♫ Up On The Roof ♫

Ever feel like you just want to get away from the world and the people in it?  Like you just need solitude, quiet, fresh air?  I feel that way a lot these days.  My bedroom is my refuge, though I rarely see it, for I am usually writing until the wee hours, and by the time I get to my bedroom, my eyes are already half shut.  But still, it is the only place in the house where there are no voices, no kitties.  I cannot go “up on the roof”, for I’m not well balanced, and our roof is fairly steep-pitched.  Anyway … I am rambling.  On to the song …

This song, released in 1962 first by Little Eva, and later by The Drifters, was written by then husband-and-wife team of Gerry Goffin and Carole King.  Gerry Goffin would cite Up on the Roof as his all-time favorite of the lyrics he’d written. After Carole King suggested that he write lyrics for the tune which had occurred to her while she was out driving, with King suggesting “My Secret Place” as the title, Goffin kept King’s suggested focus of a haven, modifying it with his enthusiasm for the movie musical West Side Story which contained several striking scenes set on the rooftops of Upper West Side highrises.

The song went to #5 in the U.S., but in the UK they must not have been crazy about The Drifters at that time.  However, another artist, Kenny Lynch, did one that made it to #10 in the UK, so I will present that as well, for my Brit friends.  And, because I just love James Taylor, I’m playing his version too!!!  Now, don’t say I never give you choices!

Up On The Roof
The Drifters

When this old world starts getting me down
And people are just too much for me to face
I climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space
On the roof, it’s peaceful as can be
And there the world below can’t bother me
Let me tell you now

When I come home feelin’ tired and beat
I go up where the air is fresh and sweet (up on the roof)
I get away from the hustling crowd
And all that rat-race noise down in the street (up on the roof)
On the roof, the only place I know
Where you just have to wish to make it so
Let’s go up on the roof (up on the roof)

(brief instrumental-chiefly strings)

At night the stars put on a show for free
And, darling, you can share it all with me

I keep a-tellin’ you

Right smack dab in the middle of town
I’ve found a paradise that’s trouble proof (up on the roof)
And if this world starts getting you down
There’s room enough for two
Up on the roof (up on the roof)
Up on the roo-oo-oof (up on the roof)
Oh, come on, baby (up on the roof)
Oh, come on, honey (up on the roof)

Everything is all right (up on the roof)

Songwriters: Carole King / Gerry Goffin
Up On The Roof lyrics © Emi Music Publishing France

21 thoughts on “♫ Up On The Roof ♫

  1. Diolch yn fawr 3 times over. I like Kenny Lynches version of this song though not as much as the wonderful Drifter’s version. There’s always room for James Taylor in my song list so that’s OK too.

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    • Mae croeso cynnes i chi, annwyl. My favourite is also the Drifters version, though James Taylor’s doesn’t hurt my ears either. In fact, I was surprised to find that I liked Kenny Lynches’ also. Still, I’ll stick with the Drifters.

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  2. Jill, this is a classic. I love The Drifters’ version, as it was a key part of what was called “Beach Music” on the Carolina coast, most notably Myrtle Beach. A lot of this was due to southern radio stations refusing to play music made by Black artists. My hypothesis is the radio stations up north, with larger signals, could be heard down the coast, so people could hear such music at the beach. Another hypothesis is many African-Americans settled close to the shore after the Civil War and later more people could hear music by Black performers. Outside of Charleston, there is a Gullah culture, that spawned a lot of literature. All I know is Beach Music was prevalent and created a venue for “shag” dancing contests and these artists to perform to welcoming white audiences. Keith

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    • As an aside … you mention Myrtle Beach, and I’ve been there! I always liked Nag’s Head better, though … less crowded and somehow more authentic. Now, as for this song … my favourite is also the Drifters, though I could listen to James Taylor sing just about anything for hours! I don’t think I ever knew that southern radio stations refused to play black artists! I’m vaguely aware of the Gullah culture … Natasha used to love a kid’s show called “Gullah Gullah Island” back in the 90s. Isn’t it fun, the memories that music brings back … and I can picture you dancing in one of those contests … did you?

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      • Jill, you are right about the overcrowding at Myrtle Beach – we used to go on Valentines Day to a place with an indoor pool. I never did learn to Shag (sorry our British friends, as that is a dance).

        There are a couple of good novels that speak of the Gullah culture – “The Water is Wide” by Pat Conroy and “Sullivan’s Island,” the author escapes me. The Gullah culture has contributed great food, such as low-country boils, shrimp and grits, and Frogmore stew. Keith

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        • Well, I’m sure you escaped the crowds at Valentine’s Day, but … doesn’t that rather defeat the purpose of being able to walk on the beach and frolic in the ocean? 😉

          I will check out those books … I’ve heard of both, but never read them. I love shrimp, and am one of the few people I know who loves grits (lots of butter and pepper!), but you can keep the Frogmore stew!


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