Them – Gloria

Please pardon the personal story…

This song belongs right beside Louie Louie and Wild Thing as a staple of garage band rock. Three chords… E D A and you are off to the races.  A beginner guitar player can emulate this song rather well. When I was in high school, the band I was in… played this song. We would play more challenging songs of course but this one always got a good response and participation from the crowd with the call and answer lyrics.

When I was a senior we played in the “fall frolics” (rock bands, singers) in our high school gym and I had a couple of friends who were curious/envious and wanted to know how it felt to play in front of people. We had been playing at parties and a bar (shhhh yea we were underage) by this time. What I did was show one of them this song on bass…it’s that easy… and the other one we handed a tambourine and told him to participate in the chorus.

For that one song we called them up and they got to know how it felt. I ran into one of them a few years back and he thanked me again. He said it was one of the scariest but best moments he ever had in high school.

Sorry for the detour… This song was by “Them” which featured no other than Van the man Morrison (who also wrote the song). It peaked at #93 in the Billboard 100 in 1965 and #71 in 1966.

The song charted higher for The Shadows of Knight in 1966 at #10 in the Billboard 100.

At this stage in their career, session musicians played on Them’s records instead of the actual band, although Van Morrison did the real singing. One of these session players was Jimmy Page, who played guitar on this song.

 

From Songfacts

Them was a garage band from Belfast. “Gloria” was written by Van Morrison, who was their lead singer. The song is about a girl who comes by for (presumably) sexual encounters.

The recorded version is a tidy two and a half minutes with nothing explicit, but when Them (and later The Doors) would perform the song live, it often became an extended jam with Morrison going into more graphic, spoken-word detail about the encounter. Anyone who wondered just what happened when a groupie came by to see a willing rock star was given a first-hand account.

According to Van Morrison, the song was titled after his cousin Gloria, who was 13 years older. The song is not about her though.

In December 1964, this was released as the B-side of the Them single “Baby Please Don’ t Go,” which was a cover of a blues standard. “Gloria” gained traction when it became a highlight of the group’s live shows, sometimes developing into a 20-minute jam.

The song got little airplay in England, but found a following in America among the same garage rock audience that loved “Louie Louie.” In the US, it was first released (as the B-side) in March 1965, but was reissued as the A-side of the single in April 1966, which is when it charted at #71. It became the most well known song for the group, despite its humble beginnings.

The Shadows of Knight made a version that hit #10 in the US two years later. It became a very popular song to cover because it’s easy to play on guitar and contains an anthemic chorus (G-L-O-R-I-A).

Some of the other groups to record the song include I ragazzi del sole (1966), Blues Magoos (1967), Patti Smith (1975, with a line from her poem Oath added at the beginning: “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine”), The Doors (1983), Count Five (1991), Eddie & The Hot Rods (1997), Rickie Lee Jones (2001), Simple Minds (2001) and Popa Chubby (2001).

Van Morrison released his own version in 1974. 

In Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time issue, Morrison says of this song: “I was just being me, a street cat from Belfast. Probably like thousands of kids from Belfast who were in bands.” 

In 1966, The Doors shared a bill with Them at the The Whisky A-Go-Go in West Hollywood, California for a series of shows. Them’s Morrison was a big influence on The Doors’ Morrison, and Jim learned a lot about stagecraft and incorporating poetry into his act from watching Van. The final night of the performances, both bands shared the stage to perform this song.

This song did not make Van Morrison a rich man. In fact, he saw almost zero money from the hit. Upon reviewing the numbers, attorney Alan Gershen estimated that Morrison had lost out on at least $250,000 – a huge amount of money, especially for that time. “It seemed to me that Van really didn’t have a clue about the music-publishing business,” friend Jon Gershen said of the situation.

Gloria

Like to tell you ’bout my baby
You know she comes around
Just ’bout five feet-four
A-from her head to the ground
You know she comes around here
At just about midnight
She make me feel so good, Lord
She make me feel all right

And her name is G-L-O-R-I
G-L-O-R-I-A
Gloria!
G-L-O-R-I-A
Gloria!
I’m gonna shout it all night
Gloria!
I’m gonna shout it every day
Gloria!
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

She comes around here
Just about midnight
She make me feel so good, Lord
I want to say she make me feel all right
Comes a-walkin’ down my street
Then she comes up to my house
She knock upon my door
And then she comes to my room
Yeah, and she make me feel all right

G-L-O-R-I-A
Gloria!
G-L-O-R-I-A
Gloria!
I’m gonna shout it all night
Gloria!
I’m gonna shout it every day
Gloria!
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
So good
Gloria!
All right
Feels so good
Gloria!
All right, yeah

Author: badfinger20

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

12 thoughts on “Them – Gloria”

  1. Dude – the personal stuff is what makes your blog stand out!! What a great story!! I have always wanted to play guitar. My dad played as a kid and eventually in a wedding band. He showed me a few chords, but I have never actually had the time or money for lessons. Don’t apologize for your personal stories, man, as a matter of fact, keep telling them!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks man…I just don’t want to get in the way of the song but…I still play with 3 of the 3 guys and sometimes the other one gets over. We played last night…music gives back…has all of my life.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I really wish I had the time to play … let alone practice! I haven’t pulled my horn out in sometime. One of the coolest weekends I remember in high school was grabbing some charts from the High school library and having some guys come to the house to jam in the back yard! It was a blast!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It is hard to find time….we play probably once a month if we are lucky.
        It is fun to play music with other people…that is what it’s about.

        Liked by 1 person

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