost certainly not intended), is a pretty good song there’s something about this kind of thing that sets my teeth on edge. I think it’s another prejudice – the twangy delivery that is as much the mark of the archetypal Country singer (and just as irritating) as the affected finger-in-ear nasality of a certain kind of traditional folk-singer.

    Though utterly familiar, I can’t place it in a 1975 context, only one that takes me back to my sixth-form days, and another in the future when things appeared to be falling apart. But we’ll get to that time in due course.

  3. 3
    Marcello Carlin on 11 Mar 2008 #

    In West Central Scotland country was, and is, the dominant popular music, and given the historical links between Scots emigres and Appalachian settlements this is hardly surprising, but generally on the mainstream charts it had hitherto largely appeared in heavily diluted form (“Make The World Go Away,” “It’s Four In The Morning,” Jim Reeves passim) or as a novelty (“A Boy Named Sue”).

    (Indeed the biggest selling single in Scotland in 1964, far outdoing Beatles, Stones and Reeves alike, was “Nobody’s Child” by the Alexander Brothers, which didn’t chart at all nationally until Karen Young covered it five years later – they were a sort of proto-Proclaimers with kilts and accordions and no spectacles)

    That having been said, I cannot for the life of me remember how or why this record suddenly took off in Britain eight years after it had been recorded (theories and explanations are welcome). A suitably tearful and stirring performance to be sure, but it’s unsettling how something like “I Am Woman” could miss our charts completely and this go straight to number one.

    Oh, and Tom, how many marks are you giving this?

  4. 4
    Erithian on 11 Mar 2008 #

    I’m sure others will be better versed than me in the story of Tammy Wynette’s marriage to George Jones, the wife-beating allegations and the exhumation of her body a year after her death – and we’ll have a full discussion further on! As for the song itself (whose appearance here will be a surprise to our North American readers, since it was originally released in 1968), it said nothing to me as I became a teenager while it was number 1, and it was one of those number ones that you just tolerated while waiting for something better to come along (although the one that did come along was much, much worse). It’s a decent song and well performed, but not really part of my world.

    My first reaction on thinking about the song was that my favourite version was the one on the Blues Brothers soundtrack, performed by the band behind a cage protecting them from flying bottles in the bar where “we do both kinds of music – country AND western”. It got me thinking about the tension between country, which is lampooned in the film, and black music, which is celebrated. Some tension must exist for obvious historical reasons – I wonder if that’s still the case?

    There was a nice exchange at the Grammys this year when Vince Gill picked up the award for best country album, presented by Ringo Starr, and said “I just got an award from a Beatle! That ever happen to you yet, Kanye?” Cut to fellow Grammy winner Kanye West in the audience with no choice but to smile for the cameras. But what were the emotions behind it?

  5. 5
    Waldo on 11 Mar 2008 #

    Wot? Country music at the top of the UK singles chart? What’s that all about, then? As Alan Hansen would say: “Shocking defending!” In analysis, it seems to me that this was another one for the girls but certainly not the “wimmin”, who would have been infuriated by Tammy’s subservience to a bloke who’s almost certainly a bastard. On a comic note, I remember when Bill Clinton was up for election the first time and his wife (can’t remember her name) said straight out, with Bill sitting next to her, that she would be quite different as First Lady and that she would certainly “not be Tammy Wynette”, which was mighty strange when you think about it because that’s precisely whom she ended up being when Bill got up to serious naughties with Monica etc. He got away with it all, of course, because he’s a Democrat but that’s another story. As far as SBYM is concerned, this was another which left me open-mouthed as to how the hell it took our chart by storm, especially so many years after it was recorded. I just couldn’t figure out its catchment area. It seemed to be a fish out seriously out of its water. All very odd.

  6. 6
    David Belbin on 11 Mar 2008 #

    Nothing suspicous about Tammy’s death: from http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/125702/the_life_and_times_of_tammy_wynette.html?page=6

    At the time of her death, it was reported she had died in her sleep of a blood clot in her lungs. Tammy’s daughters launched a very public smear campaign with her widower, George Richey. The daughters launched a campaign to have their mother’s body exhumed and autopsied. To set the rumors to rest, George Richey authorized the, and the autopsy revealed that drugs, namely Versed, a painkiller, were present in Tammy’s system at the time of her death, and that she had died of a cardiac arrhythmia.

    Let’s not forget her great performance with KLF on ‘Justified And Ancient’, which sadly only got to number two so won’t be discussed here. I don’t know why this single was released so late. I do know that Lyle Lovett released a version of it on his third album that is tender and completely lacking in irony.

  7. 7
    Marcello Carlin on 11 Mar 2008 #

    Going back briefly to Bobby Goldsboro’s second wind with “Honey,” I do recall that its revival was due to an absurd competition Noel Edmonds held on his R1 breakfast show where you voted for The Saddest Song Ever, and “Honey” came top. And I hated it the second time around even more avidly than I did the first (tragic wife as Old Shep? No thanks, Bob)…

    With SBYM I fancy that one Mr Wogan might have had a hand in this but I can’t honestly remember.

  8. 8
    crag on 11 Mar 2008 #

    Certainly there was/is some conflict between country and “black music”(re: #4),no doubt due to the conflict between certain white and black people (particularly in the areas where country first originated) but theres been plenty crossover too- Elvis, the “White Negro”,obviously,soaked in both the country and blues sounds of his youth but other examples could include Chuck Berry and James Brown both covering Hank Williams songs, Dolly Parton recording Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher”, Tina Turner releasing several country albums in the 70s, and the success of Charlie Pride a hugely popular black country singer- not forgetting rapper Nelly and Country singer Tim McGraw’s duet “Over and Over” a few years back.
    I’d say that the musical cross-fertilization between the two genres outweighs any major tensions-perhaps the most obvious reason why Vince Gill made his comments at the Grammys is that he’s maybe just a bit of an arse.

  9. 9
    Marcello Carlin on 11 Mar 2008 #

    Unfortunately whenever I see the name Vince Gill I think not of country or Kanye but of top Tory crooner Vince Hill who nearly had to be written about here back in ’67 with his heartrending rendition of “Edelweiss.”

  10. 10
    Rosie on 11 Mar 2008 #

    In David Lodge’s novel, Small World, a character at a literary conference asks if the novel was born when the Epic fucked the Romance. Can it be that Rock was born when Country fucked the Blues?

  11. 11
    Dan R on 11 Mar 2008 #

    If ever there was a classic recording rendered almost unlistenable by familiarity and prejudice, it’s this. The familiarity of the song is partly the classicism of the songwriting, the arrangement and the performance: it’s so patently ‘how a song should be done’ that it must have struck ears at the time as already familiar (rather like Paul McCartney’s biggest hit, but that’s for later). Certainly, a song that spawns its own parodies so quickly must have a level of emotional instantaneity about it. And it’s emotional directness that for me characterises much country music, from the philosophically regretful (Hank Williams’s ‘It’s no use to deny / We’ve been living a lie’) to the plainspoken avowal of feeling (Tom T Hall’s ‘Thank you for your precious time / Excuse me if I start crying’).

