Back in the late 50s/early 60s when most boys my age were playing football, I liked nothing better than to hang out in a coffee bar by the Mill Bridge in Skipton and play the jukebox. I’d sit there with my espresso or coke and a pile of threep’ny bits, and play 45 rpm singles for ages, staring into space and thinking about how pop music really was the food of life (and so much better than football). What the songs I played all seemed to have in common was they were American, all from the mythical Promised Land that Chuck Berry sang about. Those few records that I actually owned I would study assiduously, reading the information on the labels and noting down the names of the writers. I also cleaned them a lot and was mortified should one become scratched. I had about half a dozen albums, mostly Elvis, and I would decorate the plain white inner sleeves with photographs cut out from NME. I didn’t know it then but all this nerdish activity was the foundation stone of the strange but wonderful career I’ve had.
One of the records on that jukebox that I really loved was The Shirelles’ ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’, the classic Carole King song, which dates from 1960, and perfectly embodies the innocent, wistful girl group sound that pre-dated The Beatles yet in many ways influenced them, especially Paul. I love the sentiments here: the fears of the girl who’s worried her boyfriend wants her for just one thing and will abandon her once he’s had his way, fairly risky subject matter for the time. Melody and lyrics flow together seamlessly, the passing 7th chord announcing the build-up to the dramatic middle eight, and there’s a lovely crescendo in the string interlude. Back in 1967 I played guitar in a covers/wedding band called Sandra & The Montanas, and this was a song that Sandra sang. After the solo, when Sandra came back in on that middle eight, she was joined by Jeff, the other guitarist, and the bass player Dave (Sandra’s husband), and we all stepped forward in a line and raised our volume slightly and it sounded great, just the perfect climax to this beautiful pop song.
One night after a pub gig with this band the other guitarist and I were ambushed outside by a gang of drunk lads who didn’t like us because their girlfriends did. Outnumbered three to one I got a split lip and bloody nose. I still have the scar on the inside of my bottom lip.