♫ Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer – Redux ♫

I don’t play many Christmas songs, but this year I had a couple of special requests from special friends that I’m going to try to honour.  I actually played this one on Christmas Eve last year.  By special request, I am replaying this one this year for Gail, friend of our friend, rawgod!  Enjoy, Gail … I’m working on the other one!


Some years I find myself singing Christmas songs … rarely carols with a religious tone, but songs about Christmas.  This year, I have not once that I can recall, but this has been a difficult year.  But, it is Christmas Eve and I thought to share a personal story of a Christmas … oh, some 23 years ago.

Natasha circa 18 mos 2

Baby Goose

My granddaughter Natasha, aka Miss Goose, was just over a year old, having been born on 28 November 1994.  I worked long hours and missed most of her waking time, so when I was home, I made the most of the time I had to bond with her.  She loved music and loved animation, so I searched for things on the computer that might attract her attention.  That Christmas season she fell in love with a Christmas-themed song … of all things … Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.  At only 13 months old, she hadn’t yet the art of verbal communication as we know it, but every time that song played, she started bouncing, clapping, and giggling uncontrollably!  I swear she understood those lyrics!

Granted, this is an utterly dorky song, and has been referred to as “the song that only gets worse with age”, but as the song has fond memories for me, and has a humorous bent, I share it with you on this Christmas Eve, some 23 years later.  And I thank Miss Goose for, despite loving a song about the demise of Grandma, being the light of my life for all these years.

There are two versions to this song … well, actually several … but I offer both the cartoon version and the … um … drunken grandma version …

Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
Elmo & Patsy

Grandma got run over by a reindeer
Walking home from our house Christmas eve
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa
But as for me and grandpa we believe
She’d been drinking too much eggnog
And we begged her not to go
But she forgot her medication
And she staggered out the door into the snow
When we found her Christmas morning
At the scene of the attack
She had hoof-prints on her forehead
And incriminating Claus marks on her back

Grandma got run over by a reindeer
Walking home from our house Christmas eve
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa
But as for me and grandpa we believe

Now we’re all so proud of grandpa
He’s been taking this so well
See him in there watching football
Drinking beer and playing cards with cousin Mel
It’s not Christmas without Grandma
All the family’s dressed in black
And we just can’t help but wonder
Should we open up her gifts
Or send them back (send them back)

Grandma got run over by a reindeer
Walking home from our house Christmas eve
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa
But as for me and grandpa we believe

Now the goose is on the table
And the pudding made of fig
And the blue and silver candles
That would just have matched the hair on grandma’s wig
I’ve warned all my friends and neighbors
Better watch out for yourselves
They should never give a license
To a man who drives a sleigh
And plays with elves

Grandma got run over by a reindeer
Walking home from our house Christmas eve
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa
But as for me and grandpa we believe

Singin’ grandpa
Grandma got run over by a reindeer
Walking home from our house Christmas eve
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa
But as for me and grandpa we believe
Merry Christmas

Songwriters: Randy Brooks
Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer lyrics © BMG Rights Management

♫ Down On The Corner ♫

I have no idea why I’m playing this particular song tonight.  It hasn’t been going through my head, as is sometimes the case, and it hasn’t been mentioned by anyone that I can recall.  But, when I sat down to think about a song, there it was!  It’s got a nice beat to it, so … why not?

This song by Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1969 tells the story of a fictional jug band, Willy and the Poor Boys, who were street musicians “playing for nickels, can’t be beat.” The name of the jug band was also the name of CCR’s fourth straight million-selling album.

John Fogerty did all the singing on this. He recorded a bunch of vocal tracks that were overdubbed to create the effect that he was harmonizing with himself.

You all know how terrible I am with lyrics, for 90% of the time I mis-hear them?  Well, imagine my delight when I read that one line in this song is often mis-heard by most people!  The line is “Willy goes into a dance and doubles on kazoo”, and people often hear that last part as “Devil’s on the loose”.  A journalist named Phil Elwood made that mistake and published it in a newspaper article. John Fogerty got a big kick out of this, and as a nod to Elwood, put this line into the CCR song Run Through the Jungle

They told me, “Don’t go walking slow
‘Cause Devil’s on the loose”

The song has been covered by a few thousand artists … okay, perhaps I exaggerate just a tad … including Bo Diddley, Jerry Reed, The Osmond Brothers, Harry Belafonte, and others.  It has also been featured in Walgreens commercials since 2012, with the tagline “At the Corner of Happy and Healthy”.

