Song Lyric Sunday — Heaven and Hell

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday prompt, Jim Adams wants us to turn our attention to songs that are associated with Heaven and/or Hell. I chose Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven.”

“Tears in Heaven” was written by Eric Clapton and Will Jennings. It was about his four-year-old son Conor, who died on March 20, 1991 when he fell out of a 53rd floor window in the apartment where his mother was staying in New York City. Clapton had one other child at the time, a daughter, Ruth, who was born in 1987, the year after Conor was born.

The song was Clapton’s best-selling single in the United States and reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100. It appeared on the soundtrack for the 1991 film, “Rush.” “Tears in Heaven” won three Grammy Awards for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked “Tears in Heaven” 362nd on its list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

After his son’s tragic death, Clapton dealt with his grief by cowriting “Tears in Heaven” for the “Rush” soundtrack with Will Jennings. In an interview in 1992, Clapton said of the song, “It was in the back of my head but it didn’t really have a reason for being until I was scoring this movie. Then it sort of had a reason to be. And it is a little ambiguous because it could be taken to be about Conor but it also is meant to be part of the film.”

Jennings said that he and Clapton wrote a song called “Help Me Up” for the end of the movie when Clapton saw another place in the movie for a song. Clapton told Jennings that he wanted to write a song about his boy. And so they wrote “Tears in Heaven.”

Here are the song’s lyrics.

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?
I must be strong and carry on
‘Cause I know I don’t belong here in heaven

Would you hold my hand
If I saw you in heaven?
Would you help me stand
If I saw you in heaven?
I’ll find my way through night and day
‘Cause I know I just can’t stay here in heaven

Time can bring you down, time can bend your knees
Time can break your heart, have you begging please, begging please

Beyond the door there’s peace I’m sure
And I know there’ll be no more tears in heaven

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?
I must be strong and carry on
‘Cause I know I don’t belong here in heaven

Song Lyric Sunday — Make Me Smile

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, Jim Adams has given us songs about “fix” or “make. Two songs immediately came to mind for me. One was Bonnie Raitt’s 1991 song, “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” a very sad song. The other was Chicago’s first big hit in 1970, “Make Me Smile,” a happy song. I decided to go happy this week.

“Make Me Smile” was a song written by James Pankow for the rock band Chicago with the band’s guitarist, Terry Kath, on lead vocals. The song was actually the first section from the 13-minute musical suite “Ballet for a Girl from Buchannon” on the group’s second album, Chicago (often called Chicago II), which was released in 1970.

Without the band’s knowledge, their record company excerpted the “Make Me Smile” section of the suite and pushed it to AM radio stations, which had thus far ignored the band. While the band had mixed emotions upon hearing their musical masterpiece chopped down for radio play, they were quite happy when the song became their first top ten hit, peaking at number nine on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.

The success of “Make Me Smile” triggered renewed interest in the group’s two prior releases from 1969 which had previously failed to reach the U.S. Top 40. the record company went back to the group’s first album and edited down three more songs, which they released as singles: “Questions 67 And 68,” “Beginnings,” and “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”

After Chicago’s original guitar player/vocalist Terry Kath, who sang lead on this song died in 1978, other members of the band, including Bill Champlin and Robert Lamm, would handle the vocals when they performed the song live.

In an interview with James Pankow, he said of the song, “Relationships, if they’re good, put a big smile on our faces. Love songs have always been a powerful ingredient in the song’s process. The songwriting process has often taken writers to that place.”

Here are the lyrics to “Make Me Smile.

Children play in the park, they don’t know
I’m alone in the dark, even though
Time and time again I see your face smiling inside

I’m so happy (oh, oh)
That you love me (oh, oh)
Life is lovely (whoa)
When you’re near me

Tell me you will stay
Make me smile

Living life is just a game so they say
All the games we used to play fade away
We may now enjoy the dreams we shared so long ago

Oh my darling
Got to have you
Feel the magic
When I hold you

Cry sweet tears of joy
Touch the sky

Now I need you (oh, yeah)
More than ever (oh, yeah)
No more crying (ohh, ohh)
We’re together

Tell me you will stay
Make me smile

Song Lyric Sunday — Goodbye

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday prompt Jim Adams theme is all about parting ways by saying things like arrivederci, bon-voyage, ciao, farewell, goodbye, hasta la vista, sayonara, or shalom. I chose goodbye, and in particular, Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.”