    In our ironic times, of course, this is easy to laugh at, and STAND BY YOUR MAN has become ironised in its own way: as kitschy excess (a drag queen standard) or as anti-feminist submission (Hilary Clinton). One year, returning home from the Edinburgh Festival, I reflected that if I had a pound for every time I’d seen STAND BY YOUR MAN used ironically in a feminist theatre show, I’d have £2. A literal-minded reading of the song would accuse it of countenancing domestic abuse but the song’s much subtler than that.

    As Tom says, country music’s classicism allows one to admire the whole experience of a song, without subscribing to the detail of its contents. I have a hefty Louvin Brothers box set that is regularly punctured by gruesome Baptist pieties that would appal me in a friend, but are enjoyable simply because it gives another chance to hear the astonishing thin steel of their harmonies.

    Tammy Wynette breaks all the rules. The purists of country music often say that the catch in the voice, the emotional sob that parodists love to hate, should be reserved for the last verse, ‘when you’ve got a damn reason to cry’. (This is one of the many reason why Garth Brooks was widely deprecated in the country music fraternity – as Kinky Friedman once put it, ‘Garth Brooks is my second favourite country singer. My favourite is everybody else.’) Tammy Wynette gets crying right from the first line.

    But this sets up the basic dichotomy of the song, the sorrows of an unhappy marriage and then the ability (embodied wholly in the voice) to soar above these problems and find strength from somewhere. It may have played into a rather particularly British conception of emotion; that fighting back the tears and soldiering on is a rather noble way to live. Tammy Wynette’s voice is an extraordinary instrument that can seemingly channel pure emotional strength, going from 0 to 60 in seconds. (Listen to the unbelievably mawkish mainly-spoken ‘No Charge’; when she eventually sings, it somehow justifies all the hideous melodrama we’ve just gritted our teeth through). I suspect the reaction of most people who like it is that they see it as more than a musical manifesto by Homemakers for America; it’s the feminist equivalent of a tragic gay anthem, a song that embodies the miseries of a bad marriage and the way one can surprise oneself with the strength you find to carry on.

    Why did it become a hit then? Who knows. The Tammy Wynette/George Jones on-off divorce had been a soap opera for a couple of years at this stage, and unusually documented in song , but none of this seems of has registered on this side of the Atlantic. Was there some TV show this featured on?

  12. 12
    marc h. on 11 Mar 2008 #

    Candi Staton’s cover is worth a listen, too.

  13. 13
    Marcello Carlin on 11 Mar 2008 #

    Candi Staton’s version is shatteringly brilliant; virtually turns the song on its head.

    Sadly, there is an inferior domestic version of “No Charge” to be taken into Popular consideration in due course…

    The Louvin Brothers are a good comparison; such superb and oddly silky harmony work that one is tempted to overlook what they’re singing, which in most cases is as extreme as anything you’d find in contemporary hardcore rap. The grain of their voices exceeds the content.

    Good post, Dan.

  14. 14
    Erithian on 11 Mar 2008 #

    Marcello mentioned in the “Which Decade” survey on Troubled Diva that Solomon King’s “She Wears My Ring” was beloved of prospective wifebeaters all over Scotland. Wonder if this was what their other halves were listening to?! I think BBC2 started showing “Sing Country” sometime in the 70s, and perhaps there was a clip of Tammy at the Opry there.

    I remember the Noel Edmonds thing, though I think it was called “most emotional song ever”. IIRC, “Patches” by Clarence Carter was number two in that list.

    Dan’s words about “a song that spawns its own parodies so quickly” remind us that Tammy’s next hit was soon to do just that. Veering close to spoiler territory, but “I couldnae keep ma hands off it…”

  15. 15
    mike on 11 Mar 2008 #

    I wish I could shed some light on how this came to be a hit 7 years on, but sadly I’m as mystified as everyone else. (Some sort of news-related tie-in with her divorce from George Jones the same year?) Anyhow, here’s a quote from Tammy, talking to the NME in 1991, around the time that “Justified And Ancient” was released:

    “There’s songs of mine that I get really sick of. When you consider I recorded ‘Stand By Your Man’ for the first time 23 years ago and I’ve probably sung it four or five times a week since then, you can imagine how it gets to me. Still, it gave me a career, so I really shouldn’t complain.”

    With hindsight, it seems a shame that the song was so angrily condemned by the feminist movement, as this seems to indicate an obstructive over-literalism and an inability to empathise with the song’s undercurrents of sadness and pain. But such were the times, and there were serious battles to be fought, and who’s to say that the nuances that we see now were even detectable then, under the sheer weight of that titular polemic?

  16. 16
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 11 Mar 2008 #

    wiki sez it wasn’t actually released in the uk until 1975 — i guess this belatedness needs its own explanation* — but it might have been gone on to be a hit in ’75 because (a) it was played a lot (bcz uk djs already knew it and liked it, and felt it hadn’t had a “proper chance” yet) and (b) the public liked it (bcz it’s a strong clear memorable song which resonated with them)

    it doesn’t have to be a piggyback reason does it?

    *but it might just have been a bit of label slowpokery back at the time — or some now-forgotten issue of licensing and distribution unresolved (was worldwide simultaneous release the rule yet in 1968?) — which held it back enough that the label felt they missed their window?

  17. 17
    Billy Smart on 11 Mar 2008 #

    TOTP Watch: Tammy Wynette recorded studio performances of both this and D.I.V.O.R.C.E for the BBC on the same day. Yes, you’ve guessed it, the BBC didn’t keep either.

    If Ian Gittins’ enjoyable TOTP book is to be believed, Wynette was insufficiently briefed about what to expect, and was upset to be appearing inbetween ‘Black Pudding Bertha’ by The Goodies and ‘Wombling White Tie and Tails’, protesting that “I was told that this was a music programme, not a freak show!”

  18. 18
    Dan R on 11 Mar 2008 #

    Yes! What is so remarkable about Candi Staton’s version is that it entirely expunges any suggestion that the problem in the relationship is that the man has behaved badly in the trad country sense (drinkin’, cheatin’, beatin’ on his woman). It’s a reading that takes very seriously the line about ‘he’s just a man’ and it seems more about the fallibility of men, their (sorry, our) weaknesses, inadequacies, and it becomes about a heartfelt determination to see men through these moments.

  19. 19
    Rosie on 11 Mar 2008 #

    It’s not as if this is the only 1975 number one that reached number one years after its release, is it? Although the one I have in mind did have an earlier chart life at a time when it was more apposite. I’ll have more to say on why that is a mystery to me when we get there.

  20. 20
    Kat but logged out innit on 11 Mar 2008 #

    I can’t think of this song without being reminded of the wonderful Sesame Street parody, ‘Stand By Your Can’ by Hammy Swinette. Alas it’s only on Youtube in Dutch: http://youtube.com/watch?v=0DZP2Bx4BLg

  21. 21
    Tom on 11 Mar 2008 #

    I put my mark out of 10 (a 6), date and # into the usual fields and then they didn’t appear – and I was racing off to East Grinstead to be at a focus group so no time to correct it. I will have a tinker.

