Eurovision, Pickettywitch and Another Look At The Chart Hits Of 1970

Well, we’re now coming up to eight weeks in lockdown here in Scotland with no sign yet of an easing of restrictions. We can now go out more than once a day for exercise, however that has somehow lessened its appeal. When something is rationed you make the absolute most of it, but when it is more freely available, it can be squandered. Don’t want to return to my old ways now that I’m feeling so much fitter than I have in years though, so good discipline will have to kick in instead. There is definitely a change in visible activity now with more traffic on the roads and more shops and services finding ways to re-open, but the days of welcoming millions of tourists over the summer months are still a very long way off.

Not many people around here will probably be aware of this, but it should be Eurovision week, culminating with the grand final taking place on Saturday 16th May. The contest this year was to be held in Rotterdam as Duncan Laurence (real name Duncan de Moor) from The Netherlands won last year with his song Arcade, and it is usual for the previous year’s winning country to host the next one.

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Sadly the auditorium in Rotterdam is now an overspill hospital for Dutch Covid-19 patients and this will be the first year since the contest’s inception 64 years ago that it hasn’t gone ahead. 2020 will be the year that never happened for large events where the whole raison d’être is the gathering together of lots and lots of people, all there to enjoy the same thing – The Olympics, the Euros, Glastonbury, Chelsea Flower Show, Wimbledon, the list goes on….

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Bucks Fizz or is it?

I have been brave enough to mention around here before that a few years ago we went to an actual live contest in Vienna, and the picture on the right appears somewhere on an official Eurovision website as we had been caught on camera whilst trying to navigate our way home on the city’s underground system. I’m not going to lie, it was great fun, and although definitely not the “coolest” thing ever to have done, we had a great weekend and found some like-minded fellow Scots to hang around with. If you’re looking for a bit of fluff and nonsense, it can’t be bettered.

Some of my first memories are of watching the contest with my family as a child when our most popular singing stars represented the nation and invariably won or came close to winning – One of my first posts was even about those days (link here). The contest we went to was nothing like the shows I watched as a child, and we of course no longer field the cream of our crop (as it could be career suicide for them), but there have been some worthy and memorable winners over the last few years, Salvador Sobral for one.

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Salvador Sobral

This Eurovision themed post comes just at the right time, as I have been manfully making my way through the UK Singles Chart of 1970 in the course of the year as a kind of 50 year retrospective, reflecting simpler times (got that right!). So far we have revisited the hits of Kenny Rogers, Edison Lighthouse, Lee Marvin and Simon & Garfunkel but then the 1970 Eurovision took place and the charts became littered with songs from participating nations as was wont to happen back then.

The song that took over the top spot in the UK Singles Chart from Bridge Over Troubled Water was All Kinds of Everything by very young Irish songstress Dana (the only Eurovision finalist to go on to became an MEP). I would only have been aged nine when this song won the contest and wouldn’t have found it nearly as unbearable to listen to as I do now, but, those sugary sweet songs were just the kind of thing that won back then. In time we would have hard rock winners but that would take a while yet.

The song representing the UK in 1970 was Knock, Knock Who’s There? performed by Welsh songstress Mary Hopkin. She had been the favourite to win on the night but ended up coming second. Most of us in the UK already knew Mary well as she had been one of the first artists to sign with Apple Records, owned by the Beatles. The model Twiggy had apparently seen her winning the British television talent show Opportunity Knocks, and recommended her to Paul McCartney. Her debut single Those Were The Days, produced by McCartney, reached the top spot in the UK in 1968 and yes Mary, the way I’m feeling right now, those definitely were the days.

Lots of Eurovision songs mentioned in this post but what else do I find in that same Singles Chart? Here’s one I haven’t heard in an awful long time but again, it brings back happy memories of watching TOTP with my family as a child. The Same Old Feeling was recorded by the band Pickettywitch and reached the No. 5 spot in 1970. I can still remember watching lead singer Polly Brown in her very short dress, although her immaculately coiffed singing sidekick draws a blank. The band apparently got their moniker after passing a pub of the same name in Yeovil in Somerset. Compared with the wholesome Eurovision ladies, Polly definitely had a bit of an edge.

