Not many people can claim they wrote the title track of a Guys ‘n’ Dolls album.
Come to that, not many people would want to.
But anyway, in case you’re counting, we’re a proud club of three.
Actually, that’s not true. I don’t know who the other two are. And I really don’t care.
What I do care about is that I wrote a heartfelt and (so I was told) quite beautiful song called After All That We’ve Been Through which Guys ‘n’ Dolls ruined, I’m sorry, recorded – in that bare chested, big hair way that they had. (Obviously, that was the Guys. To my knowledge the Dolls never went bare-chested. But their hair was huge).
They also changed the title to Happy Together (After All We’ve Been Through) just so they could name the album Happy Together.
Which was ironic because they weren’t at all Happy Together. It turned out to be their last album.
Oh, the honours just pile up don’t they? And to make me feel even better about myself, they spelt my name wrong on the cover credits.
I have a pristine copy of the vinyl album. Never been played.
Well, why would you?
I’m telling you all this because I was reminded of it while watching The Good Wife recently. One of the story lines was about a couple of goofy pop guys spoofing a Hip Hop track.
It seems the rules have changed dramatically since I was doing this stuff. In The Good Wife, somebody covers the goofy pop guys’ cover, and now the goofy guys want payment because there’s copyright in their performance.
This was a big surprise to me. It used to be that once a song was commercially recorded and released, anyone could do a cover version and all they had to worry about was that the writer got paid.
Bands and producers used to trawl through every Beatles album from A Hard Day’s Night onwards looking to borrow some of the magic. Mostly they would just copy the song note for note as performed by The Fabs. Lennon & McCartney (and occasionally George Harrison) would benefit hugely as writers. But as performers, The Beatles would have made nothing.
So, times have changed.
I never recorded After All That We’ve Been Through, so as things were back then, I could have vetoed the first recorded version.
As it happened, the first version was by Tina Charles, the little Welsh disco princess. I wasn’t a fan, so you could have knocked me out with a marshmallow when I heard her version. It raised goosebumps all over and, finally, reduced me to tears. Apart from a dreadful cod-Bacharach trombone instrumental in the middle (the producer’s fault, not Tina’s) it was a wonderful experience to hear my song performed with apparently real emotion by a real singer.
The problem was, once I ok’d Tina’s version, the song was then fair game for any chest-thumping cabaret singer who fancied a go. Which is how we come to the Guys ‘n’ Dolls version.
Let me just say, because I could riff on this for hours, that you’d need a heart of stone not to burst out laughing when the Lead Guy’s voice comes in on my beautiful, heartfelt song. It is a heart-stopping and thrillingly offensive reading of a lyric he clearly hasn’t understood prior to hitting the first note. Well, I say hit. It’s more of an uppercut, really.
You’d think it couldn’t get any worse. But you’d be wrong. My advice – have a listen to the Tina Charles version (below) to get a feel for the song.
Then have a listen to the Guy ‘n Dolls version (below, below). The punchline comes pretty early on, and after that the joke wears thin. So don’t blame me if you choose to listen all the way through.
Guys ‘n’ Dolls