  22. 22
    admin on 11 Mar 2008 #

    Tom, all i can think of is that you might be putting the value (6 for the score) in to the wrong box. there is the drop down menu to choose ‘pop_score’ from. The box next to that is NOT the box to put the score in – that’s an alternative to specify data not listed in the menu.

    It’s the next and larger box under the legend ‘Value’ that you should fill in. When you hit submit the page doesn’t reload, but you should see your data listed in the ‘Custom Fields’ section of the page directly above where you input the data.

    Hope this helps fix things.

  23. 23
    Tom on 11 Mar 2008 #

    No, it’s not that – I have been using the system happily for ages.

    It only messes up on my work machine – did you upgrade wordpress recently as it has had this problem after similar things? Internet Explorer probably to blame!

  24. 24
    Lex on 11 Mar 2008 #

    The first time I became aware of this song was when Hillary Clinton cited it!

  25. 25
    Billy Smart on 12 Mar 2008 #

    I’ve always liked the ska version by Marlene Webber on the Trojan ‘Tighten Up Volume Four’ compilation. I think that its near-impossible for any female singer who approaches this song with sincere intent not to radiate the hurt of lived experience.

  26. 26
    Brian on 12 Mar 2008 #

    Throughout my posts I have made a few references to country and have many fave artists that are deemed country. Lyle Lovett being one of them and, as cited above he does a fabulous cover of this song.

    I like country for 2 reasons. Songwriting and musicianship.

    I have always been drawn to well written songs and I find that country music places songwriting first. You may not agree with or like the subject matter but , usually, songs are well crafted. Here I am talking about Lyle Lovett, Steve Earle, Dwight Yoakem , Hank WIlliams , Bob Dylan , Jessie WInchester,George Staight,and legions of others for whomn the song comes first.

    In listening and seeing a good few country acts I have seen players and singers ( many unknown session players ) that could peel the frets off any guitar and would make the likes of Jimmy Page and Clapton pray for mercy.

    In knowing the that the song is the thing the players of country music approach each song with a reverence not always afforded in rock or pop.

    Of course , many will here definitions of New Country and Classic country but the 2 guiding principals seem always to be in in tact. good songs – played well.

    I once had the pleasure to be in Fort Worth , Texas with a day off. I went to the Stockyards Festival ( where Billy Bob’s saloon is )and I saw about 10 acts that completely blew me away – none of which I knew at the time but the day was glorious, music direct and the playing more than accomplished. I wouldn’t trade that day for a day Glastonbury……

  27. 27
    Marcello Carlin on 12 Mar 2008 #

    Does Bob Dylan really count as “country” apart from two albums in the late sixties?

  28. 28
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 12 Mar 2008 #

    Yes! He er “stars” in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid = he will always be hopalong bob to me

  29. 29
    Brian on 12 Mar 2008 #

    Does Dylan fit into any category ?

  30. 30
    Marcello Carlin on 12 Mar 2008 #

    Bah, Dylan is rogue popist element in Club Peckinpah.

  31. 31
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 12 Mar 2008 #

    he is the zero in every chart

  32. 32
    Marcello Carlin on 12 Mar 2008 #

    Only if you consider the zero to be equivalent to the “O” in Ornette.

  33. 33
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 12 Mar 2008 #

    also: GOTH (“where black is the colour”)

    why yes i do have something urgent to finish at work right now why do you ask?

  34. 34
    Marcello Carlin on 12 Mar 2008 #

    GOTH < GOTW (i.e. “Go to the window” McKern to Ringo).

  35. 35
    Brian on 14 Mar 2008 #

    As this entry seems to have come to dead stop, thought I’d post this from todays Guardian……

    What was the worst year in rock history? One contender is 1960, the middle of the dead zone between rock’n’roll’s decline and the Beatles’ rise. The late Tony Wilson always maintained it was 1975, telling interviewers that it was “almost impossible to remember how awful music was” in a year when the charts were variously topped by Billy Connolly, Telly Savalas and Typically Tropical’s Barbados, the latter featuring the ever-delightful sound of white British session musicians doing here-come-de-Lilt-man West Indian accents.

  36. 36
    Tom on 14 Mar 2008 #

    NO SPOILERS!! :)

    Popular commenteers waiting for the next entry (tomorrow I hope) are advised to go vote in Europop 2008 – still up on the FT front page! Hotfish Porky needs your support (or hate).

  37. 37
    Marcello Carlin on 14 Mar 2008 #

    Brian xpost:

    To be perfectly honest I would much prefer to slice my ears off with a Woolworths chainsaw and eat the debris with arsenic sauce than have to read another word that execrable cacafuego writes.

    Petridis is the worst example of the self-satisfied UK broadsheet music writing corpus, viz. “I couldn’t hack it as a magazine editor/TV presenter so now I’m going to seep my smug spite into every pathetic little first grade level ‘analysis’ I write and spit fretloads of envy towards people whose writing I secretly wish to emulate while still pretending I’m in a tower far above them.”

    If you read further down that piece, he can’t even get the year right – breakbeat garage and Elbow both came to prominence in 2001 and no doubt he’ll do his usual carping about anality but if you’re going to talk about worst years in music then you have to be year-exact. That’s when he’s not wasting his time trying to belittle me in GQ magazine without even having the guts to name me.

    It’s that sort of thing which made me glad that I didn’t pursue a full-time writing career, since if that’s the kind of monster it would have turned me into then I had a narrow escape.

  38. 38
    Lena on 14 Mar 2008 #

    There is no such thing as a worst year in music, though there are times when things wane – but even then, there are always good things, you just have to look for them harder…it all depending, of course, on what you like in the first place. Such common understandings as this are not likely to cause much in the way of blog hits/comments though, so M. Petridis has no interest in peddling them – from the above comment I think he either doesn’t know or care about accuracy in general…I wonder how much of his writing is done on the fly…

    And even if it was a let’s-just-say battle of bad years, 1975 isn’t (from my US perspective) a bad one at all. Just today I heard “Fly, Robin, Fly” and heard the ghost of New Pop to come, for instance. And there are songs to come this year that are (as I think I’ve said before!) almost indescribable…

    When I think of this song, I am reminded of the fact that the women’s movement in the UK and in the US were running along similar lines chronologically, with the UK actually ahead in the 60s – though there is always a difference between what the government enables through law and the social world, the culture (nature?) of a country. “I Am Woman” famously made it to #1 as the 70s began, but was unknown in the UK – that is a song which has “yes, I am wise/but it’s wisdom born from pain/yes I’ve paid the price/but look how much I’ve gained – If I have to, I can do anything.” “Stand By Your Man” sings Tammy, close to breaking down, her own pain in her voice for all to hear, her own wisdom coming out of that pain. In some ways, the Helen Reddy anthem grows naturally out of Tammy’s song, but I am sure if in 1975 the women of the UK (I can’t imagine many men buying this, though I’m sure some did) were listening and nodding with their own wisdom. I’m glad Tammy finally left that relationship and I hope she found a better one – certainly with the KLF she got the respect she deserved, even if the crown she wore in the video was too heavy…

  39. 39
    Billy Smart on 15 Mar 2008 #

    I think that at any given point in pop history there’s always something really exciting going on somewhere, and what fluctuates is how close the interesting stuff happens to the cultural mainstream. And you can’t have a better barometer of the cultural mainstream in pop than the best selling song!