Down on the Corner
Creedence Clearwater Revival

Early in the evenin’ just about supper time
Over by the courthouse they’re starting to unwind
Four kids on the corner trying to bring you up
Willy picks a tune out and he blows it on the harp

Down on the corner
Out in the street
Willy and the Poor Boys are playin’
Bring a nickel, tap your feet

Rooster hits the washboard and people just got to smile
Blinky thumps the gut bass and solos for a while
Poor Boy twangs the rhythm out on his kalamazoo
And Willy goes into a dance and doubles on kazoo

Down on the corner
Out in the street
Willy and the Poor Boys are playin’
Bring a nickel, tap your feet

Down on the corner
Out in the street
Willy and the Poor Boys are playin’
Bring a nickel, tap your feet

You don’t need a penny just to hang around
But if you’ve got a nickel, won’t you lay your money down?
Over on the corner there’s a happy noise
People come from all around to watch the magic boy

Down on the corner
Out in the street
Willy and the Poor Boys are playin’
Bring a nickel, tap your feet

Down on the corner
Out in the street
Willy and the Poor Boys are playin’
Bring a nickel, tap your feet

Down on the corner
Out in the street
Willy and the Poor Boys are playin’
Bring a nickel, tap your feet

Down on the corner
Out in the street
Willy and the Poor Boys are playin’
Bring a nickel, tap your feet

Songwriters: John Cameron Fogerty
Down on the Corner lyrics © The Bicycle Music Company

♫ Cuando Calienta El Sol ♫

I have had this song going through my head today and tonight.  Many of you may not be familiar with it, though an English version of the melody has been covered by many U.S. artists.  The English version is not a translation, but rather a re-write of the lyrics.  The title, for example, translated from the Spanish is “When the sun warms”, but the English version title is “Love Me With All Your Heart”.

The music was written by Rafael Gaston Perez, a Nicaraguan songwriter and bandleader. SADAIC (the Argentine Society of Music Authors and Composers) also credits the Argentine composer, Carlos Albert Martinoli.  The song was published in 1961 and made famous by the Cuban Mexican vocal group Los Hermanos Rigual with the lyrics by Carlos Rigual and Mario Rigual from the band. It was a big hit in many European charts reaching number one in Italy staying at the top for four consecutive weeks.

Among the English-speaking singers who have covered this as Love Me With All Your Heart are Connie Francis, Vikki Carr, The Lettermen, Bing Crosby, Petula Clark, Engelbert Humperdinck, and Nancy Sinatra.  Quite an assortment, eh?

While I like Los Hermanos Rigual (the Rigual brothers) version well enough, my favourite from back in the day is Johnny Rodriguez’.  So, I will give you a taste of both.  Now, I know most of you may not know the song, but I think it is beautiful, so humour me and give it a listen … please?  I even provided the English version of the lyrics for you, after the Spanish!

Cuando calienta el sol
Johnny Rodriguez

Cuando calienta el sol aquí en la playa
Siento tu cuerpo vibrar cerca de mí
Es tu palpitar, es tu cara, es tu pelo
Son tus besos, me estremezco, oh, oh, oh

Cuando calienta el sol aquí en la playa
Siento tu cuerpo vibrar cerca de mí
Es tu palpitar, tu recuerdo, mi locura
Mi delirio, me estremezco, oh oh oh

Cuando calienta el sol
Aquí en la playa
Cerca de mí
Es tu palpitar, es tu cara, es tu pelo
Son tus besos, me estremezco, oh, oh, oh

Cuando calienta el sol aquí en la playa
Siento tu cuerpo vibrar cerca de mí
Es tu palpitar, tu recuerdo, mi locura
Mi delirio, me estremezco, oh oh oh