The Same Old Feeling by Pickettywitch:

Bit of a rambling post this one but a bit sad that we won’t be having our usual get-together for Eurovision this year complete with food and drink of the host nation. As it turns out, Dutch food is not especially noteworthy, so might have been quite a tough one anyway. I did get a chance to revisit the chart of 50 years ago again though, and decided in the end I preferred Pickettywitch to any of the Eurovision entrants. It looks as if the next big chart topper of 1970 was also associated with a major event, but a football one this time. By the time I get round to it, I will have coincided with another cancelled 2020 event.

Until next time….

The Same Old Feeling Lyrics
(Song by John Macleod/Tony Macaulay)

I still get the same old feeling
Tearing at this heart of mine
Telling me that maybe I’m
Not really over you
I still get the same old yearning
Turning my heart inside out
Love, there can’t be any doubt
I’m still not over you

The oak tree where you carved my name
A year ago now
Somehow doesn’t really look the same
I think it closed now
The places we would go
Still play the songs we used to know

The cottage where we used to meet
Is overgrown now
We dreamed we’d live there too someday
Just on our own now
The letters you wrote me
Still bring that sentimental ring

The C Word, Simon & Garfunkel and “Bridge Over Troubled Water”

The first time I mentioned the “C Word” around here was on the 14th of March as that was the week when it suddenly became real for us here in the UK and it wasn’t just something happening elsewhere. Since then I’ve vacillated between trying to remain upbeat (sharing old photos & recipes) and getting down and dirty, having a bit of a rant about certain behaviours.

It’s Saturday morning, which is my usual time for a weekly blogging session, but I’m not really in the mood for upbeat today. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I’ve had to back-pedal a fair few times of late, apologising to some friends and neighbours for having been a bit too honest regarding my predictions for the near future. I was apparently spoiling things, as it seems my neck of the woods is loving lockdown life. The weather is fine, the garden beckons and come Thursday evening there is a carnival atmosphere in my street as we Clap for Carers, complete with the dreaded vuvuzela, the scourge of the 2010 South Africa World Cup.

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Having watched footage on telly, it seems the NHS frontline staff do appreciate the support of the nation and in the absence of us being able to come in and help intubate critically ill patients, not much more many of us can do. We are all patting ourselves on the back for staying at home, protecting the NHS and saving lives but it just doesn’t sit well with me at all. At some point the narrative will have to change, and we will have to leave home, but by then everyone will have become so acclimatised to the risks that could bring, they won’t want to.

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The Castle in the centre of town

It has always horrified me how much as a nation we spend on defence and nuclear weaponry, and all because we apparently need a place at some Top Table or other. Not in my name. I really don’t want a place anywhere near that table, and as it’s turned out, we’ve been spending money on the wrong kind of defence. The enemy in this war is an invisible virus and no amount of nuclear missiles could defeat it. Our frontline warriors are doctors, nurses, care workers, cleaners and porters who never signed up for this and whose places of work have been criminally underfunded for years. How much PPE could that new aircraft carrier have bought. Here is a quote from the Defence pages of the Government’s website.

The future flagships for the UK are the 2 new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers and are the largest British warships ever built.

They, along with the F35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter and Merlin Mk2 helicopters will help keep the UK armed forces modern, flexible and powerful.

The combination of the carrier, its aircraft and personnel will enable the UK to protect the nation.

As I said, we’ve been spending the money from our coffers on the wrong kind of defence. I sincerely hope all the frontline workers dealing with this pandemic get the support they are going to need when we move onto the second phase of the “new normal”. It’s an obvious quote to choose I know, but Churchill’s, “Never was so much owed by so many to so few” springs to mind.

