Johnny Cash – Cry! Cry! Cry!

No one crosses genres like Johnny Cash. I’ve seen rockers, heavy metal, and country fans like Johnny.

After Cash returned home from the Air Force and signed with Sun Records, he gave Sam Phillips the song “Hey Porter.” Phillips asked for a ballad for the B-side, so Cash went home and quickly wrote “Cry! Cry! Cry!” literally overnight. It became his first big hit.

“Cry! Cry! Cry!” was released and sold over 100,000 copies. The song was originally released in 1955 and reached #14 in the charts at the time. This song was the B side to Hey Porter.

Elvis Costello did a fantastic cover of this song in 1982 as the B side to I’m Your Toy. 

 

Cry! Cry! Cry!

Everybody knows where you go when the sun goes down.
I think you only live to see the lights uptown.
I wasted my time when I would try, try, try.
‘Cause when the lights have lost their glow, you’ll cry, cry, cry.

Soon your sugar-daddies will all be gone.
You’ll wake up some cold day and find you’re alone.
You’ll call for me but I’m gonna tell you: “Bye, bye, bye, “
When I turn around and walk away, you’ll cry, cry, cry,

You’re gonna cry, cry, cry and you’ll cry alone,
When everyone’s forgotten and you’re left on your own.
You’re gonna cry, cry, cry.

I lie awake at night to wait ’til you come in
You stay a little while and then you’re gone again
Every question that I ask, I get a lie, lie, lie
For every lie you tell, you’re gonna cry, cry, cry

When your fickle love gets old, no one will care for you.
Then you’ll come back to me for a little love that’s true.
I’ll tell you no and then you’ll ask me why, why, why?
When I remind you of all of this, you’ll cry, cry, cry.

You’re gonna cry, cry, cry and you’ll want me then,
It’ll hurt when you think of the fool you’ve been.
You’re gonna cry, cry, cry.

 

 

Elvis Costello – Alison —-Powerpop Friday

On Fridays, I could just start with his first album and post song after song and they would fit perfect. I was walking through a drug store in the late seventies as a kid and I saw this album cover…I thought what??? another person named Elvis? Who is this skinny guy?

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While at the drug store the guy was playing this album and I heard Alison… That was the first thing I ever heard by Elvis. The album peaked at #32 in the Billboard Album Charts in 1978. His songs were different than a lot of the radio hits of the day…with different, I mean better.

Elvis Costello on the song: We put these cheap synth strings on the track before there were really even synths. They said, ‘The strings will make it a hit!’ It was never a hit.”

From Songfacts

Costello has never revealed who this song is about. In the liner notes to his Girls Girls Girls compilation album, he wrote, “Much could be undone by saying more.”

As is usually the case in Elvis Costello lyrics, the protagonist is sexually frustrated (see “Watching the Detectives”) and mad at the guy who always gets the girl. In this tale of unrequited love, “My aim is true” does not imply pure intentions; it means he wants to kill her.

The chorus is based on a song by The Detroit Spinners called “Ghetto Child.”

The line in this song, “My Aim Is True,” provided the title for the album.

My Aim Is True was Costello’s first album. He did not have a backing band at the time, so Nick Lowe, who produced the album, brought in a group called Clover. Huey Lewis was in the band, but didn’t participate in the sessions because they didn’t need a harmonica player. Alex Call was the lead singer of Clover, and he wasn’t needed on “Alison” either.

Call told us: “Elvis Costello was at that time Dec McManus, he was using his real name. He was just this mild-mannered, meek little songwriter who would hang out around Stiff Records, which was our management office. Elvis once said, ‘Man, I wish I could sing like you.’ They went and cut at this little place called Pathways – a little 8-track studio so small that all you had just enough space to play your instrument. They went in that first session, and in one session they cut ‘Alison’ and ‘Red Shoes’ and ‘Less Than Zero,’ these classic songs. I remember hearing them at this Rock ‘n’ Roll house we lived in outside of Headley, South of London called the Headley Grange House. John McFee (Clover bass player) brought back a reel-to-reel tape on one of those old Wollensak tape recorders. He played this stuff, and I mean, I was ready to quit after hearing that – it was so astounding. They did like three 8-12 hour sessions, and that was My Aim Is True. That is a classic record, just unbelievable. We were managed by the same guys and we hung out a lot with Nick. Nick produced a lot of our early sessions there. We made two albums with Mutt Lange, and nothing happened with the band. We came close in England to breaking a single, but it didn’t work and we ended up breaking up.” (Check out our interview with Alex Call.)

