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.

I have been in touch with a fair few 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 however, so just another downside to the crisis,

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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)

Baggy Dungarees, Bananarama and “Cruel Summer”

It’s Saturday morning which is usually my preferred slot for a weekly blogging session however I am struggling to find inspiration. That’s not actually true, it’s more that I am still overwhelmed by what’s going on in the world, and can’t seem to snap out of it. Is it just me, or is the initial relief the country felt at being in full lockdown starting to morph into something quite different? I think it is only now starting to hit home that there won’t be a V-shaped bounce back for the economy, and many will lose their jobs and businesses.

Talking of which, last Saturday we had a tricky manoeuvre to perform in getting DD back home to the Highlands but we managed without breaking (too many) rules. Back in March she had a pretty good life for someone her age but this pandemic has put paid to that – Once you lose your job, bit by bit you lose everything else and although she is by no means the only one, it’s a bitter pill to swallow. Today is the summer solstice, astronomically the first day of summer (written about here before). In years gone by I would have probably had a wee soiree for the neighbours, but this is going to be a Cruel Summer I can tell, so not really in the mood. Cue Bananarama.

Cruel Summer by Bananarama:

Anyone who was around at the time will know that Bananarama were incredibly prolific in the 1980s and they ended up being listed in the Book of Guinness World Records for achieving the world’s highest number of chart entries by an all-female group. They came along just at the time my life as a student was coming to an end but we weren’t ready to cast our student wardrobes aside quite yet and I remember those Bananarama-inspired dungarees and baggy T-shirts were a staple right through those transition years. They had caught the eye of Terry Hall, and in February 1982 released It Ain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It) with Fun Boy Three, which got to the No. 5 spot in the UK Singles Chart. By the time Cruel Summer hit the charts in July 1983, they’d already had 5 other hit singles!

As we are contemporaries, it’s always interesting to see the girls when they pop up on telly today. Although they lost Siobhan Fahey for a good while as she embarked on other projects, she got back together with fellow Bananaramers Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward in 2017, and they completed a world tour. The dungarees have gone, in favour of the little black dress, but I don’t begrudge them that at all. Once we ladies get to a certain age the clothes of our youth just look silly on us, although we can still rock the shoes. Back in 1982/83, when we copied their look, it was all about the shoes. A large sector of the female population was at that time going down the white stiletto route, even with dungarees. You could always tell which “tribe” a girl belonged to because of her shoes – It was always Doc Martins and loafers for Bananarama and if I’m not mistaken they still marry up their old footwear of choice with their little black dresses of today. Way to go girls.

So “What’s It All About?” – It’s going to be a tough old summer for many of us I suspect. I keep telling DD she is not alone, as if that somehow makes it better, but of course it doesn’t. As my holiday house is sitting empty at the moment she at least has somewhere to stay whilst she tries to regroup. I had been optimistic recently about my ability to reopen the holiday hideaway for staycations later in the summer, but having seen the many cleaning protocols and risk assessments that (understandably) need to be completed ahead of each guest arriving, like many others in the hospitality and tourism sectors, I am starting to wonder whether it will be possible. Based on costs/unit of hospitality, we should now be charging around £30 for each drink in a pub and around £500 for each night away. With a recession looming, just don’t think that’s going to be possible.

I’ve not exactly come back with a very positive post today, but at least I’ve eased the blockage which had stopped me from writing. I have had something very positive happen to me of late however which involves this blog. What did they say to Kevin Costner in Field Of Dreams? – “If you build it, they will come.” Something along those lines and I hope to share more in due course.

Until next time….

Cruel Summer Lyrics
(Song by Sara Dallin/Siobhan Fahey/Steve Jolley/Tony Swain/Keren Woodward)

Hot summer streets
And the pavements are burning
I sit around

Trying to smile
But the air is so heavy and dry

Strange voices are saying
What did they say
Things I can’t understand
It’s too close for comfort
This heat has got right out of hand

It’s a cruel, cruel summer
Leaving me here on my own
It’s a cruel, cruel summer
Now you’re gone

The city is crowded
My friends are away
And I’m on my own

It’s too hot to handle
So I got to get up and go

It’s a cruel, cruel summer
Leaving me here on my own
It’s a cruel,
It’s a cruel, cruel summer
Now you’re gone
You’re not the only one