Harry’s Ramblings Love Me Tender
by Harry Pope
My wife thinks I can’t sing. She is right, but just sometimes I can hold a note sufficiently long to be able to entertain others as well as myself. The worst part of singing however isn’t necessarily keeping it in tune, it’s remembering the words.
Elvis Presley sang Love Me Tender, and it’s a great song that I can easily destroy. It’s one I can sing through successfully to the second, or on a good memory day third, verse, but then it all goes downhill. Never understood, because when I am singing along to a performer on the radio, or at a concert venue, I know every word of every song. I have one of those strange singing voices that can be deep with one song, such as a Johnny Cash number Walk the Line, to a bit higher when I sing along to Stand by Your Man. The louder I sing, the better it sounds to me.
Tommy Cooper only ever made one record, it made the top 40 in 1961 titled Don’t Jump off the Roof, Dad. I know the opening verse that everyone forgets, as well as the main words. Listeners of a certain generation have their little faces light up when I sing this old favourite, youngsters love the tune, smiling happily as they wonder what’s coming next. My wife reckons it’s pity, but that impression is never conveyed to me. She can be very wrong sometimes, not a thought I care to share too widely. Frank Sinatra’s My Way is another goodie I can sing along to successfully, it’s just when I am crooning on my own there’s a problem.
Christmas number ones from 1960 to early 1980s are easy, they are played continuously ad nauseum every year in supermarkets. The Beatles had four number ones, Cliff too many to count, 1969 had Rolf Harris with Two Little Boys. I could sing this now, no problems, but who wants to listen to me singing a number made famous by a discredited past performer. I suspect that I will never be heard singing this tune again. Such a shame. Mull of Kintyre was played at my request on Radio Two, fortunately it’s such an awful song no-one requests me to sing it in public, and I don’t want to hear myself warbling it. I can’t remember a word of Mr. Blobby’s 1993 success, probably not alone here. Same goes for Bob the Builder.
The Beatles had seventeen number ones, yup, I know the words to most of them, but to my shame the best recollection returns when Yellow Submarine starts. It’s there, straight away, instant recall. But I can’t stand Hey Jude, I think it’s an awful dirge with no merit. Give Peace a Chance which John Lennon released with Yoko Ono was one of the most self-indulgent numbers ever, no idea of the tune, let alone words. Something for future songwriters to remember, compose something that the public can sing along to, it’ll give them royalties for years to come when played in public.
Adverts are a particular memory retention favourite. A finger of fudge, or that woman spraying a powder over her carpet as she sings along to the music are both indelibly scarred into my subconscious, I might not have heard them for decades but can instantly recall. Percy Sledge singing When a Man Loves a Woman has been used in countless advertising campaigns, keeping it in the forefront of the public’s memory. Bill Withers had a career resurrection when Ford Escort featured his previous number one, his record label re-released, and he even appeared on Top of the Pops yet again, all through the power of subliminal advertising. And yes, I can sing this song, albeit not as well as the original which I must concede. Nina Simone singing My Baby Just Cares for Me is a brilliant one to sing along to, but how about playing air piano. That middle bit makes me want to tap my fingers on an imaginary piano, the tune is perfect every time. In my head.
Ask me to sing White Christmas. The Bing Crosby version. Go on, I dare you, my rendition would be word perfect (maybe a little shaky in the middle), but I would guarantee to bring tears to your eyes. The first time I sang to a karaoke machine was years ago, I was on holiday, it was a place where no-one knew me, no-one would ever recognise me again, and to my ear it was a great version of Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire. When the backing track finally finished, there was an appreciative round of applause. Okay, two drunks at the back clapped their hands together, but I felt good, even if no-one else did. No shouts of ‘more’, but I suppose it would have been too much to expect from such an unappreciative crowd.
I don’t sing in the shower, as the window is open and I might startle a passing postman.