Linda Ronstadt recorded this on her 1978 Living in the USA album and released the song as a single. The single didn’t chart on the Hot 100 – a rare miss for Ronstadt, who was very popular at the time. The album, however, sold over two million copies, providing Costello with substantial royalties as the writer of one of its 10 tracks. He credits these earnings with keeping him afloat in the early years before he caught on.

There were two singles released in the US. The B-side of one has a mono version of “Alison,” the other has a live version of “Miracle Man” that was recorded on August 7, 1977 at the Nashville Rooms in London.

The B-side of the UK single is “Welcome to the Working Week.” A few copies were released with the A-side pressed on white vinyl while the B-side is the usual black.

This song was used in an episode of That 70’s Show when Hyde contemplates moving to New York to follow a girl who wants to start a punk rock band. 

Linda Ronstadt was an early Elvis Costello admirer who was in the audience when he performed at Los Angeles’ Hollywood High in June 1978. When she recorded her version of “Alison,” she had one of her friends in mind: “A sweet girl but kind of a party girl type. I felt that she needed somebody to talk to her in a stern voice because she was getting married and she would have to change.”

One of Costello’s most enduring songs, he has performed it in concert for decades. “Some nights it comes to life in my head, and some nights it falls apart,” he told Rolling Stone in 2017.

The track’s producer, Nick Lowe, is one of Elvis Costello’s songwriting heroes. He told Uncut: “Since I was 17, I’ve wanted to write songs as good as Nick Lowe. ‘Alison’ was the result of a chemistry experiment involving Nick’s ‘Don’t Lose Your Grip on Love’ and a song by The Detroit Spinners.”

Some people think “Alison” is a murder ballad. “It isn’t,” Costello told Rolling Stone in 2002. “It’s about disappointing somebody. It’s a thin line between love and hate, as the (New York City R&B group) Persuaders sang.”

Alison

Oh, it’s so funny to be seeing you after so long, girl
And with the way you look, I understand that you were not impressed
But I heard you let that little friend of mine
Take off your party dress

I’m not gonna get too sentimental
Like those other sticky valentines
‘Cause I don’t know if you are loving somebody
I only know it isn’t mine

Allison, I know this world is killing you
Oh, Allison, my aim is true

Well, I see you’ve got a husband now
Did he leave your pretty fingers lying in the wedding cake?
You used to hold him right in your hand
But it took all that he could take

Sometimes I wish that I could stop you from talking
When I hear the silly things that you say
I think somebody better put out the big light
‘Cause I can’t stand to see you this way

Allison, I know this world is killing you
Oh, Allison, my aim is true
My aim is true
My aim is true
My aim is true
My aim is true
My aim is true
My aim is true
My aim is true
My aim is true
My aim is true
My aim is true
My aim is true

Elvis Costello & The Attractions – (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding —Powerpop Friday

Great song and great performance by Elvis Costello and the Attractions. The song was written by Nick Lowe and first released in 1974 by the band he was in called Brinsley Schwarz named after their guitar player.

The American and Canadian release of Elvis’s album Armed Forces contained this song. The album peaked at #10 on the Billboard 100 in 1979.

Nick Lowe on writing the song: “I wrote the song in 1973, and the hippie thing was going out, and everyone was starting to take harder drugs and rediscover drink. Alcohol was coming back, and everyone sort of slipped out of the hippie dream and into a more cynical and more unpleasant frame of mind. And this song was supposed to be an old hippie, laughed at by the new thinking, saying to these new smarty-pants types, ‘Look, you think you got it all going on. You can laugh at me, but all I’m saying is, ‘What’s so funny about peace, love, and understanding?’ And that was the idea of the song. But I think as I started writing it, something told me it was too good idea to make it into a joke. It was originally supposed to be a joke song, but something told me there was a little grain of wisdom in this thing, and not to mess it up.”

From Songfacts

This was written by Nick Lowe and originally recorded by his band Brinsley Schwarz in 1974. Despite a wealth of talent and great deal of promotional support, Brinsley Schwarz never managed a hit, but were very influential to artists like The Clash and Elvis Costello. Nick Lowe became a very successful producer and scored a hit as a solo artist with “Cruel To Be Kind.”

