The Story of My Life, by Michael Holliday (his 1st of two #1s)
2 weeks, from 14th – 28th February 1958
For the first time in a while, we pull up alongside a song I hadn’t ever heard before… Not since Lonnie Donegan’s ‘Gamblin’ Man / Puttin’ on the Style’ have I been able to approach a record with my ears fresh and untainted like this. What, then, do we have here…?
First things first – this is a big step back from the frenzied piano, and then snarling guitar, of the previous two #1s. It’s got the lilting acoustic guitar that sounds soooo 1957 (see ‘Just Walkin’ in the Rain’, ‘Singing the Blues’ and ‘Young Love’ for reference). It is a rock ‘n’ roll record; but super gentle rock ‘n’ roll – diluted and a little wishy-washy.
There are also some super cheesy touches – irritating whistles at the end of lines, some toodle-oohs and bum-bum-bums from the backing singers – which almost tip it over into pastiche territory. It’s very interesting, the fact that we have seen rock ‘n’ roll fragmenting before our very ears over the past few entries: Jerry-Lee Lewis and Lonnie Donegan have given us balls-out – dare I say real – RAWK. Elvis has given us superstar, super-polished rock. Paul Anka, and now Michael Holliday, are giving us what I’d call 2nd generation rock ‘n’ roll – pop music with rock touches, designed to appeal to the kids and their parents.
To the lyrics: Michael wants to write the story of his life: I’ll tell about, The night we met, And how my heart can’t forget, The way you smiled at me… Awwww. Basically his love is his life. But wait… They broke up! No wait… They made up! Safe, safe.
The story of his life isn’t quite over, though. It won’t be until – you guessed it – they get hitched. There’s one thing left to do, Before my story’s through, I’ve got to take you for my wife, So the story of my life can start… and end… with you… It’s nice. This is a perfectly nice, perfectly sweet and utterly forgettable record. I was actually shocked to discover, as I embarked on a little Wikipedia-ing, that ‘The Story of My Life’ was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, the first of this legendary duo’s songs to top the UK charts. A shock because, compared to the classics they wrote later in their careers, this is very, very meh. A big contender for the ‘Meh Award’ in my next recap, I’d say.
I’d hoped to pad this post out by delving a little into just who Michael Holliday was – as he’s someone I’d never heard – but I’ve just realised that we’ll meet him again, briefly, in a couple of years. Best hold something back for then. Suffice to say, he made the most of a short career – scoring two number ones out of only ten charting singles – before dying at the shockingly young age of thirty-eight. He has a nice, if unremarkable, voice on this nice, if unremarkable, record. Wiki sums it up best in their succinct entry on Holliday: ‘a British crooner popular in the late 1950s and early 1960s.’