They think it’s All Over. But it’s not. It’s All Over Now.

I was really amused a couple of weeks ago to see Bob Dylan get a writing credit on It’s All Over Now, The Rolling Stones first number one.

I’d always known it as a Bobby Womack song. I’d also always assumed that Shirley Womack, who co-wrote it, was his wife. In fact, she was Bobby’s sister-in-law.

And that’s the trouble with assumptions.

Big rule of journalism: assume makes an ass out of u and me.

Which begs the question: how big can an ass possibly be, since at least 50% of the internet seems to be built on assumptions?

It has to be nearly 10 years since I had my introduction to the internet version of ‘I search, therefore I am’. My son, Remi, 14 or 15 at the time, insisted on playing me this ‘brilliant Eric Clapton track’.

He searched it, brought it up and played it. Eric Clapton my arse.

“That’s Classical Gas by Mason Williams,” I said.

“No. It’s Eric Clapton,” he said. “Look, it says so here.”

“Yes, I can see it says it is, but it’s not. When did you ever hear Eric Clapton play like that?”

“Well, that’s the point. It’s so different.”

“Yes. It’s different because it’s not Eric Clapton. It’s Mason Williams.”

Which got me looking ‘under the hood’ as they say and I was shocked at what I found. iTunes meta info rarely includes a songwriter credit. When it does, it’s frequently wrong. Elsewhere on the internet these mistakes are legion, and will probably never be corrected.

I once found You’re My World – Cilla’s number one, famously adapted from an Italian original – attributed to Burt Bacharach and Hal David. This was on a big compilation cd, so of course, the information found its way onto iTunes.

Even funnier, they apparently also wrote Cole Porter’s Anything Goes. The giveaway there is, Cole Porter. He wrote the song in 1934 when Burt Bacharach was six years old. Burt didn’t meet Hal until 1957.

Now you might think, “Does this really matter?”

To which I might reply, “Yes, it fucking matters!”

On reflection: yes, that is how I would reply.

Imagine you’re Harlan Howard, a relatively obscure country music writer and performer. You write a song called Busted. It’s picked up by Ray Charles, who has a massive top 10 hit with it. That’s your pension, right there.

Now imagine you’re Harlan Howard, and years later, you find that some lazy, feckless, ignorant, highly paid jackass has credited your song to Ray Charles as writer – forever to remain so on databases and download sites worldwide. Well, you’d be a little cheesed off, no?

Mind you, it’s a wonder Harlan didn’t get a writing credit on It’s All Over Now, along with Bobby and Shirley Womack and Bob Dylan.

Because the way Bob Dylan got a co-write credit on that song was that he did, in fact, write a song called It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue. And that’s what another feckless jackass had in mind when he put Bobby Dylan’s name alongside Bobby Womack’s. It was in his mind, so he made an assumption.

But, of course, he didn’t know that Harlan Howard had also written a song called It’s All Over. Poor Harlan doesn’t get a look in. Not on his own song; nor on one he didn’t write.

This is how the record industry lets itself down. No attention to detail.

Some years back Virgin released an album called John Lennon’s Jukebox. John used to have a portable jukebox on which he carried 40 singles that had had some influence on him.

At least four of the songs on the album were credited to John Lennon as writer. How lazy do you have to be? You’re working on a project about the influence these songs had on someone. And then you credit that person with writing the songs that influenced him.

Two of these were classic Lovin’ Spoonful – Daydream and Do You Believe In Magic, written by John Sebastian. How come you’re filling in a database that determines where the money goes, and you don’t even know that John Sebastian wrote Daydream? Or at least, that John Lennon didn’t write it?

I write as a victim of the same kind of laziness, but from a different angle.

There are two versions of Car 67, the UK hit and the American version.

On Radio 2’s Pick Of The Pops a few years ago, in the chart rundown for the week when I was in the top 10, they played the American version. The following week’s Feedback on Radio 4 devoted seven minutes to this catastrophic event. (I thought it was quite funny. But I also thought ‘Get a sense of perspective!’)

The next week – that’s right, two weeks after the original broadcast – Feedback devoted another eight minutes. So across just under an hour of broadcast time on the most important consumer show on radio, I had been given 15 minutes of time for outraged fans to vent their spleen.

Some while later, I was given a private glimpse at the database the BBC uses for its music radio. And there it still was, Car 67 (US version). And there it still is eight years later.

All anyone has to do is listen to the competing versions, and delete the wrong ones. But that would require a revolution of attention to detail and pro-action that seems beyond the wit of the lazy jackasses we trust with our precious work.

Net result for me? The record rarely gets played any more because no-one trusts to get the version right. That’s a couple of curries a year I can no longer afford.

When I talked to Phil Swern, producer of Pick Of The Pops, he was more outraged at the level of complaint he had received than embarrassed by the mistake.

“I could have understood it if it had been a Cliff Richard record,” he said. To me. On the phone. “But Driver 67?”

I’m on the phone, Phil. You’re talking to me. I am that Driver….

Anyway, it’s not Phil’s fault. A man more dedicated to exposing the obscure and forgotten would be hard to find. He’s made a 30-year career out of it.

But next time you hear some solid gold artist complaining about royalties and copyright and piracy and streaming, try not to get all up in his face and “Oh you greedy bastard, haven’t you had enough money yet”.

Because what’s happening to the solid gold greedy bastard is also happening to me and Harlan Howard. And, really, aren’t we allowed just a couple of curries a year out of our meagre contributions to popular music?

Meanwhile, for a quick giggle, have a look bottom, centre for the writing credit on this.

And if you want to hear Eric Clapton playing Classical Gas, well, you never will. But you’d never know.