  40. 40
    crag on 15 Mar 2008 #

    I thought( in terms of mainstream/pop/chart music at least)2007 was pretty awful actually- in even the other supposed “lowpoints” -’60, 75 etc etc- u could (and i have done)at the very least knock together a great cd or comp tape of the best “big hits”of the year. But last year was a real struggle- am i just getting old or was i merely listening in the wrong places?

  41. 41
    Waldo on 16 Mar 2008 #

    I commend those of you who are still seeking out “big hits of the year” in 2007 and 2008. Not so, me. If such music is not played by Bruce/Vine/Wright, it would simply not appear on my radar. Feedings via the Today programme (my wake-up staple) are also more than a tad rare.

    Crag – I have no idea what age you are but you are never too old to pursue an interest in popular music. This certainly is no less a crime than those of us in early middle age doing exactly what we are doing here on this project and enjoying it.

  42. 42
    crag on 16 Mar 2008 #

    Appreciate the comments Waldo (I’m 34 btw)-obviously i still love popular music(wouldnt be here if i didnt)and am continually discovering ‘new’ tracks- albiet usually ones recorded during the previous century! I do think the current pop scene is going thru a rather fallow patch at the mo but then again i’m sure plenty felt the same way in the mid-70s- little knowing what was round the corner…
    IMO any real music lover should always keep an eye on the current charts to find out whats happening in the same way they should try to investigate as many different genres as poss- just to expand their knowledge and enjoyment of music in general. I may not enjoy Pussycat Dolls for example but at least i know enough about their music to have an opinion.
    Waldo, IIRC youv said in previous posts you are planning to “leave” us when we reach the 80s- please reconsider. I enjoy ur comments and besides, it may result in you discovering some great new music from a period you had previously ignored or dismissed.
    Sorry, we’re getting a bit ahead of our ourselves…

  43. 43
    jeff w on 16 Mar 2008 #

    Waldo, if you really do listen to Ken Bruce regularly then you are hearing what’s popular right now. Not the complete picture, sure, but more than a taste.

  44. 44
    Billy Smart on 16 Mar 2008 #

    Between the ages of about 12 and 27 I knew almost everything that was going on in pop at the time, but – unless you’re a Simon Reynolds type miracle man – that does tend to fade as you realise that it takes an awful lot of effort, you’re interested in other things than popular music, and you get more and more interested in things that happened before your time.

    Also, most of the sources of my routine for following pop have gone; Melody Maker, Smash Hits, John Peel, Top of the Pops!

    I’m glad that I’ve had that youth of avidly following and investigating events and trends of the day, because its carried over into how I think about and respond to music later in life. But these days I tend to think that if anything exciting is going on, it’ll probably come to my attention at some later stage.

  45. 45
    crag on 16 Mar 2008 #

    “Also, most of the sources of my routine for following pop have gone; Melody Maker, Smash Hits, John Peel, Top of the Pops!”
    Excellent point, BS. I feel part of the problem is, while its easier than ever to hear new music(downloads, Youtube etc etc) its now much harder to get exposure to any new stuff by accident, in passing such as TV or radio. Music seems much less an intrinsic part of peoples everyday lifes than it was even 5 years ago.
    The other problem is the fact that, since the inclusion of downloads, the top 40 has slowed down in terms of new entries, chart climbers and fallers and so on to such an extent that they seem to be in genuine danger of freezing altogether, with the same 40 tracks in the chart for months on end, swapping places occassionally.Mark Ronson’s “Valerie” celebrated its 25th week in the charts this week! No suprise u can get a little jaded…

  46. 46
    Waldo on 17 Mar 2008 #

    Jeff – I accept that Ken Bruce does indeed lob in music from today, which is why I knew “Mercy”. I have to say that when I do listen to Radio 2, I tend to pick up the Bruce/Vine divide and then Wrighty if I’m in the car. But, of course, the amount of modern stuff played is microscopic in comparison to regulation pop stations.

    Billy makes the other point perfectly. There comes a time (perhaps I should say that there came a time for me) that you garner interests in other area with a corresponding disinterest in music of the day. This is particularly true, as Billy says, when your sources vanish and the friends with whom you associate with following pop/rock move on also.

    Crag – Thanks for your kind words. But I really will be ducking out after “Another Prick Has A Fall” (so appropriate for my departure), simply because 1979 saw the end of not only my official childhood but my innocence too and I feel that it is a good time to get out. Plenty of fun to be had before then, though. It’s still only 1975!

  47. 47
    Marcello Carlin on 17 Mar 2008 #

    In one of the early editions of the Guinness Book of Hit Singles, Tim Rice made the very astute observation that after about the age of eighteen the sheep very distinctly get separated from the goats in terms of pop music; most relegate it to a background role in their lives but some of us continue to want to follow it and find out as much about it as possible as it is happening.

    Then of course there is Danny Baker’s telling remark that “something bad always happens to music when you’re 26.”

    With the downloads, the charts are actually settling back down to the way they used to be, when 30-40 week runs were not uncommon. I do like the sense of stability but what hasn’t returned with the new chart setup is the thrill of following the race, i.e. your favourite act entering at a low position (because even by 1975 standards, records very rarely made first-week top ten debuts) and then watching them strive to climb as high as possible, and if you’re exceptionally lucky even get to number one. Too often now, future number ones get telegraphed so far ahead that even Stevie Wonder could see them coming.

  48. 48
    Erithian on 17 Mar 2008 #

    I hadn’t heard that Danny Baker quote before, but darn right something bad happened to music when I was 26. In my case (and Mike’s, since he’s outed himself age-wise as well) what happened was 1988. I caught Dale doing the 1988 top 20 yesterday (“you were all loving listening to Rick Astley”) and it wasn’t pretty.

    Crikey, Marcello – when were 30-40 week chart runs “not uncommon”? Anything over 15 was very impressive, and 30 would have got you onto the Guinness Book’s “longest runners” list. No doubt the long runs now are due to the download factor, as witness the revival towards the end of the year of the year’s biggest hits as people downloaded them for parties I guess. I noticed one week Rihanna had three top 40 singles all going up in the same week. So can anyone who still monitors the chart week-by-week (as I stopped doing in 1988!) give us the week-by-week placings for the likes of “Umbrella”, “Valerie”, “Rockstar” and the other long stayers?

  49. 49
    crag on 17 Mar 2008 #

    I don’t monitor the charts every single week- simply for the reason i outlined above- the vast majority of the songs in the chart rundown i heard yesterday were also in the chart the last time i listened at the start of Feb!

    I remember reading that one year in the mid 90s( cant recall which) was the first in chart history to have more than 1000 new chart entries. The top 40 in the 90s was a very fastmoving time- it seemed an achievement if a song hung around for more than a month and a half. It was at times frustrating and more than a little bewildering but it at least had the advantage that if you didnt like the tracks in the charts at the moment then dont worry, there would be another batch along in a minute or two.

