The Hollies – On a Carousel

A good pop song by the Hollies. They were known mostly for their harmonies but they were a good band…they had a great guitar player and drummer. Tony Hicks is never mentioned much with the guitar players with the other British Invasion bands but he could hold his own with the others. Bobby Elliot was/is a drummer’s drummer.

The song peaked at #11 in the Billboard 100 and #4 in the UK in 1967.

Below the song is a short video on The Hollies recording the song. While they were recording this The Beatles were in the next studio recording as they both recorded at EMI Studios.

Graham Nash on writing the song

We really hit the mark when it came to our next record. Tony, Allan, and I wanted desperately to write a monster A-side. So far, our biggest hits were Graham Gouldman songs, and, hey, you take ’em where you can get ’em. But we thought we were good enough writers to land the big fish. We knew the combination, how to come up with a universal theme, the right type of hook. So we went through a shitload of ideas until inspiration struck. I’m not sure which of the three of us came up with fun fairs. We had all been to them as kids: pulling ducks out of the water, a ring around a bottleneck, winning goldfish. We thought a love affair was pretty much like going round and round and round on a carousel. And before we knew it, the song just took shape. It was all there—the words, the tune, there was no stopping it. And Tony and Bobby wrapped it in an exceptional arrangement.
You ask me, “On a Carousel” was one of the Hollies’ best songs. It’s a pop song with an infectious chorus but flirts with gorgeous shifts in rhythmic texture. The transition to “Horses chasing ’cause they’re racing / So near yet so far-r-r-r-r” features a hook that keeps the melody from becoming predictable. Tony’s barb-like accents that echo the phrase “on a carousel” demonstrate his subtle virtuosity. And the lyric captures the essence of young love without the usual moon-and-June clichés. We knew it was a hit from the get-go.

From Songfacts.

The song is about riding up and down on the carousel of emotions of a typical romance.

The B-side is The Hollies’ first attempt at psychedelia, “All The World Is Love.”

When the Hollies recorded in 1967 they were filmed by Granada Television for a documentary about the Pop business.

The earliest known record of a carousel is a Byzantine etching from 500 AD which shows riders swinging in baskets tied to a central pole.

On A Carousel

Riding along on a carousel, trying to catch up to you
Riding along on a carousel, will I catch up to you?

Horses chasing ’cause they’re racing
So they ain’t so far

On a carousel
On a carousel

Nearer and nearer by changing horses,
Still so far away
People fighting for their places just get in my way
Soon you’ll leave and then I’ll lose you
Still we’re going ’round

On a carousel
On a carousel
‘Round and round and round and round
round and round and round and round with you
Up, down, up, down, up, down, too

As she leaves, she drops the presents that she won before
Pulling ducks out of the water, got the highest score
Now’s my chance and I must take it, a case of do-or-die

On a carousel
On a carousel
‘Round and ’round and ’round and ’round
‘Round and ’round and ’round and ’round with you
Up, down, up, down, up, down, too

Riding along on a carousel, trying to catch up to you
Riding along on a carousel, will I catch up to you?

Now we take our ride together
No more chasing her

On a carousel
On a carousel
On a carousel
On a carousel
On a carousel

The Hollies – He Ain’t Heavy (He’s My Brother)

This song was released in 1969 and was written by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell. A young Elton John played piano on the song. It peaked at #7 in the Billboard 100 and #3 in the UK charts. It was used in a commercial in 1988 and in that year went to number 1 in the UK charts. I always thought the song had a spiritual sound to it.

From Songfacts.

The title came from the motto for Boys Town, a community formed in 1917 by a Catholic priest named Father Edward Flanagan. Located in Omaha, Nebraska, it was a place where troubled or homeless boys could come for help. In 1941, Father Flanagan was looking at a magazine called The Messenger when he came across a drawing of a boy carrying a younger boy on his back, with the caption, “He ain’t heavy Mr., he’s my brother.” Father Flanagan thought the image and phrase captured the spirit of Boys Town, so he got permission and commissioned a statue of the drawing with the inscription, “He ain’t heavy Father, he’s my brother.” The statue and phrase became the logo for Boys Town. In 1979, girls were allowed and the name was eventually changed to Girls And Boys Town. The logo was updated with a drawing of a girl carrying a younger girl added.

In the Guardian newspaper of February 24, 2006, Hollies guitarist Tony Hicks said: “In the 1960s when we were short of songs I used to root around publishers in Denmark Street. One afternoon, I’d been there ages and wanted to get going but this bloke said: ‘Well there’s one more song. It’s probably not for you.’ He played me the demo by the writers [Bobby Scott and Bob Russell]. It sounded like a 45rpm record played at 33rpm, the singer was slurring, like he was drunk. But it had something about it. There were frowns when I took it to the band but we speeded it up and added an orchestra. The only things left recognizable were the lyrics. There’d been this old film called Boys Town about a children’s home in America, and the statue outside showed a child being carried aloft and the motto He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother. Bob Russell had been dying of cancer while writing. We never got, or asked for, royalties. Elton John – who was still called Reg – played piano on it and got paid 12 pounds. It was a worldwide hit twice.”

He Ain’t Heavy(He’s My Brother)

The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows where
But I’m strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
So on we go
His welfare is of my concern
No burden is he to bear
We’ll get there
For I know
He would not encumber me
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
If I’m laden at all
I’m laden with sadness
That everyone’s heart
Isn’t filled with the gladness
Of love for one another
It’s a long, long road
From which there is no return
While we’re on the way to there
Why not share
And the load
Doesn’t weigh me down at all
He ain’t heavy he’s my brother
He’s my brother
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother, he ain’t heavy





Wild Tales: A Rock and Roll Life

This is Graham Nash’s autobiography.

Graham narrates the audible version and does a good job weaving through his personal history. He starts with his blue-collar family and how Alan Clarke and he knew each other since school and formed The Hollies. The most interesting part to me was the mid-sixties era living in swinging London.

He wrote about his friendship with the Beatles and him getting an advance tape of Sgt Pepper from Brian Epstein. He had a great hi-fi system at his flat and he would show it off to anyone that came over. When the Turtles came over from America they were blown away by Sgt Peppers at top volume. He went on about how Sgt Peppers changed everything and it would eventually lead him to leave the Hollies.

Graham describes being a pop star in the mid-sixties in London. Shouldn’t we all live that life? Paul McCartney calls him up and invites him over to the All You Need Is Love session for the “Our World” program to be broadcast to millions.

He talks about how his friendship with Mama Cass led to meeting David Crosby and eventually CSN being born. Graham covers the CSNY period and his romantic relationships including  Joni Mitchell. He does cover the drama associated with CSNY and the troubled David Crosby. What kind of Rockstar bio would it be without drugs… Graham did his share and Crosby did our share. Graham handled them better than some.

Graham would write simple songs compared to Crosby, Stills, and Young but many times his songs would be the hits that drove some of the later albums…songs like “Just a Song Before I Go” and “Wasted on the Way.”

One thing I can say is he didn’t hold back or pull punches…but he still comes off as a really nice guy but it is his book.

This book helped sever his relationship with Crosby…for now anyway but Nash stressed through the book how much he cared for Crosby.

I would recommend this book to not only Hollies and CSNY fans but fans of 60’s and 70’s music and culture. After reading this I listened to more Hollies songs and I really began to appreciate their psychedelic period with songs like King Midas in Reverse.