Cuando calienta el sol
Cuando calienta el sol
Cuando calienta el sol
Cuando calienta el sol
Cuando calienta el sol
Cuando calienta el sol
Cuando calienta el sol
Cuando calienta el sol

Oh oh, cuando calienta el sol
Cuando calienta el sol
Cuando calienta el sol
Cuando calienta el sol
Cuando calienta el sol (yeah)
Cuando calienta el sol (yeah, yeah)
Cuando calienta el sol (yeah)
Cuando calienta el sol
Cuando calienta el sol
Cuando calienta el sol
Cuando calienta el sol
Cuando calienta el sol
Cuando calienta el sol
Cuando calienta el sol
Cuando calienta el sol
Cuando calienta el sol
Cuando calienta el sol
Cuando calienta el sol
Cuando calienta el sol

Cuando calienta el sol
Cuando calienta el sol
Cuando calienta el sol

Oh oh, cuando calienta el sol
Cuando calienta el sol
Cuando calienta el sol

Songwriters: Carlos Alberto Martinoli / Carlos Rigual Rodriguez / Mario Rigual Rodriguez
Cuando calienta el sol lyrics © Peermusic Publishing

And the English translation …

Cuando calienta el sol
Johnny Rodriguez

When the sun heats here on the beach
Cuando calienta el sol aquí en la playa

I feel your body vibrate near me
Siento tu cuerpo vibrar cerca de mí

It’s your throbbing, it’s your face, it’s your hair
Es tu palpitar, es tu cara, es tu pelo

It’s your kisses, I shudder, oh, oh, oh
Son tus besos, me estremezco, oh, oh, oh
When the sun heats here on the beach
Cuando calienta el sol aquí en la playa

I feel your body vibrate near me
Siento tu cuerpo vibrar cerca de mí

It’s your throbbing, your memory, my madness
Es tu palpitar, tu recuerdo, mi locura

My delirium, I shudder, oh oh oh
Mi delirio, me estremezco, oh oh oh
When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol

Here on the beach
Aquí en la playa

Close to me
Cerca de mí

It’s your throbbing, it’s your face, it’s your hair
Es tu palpitar, es tu cara, es tu pelo

It’s your kisses, I shudder, oh, oh, oh
Son tus besos, me estremezco, oh, oh, oh
When the sun heats here on the beach
Cuando calienta el sol aquí en la playa

I feel your body vibrate near me
Siento tu cuerpo vibrar cerca de mí

It’s your throbbing, your memory, my madness
Es tu palpitar, tu recuerdo, mi locura

My delirium, I shudder, oh oh oh
Mi delirio, me estremezco, oh oh oh
When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol

When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol

When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol

When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol

When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol

When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol

When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol

When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol
Oh oh, when the sun heats
Oh oh, cuando calienta el sol

When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol

When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol

When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol

When the sun warms up (yeah)
Cuando calienta el sol (yeah)

When the sun heats (yeah, yeah)
Cuando calienta el sol (yeah, yeah)

When the sun warms up (yeah)
Cuando calienta el sol (yeah)

When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol

When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol

When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol

When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol

When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol

When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol

When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol

When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol

When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol

When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol

When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol

When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol
When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol

When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol

When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol
Oh oh, when the sun heats
Oh oh, cuando calienta el sol

When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol

When the sun heats
Cuando calienta el sol

Songwriters: Carlos Alberto Martinoli / Carlos Rigual Rodriguez / Mario Rigual Rodriguez
Cuando calienta el sol lyrics © Peermusic Publishing

♫ Loco-Motion ♫

Ever since my post on Monday about the legislation piling up in the Senate because Mitchell McConnell won’t even allow some 250+ mostly bi-partisan bills to be brought to the floor for discussion, I have had that Schoolhouse Rock song in my head … “I’m just a bill, yes I’m only a bill, and I’m sitting here on Capitol Hill …”  Not only is it driving me bonkers, but the girls are pretty much sick of it too, especially since I have been singing it while cooking supper, folding laundry, etc.  (Note to readers:  near-deaf people do not sing well … in fact, my singing could win an award for “Worst Warbler of the Year”).  So, in order to exorcise that particular tune, I was planning to play it here tonight.  But, lucky for you guys, a friend and I were talking this evening and another song came up in conversation, and it replaced I’m just a bill in my feeble brain, so …

Tonight I am taking you back in time to 1962, the year Little Eva had a hit with this song, Loco-Motion!  Remember this one?  I was 11 years old, with coke-bottle glasses and braces on my teeth!