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One of the upsides of the lockdown is that many of us are making full use of our one hour of daily exercise. Mr WIAA and I have covered most of the routes radiating from base camp over the last five weeks and taken a fair amount of pictures. Another upside of course is that we are heading into summer and not winter which would have been awful (but of course only for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere). Here are a few of those pictures:

At the start of this year I had decided to revisit the UK Singles Chart of 1970. It contained music from 50 years ago and reflected simpler and happier times I thought (how prescient). I only got as far as Lee Marvin’s Wandrin’ Star (link here) when things started to go horribly wrong and my blog posts changed tack. Picking up where I left off, the record that made it to the No. 1 spot after Lee’s song from the film Paint Your Wagon, was this one by Simon & Garfunkel.

Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel:

Somehow this is the 5th time I’ll have featured a song by Simon & Garfunkel around here and they even have their very own category on my sidebar. I don’t think I would have envisioned that happening when I started the blog. They’ve made their way into my adult hippocampus by stealth and are now firmly going to remain there.

I remember Bridge Over Troubled Water well from 1970 as it stayed at the top spot in the charts for many weeks. I also remember that it was one of those situations when the artists never appeared on telly and a very basic little film was shown on TOTP to accompany the song instead. I would be lying if I said it was a favourite of mine from their vast back catalogue having now become a bit over-familiar, but as well as tying in with my revisitation of the Singles Chart of 1970, it is also apt for the times and fits in with one of my pictures above. We are lucky to live within walking distance of the Caledonian Canal, the River Ness and the Beauly Firth, so there are many bridges around here. Hopefully the waters won’t be troubled for too much longer.

I will end with a funny story I remember from one of the many film star biographies I read when I was young. I mentioned the “C Word” in my opening line, but of course that is usually a euphemism for another upsetting ailment, and one used by John Wayne when he called his sons together to break the bad news. They were quite young at the time, but still old enough to misinterpret what he meant. Eldest son quickly replied with the words, “Jeez Dad, you’ve got the clap”.

I seem to have gone full circle in this one from one kind of clap to another, and also from one kind of bridge to another, but often just the way it turns out.

Until next time….

Bridge Over Troubled Water Lyrics
(Song by Paul Simon) 

When you’re weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes
I will dry them all
I’m on your side
Oh when times get rough
And friends just can’t be found

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you
I’ll take your part
Oh when darkness comes
And pain is all around

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Sail on, silver girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
Oh if you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind

An Unlikely Chart Topper: Lee Marvin and “Wand’rin’ Star”

I really enjoyed my return to the world of blogging last weekend after a month’s break. I was also pleasantly surprised that my featured song by Edison Lighthouse proved to be such a favourite with so many of you, as I hadn’t expected that at all. I have ended up returning to the UK Singles Chart of 1970 for these first two posts of the new decade, and both songs have been really enjoyable to research and write about. I thought it might be an idea for this calendar year to revisit that chart once a month (a kind of 50-year-retrospective) but you know what, I can’t wait another month to dip into the archives again because the March 1970 No. 1 single was Wand’rin’ Star by Lee Marvin.

I’ve often mentioned around here that the songs hitting the top spot are not always representative of what we were listening to at the time at all – Oh no, it’s often a song that became a hit because of its association with a prime time television show or blockbuster movie. All those people who would never normally go out and buy records suddenly do so, and it invariably skews the chart keeping what are now thought of as pop classics, off the top spot.

Wand’rin’ Star by Lee Marvin:

But, I really do have a soft spot for this song. It was from the film Paint Your Wagon released in 1969 which was one of only two films I went to see at the cinema with my parents (the other being The Sound of Music). Living nearly 30 miles away from the nearest cinema it wasn’t something we ever did as a family, but I think we were on holiday at the time in the south of Scotland, and it being July it was probably wet, so the decision must have been made to hole up for the afternoon watching a film we were all familiar with because of Mr Marvin’s regular appearances on TOTP. I have featured a few really deep voices around here over the years (Barry White, Johnny Cash…. ) but surely Lee must have had the deepest voice of all. It was described, by co-star Jean Seberg, as “like rain gurgling down a rusty pipe” and has also been described as “the first 33⅓ recorded at 45” – Seems about right.

