Apr 05

KEN DODD – “Tears” / THE ROLLING STONES – “Get Off Of My Cloud”

Popular58 comments • 6,813 views

#204, 2nd October 1965 / #205, 6th November 1965

Jon Kutner’s 1000 Number Ones tells a story about “Get Off Of My Cloud”. The song was played on Juke Box Jury, and host David Jacobs complained that he couldn’t hear the words properly. Told of this, Keith Richards remarked that perhaps he was going deaf, and maybe he should “stick to songs like ‘Tears'”

The list of number ones is a series of snapshots, different moods flickering across the face of pop. Sometimes the moods seem to be in sharp contrast, even conflict. But is the conflict something genuinely felt in the lives and tastes of the people buying the records? The list reflects different audiences, different markets. Often those audiences must hardly give one another a second thought. When Eminem sits next to Bob The Builder on the list, there’s no sense that their respective buyers were locked in combat. In the early 90s though, when I started liking dance music, there was a sense of conflict about the charts – resentment of older stars clogging them up, suspicion and fear of the ‘faceless’ newcomers.

How far do the worlds of Ken Dodd – a Liverpool comedian with a line in old-fashioned ballads – and the Rolling Stones – a London group with a line in outrage – overlap?* The Stones were notorious. Their series of well-pitched gestures (a surly JBJ appearance, an arrest for pissing against a wall) were downpayments on a greater breakdown their music and performance promised. They had infected the wider consciousness, and part of their message was that the ideas of a ‘wider consciousness’, of ‘public opinion’ were fragile and phoney compared to an individual’s will.

And Ken Dodd? Ken Dodd was an entertainer. Hardly any Stones fans would have bothered with his record. But Dodd represented something else: ten years after rock and roll it was obvious that being an ‘entertainer’ was the acceptable ambition for pop musicians – doing showtunes and ballads, working the variety hall circuit, enjoying a comfortable income and a respectable degree of nostalgic fame. It had happened to Lonnie, it was happening to some of the Merseybeat guys, Cliff Richard was still having hits but the hits were wholesome all-ages stuff. George Melly, in Revolt Into Style, suggests that the Beatles broke the mould but it seems to me that in 1965 this was up in the air: they were Royal Variety darlings, and behind the scenes they were talking about comic songs as a way forward. Ken Dodd and his ballads and even his tickling stick were still a believable endpoint for a pop career.

The conflict between Dodd-ness and Stones-ness seems real to me, and not limited to these two records, or acts. The charts are one place it would play out; Juke Box Jury another; the radio, the music press, the shops, others still. By 1965, radio in the UK had already fractured, with Radio Caroline and fellow pirates representing Stones-ness and the BBC Light Programme holding out against it. By the time I was aware of pop music the fracture was official, had become the resolution of the conflict: light entertainment, still including Ken Dodd, did this stuff. Pop and rock, still including the Rolling Stones, did that stuff. It was hard to imagine that they had ever been opposed.

“Tears”, the best-selling single of 1965, is a 1920s tune reverently performed. Designed to send an audience home content at the end of a show, it is unashamedly nostalgic – Dodd, whose voice is unexceptional but not grating, takes no risks and there’s never a hint that this might be a pastiche. The arrangement is stately and courtly. Clearly “Tears” could have been a hit when the charts started, though as it happens the fashion for lavishly arranged ballads helps it sound not entirely out of its time. And Keith Richards is right – Dodd’s enunciation is smarmily clear.

“Get Off Of My Cloud” takes the blueprint established by the Stones’ last two Number 1s – smart-mouthed, hooky embellishments on a riff – and muddies it. The murky vocals that offended David Jacobs are deliberate, of course: mumbling is a classic threat tactic, it puts you on the back foot, forces you to let your guard down, ask what someone means, enter their world a bit more. And once you’re in Jaggers world? He kicks you out. “Don’t hang around cos two’s a crowd” – “Get Off Of My Cloud” is a second episode of the “Satisfaction” sitcom but this time Jagger’s negation is all-encompassing. So what’s a Jagger fan to do? Sympathise and pretend that he’s not in the ‘you’ Mick wants off? Worry knowing he is? Or kick Jagger off his cloud and sing the song himself? The band are having a fantastic party but the song isn’t a call-to-party, because it’s someone else’s party that keeps Mick awake. Maybe yours.