“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” was a song performed by musician Elton John and it was the title track on his 1973 album of the same name. The song’s music was composed by John, while the lyrics were written by Bernie Taupin. It was the album’s second single and made it to the Top Ten in both the U.S. and the U.K. It was one of Elton John’s biggest hits.

Taupin wrote the lyrics to this song, and this appears to be more about him, rather than about Elton. The lyrics revolve around giving up a life of opulence for one of simplicity in a rural setting. Elton enjoyed a very extravagant lifestyle, while Taupin preferred to keep it low key.

The Yellow Brick Road in the song was a bit of an homage to the movie “The Wizard of Oz,” where Dorothy and her friends follow the yellow brick road in search of the magical Wizard of Oz, only to find they had what they were looking for all along.

What made this song stand out was the poignant way it pined for a simpler, grounded time at the very moment that Elton John was soaring to the dizzying heights of superstardom.

Taupin said, “There was a period when I was going through that whole ‘got to get back to my roots’ thing, which spawned a lot of like-minded songs in the early days, this being one of them. I don’t believe I was ever turning my back on success or saying I didn’t want it. I just don’t believe I was ever that naïve. I think I was just hoping that maybe there was a happy medium way to exist successfully in a more tranquil setting. My only naiveté, I guess, was believing I could do it so early on. I had to travel a long road and visit the school of hard knocks before I could come even close to achieving that goal. So, thank God I can say quite categorically that I am home.”

Here are the lyrics to the song.

When are you gonna come down?
When are you going to land?
I should have stayed on the farm
I should have listened to my old man

You know you can’t hold me forever
I didn’t sign up with you
I’m not a present for your friends to open
This boy’s too young to be singing, the blues

So goodbye yellow brick road
Where the dogs of society howl
You can’t plant me in your penthouse
I’m going back to my plough

Back to the howling old owl in the woods
Hunting the horny back toad
Oh I’ve finally decided my future lies
Beyond the yellow brick road

What do you think you’ll do then?
I bet that’ll shoot down your plane
It’ll take you a couple of vodka and tonics
To set you on your feet again

Maybe you’ll get a replacement
There’s plenty like me to be found
Mongrels who ain’t got a penny
Sniffing for tidbits like you on the ground

So goodbye yellow brick road
Where the dogs of society howl
You can’t plant me in your penthouse
I’m going back to my plough

Back to the howling old owl in the woods
Hunting the horny back toad
Oh I’ve finally decided my future lies
Beyond the yellow brick road

Song Lyric Sunday — Schoolboy Crush

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday prompt Jim Adams has challenged us to choose a song that must contain a girl’s name in the title or the lyrics and that name must start with the letter “S.” When I was in high school I had a wicked crush on a girl named Sherry, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that when the song by The Four Seasons titled “Sherry” was released, it immediately became my favorite song.

“Sherry” was a song written by Bob Gaudio and recorded by The Four Seasons. “Sherry” was the band’s first nationally released single and their first number one hit, reaching the top spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 on September 15, 1962. It remained at number one for five consecutive weeks, and was also number one on the R&B charts for one week. It was included in the first album from the band, Sherry & 11 Others.

In a 1968 interview, Gaudio said that the song was inspired by the 1961 Bruce Channel hit “Hey! Baby,” which, coincidentally, was featured just last week in Jim Adams’ A to Z Challenge post for the letter “H.” According to Gaudio, the song took about 15 minutes to write and was originally titled “Jackie Baby,” in honor of then-First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. At the studio, the name was changed to “Terri Baby,” and eventually to “Sherry,” the name of the daughter of Gaudio’s best friend, New York DJ Jack Spector.

According to Songfacts, in composing songs for The Four Seasons, Gaudio and the group’s arranger, Charlie Callello, analyzed the hot songs of the era, and tried to incorporate elements of those into “Sherry.” This meant big production, a girl’s name in the title, and a storyline where our hero is begging the girl to come out with him. They even got the Twist craze into the song, inviting Sherry to the “Twist Party.” The result was a very contemporary, commercial sound that provided a template for many future hits for the Four Seasons.