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Paint Your Wagon was a Western, but also a Musical, and it wasn’t really a box-office success, never recouping its cost of production and marketing. Just not the kind of thing people wanted to go and see in 1970 it seems. Musicals of this sort had gone out of fashion and as this Simpson’s clip shows, it had something of a split personality, neither working for rootin’, tootin’, shootin’ western lovers, or lovers of the more sedate musical.

I don’t think Lee ever released any more records but continued to work as an actor right up until his death in 1987. He starred in many classic movies such as The Dirty Dozen and Cat Ballou, winning the 1965 Best Actor Oscar for his role in that film.

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Lee Marvin, 1924-1987

I do remember my mum being a bit concerned, after leaving the cinema, that there had been things in Paint Your Wagon I wouldn’t understand. Yes, there was a fair bit of bodice-ripping and all the excitement of kidnapping “six French tarts” in order to provide the miners with female companionship (There’s a Coach Comin’ In), but even at age ten I wasn’t totally green, just mortified at having to sit beside my parents whilst watching such fodder. Funny, but looking back, the only two films watched in a cinema with my family were about a nun called Maria, and a wind called Maria (albeit pronounced differently) – Cue one last link to a song from the film!

Until next time….

Wand’rin’ Star Lyrics
(Song by Frederick Loewe/Alan Jay Lerner)

I was born under a wanderin’ star.
I was born under a wanderin’ star.

Wheels are made for rollin’, mules are made to pack.
I’ve never seen a site that didn’t look better lookin’ back.

I was born under a wanderin’ star.

Mud can make you prisoner and the plains can bake you dry.
Snow can burn your eyes but only people make you cry.
Home is made for comin’ from, for dreams of goin’ to.
Which with any luck will never come true.

I was born under a wanderin’ star.
I was born under a wanderin’ star.

Do I know where hell is, hell is in hell-o.
Heaven is good-bye forever it’s time for me to go.

I was born under a wanderin’ star, a wanderin’, wanderin’ star.

Mud can make you prisoner and the plains can bake you dry.
Snow can burn your eyes but only people make you cry.
Home is made for comin’ from, for dreams of goin’ to.
Which with any luck will never come true.

I was born under a wanderin’ star.
I was born under a wanderin’ star.

When I get to heaven tie me to a tree.
Or I’ll begin to roam and soon you’ll know where I will be.

I was born under a wanderin’ star.
A wanderin’, wanderin’ star.

Tony Burrows, “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” and A Five Times One-Hit Wonder!

My last offering was over a month ago now and back then it was clear I was feeling a bit sad, and none too optimistic about what this new decade might bring. Since then however: the days have been getting longer (I celebrated Imbolc last weekend, the start of Spring according the pagan calendar); the St John’s Wort has kicked in (try it); the ongoing division over Brexit is in effect behind us, as Boris did eventually “get it done”; we now have a plan as to how we’re going to earn our living until the pensions kick in; and joy of joys, DD is at home for the weekend. She’s heading off shortly to meet friends for lunch so it gives me some time to bash away on the computer for a wee while.

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My Imbolc shrine – Yes that’s milk and yes it went off!

Also, since last time, I received one of these badges from the WordPress people as it was my blog’s 4th birthday. Because I pay an annual fee to keep this place going, and I don’t want to lose everything I’ve posted over the last few years, I’ve just paid my dues for another 12 months. My output seems to be reducing year on year but I’m not ready to call it a day yet.

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I’ve really enjoyed my digital detox over the last few weeks, but I live in the real world so it can’t continue for much longer. If you ever get the chance however, give it a whirl – I’ve read several books, knitted three (small) garments and not had to experience Facebook envy at all!

But what is it I usually say at this point? Ah yes, this is supposed to be a music blog so where is the song? About that. Heading into my fifth year of blogging I just want to remind everyone that I am by no means a muso and just enjoy revisiting the chart music of my youth, and being able to find out so much more about the song/singer than was available at the time. I used to pride myself on being a Pop Quiz Queen but have often never heard of the artists shared by many of the music bloggers on my sidebar. I thank them in return for adding me to their sidebars and can only apologise that my featured songs are perhaps not always of the “cool” persuasion.

