The Phenomenon of Ghosting, Motown Girl Groups and “Nathan Jones”

I seem to have veered way off topic on this blog over the last few months and the nostalgic journey through the tracks of my years element (as per the tagline above) has all but been forgotten about. But hey, that’s what a global pandemic will do to you. I now realise however, I may have been a culprit of “doomsurfing/doomscrolling” whereby I spend many hours a day scrolling through the various news streams on my phone, picking up on every new development as it happens. I am well informed, but maybe too well-informed, and I think it has led to some ghosting (“the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication”) by old friends.

We all have them, old friends who may no longer think the same way, or live their lives the same way as us, but we have a shared history so keep in touch. I have been in touch with a fair few of these old friends since March and am now realising that one or two are no longer replying to my messages and certainly don’t instigate conversation. A side-effect of doomsurfing seems to be that I have become a doom and gloom merchant! But hey, yet again, that’s what a global pandemic will do to you. I’m not sure I can totally change my ways so these old friends may have to depart from my life, but just another side-effect of the crisis, and maybe something that would inevitably have happened anyway – I’ve never been a fan of the “I’m All Right Jack/Let’s Bury Our Heads in the Sand” school of thinking anyway.

bananarama-and-fun-boy-three-really-saying-something-deram-2

So it seems it’s time for me to change my ways around here, or else I may lose the support of all you lovely followers too. Shit happens as they say, and what better way to drag ourselves out of the doom and gloom than by listening to some great tunes. Last week I shared something by Bananarama and discovered their first hit single, (He Was) Really Saying Something, was unbeknownst to me at the time a cover of an early sixties Velvelettes recording.

The Velvelettes were an American girl group, signed to Motown in the 1960s. Their biggest chart success occurred in 1964, when Norman Whitfield produced Needle in a Haystack which peaked at number 45 on the Billboard Chart. I’m not sure why some of these girl groups went on to great things and others kind of drifted away but it seems they needed to be both championed by those in charge (Berry Gordy) and have a hunger for success above all else. Cue the Supremes. Founded as The Primettes in 1959, the Supremes were the most commercially successful of Motown’s acts, with 12 No. 1 singles on the Billboard Chart. At their peak in the mid-1960s, the Supremes rivalled the Beatles in worldwide popularity and their success possibly made it easier for future African American R&B and soul musicians to find mainstream success.

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And here is where we return to Bananarama yet again, as another of their Top 20 hits, Nathan Jones, was a cover of a Supremes song. By 1971 Diana Ross had left the group and their lead voice was now that of Jean Terrell, but along with Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong they racked up a good few more hits during that era, Up The Ladder To The Roof, Stoned Love and Floy Joy to name but a few. Strangely enough both Bananarama versions of these Motown songs were hits 17 years after the original. Maybe that’s just the amount of time it takes for a song to become fresh again and for listeners not to confuse it with its first incarnation. I for one certainly didn’t know about these earlier versions when I was an avid fan of Bananarama in the 1980s.

Nathan Jones by the Supremes:

So, “What’s It All About?” – Funny how things often turn full circle when you write an off-the-cuff blog post as I’m doing today. The song Nathan Jones is apparently about a woman’s former lover, a man named Nathan Jones who left her nearly a year ago “to ease his mind.” Suffering through the long separation (“winter’s passed, spring, and fall”) without any contact or communication between herself and Jones (ghosting?), the narrator is no longer in love with him, remarking that “Nathan Jones, you’ve been gone too long”. It’s a bit of a coward’s way out, but just goes to show, the practice of withdrawing from all communication is still alive and well today, possibly even more so with the advent of online dating apps and such like.

As for me, I plan to curb my “doomsurfing” activities somewhat but going to be hard after all these weeks. Having really enjoyed this nostalgic journey through the tracks of my years, it would be a shame for me to lose all the goodwill I’ve built up by being the merchant of doom! Please feel free to let me know if I overstep the mark.

Until next time….

Nathan Jones Lyrics
(Song by Leonard Caston/Kathy Wakefield)

You packed your bags, as I recall
And you walked slowly down the hall
You said you had to get away to ease your mind
And all you needed was a just little of time

Oh, winter’s passed, spring and fall
You never wrote me, you never called
(Yeah) Nathan Jones, you’ve been gone too long
Gone too long (Gone too long)

If a woman could die of tears
Nathan Jones, I wouldn’t be here
The key that you’re holding won’t fit my door
And there’s no room in my heart for you no more

‘Cause winter’s passed, spring and fall
You never wrote me, you never called
(Oh-oh) Nathan Jones, you’ve been gone too long
Gone too long

Do-do-do

Nathan Jones
Nathan Jones
Mm-hmm
Nathan Jones, oh

Winter’s passed, spring and fall
You never wrote me, you never called
(Oh-oh) Nathan Jones, you’ve been gone too long
Mm-mm-mm, Gone too long (Gone too long)
Nathan Jones, you’ve been gone too long (Gone too long)
You’ve been gone too long (Gone too long)
Hey, Nathan Jones, you’ve been gone too long (Gone too long)
Hey, you know, you’ve been gone (Gone too long)
Nathan Jones, you’ve been gone too long (Gone too long)

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

15 thoughts on “The Phenomenon of Ghosting, Motown Girl Groups and “Nathan Jones””

  1. I remember Nathan Jones (the 80s cover) was on the soundtrack to Rain Man (1988). The lyrics fit surprisingly well with the film’s plot about a brother who has “been gone too long”. You could, almost, believe it had been written specifically for the film!
    Oh, and about the ghosting, don’t worry about it, happens to all of us. If it’s any consolation, I consider you one of the most empathetic bloggers I’ve met online, and I’m sure others would say the same.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s many years since I’ve watched Rain Man so I wouldn’t have remembered that the song Nathan Jones featured, but very apt as you say.

