I have mentioned several times here that my brother and I agree that the greatest songwriter of our era was John Lennon. I will admit that his lyrics can be over the top politically, just listen to the ending chorus of “Happy X-Mas (War Is Over)”. Even the title says it going to be political. But that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the song. In fact, the Christmas “season” doesn’t start until I hear “Happy X-Mas” playing somewhere randomly. This year it was just last week that it played on the radio while I was not at home that I heard it.
My granddaughters are big fans of the Beatles as well. It’s not all that surprising since their mother has more Beatles stuff than I do. When the girls were infants, I could calm them down just by singing “Yellow Submarine”. So I wasn’t in the least bit surprised when granddaughter-the-elder handed me this little thing she made. I keep it on my desk.
And that’s what I try to keep in my mind at all times; “All You Need Is Love”. I will have the Beatles channel playing today. I hope I hear this song several times.
So sometime around 3 AM this morning this popped into my head and woke me up. Not sure why, maybe it’s that stupid tropical storm that’s been threatening us on and off for the last few days. Maybe it’s the constant back pain, or more likely the meds I’m taking for the pain that keeps me up.
But maybe, just maybe it’s kismet that the song came to me the way the title came to Tommy James;
The title, “Crimson and Clover”, was decided before a song had been written for it. The combination of unknown meaning came to James as he was waking up, comprising his favorite color – crimson – and his favorite flower – clover.
In any case, this has always been one of favorite songs. As a youngster the effects are what caught my attention. But as I grew older (I still refuse to grow up) how those effects were accomplished is what kept me listening to the track.
I will admit that all I know of Tommy James and the Shondells are their singles. I didn’t know that the album version of tis track is two minutes longer. I’m not surprised, it never occurred to me that there would be an album as well. Ah, the obliviousness of youth!
This track has been covered by Prince and more famously by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. The original reached number one on 1 February 1969, Joan’s cover made it to number 7 in 1982. Other songs that the group gave us that made it big are “I Think We’re Alone Now” covered by Tiffany and “Mony Mony” by Billy Idol. Both of which hit number one in November of 1987. “Crystal Blue Persuasion” is another track I always enjoyed. I do have a bit of a psychedelia streak in me (see here, here, here, and here).
“Crimson and Clover” entered the U.S. charts on December 14, where it stayed for 16 weeks on Billboard Hot 100 and 15 weeks on Cash Box Top 100. Following a performance of the song on The Ed Sullivan Show on January 26, it became number one on February 1, 1969, a position held for one week on Cash Box Top 100 and two weeks on both Billboard Hot 100 and Record World 100 Top Pops. Internationally, the song reached number one in Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, and Switzerland. It also charted in Austria, Brazil, France, Holland, Italy, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, and Puerto Rico. Despite this, the song did not chart in the United Kingdom.
And to even out the music spectrum, they also gave us the bubblegum “Hanky Panky”. Mother nature may abhor a straight line, but she does enjoy balance.
P.S. I’ve got a new genealogy blog now. The link is down below!
This could go under Guitar Gods, Singer – Songwriters, or What’s Stuck In My Head. This video checks all the good boxes on my theoretical checklists.
First, it’s one of my favorite Eric Clapton tunes that he co-wrote with Bonnie Bramlett, she being the Bonnie in Bonnie and Delany that Eric toured and recorded with. Second, it has Peter Frampton who I’ve already featured on this here blog. And lastly, it’s the Doobie Brothers without Michael McDonald. I have nothing again Michael or his solo music, it’s just during his time with the Doobies, it didn’t come across right to me. It was almost like the Doobies were his backup band. But I do miss Jeff “Skunk” Baxter on guitar with the band. I guess he’s too busy doing defense work now a days.
The song and its accompanying video were recorded virtually, with Frampton and every member of the Doobie Brothers contributing their parts remotely. “Let It Rain” is a perfect choice for the Doobies and Frampton, who add a little extra instrumental oomph — especially when Frampton and Tom Johnston start trading guitar solos — but otherwise remain faithful to the original’s cathartic pop-rock charms.
Johnston tells Rolling Stone how the collaboration came together, saying: “A couple of months ago, Peter and I were going over various tunes after deciding to do a song or video together. I tossed out ‘Let It Rain’ by Eric Clapton and he loved the idea. He’s a phenomenal guitarist and a fan of Clapton’s as am I, so it seemed a great idea to take to the rest of the guys. Peter, Pat, and I took verses and solos and John played some cool pedal steel and helped us put that together with Bill Payne on piano, John Cowan on bass, and Ed Toth on drums. Also Rob Arthur who did all the video work played B3. It was a team effort! We really enjoyed working together on this with Peter.”