Posted by: Mark Nielsen | April 4, 2011

Breaking Up, BritBeat Style… more songs about endings and beginnings

Revolver:  1) a former British slang term for a revolving LP record that plays music; 2) a handheld fire-arm with chambers that turn; 3) the favorite type of public entry door of 8-year-olds around the world.

More good news for weepy people on this Gray Monday… as our counterintuitive spring theme of breakup songs continues. Thoreau said spring is the world’s resurrection ritual, repeated every year. On the other hand, when the snow melts away, we see a lot of dried up plant life from the previous fall, and more than a few animal remains from those who didn’t make it into the new year.

I guess everything revolves… or as we like to say nowadays: what goes around, comes around.

Musically, today: a Beatles classic, then a thirteen-year-old David Gray cover of a twenty-nine year old Soft Cell British synthpop song which pays tribute to a forty-four year old Beatles tune, …and finally a personal recommendation from last year’s fabulous Elton John/Leon Russell (and therefore British/American) collaboration, The Union.

I.   For No One (Lennon/McCartney):

I listened straight through to the entire Beatles’ 1966 Revolver album this morning, for the first time in eons. And true to form, Paul McCartney almost had me bawling right in the aisles of the Skokie Aldi store, thanks to the song For No One. Simple but powerful, not angry but sad — a mini-opera that takes all of 2:01 to break your heart… in full, glorious monophonic sound. A lovely French horn solo is the nail in the coffin for this particular breakup.

II. Say Hello Wave Goodbye – David Gray (written by Marc Almond, David Ball)

From wikipedia:

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye” is a song from the album Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret by Englishsynthpop duo Soft Cell that was released as a single in 1982 and reached number three on theUK Singles Chart.[1] The song’s title is a reference to The Beatles‘ song “Hello, Goodbye“. The song is recognized as one of the most notable of Soft Cell’s tracks…

The song was covered by English artist David Gray and released on his highly successful 1998 album White Ladder. It was the album’s fifth proper and final single and reached #26 on the UK Singles Chart.[9] Gray’s version runs at 9:04 in length, which is just under four minutes longer than the original; as such, the single featured a shorter radio edit.

9:04, eh?! That’s a whole lotta heartache for anyone to take in one sitting. A great song though, on a great album, by a singular British singer-songwriter who seldom gets his due here in the States. As for that suit the singer below wears that “just wasn’t me”… yeah, I sure do get that one. Sometimes I wonder if I should have been the one in the cocktail skirt, melodramatic drama queen that I am.  Oh well.

Anway, here are the lyrics:

“Say Hello Wave Goodbye”

Standing at the door of the pink Flamingo crying in the rain,
It was a kind of so-so love and I’m gonna make sure it doesn’t happen again,
You and I had to be the standing joke of the year,
You were a run-around, a lost and found, and not for me I feel

Take your hands off me, hey,
I don’t belong to you, you see,
And take a look in my face, for the last time,
I never knew you, you never knew me,
Say hello goodbye,
Say hello and wave goodbye,

We tried to make it work, you in a cocktail skirt and me in a suit but it just wasn’t me,
You’re used to wearing less, and now your life’s a mess, so insecure you see,
I put up with all the scenes, this is one scene that’s going to be played my way

Say hello and wave goodbye

Under the deep red light I can see the make-up sliding down,
Well hey little girl you will always make up so take off that unbecoming frown,
As for me, well I’ll find someone who’s not going cheap in the sales,
A nice little housewife who’ll give me a steady life and not keep going
off the rails,

Say hello and wave goodbye [repeat]



The Brit-fop and the Swamp Wizard

III. When Love Is Dying   (Elton John/Leon Russell)

I mentioned in a blog post earlier in the week the genuinely moving induction ceremony for Leon Russell into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last month. Elton John introduced and presented Leon, and it was powerful to see the genuine respect and gratitude each had for the other. Russell made it sound like Elton saved him from the jaws of death last year, after brain surgery and probably years worth of just scraping by financially.

The result of their seemingly unlikely musical hook-up was last year’s wide-ranging funfest of an album, The Union. When paired lyrically with Sir Elton’s drama queen emotional intensity (are you sensing a pattern here?), Leon’s good ol’ boy swagger and Okie sincerity sound like the single best reason God invented the twelve-bar blues. The smoothness of Elton’s voice also pairs wonderfully with Leon’s gravelly, worn-down Southern drawl… thus further cementing the connections between British rock and American country and Delta blues first drawn by the Rolling Stones, and seen most recently in Robert Plant’s collaborations with Allison Krauss, Buddy Miller, and Patty Griffin.

Though it isn’t the best song on the album, my Elton and Leon selection for today is the one from that album that’s been playing in heavy rotation this winter on the jukebox in the back of my brain, as my wife and I wrap up nineteen complicated years of marriage. It’s called

When Love Is Dying

They say we bruise too easily
I don’t know if it’s that way for me
I’ve seen ’em come, I’ve seen ’em go
I’ve seen everyone I know
Fall in and out of love
It’s just the way it goes
Word is out, silence seems so loud
There’s no light above or below me now
I’ve seen it grow, I’ve seen it live
I’ve seen everything I give
Falling out my hands, no matter who I’m with

And nobody ever tells you
When love is dying, when love is dying
It just gets a little colder
And we stop trying, we stop trying, yeah we stop trying
Oh when love is dying
There’s a pain you never can explain

Cuts so deep time and time again
I felt it then, I feel it now
But nobody told me how
To fight a world of hurt
Somebody help me now

[Repeat Chorus]

But love never gets to show you
And I never got to know you
No we never stood a chance
When love was dying
No and love never makes it easy
And I never got that feeling
No we never stood a chance
When love was dying

[Repeat Chorus]

“Repeat Chorus”, indeed. Umm… no thank you. I need to get busy living, not dying.


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