So, which “uncool” song will be featured this time? Exactly 50 years ago this week, the song at the top of the UK Singles Chart was Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) by Edison Lighthouse, a one-hit wonder put together from a group of session musicians. Tony Burrows was the lead singer and I have only just discovered that he has appeared in this blog before as one of The Flower Pot Men who recorded Let’s Go To San Francisco.

Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) by Edison Lighthouse:

I have fond memories of this song as it would have been in the charts when I was aged around 10, and really into catchy pop tunes. Along with the Archies’ Sugar Sugar and Christie’s Yellow River (also one-hit wonders), this was one of the songs we sang on our way to school and in the back seat of the car when going on long journeys with my cousins. Oh how we loved to slide around the shiny leather seats of my grandad’s car way before anyone thought having seatbelts might be a good idea.

But getting back to Tony Burrows of Edison Lighthouse fame, he is the only artist to have appeared in four different episodes of TOTP twice, with different bands. Back in 1970, many, many bands were made up of session singers who changed personnel regularly. Just at the same time Love Grows was a massive hit, Tony sang on the White Plains’ song My Baby Loves Lovin’, The Brotherhood of Man’s United We Stand and The Pipkins’ novelty song Gimme Dat Ding (less said about that one the better). Later on he sang lead on The First Class hit Beach Baby. Tony is the only artist to have been a “one-hit wonder” 5 times. As I often say around here, every day’s a school day.

Well, that’s me broken the back of this, my fifth year of blogging. I seem to be getting less prolific year on year and can’t promise to visit all the other blogs as frequently as I used to as earning my living really has to take priority, but putting this effort together wasn’t too hard in the end. It certainly can be fun revisiting the “tracks of our years” and nothing wrong with a bit of pure pop to raise the spirits from time to time.

Until next time….

Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) Lyrics
(Song by Tony Macaulay/Barry Mason/Sylvan Mason)

She ain’t got no money
Her clothes are kinda funny
Her hair is kinda wild and free
Oh, but Love grows where my Rosemary goes
And nobody knows like me

She talks kinda lazy
And people say she she’s crazy
And her life’s a mystery
Oh, but Love grows where my Rosemary goes
And nobody knows like me

There’s something about her hand holding mine
It’s a feeling that’s fine
And I just gotta say
She’s really got a magical spell
And it’s working so well
That I can’t get away

I’m a lucky fella
And I’ve just got to tell her
That I love her endlessly
Because Love grows where my Rosemary goes
And nobody knows like me

There’s something about her hand holding mine
It’s a feeling that’s fine
And I just gotta say
She’s really got a magical spell
And it’s working so well
That I can’t get away

I’m a lucky fella
And I’ve just got to tell her
That I love her endlessly
Because Love grows where my Rosemary goes
And nobody knows like me

Kenny Rogers, “Ruby” and A Tentative Peek Into 2020

I have been putting off writing this, my first post of the new calendar year, as somehow my foray into the world of blogging has coincided with the world going to hell in a handbasket. I know this has nothing to do with me and my little blog, but weird how things have worked out, both closer to home and in the world at large.

Can it really be that only four years ago we were still very much in the EU; Barrack Obama was at the helm in the US; David Bowie, George Michael and Prince were still with us; Mr WIAA and I both had jobs we enjoyed; my mum was well and living independently; my back, neck and shoulders didn’t ache all the time; and my daughter lived in a flat just round the corner? None of these things now apply. Also, we seem to be on the verge of war, and one of our continents is on fire.

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My blog’s timeline

Heading into a new decade, can I really still justify spending most of my free time researching, and writing about, the pop music of my youth? I admit to having lost much of my joie de vivre of late and I know this has been reflected in my blogging which was always meant to be light-hearted and fun. It’s just really tough trying to stay upbeat at the moment, but I suppose we must try.