    Obviously the record companies must be lapping up the current chart climate- not only do they not have to spend cash physically manufacturing cds anymore but if people are going to keep buying the same music for 6 months at a time then theres no need for them to shell out on recording new stuff. The music itself will surely be the victim- the Beatles made the leap from Help! to Strawberry Fields in the space of 18 months- nowadays in that same timescale Duffy will probably manage to go from releasing the first single from her album to the third. A perhaps unfair comparison i know but still…

  50. 50
    Marcello Carlin on 17 Mar 2008 #

    Ah, I’m glad you brought up the subject of yesterday’s Stalinist rewriting of history that was POTP March 1988 since unfortunately I have a major axe to grind about this.

    For me the charts of that period had some bloody miraculous moments and Dale managed to miss out nearly all the best of them. I don’t see how Radio 2 can continue to bury its head in the demographic sand and pretend that dance music, hip hop, House, indie etc. didn’t happen. Eric B, Bomb the Bass, Coldcut, the Primitives, even Eddy Grant’s anti-apartheid anthem – where were they? Whereas the migraine-inducing likes of Bros, ballad Whitney, Taja Sevelle and white-bread Aswad were there in abundance, no doubt to the joy of all the Phil Collins and Rod Stewart fans who allegedly are the programme’s core listenership (given how often they are played).

    There were moments of wonder – especially “I’m Not Scared” by Eighth Wonder which might be the eighth greatest pop single ever made – and also Kylie, Vanessa P and Belinda C, but the broadcast was a sham. Remember how the thrill of the Sunday chart rundown lay in the inherent conflict – in that you’d sit through dreary Dr Hook or Elkie Brooks ballads in the knowledge that there was an Ian Dury or a Buzzcocks coming up soon? Well, POTP is increasingly like a chart rundown where you just get the boring bits (or as old Roly Barthes called it, “studium”).

    They also did a loveless, partial rundown of the March 1963 chart, the inadequacies of which were thrown into even starker relief when compared with Mike Sweeney’s broadcast of the same chart on Capital Gold the previous Sunday – Top 20 played in full, most of 21-30 also played and an Actual Person Who Was In The Chart in the studio (Joe Brown), and it really gave you a far truer feel of what that time must have felt like.

    Also Capital Gold have ventured as far as 1988 before, and they apply the same policy; all hits are equal so you get your Glenn Medeiros and your Sinitta but also “Follow The Leader” and “Don’t Believe The Hype.”

    March 1988 was a great time for me and I strongly resent my musical memories from that period being swept under the R2 bed as though they counted for nothing.

    (oh, and one more thing; Dale made a big show yesterday about “Please Please Me” being the OFFICIAL number two but I’m with Rosie on this; it was number one on every other chart and Paul, Ringo and George Martin continue to regard it as their first chart topper so :-P to the BBC, basically)

    *pause for breath, count to ten, etc.*

    30+ week runs were a fairly common feature of the chart from their inception (and 20+ week runs even more so) and particularly in terms of the huge crossover MoR ballads of the sixties I think you’ll find several conspicuous long runs, not the least of which was the 122-week residency of Sinatra’s “My Way”; you don’t get very many in the seventies (though Boney M did 40 weeks with “Rivers Of Babylon/Brown Girl In The Ring” and so did Dawn with “Tie A Yellow Ribbon”) but in the early-mid eighties there’s a comeback with marathons like “Blue Monday,” “Relax,” “White Lines,” the Jennifer Rush “Power Of Love” and others. Even Gareth’s ghastly “Unchained Melody” did 30 weeks amidst the quick-change charts of 2002.

  51. 51
    Erithian on 17 Mar 2008 #

    I do sympathise, MC, even if your choice of what stood out in the ’88 chart doesn’t necessarily match mine (I’m not sure anything did, frankly). Until they’re forced to play a given chart in full, they’re always going to pick and choose what suits a Sunday afternoon audience. Maybe when the whole station is taken over by Radcliffe and Maconie…

    And at a suitable point in the future I’ll have to share memories of the glory that was Mike Sweeney’s Piccadilly Radio show in the late 70s/early 80s, along with the occasional play for a Salford Jets track. A thread on Tammy Wynette is possibly not that suitable point – perhaps I’ll save it for Abba. (If you were there you’ll know why!)

  52. 52
    Marcello Carlin on 17 Mar 2008 #

    My systems thinking for R2 weekend schedules:

    Get rid of huge otiose obstacle that is the Radio 2 Comedy Hour.

    Replace with POTP a la Capital Gold format – 2 hours, just one year, full chart and maybe different/better presenter.

    Broadcast at 1 pm on Saturday – will inherit Jonathan Ross’ audience; therefore more scope for more eclectic range of music.

    Perhaps move Maconie’s Saturday show to Sunday afternoons since it would fit in better with Johnnie Walker coming after it.

  53. 53
    Billy Smart on 17 Mar 2008 #

    Oh, you’ve got to keep Dale, though! I always find the occasional personal touches that refer back to his record-buying childhood, and DJing seventies youth slightly moving, and mercifully free of projected credibility: “Oooh! This is one of my favourites. At number seven, it’s Matt Monroe!”, etc.

    What could certainly be improved is his script, though. Sample annoyance: “‘I Heard it Through the Grapevine’ was the biggest-selling Motown single in Britain in the sixties. Amazing!” To which I find myself replying “Well, what’s amazing about that then? Something had to be!”

  54. 54
    Marcello Carlin on 17 Mar 2008 #

    Well yes but more often than not it’s just “good record,” “good single, that,” “good dance track” and Phil Swern’s statistics damned statistics (and frequently wrong statistics at that) and you can tell Dale’s sitting in a damp basement pre-taping it and he’s not really bothered. Does it really matter whether “Cross My Broken Heart” was the third of Sinitta’s nine Top 40 hits?

    One presenter who might work, if he’s still around – Paul Burnett.

    Or else keep Dale but hire me to write the scripts.

  55. 55
    mike on 17 Mar 2008 #

    Interesting to read people talking so thoughtfully about moving away from “following the charts”, without defaulting to the (to my mind) illusory “it all went rubbish!” defence. I like the Danny Baker quote about turning 26 – which happens in my case to be in 1988, in the week that some of us recently discussed at length on my blog. As it was the year of Bros & Kylie & Tiffany, and also the year of acid house and its attendant genres, I can well remember some of my contemporaries throwing up their hands in horror and deciding that Enough Was Enough.

    None of this explains why, at the ripe old age of 46, I still follow the charts, even if not to the same exacting degree that I did when I was 26. Some might say it was a case of arrested developement – but then, it’s not as if chart music makes up more than a fraction of my total listening. All I can say is that I still find developments in chart pop interesting, and that I have yet to be alienated by any of these developments (oh alright, nu-metal left me stone cold, but it was quick to pass).

    But then, since I was listening to music that was considered “too old” for me at the age of 12, it doesn’t surprise me that I’m listening to music that’s “too young” for me at 46. I absolutely always knew that this was going to happen, and I know it’s unusual, but then I’ve always resisted being shoe-horned into age/background-related demographics… don’t fence me in!

