…It’s all compromise

Our selection today comes laced with gratitude to a friend who, as an MD, helped us out of a jam when our far-off kid was ailing mightily.  He’s much better now and so are we…certainly well enough to sit in astonishment when reading about an artist whose career has spanned (one, two, three, four, five, six, seven…) EIGHT decades.

Her father thought up her given name when she was born in 1932 (drolly alleging that it was a combination of two old girlfriends, Pet and Ulla) and she was christened Petula Sally Olwen Clark in her hometown of Epsom, Surrey. Although most of us know her for those wonderfully upbeat hits from the ‘60s, Petula Clark’s career actually began as a BBC Radio entertainer during (ready for this) the Second World War.

She made her debut in 1942, while attending a BBC broadcast with her father.  When an air raid occurred the producer asked if there was anyone who could sing (in hopes of calming the edgy studio audience) and the ten year old raised her hand and sang “Mighty Lak a Rose” to a thunderous ovation.  Clark then repeated her performance for the broadcast audience, and thus soon began a series of nearly 500 appearances for “Britain’s Shirley Temple” whose photo was often plastered on British military equipment as a sign of good luck.

Throughout the 1950s Petula Clark garnered international success by recording in both French and English. But then came the paradigm shift of Beatlemania and her singing career (like so many others) began to founder. In 1964, composer-arranger, Tony Hatch tried to interest her in some new material that just wasn’t a fit, so in desperation he played a few chords from an unfinished song he’d been writing with The Drifters in mind.  Clark’s response was immediate, if the lyrics were as good as the melody she’d record it as her next single.

Released in four languages, and “owning” the American charts, “Downtown” was an enormous success in the UK, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Japan and India. Actually it would prove to be the first of fifteen consecutive U.S. Top 40 hits for Clark.  A multiple Grammy Award winner (with a place in the Grammy Hall of Fame), who will turn 80 this year, little “Pet-Ulla” has sold more than 68 million records throughout her extraordinary career.

Today’s selection-by-request, was also written by Tony Hatch (with Jackie Trent), and released in 1967.  Peaking at Number Five on the Charts it was Clark’s final American top-ten single.

Now there are those who think of “subway” in the American sense (underground metro) and those who think of the British usage (underground pedestrian passageway).  And there are those, like me, who have smugly assumed that since it was written by a Brit and sung by a Brit it obviously refers to the British usage. Wrong, according to lyricist Jackie Trent, the song was inspired by a Broadway Musical, “Subways Are For Sleeping.”

Good choice, Doc. “Don’t Sleep in the Subway” is reportedly Petula Clark’s favorite Tony Hatch composition.

 LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Friday 23 March

Don’t Sleep in the Subway

 You wander around

On your own little cloud

When you don’t see the why

Or the wherefore

Ooh, you walk out on me

When we both disagree

‘Cause to reason is not what you care for

I’ve heard it all a million times before

Take off your coat, my love, and close the door

Don’t sleep in the subway, darlin’

Don’t stand in the pouring rain

Don’t sleep in the subway, darlin’

The night is long

Forget your foolish pride

Nothing’s wrong

Now you’re beside me again

You try to be smart

Then you take it apart

‘Cause it hurts when your ego is deflated

You don’t realize

That it’s all compromise

And the problems are so over-rated

 Good-bye means nothing when it’s all for show

So why pretend you’ve somewhere else to go?

 Don’t sleep in the subway, darlin’

Don’t stand in the pouring rain

Don’t sleep in the subway, darlin’

The night is long

Forget your foolish pride

Nothing’s wrong

Now you’re beside me again

 Don’t sleep in the subway, darlin’

Don’t stand in the pouring rain

Don’t sleep in the subway, darlin’

The night is long

Forget your foolish pride

Nothing’s wrong

Now you’re beside me again

 Don’t sleep in the subway, darlin’

Don’t stand in the pouring rain

Don’t sleep in the subway, darlin’…

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