The Hollies – Bus Stop

A good mid-sixties pop song from The Hollies. The song peaked at #5 in the Billboard 100, #5 in the UK, and #1 in Canada in 1966.

Bus Stop was written by Graham Gouldman, who went on to form the band 10cc, best known for their hit “I’m Not In Love.” Gouldman was just 19 when he wrote “Bus Stop,” but he had already written three Yardbirds songs: “For Your Love,” “Heart Full of Soul” and “Evil Hearted You.”

Graham Nash of The Hollies recalls learning about this song when their manager, Michael Cohen, told them about “this little kid who lives down the street,” which was Graham Gouldman. When Gouldman played it for them, they knew they had a winner. Nash says they recorded it in just an hour and 15 minutes.

From Songfacts

This song is about a couple who meet one rainy day at a bus stop. Love blooms when they share an umbrella.

In a Manchester newspaper, Graham Gouldman said he wrote it whilst riding on the No. 95 bus, which ran from East Didsbury – the route went through Manchester city center, to Sedgeley Park, Cheetham Hill, Prestwich, and on to Whitefield near Bury. Gouldman was living with his family on this route in Broughton Park Salford at the time. >>

Graham Gouldman’s father was a talented and creative writer who often helped his son with song ideas. Graham had the idea for bus stop setting, and his dad came up with the first line: “Bus stop, wet day, she’s there, I say, ‘please share my umbrella.'” From that starting point, he was able to finish the song.

In a Songfacts interview with Gouldman, he explained: “He gave me those words and I immediately, as I was reading them, heard the melody in my head, and it just kind of wrote itself. And then the middle part of the song I wrote – I got the melody and the words all in one chunk.”

The timeline in this song is a little askew. We know that love bloomed over the summer, but then we get the line, “Came the sun, the ice was melting.” This harkens spring, so apparently, time has passed. In Gouldman’s Songfacts interview, he clarified: “Winter is over, the snow is passed because the sun has melted it, so there’s no need to shelter anymore under the umbrella. You could say the snow is underfoot so you don’t need an umbrella anyway, but it’s poetic license: it could have been snowing so the umbrella can protect you from the snow as well as the rain.”

According to Gouldman, this song’s middle eight was one of the few instances in his songwriting career when he had a sudden inspiration rather than having to resort to hard toil. He explained to Mojo magazine in a 2011 interview: “You have to be working to make something happen. Occasionally you can wait for some magic, like McCartney waking up with Yesterday already written in his mind, which does happen – it’s like a gift from your own subconscious. Or sometimes, it’s like a tap’s turned on. When I’d written most of ‘Bus Stop,’ I was actually on a bus thinking about how the middle eight should go. And this whole, ‘Every morning I would see her waiting at the stop / Sometimes she’d shop…’ that all came to me in one gush, and I couldn’t wait to get home to try it. When that sort of thing happens, it’s really amazing. But that’s rare. Mostly, you have to do the slog.”

Herman’s Hermits also recorded this song in 1966. They got first crack at many of Gouldman’s songs because their manager was married to his sister.

In the Songfacts interview with Peter Noone, the Herman’s Hermits frontman explained: “‘Bus Stop’ went to the Hollies before us, because Graham didn’t think it was the kind of song that we would like. Then when we heard it, it was like, Are you kidding me? We want that. Luckily John Paul Jones heard it when we were trying to figure it out and he said ‘Nah, I’ve got it,’ and he re-invented the song. That’s John Paul Jones who turned that into a hit record, nobody else. It is not a hit song. If you listen to the Hollies demo version of it, it’s just not good. He reorganized the song and made it what it is: serious artwork.”

There is a short instrumental passage midway through the song, but the vocals, sung by Allan Clarke, carry the day. The only real verse section is in the middle – the rest is chorus and bridge, which at the end of the song is flipped – “Every morning I would see her waiting at the stop” comes in before the “bus stop, wet day” part, providing a bookend.

With so little verse, there are very few details – we have no idea what the bus or people look like – but that works to the song’s advantage because the listener can fill in the gaps. It’s a technique Gouldman picked up listening to The Beatles. “Sometimes it’s what’s left out that makes it work,” he says.

Bus Stop

Bus stop, wet day
She’s there, I say
Please share my umbrella
Bus stops, bus goes
She stays, love grows
Under my umbrella

All that summer we enjoyed it
Wind and rain and shine
That umbrella we employed it
By August she was mine

Every morning I would see her
Waiting at the stop
Sometimes she’d shop
And she would show me what she’d bought

Other people stared
As if we were both quite insane
Someday my name and hers
Are going to be the same

That’s the way the whole thing started
Silly but it’s true
Thinking of our sweet romance
Beginning in a queue

Came the sun
The ice was melting
No more sheltering now
Nice to think that that umbrella
Led me to a vow

Every morning I would see her
Waiting at the stop
Sometimes she’d shop
And she would show me what she’d bought

Other people stared
As if we were both quite insane
Someday my name and hers
Are going to be the same

Bus stop, wet day
She’s there, I say
Please share my umbrella
Bus stops, bus goes
She stays, love grows
Under my umbrella

All that summer we enjoyed it
Wind and rain and shine
That umbrella we employed it
By August she was mine

 

Author: badfinger20

Guitar, Bass, song writer,

11 thoughts on “The Hollies – Bus Stop”

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