Apr 08

JOHNNY NASH – “Tears On My Pillow”

FT + Popular87 comments • 5,184 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. 61
    Tim on 3 Apr 2008 #

    My copy of the Front Line LP bore the Caroline label, which likely accounts for the C in VC.

  2. 62
    Erithian on 3 Apr 2008 #

    Eddie and the Hot Rods played “Get Out Of Denver” on TOTP – that was a good “awkward-viewing-with-your-dad” moment for me. The Marquee EP was recorded in July 1976 – we’ll no doubt return to the subject in Popular before long, but can you imagine how hot it must have been in there?!

  3. 63
    Billy Smart on 3 Apr 2008 #

    Eddie & The Hotrods performed ‘Get Out Of Denver’ on the TOTP transmitted on the 9th of September 1976. Also in the studio that week were Twiggy, The Wurzels, Cliff Richard, The Bay City Rollers, Kiki Dee and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, as well as Ruby Flipper – interpreting ‘You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine’. Jimmy Saville hosted. The BBC actually kept this one!

  4. 64
    Marcello Carlin on 3 Apr 2008 #

    I had totally forgotten about Ruby Flipper, the missing link between Pan’s People and, um, Zoo?

  5. 65
    Lena on 3 Apr 2008 #

    I don’t think I’m going to upset the Spoiler Bunny too much by saying…Twiggy?!?

  6. 66
    Marcello Carlin on 3 Apr 2008 #

    She did attempt a brief singing career in ’76 and had a Top 20 hit with “Here I Go Again” (unrelated to any other songs entitled “Here I Go Again”), a winsome C&W waltz, as well as an eponymously-titled Top 40 album.

    Why Punk Had To Happen, Part 37659…

  7. 67
    Erithian on 3 Apr 2008 #

    Yes, I’d have liked to hear her doing Whitesnake’s song of the same title.

    September ’76 is slightly out of the chronology, but Manfred Mann’s Earth Band at Manchester Free Trade Hall was my first ever gig!

  8. 68
    mike on 3 Apr 2008 #

    Oh Gawd, “Here I Go Again”… as played TO DEATH on Radio One, during the Long Hot Phew Whorra Scorcher Summer of 76.

    (With nothing much to do, I kept a tally of how many times songs were being played, and “Here I Go Again” came out top. Thank God for last.fm, eh readers?)

    (And Thank Tom for syndicating the R1 last.fm feed on Popular. That proved very useful this morning.)

  9. 69
    Tom on 3 Apr 2008 #

    Was nothing to do with me! Thanks to Alan, who does all our technical stuff.

  10. 70
    crag on 3 Apr 2008 #

    Re#64-Marcello, Ruby Flipper(great name!) were the missing link between Pan’s People and Leg’s & Co. Zoo turned up in the early 80s for a brief spell before the popularity of video killed them off.
    Not the most earthshattering fact ever but it feels v odd for me to be filling YOU in w/ knowledge for a change rather than vice versea! I’ve still got a long way to go to catch up though…

  11. 71
    Marcello Carlin on 4 Apr 2008 #

    My excuse is that all the post-Pan’s People troupes were so bad that it’s easy to get them mixed up chronologically but in truth that’s a very poor excuse.

    Zoo, then, would have been responsible for the execrable routine to “Back On The Chain Gang” by the Pretenders (think: overly literal interpretation) in 1982.

  12. 72
    Marcello Carlin on 4 Apr 2008 #

    Although the worst TOTP dance routine ever was also in 1982 where all the Radio 1 DJs “danced” to “Friend Or Foe” by Adam Ant and there was a freeze-frame for every single one, even Adrian Juste.

  13. 73
    Marcello Carlin on 4 Apr 2008 #

    Also see whole of 1983 where go-go dancers routinely managed to block out any view of the act themselves (most notoriously “The First Picture Of You” by the Lotus Eaters).

  14. 74
    Waldo on 6 Apr 2008 #

    Ah! “The First Picture Of You”. What a lovely track that was.

    I haven’t heard the expression “go-go dancers” since “your old mate” Brian Matthew was a boy!

  15. 75
    rosie on 6 Apr 2008 #

    That would, of course, be Brian Mathew wit one t. And don’t knock him – Saturday Club may not have been much but once it was about all there was!

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.)

  23. 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.

  24. 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.)

  25. 85
    stebags on 24 Jun 2012 #

  26. 86
    lonepilgrim on 7 Nov 2019 #

    interesting that we’ve gone from a song where ‘big boys don’t cry’ to ‘tears on my pillow’. This is a little less sappy than Ken Boothe from the previous year but not much. I’m pretty sure that Johnny Nash was for me one of the earliest introductions to Reggae as a form of Pop. I’d been aware of ‘Israelites’ from a few years earlier but that seemed like it came from another planet. JN has a great voice but like most above I prefer ‘I can see clearly now’

  27. 87
    Gareth Parker on 2 Jun 2021 #

    (#3) It’s a good record, it doesn’t need to be ‘potent’ whatever than means. Certainly more memorable than your idiotic posts. 7/10 for Johnny imho.

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