The husband-and-wife songwriting team of Carole King and Gerry Goffin wrote this song. Little Eva was Eva Boyd, the babysitter – actually more of a nanny – being paid $35/week to watch their daughter Louise and clean the house. They were all young: Eva was 17, King 19 and Goffin 22. One day King came up with a melody that Goffin thought sounded like a locomotive, and when he saw Eva dancing with their daughter to the tune, he got the idea to make the song about a brand new dance – The Loco-Motion. He wrote the lyrics and they brought Eva to the studio and had her record the song as a demo.  They offered the song to Dee Dee Sharp, but she turned it down.  Producer Don Kirshner thought Eva’s vocal was just fine, so they named her Little Eva and had her record the song. The only downside for King and Goffin was losing their nanny: when the song became a million-seller, Eva was able to buy a place of her own.

In 1974, this became an unlikely #1 US hit for Grand Funk Railroad, who did a rock version of the song. It was just the second time a song hit #1 for two different artists – the first was Go Away Little Girl by Steve Lawrence in 1962 and Donny Osmond in 1971. That song was also written by King and Goffin.

I like both versions … I prefer Little Eva’s, but Grand Funk’s doesn’t hurt my ears, so I will offer you both tonight.

The Loco-motion
Little Eva/Grand Funk Railroad

Everybody’s doing a brand-new dance, now
(Come on baby, do the loco-motion)
I know you’ll get to like it if you give it a chance now
(Come on baby, do the loco-motion)
My little baby sister can do it with me
It’s easier than learning your a-b-c’s
So come on, come on, do the loco-motion with me
You gotta swing your hips, now

Come on, baby
Jump up
Jump back
Well, now, I think you’ve got the knack
Wow, wow

Now that you can do it, let’s make a chain, now
(Come on baby, do the loco-motion)
A chug-a chug-a motion like a railroad train, now
(Come on baby, do the loco-motion)
Do it nice and easy, now, don’t lose control
A little bit of rhythm and a lot of soul

Come on, come on
Do the loco-motion with me

Ye-ye-ye-yeah
Move around the floor in a loco-motion
(Come on baby, do the loco-motion)
Do it holding hands if you get the notion
(Come on baby, do the loco-motion)

There’s never been a dance that’s so easy to do
It even makes you happy when you’re feeling blue
So come on, come on, do the loco-motion with me

You gotta swing your hips, now
(Come on) that’s right (do the loco-motion)
You’re doing fine (come on, do the loco-motion)
Come on, babe (come on, do the loco-motion) hm-hm-hm
Jump up (come on) jump back (do the loco-motion)
You’re looking good (come on, do the loco-motion) hm-hm-hm
Jump up (come on) jump back (do the loco-motion) hm-hm-hm yeah yeah yeah

Songwriters: Carole King / Gerry Goffin
The Loco-motion lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

♫ You And Me Against The World ♫

Sometimes, I push myself too hard, I care too much about … well, everything.  And when that happens, I fall into a dark hole I call, for lack of a better term, the ‘rabbit hole’.  Often, whether intentionally or not, my music selections reflect that state of being, that dark rabbit hole.

This was the first song that Kenny Ascher and Paul Williams wrote together. They teamed up again to write the Oscar nominated score for the movie A Star Is Born, and the song Rainbow Connection for The Muppet Movie. Says Williams …

“We went to England to do a television show, Kenny was a member of my band. And when we got there there was a problem with the work permits, so the guys in my band couldn’t play. I had to use local musicians. So Kenny’s sitting around with nothing to do in a hotel in London. So we’re sitting there, and we’re having a few drinks, because that’s what I did in those days. I’m 17 years sober (2007), in those days I drank. We’re sitting around and we’re talking about writers, and we all love Cole Porter and a certain kind of writer and all. And we started talking about Harry Nilsson and Randy Newman. I loved Harry, but every time I tried to tell Harry how much I loved his songs, he would always tell me, ‘No, here’s the great writer,’ and he’d play me Randy Newman, who I also loved.