Frankie Valli’s soaring falsetto vocals were a big part of the group’s sound, and that was emphasized in the packaging of this song and the album, which was credited to “Four Seasons featuring The Sound of Frankie Valli.” By 1968, the name of the group was changed to “Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.”

Here are the lyrics for “Sherry.”

Sherry, Sherry baby
Sherry, Sherry baby

Sherry baby (Sherry baby)
Sherry, can you come out tonight (Come come, come out tonight)
Sherry baby (Sherry baby)
Sherry, can you come out tonight

(Why don’t you come out) (come out) to my twist party
(Come out) Where the bright moon shines
(Come out) We’ll dance the night away
I’m gonna make-a you mine

Sherry baby (Sherry baby)
Sherry, can you come out tonight
(Come come, come out tonight)
(Come come, come out tonight)

You, ooh better ask your mama (Sherry baby)
Tell her everything is all right

(Why don’t you come out) (come out) with your red dress on
(Come out) Mmm, you look so fine
(Come out) Move it nice and easy
Girl, you’ll make me lose my mind

Sherry baby (Sherry baby)
Sherry , can you come out tonight
(Come come, come out tonight)
(Come come, come out tonight)
Sherry, Sherry baby
(Come come, come out tonight)
(Come come, come out tonight)

Song Lyric Sunday — Just Say the Word

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, Jim Adams is asking us to focus on songs with one-word titles. There are tons of such songs, but the one I chose is “Desperado.”

“Desperado” was a song by the The Eagles and was written by band members Glenn Frey and Don Henley. It appeared on their 1973 album Desperado, which, overall, had an Old West theme. Henley began writing some of the lyrics in the late ’60s. He said it was written in the style of old songs by Stephen Foster, and when he played and sang it, he thought of Ray Charles and Stephen Foster. He said that the song was originally about a friend named Leo and began with “Leo, my God, why don’t you come to your senses….”

The song wasn’t arranged into its final form until Henley’s songwriting teammate, Glenn Frey, came along. “Desperado” was the first of many songs Henley and Frey wrote together. According to Henley, he played Frey the unfinished version of the song, who thought they could give it more of a country-rock sound. Frey “leapt right on it, filled in the blanks, and brought structure to the song.”

“Desperado” was the last song The Eagles performed in concert with Glenn Frey. It closed out their show in Bossier City, Louisiana on July 29, 2015, the last stop on their History of The Eagles tour. Frey died about six months later.

Linda Ronstadt recorded this song and released it on her 1973 album Don’t Cry Now a few months after The Eagles’ Desperado album was issued. Don Henley and Glenn Frey had toured as part of Ronstadt’s backing band in 1971 and formed The Eagles shortly after playing on her 1972 self-titled album, which also featured the two members they recruited to round out the group: Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon.

On the surface, this song is about a cowboy — perhaps an outlaw — who refuses to fall in love. Or maybe who is longing for love but can’t find it. Some suggest that it could also be about a young man who discovers guitars, joins a band, pays his dues and suffers for his art. The stress of being a rock star is a recurring theme in The Eagles’ music. The overall theme is how you must suffer for your art.

For what it’s worth, “Desperado” is my wife’s favorite song, although she favors the Linda Ronstadt version to The Eagles original. She says that the song brings tears to her eyes every time she hears it.

Here are the lyrics to “Desperado.”

Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?
You been out ridin’ fences for so long now
Oh, you’re a hard one
But I know that you got your reasons
These things that are pleasin’ you
Can hurt you somehow

Don’t you draw the Queen of Diamonds, boy
She’ll beat you if she’s able
You know the Queen of Hearts is always your best bet

Now, it seems to me some fine things
Have been laid upon your table
But you only want the ones that you can’t get

Desperado, oh, you ain’t gettin’ no younger
Your pain and your hunger, they’re drivin’ you home

And freedom, oh freedom, well that’s just some people talkin’
Your prison is walking through this world all alone

Don’t your feet get cold in the winter time?
The sky won’t snow and the sun won’t shine
It’s hard to tell the night time from the day
You’re losin’ all your highs and lows
Ain’t it funny how the feeling goes away?

Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?
Come down from your fences, open the gate
It may be rainin’, but there’s a rainbow above you
You better let somebody love you (let somebody love you)
You better let somebody love you
Before it’s too late