…I never thought I’d come to this

The subject was somewhat controversial (and condemned by a number of religious groups) but that didn’t keep two versions of the same song, by two different artists, from working their way up the Billboard Top 40…at the same time.

Written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice today’s selection was first published in 1967 under the title of Kansas Morning.  Then, a few years later when Webber and Rice were working on their (blasphemous to some) concept album, Jesus Christ Superstar and needed a solo number for the character of Mary Magdalene, they bought back the rights from the publisher for £50.

With re-written lyrics the song was recorded by Yvonne Elliman, who was initially perplexed by their romantic nature, and by the new title, I Don’t Know How to Love Him. She thought the Mary she’d been recruited to play was Jesus’ mother.

Born and raised in Hawaii, Elliman was working as a club singer in London when Rice and Webber noticed her one evening and (imagine?) asked if she might be interested in taking part in their new rock opera.

Considered to be Jesus Christ Superstar’s best track right from the start, it wasn’t until after Helen Reddy’s 1971 version of the song had hit the Billboard charts (reaching Number 13, it was her first chart appearance and breakthrough hit) that Elliman’s original was released as a single (peaking at Number 28) and finally received airplay.

Released in the UK the following year, Elliman’s version charted at Number 47 but faced competition from yet another concurrent cover, this time by Petula Clark, which reached Number 42 and would be her final chart appearance.

While Elliman remained involved with the production for four years, performing the song on the original 1970 concept album, the 1971 Broadway cast album and on the 1973 film soundtrack (for which she received a Gold Globe nomination) it has since been recorded by a broad range of artists including: Shirley Bassey, Judy Collins, Cilla Black, Sinead O’Conner, Peggy Lee, Elaine Page, Sarah Brightman, Bonnie Tyler and (as was typical) by Petula Clark again, who also had a hit with it in French as La Chanson de Marie-Madeleine… a far catchier title than Kansas Matin and well worth that £50 investment.

 LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Good Friday 6 April

I Don’t Know How to Love Him

 I don’t know how to love him

What to do, how to move him

I’ve been changed, yes really changed

In these past few days, when I’ve seen myself

I seem like someone else

I don’t know how to take this

I don’t see why he moves me

He’s a man. He’s just a man

And I’ve had so many men before

In very many ways

He’s just one more

Should I bring him down?

Should I scream and shout?

Should I speak of love

Let my feelings out?

I never thought I’d come to this

What’s it all about?

Don’t you think it’s rather funny

I should be in this position

I’m the one who’s always been

So calm, so cool, no lover’s fool

Running every show

He scares me so

I never thought I’d come to this

What’s it all about?

Yet, if he said he loved me

I’d be lost. I’d be frightened

I couldn’t cope, just couldn’t cope

I’d turn my head. I’d back away

I wouldn’t want to know

He scares me so

I want him so

I love him so

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