*(A question for informed readers: would the retail outlets for these singles have been the same?)




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  1. 31
    pˆnk s lord sükråt cunctør on 9 Sep 2006 #

    [should the songtitles both go into the header here? i thought some kind of BRUNDLEFLY mutation had occurred]

  2. 32
    Tom on 9 Sep 2006 #

    Good point!

  3. 33
    Colin on 28 Nov 2008 #

    Seems odd to list these two together. They aren’t the only mismatched consecutive chart toppers (Good Vibrations and Green Green Grass of Home, anyone?)

    Tears clearly struck a chord with a lot of people, as it is among the top 20 selling singles of all time in the UK. In comparison, major acts like ABBA, U2 and, yes, the Rolling Stones don’t have any entries in the top 100.

    ….oh and both the next two singles to top the UK chart, the Carnival Is Over and We Can Work It Out/Day Tripper, are also among the UK’s biggest sellers of all time.

  4. 34
    Tom on 28 Nov 2008 #

    At the time I wrote this I was planning more double-header entries, whether linking or contrasting tracks. But partly as a consequence of the comments box becoming so important it seemed wiser to give everything its individual entry, so this one does stick out a bit!

  5. 35
    Martin Skidmore on 20 Apr 2009 #

    A hard one to give a single score to! My score is for the Stones.

  6. 36
    crag on 14 Apr 2011 #


    Sandy Powell, Comedian(1968)

    Ian Botham, cricketer(1989)

    Jack Straw, politician(1998)

    Eileen Atkins(1998)

    Sir Timothy Clifford, Director-General of the National Galleries of Scotland(2001)

  7. 38
    Lena on 3 Aug 2011 #

    And more to Ken Dodd’s fans’ liking: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.com/2011/08/with-eyes-closed-andy-williams-almost.html Thanks for reading as always!

  8. 39
    thefatgit on 9 Sep 2011 #

    The dichotomy and the politics have been well argued here already. The REAL SIMILARITY between the two are the Dodd/Jagger facial gymnastics! I’m finding it hard to watch either performance, and keep a straight face.

  9. 40
    Billy Smart on 3 Dec 2011 #

    TOTPWatch: Ken Dodd performed Tears on Top Of The Pops on 9 September 1965. Also in the studio that week were; Cher, The Dave Clark Five, Hermans Hermits, Lulu, Sam The Sham, The Hollies and The Honeycombs. Pete Murray was the host. No copy survives.

  10. 41
    Billy Smart on 3 Dec 2011 #

    TOTPWatch: The Rolling Stones performed Get Off Of My Cloud on Top Of The Pops on 4 November 1965. Also in the studio that week were; Brian Poole & The Tremeloes, Dave Berry, The Animals and The Seekers. Pete Murray and Alan Freeman were the hosts. No copy survives.

  11. 42
    lonepilgrim on 24 Mar 2012 #

    Meanwhile, over in the USA, The McCoys were toppermost of the poppermost with ‘Hang on Sloopy’ – as noted here:
    There’s a jerkiness to the rhythm of ‘HOS’ which is similar to ‘Get off of my cloud’ but it’s sweetness and light compared to the Stones.

  12. 43
    Mark G on 24 Mar 2012 #

    You reckon? If that last verse isn’t them taking their clothes off and getting down to it, I don’t know what was in 1965.

  13. 44
    lonepilgrim on 10 Apr 2012 #

    The Stones also got to Number 1 with GOOMC in the USA, as celebrated here:


    Interesting to see them feature prominently in Series 5 Ep. 2 of Mad Men

  14. 45
    wichita lineman on 10 Apr 2012 #

    Wishing to avoid Mad Men spoilers here but… the Tradewinds?! What an amazing gag! A bunch of second division Brill Building writers* who could definitely have been smart enough to trick dumb Harry into believing they were the Stones.