So Kenny and I wrote this little song, ‘Do you love me, babe, do you love me not? Let’s decide in the morning, not now. Boy, you don’t like Shuman, or Randy Newman, Nilsson ain’t your cup of tea. You think Van Heusen is a shirt worth choosin’, but you’re still undecided ’bout me. Bo-wo do you love me, babe, do you love me not, let’s decide in the morning, not now.’ It was really kind of a cute little song.

And Kenny’s sitting at the piano, turned to me, and he said, ‘If that was on an album…’ and he played, ‘bomp bomp bomp bomp bomp.’ He played the intro to what became ‘You And Me Against The World.’ And I just looked at him when he finished the intro and sang, ‘You and me against the world,’ and he hit another chord, and I went, ‘Sometimes it feels like you and me against the world.’ And we went on from there. It’s the first song we ever recorded, and God bless Helen Reddy, she had a big hit with it.”

There are more … professional versions of this song, but … as  I am a huge fan of Kermit, then it can only be this one tonight …

You and Me Against the World
Helen Reddy

You and me against the world,
Sometimes it seems like you and me against the world,
When all the others turn their backs and walked away,
You can count on me to stay.

Remember when the circus came to town
How you were frightened by the clown,
Wasn’t it nice to be around someone that you knew,
Someone who was big and strong and looking out for

You and me against the world,
Sometimes it seems like you and me against the world
And for all the times we’ve cried I always felt that
God was on our side.

And when one of us is gone,
And one of us is left to carry on,
Then remembering will have to do,
Our memories alone will get us through
Think about the days of me and you,
Of you and me against the world.

Songwriters: Kenneth Lee Ascher / Paul H. Williams
You and Me Against the World lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG Rights Management

♫ Wonderful World ♫

I’ve been behind on everything since two days before Thanksgiving, when I began grocery shopping, planning, baking, etc., and I’m still not caught back up, but … getting there.  I have missed reading friends’ blogs, and tonight I was trying to make a dent in the backlog when I came across a poem written by fellow-blogger and friend, Paul, aka Parallax.  As I commented on his post, a song came to mind … this song … What a Wonderful World, by Sam Cooke.

Released on April 14, 1960, this song was mainly composed by songwriting team Lou Adler and Herb Alpert, but Cooke revised the lyrics to mention the subject of education more.

According to Craig Werner, a professor of African American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the song may have a more politically charged meaning than at first glance. In his book, A Change Is Gonna Come: Music, Race and the Soul of America, Werner writes that “Wonderful World” may be one of the first examples of Cooke’s crossover into politics, where he informs white listeners that he “don’t know much about history” and “don’t know much biology” as a comment that these are the things to forget about African-Americans, and all they need to remember is love.

Wonderful World
Sam Cooke

Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about a science book
Don’t know much about the French I took

But I do know that I love you
And I know that if you love me, too
What a wonderful world this would be

Don’t know much about geography
Don’t know much trigonometry
Don’t know much about algebra
Don’t know what a slide rule is for

But I do know one and one is two
And if this one could be with you
What a wonderful world this would be

Now, I don’t claim to be an A student
But I’m trying to be
For maybe by being an A student, baby
I can win your love for me

Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about a science book
Don’t know much about the French I took

But I do know that I love you
And I know that if you love me, too
What a wonderful world this would be

La ta ta ta ta ta ta (history)
Hmm-mm-mm (biology)
La ta ta ta ta ta ta (science book)
Hmm-mm-mm (French I took)

Yeah, but I do know that I love you
And I know that if you love me, too
What a wonderful world this would be

Songwriters: Herb Alpert / Lou Adler / Sam Cooke
Wonderful World lyrics © Abkco Music, Inc

♫ Forever In Blue Jeans ♫

You know that Monday-after-a-long-holiday-weekend feeling?  The one where the simplest tasks seem monumental, and you find yourself saying, “I really don’t want to be here” … and that’s true even for those of us who are retired!  Too much has been left alone over the 4-day weekend … vacuuming, laundry, bathroom cleaning, etc.  And there’s that great dilemma … how to disguise the remaining turkey in the fridge so it doesn’t seem so much like leftovers.  You just feel somewhat … out of sync.  So, I was in the mood for something light and fun tonight.

