Georgie Fame, “Sitting In The Park” and Years That End With A Seven!

Something I do love about a brand new year is that the calendar (for 2017 this time), is as yet full of blank pages. We don’t know yet what the year will bring (although considering what last year brought maybe that’s a good thing) – 30 years ago it brought a new job, a new town and a new life. But this is supposed to be a music blog so what would I have been listening to back in 1987? Looking at the UK Singles Chart for this week, 30 years ago, the record still at No. 1 was Reet Petite by Jackie Wilson. I am constantly amazed at how rarely the top-selling record at any time really reflects the musical zeitgeist of the times, and this is a perfect example. Reet Petite was written for Jackie by Motown founder Berry Gordy back in 1957 but here it was giving much joy, 30 years later.

I didn’t really know which direction this post was going to take before I started but it does seem to heading in the general direction of revisiting years that end with the number 7! Those of you who follow these pages will know that over the last twelve months my favourite year for revisitation has been in fact 1967 as somehow the music from that era is the most pleasing to my now middle-aged ears. Why is that I wondered? It turned out to be down to a combination of factors but one of the main ones was simply that I was a very happy child and songs from that era only conjure up only good memories. Also my awareness of the world of popular music was still at its nathpc7qncicscent state, so songs from that year are still lesser-known and I have not tired of them in the same way that I have tired of some of the material from my own, very well-known era, the ’70s and ’80s.

Looking back at the UK Singles Chart for week commencing 5th January 1967, it contains many rare gems I have not yet tired of. One that quickly became an earworm (of the very pleasant variety) was Sitting In The Park by Georgie Fame. Back in my childhood days I always used to mix up Georgie Fame and Alan Price (ex of The Animals), but looking into it a bit more, both of them did usually sit at keyboards of some sort and did work together quite a bit over the years, so explains a lot

Sitting In The Park by Georgie Fame:

Georgie’s real name was Clive Powell but once he became managed by Larry Parnes, who had given new stage names to Marty Wilde and Billy Fury (there’s a pattern forming here) the new name was pretty much forced upon him. Georgie Fame was essentially an R&B and jazz singer who had many hits in the ’60s, Sitting In The Park being one of his less successful actually. He had played piano for Billy Fury as part of his backing band The Blue Flames, and this record was indeed attributed to “Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames”. He is still the only British pop star to have achieved three number one hits with his only Top 10 chart entries. There was Yeh, Yeh in 1964, Get Away in 1966 and The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde in 1967 (inspired by the film from the same year).

bonnie.jpgLike many others from this era, Georgie had been heavily influenced from early on by the great jazz and blues musicians and was one of the first white artists to be influenced by the ska music he heard in Jamaican cafes. The Blue Flames had a three-year residency at the Flamingo Club in Soho which was usually full of American GIs who came in from their bases for the weekend. They brought records with them and after one GI gave Georgie a copy of Green Onions by Booker T & the MG’s, he apparently went out and bought a Hammond organ the very next day.

The song Sitting In The Park (which I find both beautiful but also desperately sad – commonplace when revisiting this era) was actually written by American R&B/soul artist Billy Stewart. He had a string of hits in the ’60s although was more popular in his native USA. Billy sadly died in a car accident shortly before his 33rd birthday. Here is his version of this song from 50 years ago which I have just discovered, and find strangely enchanting.

So, “What’s It All About?” – It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day…  Oh no, that’s another song altogether by Nina Simone! It is however a new year and one that does indeed end with a 7 – A number with all sorts of significance. There are 7 days in the week, 7 notes on the musical scale, 7 wonders of the world and 7 deadly sins. There is also the fictional MI6 agent 007, and of course it was the number on the back of a certain well-known footballer’s shirt.

As for me, I think I’ve just had another touch of “blogger’s block” in this, the first week of a new year, which might well account for this very odd post. Whatever, I hope to return to form soon but in the meantime it has been a joy reacquainting myself with the sounds of Georgie Fame and Billy Stewart, who were both, just sittin’ in the park.

Until next time…

Sitting In The Park Lyrics
(Song by Billy Stewart)

Sittin’ in the park,
Waitin’ for hooo-hoo-hoo-hoo sha-la

Yes I’m sitting right here
Waiting for you my dear
Wondering if you ever
want to show up

I don’t know you’re gonna show
My darlin’ I got to go
But nevertheless I staying
You got to be waiting

Sittin’ in the park,
Waitin’ for hooo-hoo-hoo-hoo sha-la-la

Sitting here on the bench
With my back against the fence
Wonderin’-a-if I
Have any sense

Something tells me I’m a fool
Let you treat me so cruel
But nevertheless I say again
you gotta be waiting

Sittin’ in the park,
Waitin’ for hoooo-hoo-hoo-hoo

Why oh, why oh, why oh,
Why oh, why oh, why oh, why

Won’t you tell me why
Oh my darlin I’m sittin’ right now
Oh, girl, I want to know why?
Why? sha-la-la-la

Sittin’ in the park,
Waiting for hooo-hoo-hoo-hoo sha-la-la

Sittin’ here on the bench
With my back against the fence
Wonderin-a-if I
Have any sense

Something tells me I’m a fool
Let you treat me so cruel
Nevertheless I say it
You gotta be waiting

Sittin’ in the park,
Waiting for hooo-hoo-hoo-hoo

No I’m not gonna wait
I am tired of waiting
No longer gonna wait, girl
Any longer
I’m tired of waiting
No longer gonna wait, girl