  56. 56
    mike on 17 Mar 2008 #

    Oh, Dale’s always had funny taste, dating back to his Radio Trent days (“Key Largo” by Bertie Higgins, anyone?), but I’ve always liked his enthusiasm, eg. when he played Irene Cara’s “Flashdance” on import 12″ and declared it the best single ever made!

  57. 57
    Marcello Carlin on 17 Mar 2008 #

    Yes but “Flashdance”! That’s like Peter Powell saying that Tron is the greatest film ever made “apart from other ones.”

  58. 58
    crag on 17 Mar 2008 #

    Like Mike, i too listened to music “too old” for me from the ages of approx 10-16 and bought no contemporary records at all but, oddly enough, still listened to the charts every tues on Gary Davis’s Bit in the Middle with great interest.

    The most distressing thing i’ve found about the current top 40 is that from my personal experience it seems to no longer hold much interest to young people.I would’nt be too suprised if I was chatting to someone in their mid-40s or even mid 30s about music and found that they were not up to speed with, say, Basshunter or Scouting for Girls. However in the job i recently left i was working w/ people aged mainly between 17 and 23 and none of them seemed to pay any attention to the charts whatsoever. Most of them seemed much more interested in the music of the 80s or 90s. Whenever i tried to turn conversation to new chart hits they seemed either disinterested or ignorant. It was very odd. Is this common or was i merely working with a bunch of deeply ungroovy people?

  59. 59
    Marcello Carlin on 17 Mar 2008 #

    You’re lucky – in my workplace, no one’s that interested in music, full stop!

    Not being up to speed with Basshunter or Scouting For Girls, however, is forgivable.

  60. 60
    crag on 17 Mar 2008 #

    Totally agree- In fact Scouting for Girls have recently been awarded the honour being IMO THE WORST BAND IN THE WORLD EVER.
    If u happen to be reading this, guys- well done!
    (btw the band they overtook in this coveted position will thankfully not be bothering us here at Popular till we reach 1991..no spoilers, mind..)

  61. 61
    Billy Smart on 17 Mar 2008 #

    It’s funny. When I was a sixth former my advocacy of, say, The Sundays, The Pixies or My Bloody Valentine was a source of great derision from my peers, but is now a source of retrospective cool with the undergraduates, “interested in the music of the 80s or 90s”, that I teach. I think that I’d have prefered to have had the credibility at the time, though!

  62. 62
    Marcello Carlin on 17 Mar 2008 #

    Entirely predictable question: what were your sixth form peers actually into?

    (entirely uneducated guesses: Gn’R, Runrig, Deacon Blue)

  63. 63
    mike on 17 Mar 2008 #

    My 13 year old niece is a big Scouting For Girls fan, and was even on the phone last night trying to blag a place onto the guest list for their Nottingham show. (I’ve got more in common with her 9 year old sister, who I’m taking to see Girls Aloud.)

    When we were all teenagers together, my three step-siblings had next to zero interest in the singles charts, out-voting me every week on Top Of The Pops versus The Bionic Woman (or was it the Six Million Dollar Man, I can’t recall). It was an early indicator that people who maintain an active interest in current chart music have perhaps always been in the minority.

  64. 64
    Billy Smart on 17 Mar 2008 #

    Good question – Guns ‘n’ Roses, Eurythmics, Beverly Craven, Fine Young Cannibals, Lisa Stansfield, Deacon Blue. Runrig never made much of an impression in Eltham!

  65. 65
    Billy Smart on 17 Mar 2008 #

    Oh, and up ’til 1989 I was at a top public school in South London, where U2 were much bigger than anything else. Move a few miles down the road to London’s biggest comprehensive and nobody liked them.

  66. 66
    Marcello Carlin on 17 Mar 2008 #

    I think we’ve found POTP‘s target demographic here!

  67. 67
    crag on 17 Mar 2008 #

    If only the young ‘uns i worked with who were “interested in the music of the 80s or 90s” were into Pixies, MBV etc.
    It was actually more like Ocean Color Scene, INXS and the Bluetones!

  68. 68
    Marcello Carlin on 17 Mar 2008 #

    This week’s definition of hell: “The Riverboat Song” on autorepeat forever and ever and ever.

  69. 69
    Rob M on 17 Mar 2008 #

    Ah, “The riverboat song”. For some reason, my band covered that in the late 90s, much to my chagrin, and I had to learn to play it (as lead guitarist), and hated every moment of rehearsing and playing it week after week. In a way, I was glad the band split up, just so I didn’t have to play it again.

  70. 70
    SteveM on 17 Mar 2008 #

    Good stuff on this thread – who says a little digression does a man harm?

    Getting a little back on topic tho, I just wish this hadn’t been the only #1 to feature Wynette.

  71. 71
    Caledonianne on 17 Mar 2008 #

    But it’s interesting what will unite people, musically. I work with two categories of people – members aged 37-50, but mostly in their mid-40s, and staff (26 – 32, apart from aged me).

    The senior statesman of the outfit read out from The Scotsman last week that Leonard Cohen is playing Edinburgh Castle. I immediately called my other half and began an “Edinburgh Castle or O2?” discussion. The 26 year old, immediately piped up – “Get me one!” (but he’s Canadian, so it could have been a ‘can’t miss the legendary compatriot’-type thing), and the 32-year old, said he wanted one, too. The bemused 50-year old immediately instructed the American interns to make sure nothing sharp was left lying around the office. Only for one of them to enquire “Who’s Leonard Cohen?”…

    In the end we opted for the O2. Edinburgh seats don’t seem to be on sale yet.

    Don’t know about ol’ Tammy but I’m sorely tempted by Dolly, same venue a couple of weeks earlier. If anyone had told me 20 years ago I’d be in the market for that one day, I’d have had a fit! Perhaps as you get older you just see your life turning into the narrative of a country song -“Something about motherhood this time; the song already had a truck”, as Harry Chapin said.

  72. 72
    Waldo on 18 Mar 2008 #

    Anne – Getting older may indeed see one’s life turning into the narrative of a country song. Waldo’s example would be when I suffered a touch of the old Chalfonts a couple of years ago, a clear acknowledgment to Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”.

  73. 73
    Marcello Carlin on 18 Mar 2008 #

    Apropos Dolly, interesting titbit (ahem) on the radio last night lifted from a recent National Enquirer interview:

    “When I talk to a man, I can always tell what he’s thinking by where he is looking. See, if he is looking at my eyes, he is looking for intelligence. If he is looking at my mouth, well, he is looking for wit and wisdom. But if he is looking anywhere else except my chest he is looking for another man!”

    As Mr Maconie remarked (for it was he): “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

  74. 74
    Waldo on 18 Mar 2008 #

    Ah yes, but nowadays if you avert your eyes from Dolly’s chest and scan towards her knees, you are still looking at her chest. Thus you are not a poof.

  75. 75
    Marcello Carlin on 18 Mar 2008 #

    Today’s definition of hell: The Magic Numbers “performing” “Islands In The Stream” on that beyond terrible Guilty Pleasures show on ITV the other weekend.

  76. 76
    Dan R on 18 Mar 2008 #

    Although an alternative interpretation is offered by the wonderful No Rock ‘n’ Roll Fun site. Maybe she’s saying that only a gay man in search of wisdom would turn to Dolly Parton.