    *which isn’t an insult – they wrote Walking In The Rain and Best Part Of Breaking Up for the Ronettes.

  15. 46
    Mark G on 13 Apr 2012 #

    They could also trick anyone hearing “New York’s a lonely town” into thinking they were The Beach Boys too

  16. 47
    lonepilgrim on 17 Apr 2012 #

    The Supremes hit Number 1 in the USA at the same time as this, with ‘I hear a Symphony’ – as noted here:


  17. 48
    hectorthebat on 18 Apr 2014 #

    Critic watch (GOOMC):

    1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010)
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Dave Marsh & Kevin Stein (USA) – The 40 Best of the Top 40 Singles by Year (1981) 9
    Dave Marsh (USA) – The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made (1989) 56
    New Musical Express (UK) – The Top 100 Singles of All Time (1976) 77
    Rolling Stone (Germany) – Top 100 Songs by The Rolling Stones (2005) 45
    Gilles Verlant and Thomas Caussé (France) – 3000 Rock Classics (2009)
    Peter Holmes, The Sun-Herald (Australia) – 100 Best Songs of All Time (2003) 73
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)

  18. 49
    lonepilgrim on 26 Jul 2015 #

    It seems an odd coincidence to read about Eminem and Bob the Builder in Tom’s entry for these hits, having only just covered them.
    listening to ‘Tears’ I can imagine Ken Dodds encouraging his audience to sing along with him. The performance suggests a shared community which is both appealing and somewhat abhorrent to me. Nowadays we see it with arm waving crowds bellowing along to their favourites. ‘Get off of my cloud’s sense of defiant isolation has more in common with Kanye’s performance at Glastonbury. I prefer my pop stars to not be so matey, however problematic.

  19. 50
    CriticSez on 20 Feb 2016 #

    I’m confused. Which gets what? Is “Tears” the 9 and “Cloud” the 2, or vice versa?

    For me? They’re 9 and 9.3, respectively. I like them both, especially considering the wide differences in audiences at the time.

  20. 51
    Neil C on 18 Mar 2016 #

    /\ /\ what Criticsez asked – which way round are the scores? Neither review reads like a panning to me.

  21. 52
    admin on 19 Mar 2016 #

    Our CSS was unintentionally switching around the order of the scores. 2 for Doddy. 9 for Stones.

  22. 53
    Neil C on 19 Mar 2016 #

    Thanks, much appreciated :)

  23. 54
    CriticSez on 20 Mar 2016 #

    I was thinking just that. In the year-end poll, most people said “Cloud” deserved 6 or more. On the other hand, very few (only about 2%) said “Tears”.

  24. 55
    G.S. on 21 Aug 2016 #

    There’s only one ‘You say:’ thingy here. How do I vote for these seperately?

  25. 56
    Erithian on 12 Mar 2018 #

    With a dual entry you might wonder which of the two would get a “So farewell then” first – but it’s a fond farewell to Doddy, who leaves us at the venerable age of 90 having played his last gig at Christmastime last year. There’s a great clip on YouTube of Ken Dodd asking the Beatles what they would choose as an “earthy” pop star name for him, and George suggests “Sod”. Remarkably “Tears” would finish up as the only non-Beatles record in the top five best-selling singles of the 60s.

  26. 57
    enitharmon on 14 Mar 2018 #

    Uncool as he was as a pop singer to my 11-year-old ears, Doddy was a comic genius and I knew that even then. He was instinctively very, very funny. He had a good singing voice; not a great one for sure, but the right one for the nature of his act. He instinctively knew the psychology of an audience. He knew how to make them laugh, how to keep them laughing for hours on end until it hurt, and eventually how to bring them back to earth ready for the (very) late night journey home with a song like this – nothing too demanding or edgy – to take away with them. Many of those buying the record did so as much for a memory of an unforgettable night out as for a sentimental song.

    His style was old-fashioned to today’s audiences. His style was old-fashioned at the height of the satire boom, as was the song. It didn’t matter: he evoked the spirit of the music hall and kept it alive.

  27. 58
    Gareth Parker on 20 May 2021 #

    7/10 for the Stones and 4/10 for Doddy in my opinion.

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