Released in 1979, Forever in Blue Jeans was co-written by Neil Diamond and his guitarist, Richard Bennett.  Says Diamond about the song: “the simple things are really the important things”.

Not surprisingly, the song has been used  a couple of times in ads for … blue jeans!  In one, Will Ferrell of M*A*S*H and Elf fame, impersonated Neil Diamond singing this in an ad for The Gap.

As always, I mis-heard not only the lyrics, but I always thought the song was titled Devil in Blue Jeans, so when I went looking for it tonight, it took me a while!

The song only reached #20 in the U.S., #16 in the UK.

Forever In Blue Jeans
Neil Diamond

Money talks
But it don’t sing and dance and it don’t walk
And long as I can have you here with me
I’d much rather be forever in blue jeans

Honey’s sweet
But it ain’t nothin’ next to baby’s treat
And if you’d pardon me, I’d like to say
We’d do okay forever in blue jeans

Maybe tonight
Maybe tonight, by the fire
All alone, you and I
Nothing around but the sound
Of my heart and your sighs

Money talks
But it can’t sing and dance and it can’t walk
And long as I can have you here with me
I’d much rather be forever in blue jeans, babe

And honey’s sweet
But it ain’t nothin’ next to baby’s treat
And if you’ll pardon me, I’d like to say
We’d do okay, forever in blue jeans

Maybe tonight
Maybe tonight, by the fire
All alone, you and I
Nothing around but the sound
Of my heart and your sighs

Money talks
But it don’t sing and dance and it don’t walk
And long as I can have you here with me
I’d much rather be forever in blue jeans

And if you’d pardon me, I’d like to say
We’d do okay forever in blue jeans, babe

And long as I can have you here with me
I’d much rather be forever in blue jeans, babe

Songwriters: Richard Winchell Bennett / Neil Diamond
Forever In Blue Jeans lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

♫ Tears In Heaven ♫

I am not a fan of Eric Clapton, but this one … this one is a song that has depth, has meaning, has staying power, that has that “bring you to tears” capability.

In August 1990, Clapton’s manager, two of his roadies and his friend and fellow musician Stevie Ray Vaughan were killed in a helicopter accident.  Seven months later, in March 1991, Clapton’s 4-year-old son Conor died after falling from the 53rd-floor window of a New York City apartment belonging to Conor’s mother, Italian television personality Lory del Santo.

In a 2005 interview with Mojo, Clapton said Conor’s death “threw me into … a wobble,” and in the immediate aftermath of the accident, he coped by throwing himself into his work — most notably by contributing a trio of new songs to the soundtrack of the 1991 movie Rush, including Tears in Heaven, the Grammy-winning hit ballad inspired by the immense grief of his loss.

Clapton wrote this with Will Jennings, who has written many famous songs from movies, including Up Where We Belong from An Officer And A Gentleman and My Heart Will Go On from Titanic. Jennings wrote the lyrics to many of Steve Winwood’s hits and has also written with B.B. King, Roy Orbison, The Crusaders, Peter Wolf and many others.  According to Jennings …

“Eric and I were engaged to write a song for a movie called Rush. We wrote a song called ‘Help Me Up’ for the end of the movie… then Eric saw another place in the movie for a song and he said to me, ‘I want to write a song about my boy.’ Eric had the first verse of the song written, which, to me, is all the song, but he wanted me to write the rest of the verse lines and the release (‘Time can bring you down, time can bend your knees…’), even though I told him that it was so personal he should write everything himself. He told me that he had admired the work I did with Steve Winwood and finally there was nothing else but do to as he requested, despite the sensitivity of the subject. This is a song so personal and so sad that it is unique in my experience of writing songs.”