Looking at my sidebar on the right, I have a long list of categories that seem to have built up over the years. The first ones on the list are the decades from which the songs I write about come. Looks as if there will have to be a new decade added soon, as although on a technicality it seems we are not actually in the 2020s yet, I think most of us would agree it makes sense for us to think of it as such. The decade I seem to have revisited more often than any other around here is the 1970s which is probably the decade I spent most time listening to, and obsessing over, chart music. Perhaps then, in order to get past this obstacle of publishing my first post of the year, I should look back at what we were listening to 50 years ago just as a new decade was dawning.

Well, well, maybe things haven’t changed that much after all – The song at the top of the UK Singles Chart on the 6th January 1970 was actually the very first single I ever bought with my own money, yet it is one (look it up here) I have never been able to admit to around here, as the artist involved spent a fair bit of time residing At Her Majesty’s Pleasure.

Time to move on then and joy of joys, the record at the No. 2 spot was one of the best story songs ever written, Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town performed by the wonderful Kenny Rogers when he was still with The First Edition.

Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town by Kenny Rogers and The First Edition:

Took me a while to recognise Kenny in that clip as many of us are more used to his silver fox appearance in the later stages of his career. His very distinctive, understated vocals are perfect for this song however, and I especially love the sound patterning in this line (even Kenny has a sly grin as he sings it):
And the wants and the needs of a woman your age, Ruby, I realize

The percussion accompanying this line is also just perfect and mimics the footsteps outside the door:
She’s leaving now ’cause I just heard the slamming of the door

Less said about this next line the better. Suffice to say not to be recommended:
And if I could move I’d get my gun and put her in the ground

And finally he almost whispers:
…. for God’s sakes turn around

Because of the timeline, it’s assumed the crazy Asian war they refer to in the song is the Vietnam War so yet again maybe things haven’t changed so much after all. Maybe it’s just that in 1970 my life was as yet unaffected by the kind of stuff we worry about as adults.

So, “What’s It All About?” – I wasn’t sure if I would be able to carry on blogging this year as it seems somehow frivolous to write about pop music when life just seems to be getting tougher year on year. Then again, as it’s often mentioned around here, it can be a real stress-buster and possibly I’ve just had one too many personal knocks of late which has coloured my view of the world. Also, as I’ve just discovered by revisiting the music charts of 1970, back then we had songs about wars happening on the other side of the world and songs by artists who were later found to be sexual predators of the worst kind. Maybe it’s time to concentrate on doing the best for our families, friends and community, and not worry too much about the stuff we can do little about. We have to hope that humanity wins out in the end.

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Until next time….  Happy New Year (I think).

Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town Lyric
(Song by Mel Tillis)

You’ve painted up your lips and rolled and curled your tinted hair
Ruby, are you contemplating going out somewhere?
The shadow on the wall tells me the sun is going down

Oh, Ruby,
Don’t take your love to town

It wasn’t me that started that old crazy Asian war
But I was proud to go and do my patriotic chore
And yes, it’s true that I’m not the man I used to be

Oh, Ruby,
I still need some company

It’s hard to love a man whose legs are bent and paralyzed
And the wants and the needs of a woman your age, Ruby, I realize
But it won’t be long I’ve heard them say until I’m not around

Oh, Ruby,
Don’t take your love to town

She’s leaving now ’cause I just heard the slamming of the door
The way I know I’ve heard it slam one hundred times before
And if I could move I’d get my gun and put her in the ground 

Oh, Ruby,
Don’t take your love to town

Oh, Ruby,
for God’s sakes turn around

Postscript:

Interestingly an answer song to Ruby was also released in 1969 by an artist called Geraldine Stevens. Called Billy, I’ve Got To Go To Town the melody is just the same, but this time the lyrics confirm Ruby’s love for her paralysed husband and she pleads for him to have faith in her fidelity. Not a big hit this one, but fascinating how these larger-than-life characters in songs can then spawn new songs, continuing the story-telling. If anyone knows of any other similar answer songs please share, as I’m now kind of intrigued.