  77. 77
    crag on 19 Mar 2008 #

    while we wait for Toms next entry (no hurry but i refer u to #36!)just to keep the chat going i was wondering if anyone has seen the top 20 best and worst Number 1s list in the current ish of Word magazine?I will avoid spoilers, however I noticed only one of Tom’s 10s so far makes into their top 20- Isrealites. V Pleased to see Cumberland Gap in there though- an amazing record which i only discovered thanks to Popular..

  78. 78
    Lena on 19 Mar 2008 #

    There’s a Guilty Pleasures tv show?!? What other songs were ‘performed’?

  79. 79
    Marcello Carlin on 19 Mar 2008 #

    Well, there was a one-off programme – it looked like a pilot – and it seems to have been received pretty unanimously as a unmitigated disaster, as most things presented by Fearne Cotton tend to be.

    And as usual, instead of absolving itself of all guilt and presenting itself as a straightforward variety show, the flow was interrupted/destroyed by a string of ITV rep reliable talking heads describing their own “guilty pleasures.”

    Not that there was much flow to begin with. The Feeling did Video Killed The Radio Star – a great and crucial record which stopped being a guilty pleasure around about the time Trevor Horn started producing Dollar. KT Tunstall slaughtered You’re The Voice by John Farnham, a song that wasn’t worth resuscitating in the first place. Craig David – oh, how the mighty have fallen – mumbled his way through If You Let Me Stay by Terence Trent D’Arby (huh? Guilty Pleasure? The NME touched the hem of his garment all through ’87! Part of the reason why I stopped reading it!). Amy MacMumble Donald (or Paolo Nutini at 16 rpm as I call her) did “Sweet Caroline” about two octaves too low. Sophie Ellis-Bextor did “Yes Sir I Can Boogie” reasonable service (but that has long since been rehabilitated! It was used as the intro music to the Pistols reunion gig at Finsbury Park in ’96 for heaven’s sake!).

    Two-thirds of Supergrass (so it was clearly pre-recorded some while back, when Mickey had his accident) went through “Beat It” quite well – but again, when the hell was this ever a guilty pleasure?

    Worst of all I have saved until last – Kelly Osbourne raping, slashing and burying one of the greatest number ones ever; anyone who considers it a guilty pleasure should be marched out blindfold into the nearest nine-lane carriageway and left to find their own way back to the service station. And I’m not going to say what it is until Popular gets there.

    The only thing that can be said in this programme’s favour is that it didn’t quite stoop to soliciting the views of

    Bob Mills

  80. 80
    mike on 19 Mar 2008 #

    Oh, it was just appalling! Sophie Ellis-Bextor recorded “Yes Sir I Can Boogie” for a B-side a few years ago and has performed it on tour, so she did OK (although I’d rather have had the Goldfrapp deconstruction from the Black Cherry days). The Feeling used to play “Video Killed The Radio Star” at European ski resorts when they were a covers band, and I saw them perform the song much better than that 18 months ago; it just looked tired, and thoughtlessly knocked out. Craig David was shockingly bad: clapped out, lost, and looking like he had aged 20 years. KT Tunstall managed “competent but dull”, but the woeful Amy McDonald couldn’t even make it that far. The Magic Numbers were an embarrassing mess. Supergrass as the Diamond Hoo Ha Men were actually quite good, and it was pleasing to see the confusion on the faces of the woo!-ing hen-nighters down the front.

    As for Kelly Osbourne, though… after that unforgiveable hatchet job, she should never work again. (Like we should be so lucky.) Why didn’t anybody SAY anything?

  81. 81
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 19 Mar 2008 #

    tom’s orgafun-learned suggestion abt this programme was that having let the contributors pick the GP, they then rotate them so said contributors have to play someone ELSE’S GP: with “and make it work” the underlying requirement

    TTD actually seems to me to come closest to the still-unvarnished conception of GP*, precisely bcz his critical (and commercial) star fell so precipitately — and was shaky enough in its ascendent that anyone saying “i have always loved him” is going to be placing themselves in a zone of stout self-justification from the off

    *unless of course you count actual real pleasure in the stylings of eg THE MAGIC NUMBERS or THE FEELING! —:0

  82. 82
    Marcello Carlin on 19 Mar 2008 #

    I pitched the exact opposite idea to ITV1; these would have been my choices:

    The Feeling – United by Throbbing Gristle
    KT Tunstall – The Woe by Steve Lacy
    Craig David – Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse by Eugene McDaniels
    Magic Numbers – Violence Grows by the Fatal Microbes
    Supergrass – Thriller! by Pere Ubu
    Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Everything Merges With The Night by Eno (as a tango)
    Amy MacDonald – I Wanna Be An Astronaut by Ricky Wilde
    Kelly Osbourne – Wild Women With Steak Knives by Diamanda Galas

    I’ve yet to receive a reply.

  83. 83
    Mark G on 19 Mar 2008 #

    “I Am An Astronaut” by Ricky Wilde

    Indeliby imprinted, I’m afraid! “I yam an astronaut!”

  84. 84
    Marcello Carlin on 19 Mar 2008 #

    Indeed, and not a million miles from “I’m a neanderthal man” either. I must have been mixing it up with “I Wanna Go To A Disco” which was another of Ricky’s singles.

    Also, best B-side title ever: “Hertfordshire Rock.”

  85. 85
    Mark G on 19 Mar 2008 #

    And “Teen Wave” which wasn’t too bad, if a bit too much like “Let’s jump the broomstick” in places.

    I’m sure Rick(y) Wilde prays to the heavens and gives thanks that “I am an astronaut” was never a hit.

  86. 86
    Billy Smart on 19 Mar 2008 #

    Is it just wishful thinking on my part, or are the backing vocals on “I Wanna Go To A Disco” a juvenile Kim Wilde?

  87. 87
    Marcello Carlin on 19 Mar 2008 #

    Certainly can’t be ruled out!

    “Astronaut,” incidentally, was apparently a number one in Sweden.

  88. 88
    Lena on 19 Mar 2008 #

    I heard “I Am An Astronaut” on Dr. Demento!

  89. 89
    Erithian on 20 Mar 2008 #

    Harking back to Dolly Parton (#76), Simon Hoggart mentioned in his Grauniad column a while back that he’d had the seat next to Dolly on a plane once, and remarked that the famous chest looks so impressive partly because she’s the smallest adult woman he’d ever seen: her jeans would have fitted a 7-year-old. So you’re almost guaranteed an overhead view…

    I was surprised to hear “Stand By Your Man” on the Radio 5 breakfast show a couple of weeks ago. When the prospect of a referendum on the EU treaty was voted out by the commons, they remarked that Tammy had been number 1 when we did have a referendum in 1975. Maybe we all felt more European then as well as being country fans. (lights blue paper and stands well back)

  90. 90
    Billy Smart on 20 Mar 2008 #

    That’s the sort of discussion for which we need Robin Carmody…

  91. 91
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 20 Mar 2008 #

    haha i think i can guess his position! but yes…

  92. 92
    Marcello Carlin on 20 Mar 2008 #

    I will not have carmodization in this jungle!