Clapton wasn’t sure he wanted this song to be released at all, but the director of Rush, Lili Zanuck, convinced him to use it in the film. “Her argument was that it might in some way help somebody, and that got my vote,” Clapton said.

Tears In Heaven
Eric Clapton

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?
I must be strong and carry on
‘Cause I know I don’t belong here in heaven

Would you hold my hand
If I saw you in heaven?
Would you help me stand
If I saw you in heaven?
I’ll find my way through night and day
‘Cause I know I just can’t stay here in heaven

Time can bring you down, time can bend your knees
Time can break your heart, have you begging please, begging please

Beyond the door there’s peace I’m sure
And I know there’ll be no more tears in heaven

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?
I must be strong and carry on
‘Cause I know I don’t belong here in heaven

Songwriters: Eric Patrick Clapton / Will Jennings
Tears In Heaven lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group, Songtrust Ave, BMG Rights Management

♫ Midnight At The Oasis ♫

Released in 1973 by Italian singer Maria Muldaur, this song was written by David Nichtern, a composer who also became a renown teacher of Shambhala Buddhism. He tells the story of this song …

“I wrote the song before I started working with Maria… the details are a little bit intimate, but let’s just say there was a girl, a waterbed, feta cheese and grape leaves, and a Martin 000-18 near by.

I actually produced the demo (in Woodstock) that got Maria her Warner Bros individual artist deal, so I was on the map already with them to that extent. On that demo was a song I wrote called ‘I Never Did Sing You a Lovesong’ which made it onto the album but was re-recorded. Also we demoed a track that Wendy Waldman wrote called ‘Mad Mad Me (I Love You)’ which made it onto the album as it was so I got producer credit for that track.

My memory is that I came out to LA and got to play rhythm guitar on several tracks. From there I got more and more involved with the record. At a rehearsal, I played ‘Midnight at the Oasis’ for Lenny Waronker and he liked it and wanted to include it on the record.

We recorded it with some great musicians – Jim Gordon on drums (who later went crazy and killed his own mother and went to prison for life I think). Freebo played bass, Mark Jordan on piano and me on acoustic guitar. Later, Famous Amos Garrett added that amazing electric guitar part and solo, which in some circles is as famous as the song itself.

Warner’s released the album and then Midnight as the first single… they hung in there with it for something like nine months until it took off…. that might not happen today… the rest is herstory as they say…”

And Maria Muldaur tells …

I was making my first solo album for Warner Brothers in 1973, and I had just recently separated from my then-husband, Geoff Muldaur, who not only was my partner, but also my musical partner, and sort of the mastermind of, musically, whatever we did together. So being a solo artist was completely strange and alien and rather scary territory for me.

And so I was out in California finding myself in the studio with all the top guns: Dr. John, Ry Cooder, David Lindley; I mean, all the fabulous guys that played on my first album. And I had been working with a young guitarist named David Nichtern when I first separated from Geoffrey. He was very encouraging and told me, ‘You can do this.’ I was just sobbing and I was a mess. We had a little talk and he would say, ‘Look, people still know you from the Jug Band, and if I can get work in these little coffee houses, you can, too.’ And so we put together a few tunes, and he got us some gigs. This was real low-profile stuff. I’d be crying all the way up to the gig, and he’d say, ‘Okay, dry your eyes and wash your face. We’re on in half an hour.’ And he was just a very supportive little brother to me.

And so when I found myself out in California doing this solo album, I was going to do one of his songs. He’s a very lovely songwriter and he’d written this beautiful song called ‘I Never Did Sing You a Lovesong.’ Very lyrical little waltz-y, kind of a country waltz kind of thing. And he knew I had all these really fabulous musicians at the studio. But he came out on his own dime, because he just felt, well, maybe they’ll let him play rhythm guitar on his own tune or something. So he came on out in his little VW bug and slept on a mattress on my living room floor in the Hollywood Hills and came to the studio, was observing everything, and did get to play on his own song.

And then we were almost finished recording, the producer came in the studio and said, ‘You know, I’ve been listening to the rough mixes, and I think we’re in pretty good shape.’ He said, ‘You know, we’ve got some up tempo stuff and we’ve got some nice ballads. I think if we had one more medium tempo song, then the album would be nicely balanced out, we’d be in good shape. Does anything come to mind?’