      Thank you for the kind words too. We have all sorts of divides in society but I have really noticed of late that some people seem to be feeling no empathy at all for those going through tough times, whereas others like myself feel it quite acutely. Struggling to understand that kind of thinking.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Apologies, but this is rather off topic. Seeing all the ‘a’s in Bananarama has reminded of me of a funny thing that happened today. I have always had a short haircut, so lockdown has been a journey of discovery for me. This morning we were on a windy clifftop and I had to deploy a headover to keep my unruly locks under control. When elder daughter saw the photo which my wife then took, she replied with ‘Papa Bandana’. I am unlikely ever to be invited to join a reggae band, but that would be my persona sorted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very funny – I’m guessing it’s not been the hair clippers route for you then! I ended up buying a hair band kind of thing last weekend to keep my hair out of my eyes in the wind but as it’s silky, it just keeps slipping off – Gave it to DD tonight.

      Apparently Bananarama got their name from the Roxy Music song Pyjamarama.

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  3. Trust me Alyson, you are not a ‘Doom & Gloom Merchant’; me on the other hand…
    Bananarama, you say? Are they still going? Are they still a thing? Cruel Summer, along with Long Hot Summer, was something of a touchstone for me in 1983. I bought them both on 12″ and played them to death during a very turbulent summer for me – girls and breakups being the main culprits.
    Did you know also that Bananarama wrote and recorded Young at Heart years before the Bluebells got their mitts on it? The fiddle solo was played by Bobby Valentino who then chased the song’s writers thru the courts in order to stake a claim as co-songwriter.
    It’s a very famous case and…he won. He now has a 25% chunk of all royalties. His argument was that his solo was a vital ingredient in the sound of the song and of its incredible success (it’s been used in car adverts, film soundtracks).
    I’ll get my coat.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Long Hot Summer one of my all-time favourite songs. Don’t know why I haven’t shared any Style Council around here yet – Will have to rectify that soon.

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    1. Yes, it’s tough to be all sunny and positive at the moment however often people tell us we have to be.

      That’s an interesting anecdote about the Bluebells song and I have a blog post pending about them I must get round to. With all the adverts etc they’ve probably done really well out of that song. The fiddle solo did make it to be fair.

      Think Bananarama are still going with Sara and Keren with Siobhan joining for tours etc. The Cruel Summer of ’83 seems to have been a thing for many of us.

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  4. I love the Supremes’ Nathan Jones, such a great song and yet I hadn’t thought about the ‘ghosting’ reference in the lyrics before now. Ghosting does seem like taking the easy way out, especially in our world of texting and emailing, so much easier to ignore than a knock on the door or even a phone call, and I suppose because of that it happens more often, and then starts to become thought of as kind of normal – we really have become an inconsiderate society! Although the other side to that is that given the way we have so many forms of communication it can also become overwhelming…. I have to say this because I have been guilty of not replying to messages at times (ones which don’t require a specific answer) and it really is because I just can’t deal with them at that moment – then other higher priority stuff comes in and before you know it the days and weeks have passed. Fortunately the people concerned know this about me and how I sometimes just can’t react immediately, but I do feel a bit crap when I realise how long it’s been…
    As for you being doom and gloom – no, you’re not at all – we just all have our low days and the need to express ourselves, we can’t constantly bury our heads in the sand or put on a brave face when we’re simply not feeling it. As with everyone, as long as it’s tempered with other things too, which it is, then it’s fine – I love that you are always honest, real and relatable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see how you always want to reply to people but as you say just always possible with other priorities (such as work!). That said you must never feel pressure to leave a comment around here as I know it can sometimes feel overwhelming if we’ve missed out on a few days of blog posts to play catch up. Other things most definitely take precedence sometimes.

      I’ve actually quite enjoyed having this blog as a place to record what’s been happening over the last few months as in the years to come we’ll look back at this time as something quite remarkable in human history. There have been ups and downs and all sorts of emotions in between which is real life. I know many of us have not been impacted too badly as yet but for some it has been devastating and they have lost loved ones, buisnesses, jobs, everything. It’s not quite the Diary of Anne Frank but glad I’ve gone down this route.

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  5. No chance of us ghosting you, Alyson. Be true to yourself.

    I probably mentioned this before, but a year or so ago I had a student called Nathan Jones. He rarely turned up for lessons and in the end I had to withdraw him. When others in the department asked after him, I’d reply “he’s been gone too long”. Very few people got the reference.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s definitely fine around here, it just seems to be that in the real world, where some people have actually quite enjoyed lockdown (?!?), they don’t want to hear about anyone’s negative experiences. Yet another thing that’s causing division in the country.

      Now you mention it I remember that story about Nathan Jones – shame so few got the reference as it was spot on. I bet his parents didn’t even really know the song but subliminally they probably knew it had a familiar ring to it and worked well with their surname.

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