Apr 08

JOHNNY NASH – “Tears On My Pillow”

FT + Popular85 comments • 4,015 views

#373, 12th July 1975

Less pillow, more comfort blanket, this gentle, stringsified reggae lope starts with a promise of heartbreak – that bowed and broken intro – which the lyrics might keep but the music doesn’t. It’s not that reggae songs can’t be sad, but ones as jauntily and lightly played as this would find it difficult: the rhythm here is lending Nash strength, not underpinning his sorrow. It may not carry much emotional punch, but “Tears On My Pillow” is perfectly acceptable pop – a strong melody, well-sung. The only duff moment is the spoken word mumble in the middle – one of the least committed I’ve ever heard.



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  1. 76
    mike atkinson on 6 Apr 2008 #

    I’ve always had time for Brian. His late 70s/early 80s “Round Midnight” shows were really rather delightful at times, and I particularly remember a lovely interview with Ian Dury. His current Saturday morning “Sound of the Sixties” show is also frequently fascinating, in terms of the obscurities it digs up.

  2. 77
    Waldo on 7 Apr 2008 #

    Yes, “Sound of the Sixties” is indeed a brilliantly presented (and researched) show. It certainly does not churn out the same old stuff week after week. As Mike Atkinson says, many obscurities are dug up and these are generally of great interest, as well as enlightening. The linchpin is of course dear old Brian, who’s been around since the Arc and thus knows exactly what he’s talking about and whom I would never dream of having a pop at. This would rather be like knocking Colin Berry or James Alexander Gordon, both of whom probably predate Marconi.

  3. 78
    Erithian on 7 Apr 2008 #

    And Brian Mathew has a claim to being another “Fifth Beatle” – the Fabs’ appearances on “Saturday Club” and their rapport with Mathew must have been a great boost to their fanbase as well as establishing their personalities in the nation’s affections.

    Not sure how we got here from Johnny Nash but never mind!

  4. 79
    Marcello Carlin on 7 Apr 2008 #

    Fervently agree about Sounds Of The ’60s, my preferred breakfast/shower/dressing soundtrack of a Saturday morn – this week’s edition was spectacularly good. I admire the skill with which Mathew manages to mix familiar favourites with WTF obscurities and obviously the authority he has from actually having been there and lived through it all.

  5. 80
    Mark G on 7 Apr 2008 #

    #66 and “Here I go again” Twiggy.

    Was shocked and stunned a few years ago to hear the original version by Country Joe and the Fish! Suddenly realising it’s actually a good song.

  6. 81
    wichita lineman on 4 Dec 2009 #

    Thought I’d revive this thread by suggesting Johnny Nash is a forgotten, major player in the popularisation of Jamaican music. His first hit Hold Me Tight (no.5 in the UK and the US) was in the summer of ’68 which (needing some guidance from Tim or Sukrat here?) I thinkpre-dates use of the term Reggae.

    It was Rocksteady, I believe – the first and only instances of that genre breaching Top 10s in Britain or America.

    As for the much-lambasted Willesden Strings, wouldn’t they have taken their lead from Nash? After all, he had two more UK Top 10 hits before the 60s were out, let alone his 70s run.

    Which leads me to suggest that a Houston-born African American – and the first non-Jamaican to use a Jamaican recording studio – was responsible for the ‘sweetening’ of Reggae.

  7. 82
    Tim on 4 Dec 2009 #

    The word “reggae” was around by 1968 but was only just starting to be used in a musical context, I think – “Do The Reggay” came out in ’68 IIRC but I don’t remember exactly when.

    (Pedantry corner: “The Tide Is High” remains rocksteady in its Blondie form, even if not the authentic Jamaican variety. Also as far as non-Jamaicans in recording studios go, Lord Creator, from Trinidad, comes to mind as someone who’d been knocking around the Jamacian recording studios for a long time. But I know what you mean on both counts and they’re both sound points.)

  8. 83
    AndyPandy on 4 Dec 2009 #

    Interesting the growth of reggae and the appearance of the first groups of skinheads on the terraces (at various London clubs but first and primarily at West Ham and Chelsea)more or less exactly mirror each other. ie the first few reggae tracks selling to those in the know (Johnny Nash aside)in the 2nd half of 1968 coinciding with the Chelsea and West Ham skins at the start of season 1968-69 and storming the charts in 1969 as the skinhead style spread to every English football club by the end of that season.

  9. 84
    Chelovek na lune on 11 Sep 2010 #

    The second number one of my life, and I don’t think I’d heard it before today. A big disappointment: where’s the tune?

    (I presumed the #1 of the same name that hasn’t been dealt with on Popular yet was a cover version of this. Apart from the odd lift of some lyrics in the chorus, evidently not.)

  10. 85
    stebags on 24 Jun 2012 #

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