  93. 93
    Lena on 20 Mar 2008 #

    Is the next song a ‘guilty pleasure’?

  94. 94
    Marcello Carlin on 20 Mar 2008 #

    The song in question hasn’t yet been “rehabilitated” – Judge Dale has played it but profusely apologised for doing so, even though he shouldn’t have done – but I’m looking forward immensely to the 400 or so posts it will engender… ;-)

  95. 95
    Waldo on 20 Mar 2008 #

    Dear God, one or two of you have really incurred the wrath of The Spoiler Bunny with recent comments. And let me tell you, The Spoiler Bunny does terrible things when he’s angry.

    Basically, you can’t keep your word. Keep your word…

  96. 96
    intothefireuk on 21 Mar 2008 #

    Now here’s a thing – one minute I’m chewing over the bones of Aznovoice’s ‘She’ the next ….I’ve fallen off the radar only to reappear unannounced towards the arse end of a Tammy Wynette thread ! I’ve missed almost a year of chart entries along the way. I may have some catching up to do.

    So Wynette, well after 95 comments there really isn’t much to add is there ? Yes I have to admit Country music is a bit of a black hole for me, at least it has been until fairly recently when through the miracle of illegal downloading I have chanced upon a fair few compilations – even managing to delve into the archives to trace it’s history a little. That said Tammy’s song is pretty numbing fayre. The pedestrian pace of the verses with the standard country bolt-on twangy geetars & lap steel doesn’t get the song off to good start although, thankfully it does liven up somewhat in the chorus. Not sure I would have understood the sentiments as a teenager and neither do I really agree with them now – but then I’m just a man.

  97. 97
    Chris Brown on 21 Mar 2008 #

    Possibly ironic digression: Snow Patrol did a cover version of ‘I Am An Astronaut’ for a Save The Children charity album.

  98. 98
    Tom on 2 Apr 2008 #

    Managed to get the picture, mark etc in at last.

  99. 99
    Billy Hicks on 11 Feb 2011 #

    A few years late here, but if Danny Baker’s correct that something wrong happens in music when you’re 26, I’m not looking forward to 2014. It’s going to need to make quite a shift though as I’m still mostly enjoying the stuff of today, even if the 80s and 90s are my first love.

    My guess – 2014 will be the peak of Simon Cowell mania, and the majority of number 1s will be his acts. That would definitely kill my chart-listening off.

  100. 100
    Lazarus on 27 Mar 2011 #

    Re # 70 – it’s not quite her only number one, she’ll feature on another just a few months before her untimely demise, but I’ll say no more as I hear the gnashing of rodent teeth … as for the old Guilty Pleasures, the 70s one-hit wonders are the best aren’t they? If only the acts on that TV show had attempted Sky High, Howzat, Angie Baby, Rock Me Gently or even Afternoon Delight. And a bit of Gilbert would have been welcome.

  101. 101
    hectorthebat on 11 Jul 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010)
    Blender (USA) – Standout Tracks from the 500 CDs You Must Own (2003)
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    CMT (USA) – The 100 Greatest Songs of Country Music (2003) 1
    Dave Marsh (USA) – The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made (1989) 743
    Heartaches By the Number: Country Music’s 500 Greatest Singles (USA, 2003) 11
    NPR (USA) – The 300 Most Important American Records of the 20th Century (1999)
    National Recording Preservation Board (USA) – The National Recording Registry
    Pause & Play (USA) – Songs Inducted into a Time Capsule, One Track at Each Week
    Pitchfork (USA) – Top 200 Songs of the 60s (2006) 145
    RIAA and NEA (USA) – 365 Songs of the Century (2001) 48
    The Recording Academy Grammy Hall of Fame Albums and Songs (USA)
    Rock de Lux (Spain) – The Top 150 Songs from the 20th Century (1998) 144
    Toby Creswell (Australia) – 1001 Songs (2005)
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)

  102. 102
    Inanimate Carbon God on 9 Mar 2015 #

    @99 You were wrong. And I’m eternally grateful.

    Although my advice to recent British chart toppers (especially the current bunny) is almost the exact reverse of this advice (from a Vice “Big Night Out” in the notorious Spanish resort of Magaluf):

    What’s odd about the food is that so much of it is clearly designed to provide maximum warmth and stodge on wet Wednesday evenings in the Midlands, and thus is entirely unsuitable for the Majorcan climate. What kind of a person thinks a Yorkshire pudding is just the ticket on a 30-degree evening in southern Europe? I appreciate there’s gonna be some degree of drinking on a night out in Magaluf, and some stomach lining will be required. But for fuck’s sake, have a paella.

  103. 103
    Mark G on 10 Mar 2015 #

    #99, was going to say, Danny Baker’s idea was complete bobbins, and 1986 I’d say that music was beginning to get going again.

  104. 104
    wichitalineman on 10 Mar 2015 #

    I was 26 in 1991 which was a pretty incredible year for music.

    I love Danny Baker but, lord, can’t agree on his musical taste. I wonder if he wasn’t allowed to play music (apart from instrumentals) on his BBC London Breakfast Show for a reason. That way we got Leroy Anderson’s Forgotten Dreams, a karaoke version of Kashmir, and the theme from Halloween. It was ace!

  105. 105
    Weej on 12 Mar 2015 #

    Re 104, 103, etc, I think the fact that you’re here at all puts you in a minority here – for many people I know Danny Baker is correct, they have a cut-off point in their mid-20s or even earlier – and a glance at the cover of Q or Mojo will tend to confirm that this is pretty widespread. It’s this instinct rather than something as arbitrary as “rockism” that I see poptimism as defined in opposition to – and in case that sounds like an early 2000s thing, the struggle continues on the /lewronggeneration/ subreddit.
    As for Baker himself, don’t know much about what he listens to now, but I like what he did on Desert Island Discs.

  106. 106
    enitharmon on 12 Mar 2015 #

    Danny Baker is just a name to me. I was 26 in 1980 and ISTR that as the beginning of quite a pop renaissance, with Blondie in their pomp and a lot of good stuff growing out of a punk movement that it’s no secret I found pretty dismal. But there you go. My theory of being 26 is that it’s the age at which you are most “grown-up”, after which you realise that being grown-up is just a myth your parents and teachers dinned into you!

  107. 107
    lonepilgrim on 3 Nov 2019 #

    Country music didn’t feature large in my consciousness at this time and what I knew of it was via the occasional country tinged track that would pop up on OGWT and Alan Freeman’s Saturday Show on Radio 1. 1975 was peak Prog for me in terms of my own listening so for this to reach Number 1 hot on the heels of the Bay City Rollers only served to confirm my disdain for the charts. This still sounds like an artefact from some primitive society which you can appreciate for its craft and purity of purpose even if you can’t get on board with its belief system.
    Within a few years I was more open to Country via Dylan, Neil Young and the Grateful Dead although even now there are large areas of the genre of which I remain ignorant.

Add your comment

(Register to guarantee your comments don't get marked as spam.)

If this was number 1 when you were born paste [stork-boy] or [stork-girl] into the start of your comment :)


Required (Your email address will not be published)

Top of page