JERRY GOFFIN (1939 - 2014)

Elsewhere on Just Backdated I eulogise about the song ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’ which has been a favourite of mine for as long as I’ve known the difference between 33⅓ and 45. But like many over the years I made the mistake of crediting it solely to Carole King when I should have said it was a written by both Carole and her then husband (and lyricist) Gerry Goffin and if I could I’d like to make a belated apology to Gerry but I can’t because, sadly, he died on Thursday.
         On Friday night in the Compasses this was duly noted when Becky Clowes, daughter of Alun Davies and one half of their duo Good Men In The Jungle, sang a truly inspired version of ‘Love Me Tomorrow’ a capella because Alun didn’t know the chords, bringing the house down in the process. It was, she told me afterwards, one of her favourites too and the passion with which Becky sang it left me in no doubt about this. I was spellbound for a couple of minutes and almost choked on my pint of Guinness.
         I could have told Alun the chords (in the key of C, a blend of C, F, G, Em and Am, with a C7 to launch the middle-eight and a D7 to finish it) because back in the sixties Sandra & The Montanas, a group for whom I once played guitar, used to perform ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’, as noted in my other post. Sandra was pretty good too but nowhere near as good as The Shirelles who add the sense of longing that comes only from a teenage girl whose eye has been turned by a handsome lad.
         Gerry Goffin wrote the words to many more greats, including another of my favourites, ‘Goin’ Back’, recordings of which I have by The Byrds, Nils Lofgren and Dusty Springfield. A sort of À La Recherche Du Temps Perdu kind of song, its lyrics always make me stop and think, not just about my own past but about what a lovely melody Carole fashioned for Gerry’s lyric. I’d say Dusty’s version wins in a photo finish with McGuinn’s men, but The Byrds were cheating a bit because they got Jim Gordon to play the drums and they altered the words to make it sound more ‘masculine’. All the same, David Crosby, fool that he is, hated it.
         Other songs with words by Gerry Goffin include ‘Up On The Roof’ by The Drifters (1963), which magically creates a world of tranquility to be found in the midst of the bustling city merely by climbing the stairs to where ‘the stars put on a show for free’. Then there was ‘Chains’, like ‘...Tomorrow’ for The Shirelles but covered by The Beatles on their first LP; ‘Halfway To Paradise’, Billy Fury’s greatest hit; ‘The Locomotion’ for Little Eva and, later, Kylie Minogue; ‘One Fine Day’ for The Chiffons; ‘Oh No Not My Baby’ which was a hit for Manfred Mann; and a slew of others too numerous to mention. Most of these songs were written for black American artists and crossed the Atlantic to be recorded by white Brits, which reflects Gerry and Carole’s impressive ability to cross the colour divide in their work.
         To have written any one of these would have been an achievement in itself, to have written them all demands enormous respect.

         RIP Gerry.

1 comment:

Ian Gordon Craig said...

Must rank as one of the greatest pop songs of all time. Certainly in the top 5.

And I didn't know about Gerry Goffin's passing. Sad loss.