Lynsey and Cilla: a study in opposites

The sudden death of Lynsey de Paul, and the YouTube clips sent by friends, had me wistful, but once again laughing at memories of the day she terrorised a Rock God.

We’re at Air Studios, one of the smaller rooms, winding down after some rehearsal time with Mott The Hoople.

Drummers – always the last guys out of the room. All that screwing off, taking apart, putting into protective bags and boxes.

And I feel it would be ill-mannered of me – the rest of the band have gone – to walk out and leave Dale ‘Buffin’ Griffin to his own devices. So I hang around, chewing the fat while he deconstructs his kit.

And in walks Lynsey de Paul. She’s tiny, Lynsey. You could lift her with one arm. Pretty too. So pretty. And charming – kind, funny, much sexier than television or photos lead you to believe.

She walks through the door, a big cheeky grin on her face. She winks at me, and then says – to his back – “Hi Dale.” I can see she’s making mischief.

Buffin turns around, his eyes go wide. “What’re you doing here. You can’t be here!”

“How are you?” she says, ignoring the fact he’s going into meltdown.

“I’m ok, I’m fine – but you – you can’t be in here. My wife will find out!”

My ears are on full alert now. This is one of the funniest encounters I’ve ever seen. A rock drummer at the height of his pomp, and five feet of pop female has him quaking. This is one of Lynsey de Paul’s life motifs – don’t think of yourself as ‘the weaker sex’, and don’t act like it.

Lynsey’s in control, no question. She cocks her head to one side. “But how will she know, Dale? She’s not here is she?” She’s really enjoying his discomfort.

Panicking now, Buffin. “No, no she’s not here. But she’ll know. She will. She’ll know I’ve seen you!”

I don’t claim to know the background to this. My guess is as good as yours. But it was bloody funny to watch.

Lynsey de Paul was tougher than she looked, and more talented than her career appeared to allow for. She was the first female to win an Ivor Novello Award, and it wasn’t her last. Her name as writer or co-writer is on a lot more songs than those you remember her for.

She was a woman in what was, for sure, a man’s world. I’m not sure how she got involved with Mott The Hoople, but that was a seriously masculine (though not macho) environment.

You see what I’m saying. No shrinking violet would have survived. For all her female and feminine attributes, she held her own with the toughest, including Sean Connery and James Coburn.

Later, she learned self-defence and made documentaries on the subject, for other women. She donated to charities that helped battered women. Later still, she admitted her father had been violently abusive. Much of her post-pop life was devoted to bringing focus to ways in which women could protect themselves, mentally and physically.

So she wasn’t the pop poppet of her 70s image. She was a gifted musician, classically trained. After her pop career faded, she arranged and recorded various pieces of classical music, which she scored for her own style.

All of this is in sharp contrast to Cilla Black, whose profile has risen again after ITV’s three part biographical film. Cilla had no training, not even much experience, before she found herself in the main studio at Abbey Road.

And she’s demonstrated no significant post-career hinterland that might mark her out, like Lynsey de Paul, as having a more serious side.

But she was, is, much the bigger star.

I have no personal stories about Cilla, but I was a fan early on. Her first four singles were pop heaven.

Back then, the next best thing to a new Beatles record was one of their songs by someone else. Love Of The Loved only just reached the Top 40 (which was to say that it wasn’t considered a hit at all). But being a Lennon McCartney song it couldn’t have done a better job of announcing a new talent.

Then, two back to back number ones – including the divine You’re My World – followed by another Lennon McCartney song, the slightly jazzy It’s For You.

Say what you like about the Cilla ‘honk’ – and it did get out of control after she had her nose ‘fixed’ – in her lower register she was heaven on the ear. In the top register she had power to spare.

Her first musical falter was a slightly embarrassing version of You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’. It still made number two. She didn’t recover her mojo, for me, till Alfie. The story of the Alfie sessions are industry legend.

Burt Bacharach, as well as being a wonderful tunesmith, was/is also a talented and demanding orchestrator. Cilla, not keen to record a song called Alfie – “You call your dog Alfie!” – started to set conditions she never thought would be met.

Bacharach must write the arrangement.


Oh! Well then, Bacharach must come to London for the session.


Oh! Well then, Bacharach, as well as running the session, must also play the piano.


Oh. Shit!

Cilla remembers 18 takes. Burt thinks it might have been 31. I’m sure there’s an archivist out there somewhere (Chris White?) who’s seen the tape boxes and can give the correct number. Cilla and Burt can’t even agree on which take made it through to release.

Whatever, Cilla was put through the wringer. Take after take after take – singing live, with a full orchestra in the studio, Bacharach conducting from the piano, George Martin in the control room, a full quota of engineers, tape ops and microphone adjusters on hand.

It could have been humiliating. But Cilla was nothing if not tough. The slight and smiley girl of light entertainment was as competitive and brave as a boxer. Watch her here and – even if you’re a non-believer – ask yourself how many of today’s singers could deliver multiple takes under this much pressure.

And I can’t leave the subject without saying – Sheridan Smith as Cilla. Wow. Wasn’t she brilliant? Her singing of those classic songs was almost pitch perfect. She even managed to hint at the trademark honk – what George Martin called Cilla’s ‘corncrake voice’ – without caricaturing it.

By contrast, I’m not sure anyone will ever make Lynsey, or that any of Lynsey de Paul’s recordings would make the cut as ‘classic’. She was more skilled than Cilla, more talented. But whatever it is you need on top of that, or instead of that, Cilla had it.

Still, the respect and affection in which Lynsey was held might be gleaned from the fact that she was once invited onto the hippest show in town – The Old Grey Whistle Test. So that’s what I’ll leave you with.