So David was standing right there, and just off the top of my head, kind of as a gesture of gratitude to him because he had been so supportive to me, kind of holding my hand through all of this, which was very overwhelming, you know, I’d never been in that position before of being a solo artist and trying to make my way through an album that was all about me. And I said, ‘Well, David has this song. It’s a funny little song, really, but it is medium tempo.’ I said, ‘David, play them ‘Midnight at the Oasis’ and see what you think.’ Which I’d heard before and I thought it was just a goofy little song; I didn’t think much of it one way or the other. So he whipped out his guitar and started to play it on the guitar, and I sang it. And the producer cocked his head, he said, ‘Oh, that’s cute, okay, wanna do that one?’ So as a gesture to David, I said, ‘Yeah, let’s do that one. I have no other bright ideas.’ And we called in some great studio players and we cut it. And the rest is history.”

Midnight at the Oasis
Maria Muldaur

Midnight at the oasis
Send your camel to bed
Shadows painting our faces
Traces of romance in our heads
Heaven’s holding a half-moon
Shining just for us
Let’s slip off to a sand dune, real soon
And kick up a little dust

Come on, Cactus is our friend
He’ll point out the way
Come on, till the evening ends
‘Til the evening ends
You don’t have to answer
There’s no need to speak
I’ll be your belly dancer, prancer
And you can be my sheik

I know your daddy’s a sultan
A nomad known to all
With fifty girls to attend him, they all send him
Jump at his beck and call
But you won’t need no harem, honey
When I’m by your side
And you won’t need no camel, no no
When I take you for a ride
Come on, Cactus is our friend
He’ll point out the way
Come on, till the evening ends
‘Til the evening ends
Midnight at the oasis
Send your camel to bed
Got shadows painting our faces
And traces of romance in our heads

Oh come on, oh come on
Woo hoo hoo, yeah, oh yeah
Oh oh, yeah, yeah

Songwriters: David Nichtern
Midnight at the Oasis lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

♫ Betcha By Golly, Wow ♫

A couple of weeks ago, I played You Make Me Feel Brand New by The Stylistics, and a reader commented that it was his favourite of The Stylistics songs, along with Betcha By Golly, Wow.  I couldn’t recall ever hearing the latter, but I went in search of and found that I definitely recognized the song, just not the title.

What I did not know, however, is that this song was first recorded under the title Keep Growing Strong by Connie Stevens in 1970!  It was two years later that The Stylistics released their more successful version under the title Betcha By Golly, Wow.

The song was written by Linda Creed and Thom Bell, who wrote a number of songs for The Stylistics.  Not much other backstory out there about this one, but I am amazed at the number of people who have covered this one, including Prince, Aaron Neville, Johnny Mathis, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Dionne Warwick and others.

So, do you guys want to hear the Connie Stevens’ version too, or not?  Oh … okay, then you’ll get both … listen to one or both … your choice!

Betcha By Golly, Wow
The Stylistics

There’s a spark of magic in your eyes
Candyland appears each time you smile
Never thought that fairy tales came true
But they come true when I’m near you
You’re a genie in disguise
Full of wonder and surprise

And betcha by golly, wow
You’re the one that I’ve been waiting for forever
And ever will my love for you keep growin’ strong
Keep growin’ strong

If I could I’d catch a falling star
To shine on you so I’ll know where you are
Order rainbows in your favorite shade
To show I love you, thinking of you
Write your name across the sky
Anything you ask I’ll try, ’cause

Betcha by golly, wow
You’re the one that I’ve been waiting for forever
And ever will my love for you keep growin’ strong
Keep growin’ strong

Betcha by golly, wow
You’re the one that I’ve been waiting for forever
And ever will my love for you keep growin’ strong
Keep growin’ strong

Betcha by golly, wow

You’re the one that I’ve been waiting for forever
And ever will my love for you

Songwriters: Linda Creed / Thomas Bell
Betcha By Golly, Wow lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner Chappell Music, Inc