Friday, 28 September 2012

"Run away" hits

I vaguely remember a discussion about My Friends by the Strangers and These Golden Rings by the Jive Five, two songs which share the same bridge, on the Doo Wop Shop board - not, alas, among the posts archived on this blog - which suggested that the question of authorship was a sore subject.

But they are both great recordings.

These Golden Rings also calls to mind the Orchids' Newly Wed, where something seems to have gone wrong after the honeymoon:

Hearts broken, broken in two
Don't leave me here
What can I do?
In the Jive Five number it looks like the bride is rejecting just as they are on the point of getting married:
Don't cry, my darling
Don't run away
No, no, no, no
On this our wedding day
In the Strangers' song
My Friends, however, doesn't involve marriage but another dose of sensible advice ("Are my friends right again?") about a faithless partner. But the singer is besotted: although he begs her not to give them the satisfaction of being right about her, by the end he is in too deep for rational decisions.
Just how far you gonna let her go?
Don't know - she sets my heart aglow
Yet maybe there is a note of hope. In the bridge here,
Don't cry, my darling
Don't run away
may suggest that at least the woman feels a sense of guilt about her behaviour - though admittedly that doesn't necessarily signal an ultimately happy ending.

But whatever it all means precisely, and regardless of who stole what, I love the dreamy feel of this record, which I was reminded of today courtesy of Clarke Davis and Billy Vera via the modern mini-miracle of a social networking site. I suppose the dreaminess, the slowness of his utterance, as though he has been winded or punchdrunk, is about the fact that he remains in thrall to this woman at the end, rather like the vocal approach in another Orchids record, You Have Two (I Have None), aka Happiness, which I have written about already, here.

You can read about the Strangers in Marv Goldberg's indispensable R&B Notebooks here, which is where the image of the King Records ad, above, comes from. He mentions that they were heavily influenced by the Swallows, but says:
I've always had a problem with "My Friends": the pronouns keep shifting until I can't really tell who the lead is talking to. It is a pretty song, however.