Costello and Lowe were both signed to Stiff Records, and Costello’s version, credited as “Nick Lowe & His Sound” was first released as the B-side of Lowe’s 1978 single “American Squirm.” Costello’s version was more energetic and had more Pop appeal. It was included on American editions of Costello’s 1979 album Armed Forces. With its simple message of unity and love in a troubled world, the song became an anthem for peace and tolerance, and was recorded by many artists, including A Perfect Circle, Lucy Kaplansky, The Flaming Lips and The Wallflowers.

This lifts from the Judee Sill song, “Jesus Was A Cross Maker,” Lowe told The A.V. Club: “I always would ‘fess up that there is one lick in the tune I did steal from Judee Sill. She had a song called ‘Jesus Was A Cross Maker’ at about that time that I really thought was a super song. I haven’t heard that song for many years, but I always think I took a little lick from Judee’s song.”

In 1992, this was covered by Curtis Stigers for the Whitney Houston film, The Bodyguard. The film’s soundtrack album went on to sell 44 million copies worldwide, landing Lowe a large royalty check that financed his less commercial music. Lowe told The Telegraph: “It was a tremendous piece of good fortune. I made an astonishing amount of money from that.”

This appears in the 2003 movie Lost in Translation, where Bill Murray sings a karaoke version.

This was sung by Stephen Colbert, John Legend, Elvis Costello (in a bear suit), Feist, Toby Keith, and Willie Nelson on the TV special A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All! after John Legend told Stephen that he (Stephen) didn’t understand Christmas.

(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding

As I walk through
This wicked world
Searchin’ for light in the darkness of insanity.
I ask myself

Is all hope lost?
Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?
And each time I feel like this inside,
There’s one thing I want to know:

What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding? Ohhhh
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding?
And as I walked on
Through troubled times

My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes
So where are the strong
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?

Sweet harmony.
‘Cause each time I feel it slippin’ away, just makes me want to cry.
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding? Ohhhh
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding?

So where are the strong?
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?
Sweet harmony.

‘Cause each time I feel it slippin’ away, just makes me want to cry.
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding? Ohhhh
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding? Ohhhh
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding?

 

Favorite Lines from Songs Part 2

I did Part 1 over a year ago and it was a fun post. I’ve been meaning to do this again. I remembered some of the lyrics suggested by my friends hanspostcard and allthingsthriller on the last post…I have added those to list. Thanks to both of you.

I saw her from the corner when she turned and doubled back, And started walkin toward a coffee colored Cadillac… Chuck Berry

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Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose, And nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’ but it’s free Janis Joplin/Kris Kristofferson

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And I need you more than want you, And I want you for all time Jimmy Webb

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Doesn’t have a point of view / Knows not where he’s going to / Isn’t he a bit like you and me…The Beatles

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Met myself a coming county welfare line, I was feeling strung out, Hung out on the line…Creedence Clearwater Revival

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And you’ve got to learn to live with what you can’t rise above…Bruce Springsteen

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He’d end up blowing all his wages for the week / All for a cuddle and a peck on the cheek…Kinks

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Well it’s too late, tonight, To drag the past out into the light, We’re one, but we’re not the same, We get to carry each other, Carry each other…U2

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You can blow out a candle but you can’t blow out a firePeter Gabriel

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Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see…The Beatles

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Where you drink champagne and it tastes just like cherry cola, C-O-L-A Cola…Kinks

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It was gravity which pulled us down and destiny which broke us apart…Bob Dylan
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A drunkard’s dream if I ever did see oneThe Band

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And the sign said, The words of the prophets, are written on the subway walls, and tenement halls… Simon and Garfunkel

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I lit up from Reno, I was trailed by twenty hounds, Didn’t get to sleep that night
Till the morning came around…Grateful Dead

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When I said that I was lying, I might have been lyingElvis Costello
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Though nothing will keep us together/We can be heroes/Just for one day…David Bowie
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Lose your dreams and you. Will lose your mind…Rolling Stones

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It’s a town full of losers, I’m pulling out of here to win…Bruce Springsteen

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The motor cooled down, the heat went down, and that’s when I heard that highway sound…Chuck Berry

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We were the first band to vomit at the bar, and find the distance to the stage too far…The Who

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