♫ Downtown ♫

Being in something of a black mood after the latest mass shooting, I considered playing Elvis’ In the Ghetto tonight, but then I though perhaps something really upbeat would be a more fitting way to start the weekend.

This one will take you back a ways … for some of you, it will go back to a time before you were even born, but you’ve likely heard the song anyway.  Petula Clark was a British actor, singer and composer who was popular in the UK long before the U.S. discovered her talent.  According to SongFacts …

This was Petula Clark’s first hit in the US, which was slow to discover her talents. In the UK, she was a star as a singer and as a television performer, where she was a regular on the BBC. In the early ’60s, she also caught on in France when she started recording her songs in French. Oddly, she didn’t get an American record deal until late in 1964 when a Warner Bros. executive named Joe Smith, who was vacationing in England, heard the song and signed her to a deal.

When “Downtown” was released in the US, it shot to #1, making Petula the first female singer from the UK to hit #1 in the US during the rock era (after 1955). Remarkably, she didn’t even promote the song before it hit the top spot, as she was touring French-speaking countries at the time.

“The Ed Sullivan Show had been calling every day while I was on tour in Canada, saying, ‘You’ve got to get here,'” Petula told Songfacts. “I couldn’t get there. Eventually I got there, and the record was #1.”

A British songwriter and producer named Tony Hatch wrote this. During the ’60s, he wrote most of Clark’s material, including her follow-up hit, “I Know a Place” (which also deals with city life). Hatch was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2013.

The word “downtown” had a different meaning in America than it did in the UK. In America, “downtown” is the heart of the city where the action happens. The word wasn’t used much in Britain at the time, but it generally meant the less affluent part of the town’s central area. The song’s writer, Tony Hatch, used the word in its American meaning, as he was inspired by a walk down Broadway during his first visit to New York. These days, the American “heart of the city” use of the phrase is common in the UK.

Petula Clark came to record this song at a time when she had carved a successful career in French, Italian and German-speaking territories. She recalled to The Guardian that Tony Hatch suggested she should be recording again in English. “My head wasn’t in it at the time,” she admitted, “I was totally into French, Italian, German, whatever. I said: ‘Well, you know, if I could find the right song’ and he said he had an unfinished song he wanted to play me, and he played ‘Downtown’ on the piano. I said: ‘Woah, I like that.’ So I asked him to write a lyric up to the standard of the tune, and two weeks later we did it.”

This won a Grammy in 1965 for Best Rock & Roll Recording, making Clark the first British singer to win a Grammy. In 2003, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Clark recorded a new version of this song for her 2013 album Lost in You, which was released when she was 80 years old.

80 years old???  Heck, I’m a decade younger and I can’t, as my late ex-husband used to say, carry a tune in a bucket!  My hat is off to this lady!

I don’t have room nor time to cover all the trivia associated with this song, but if you’re interested, check out the Wikipedia entry, for there is much fascinating info about both the song and the artist.

Petula Clark

When you’re alone and life is making you lonely
You can always go – downtown.
When you’ve got worries all the noise and the hurry
Seems to help I know downtown.

Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city
Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty
How can you lose?

The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares
So go downtown
Things will be great when you’re downtown
No finer place for sure downtown
Everything’s waiting for you.

Don’t hang around and let your problems surround you
There are movie shows downtown.
Maybe you know some little places to go to
Where they never close downtown.

Just listen to the rhythm of a gentle bossa nova
You’ll be dancing with ’em too before the night is over
Happy again.

The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares
So go – downtown
Where all the lights are bright downtown
Waiting for you tonight downtown
You’re gonna be alright now

And you may find somebody kind to help and understand you
Someone who is just like you and needs a gentle hand to
Guide them along.

So maybe I’ll see you there
We can forget all our troubles, forget all our cares
So go downtown
Things will be great when you’re downtown
Don’t wait a minute more downtown
Everything is waiting for you

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Hatch Anthony Peter
Downtown lyrics © Emi Blackwood Music Inc., Welbeck Music Ltd., Smack Hits, Sony/atv Story Music Publishing, Warner/chappell Music Ltd

27 thoughts on “♫ Downtown ♫

  1. This song always brings me good vibes. Even though I love being in nature, there’s nostalgic comfort in the suggestion to forget all our troubles and cares with a gentle bossa nova. It’s good to know Petula Clark is still around. I remember her in the movie, Finnian’s Rainbow. Thanks for the memories!


  2. I like Petula Clack, this song is perfect for her. Her French and German songs are very impressive as well! Here’s her singing “Downtown” in French, gorgeous:

    Enjoy your weekend! ❤


  3. When this came out I always thought it an old fashioned song trying to be ‘With it’ but I couldn’t stop myself liking it. Over the years I don’t know how many times I’ve heard it but I always quietly sing along with it and end up smiling.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. In Winnipeg, downtown and uptown were the same place, it just depended on how you were dressed, lol. Uptown people were in suits and dresses or gowns, while downtown people were in jeans and shorts, or mini-skirts. We moved along the same streets, but the only connection was the downtown people panhandling the uptown people. For awhile it was great, the men wanting to show their ladies how generous they were, but after awhile their ladies screamed, “Spend that money on me!” as if we were garbage.
    Ah, the good old days. There were such happy days, downtown!

    Liked by 1 person

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