For the first time in a good nine months – since The Four Pennies’ bland ode to ‘Juliet’ – do we arrive at a #1 single that I have never heard before. This is how it used to be, of course, in the pre-rock days – before rock ‘n’ roll came along, with all those famous songs in tow. Almost every post was a step into the unknown…
I’ll Never Find Another You, by The Seekers (their 1st of two #1s)
2 weeks, from 25th February – 11th March 1965
Speaking of rock ‘n’ roll, and the fifties and all that… The opening chords of this latest chart-topper sound a lot like ‘La Bamba’. A mellower, more folksy version of the Ritchie Valens hit to be sure, but they’re there. It’s a promising opening… that lasts until the singers open their mouths…
There’s a new world somewhere, They call the promised land, And I’ll be there someday, If you could hold my hand… Several earnest, fresh-faced voices chime together. I’m getting strong Christians-round-a-campfire vibes… I still need you there beside me, No matter what I do, For I know I’ll never find another you… Or maybe proto-hippies, the first feelers of a movement that will go full-on mainstream in a couple of years? The lyrics sure do sound like they could be about joining a commune (‘The promised land’?)
Not quite. This record is, though, our first slice of sixties folk-rock. The gentle guitars, the clear vocals, the tambourine that gets a good shaking in the background… It’s a genre that I don’t think was ever quite as popular in the UK as in America, where Peter, Paul and Mary, The Byrds, The Mamas and the Papas, Simon & Garfunkel and, of course, Bob Dylan were big, big stars. But we’d had fair warning of it – remember back in 1961, when the collegiate folk band The Highwaymen scored a surprise #1 with their version of ‘Michael’ (Row Your Boat etc. etc.)? They were from across the pond, too.
I’m not convinced by this song, to be honest… There’s something a bit cloying about it, a bit happy-clappy. And the lead singer – Judith Durham – sounds kind of like a Sunday school teacher gone rogue. Plus the lyrics don’t really go anywhere – it’s just a long list of what she can do with her man by her side… When I walk through the storm you’ll be my guide… and I could lose it all tomorrow, And never mind at all… etcetera and so on. It’s not terrible; but it’s the worst number one for a while. Probably since ‘Juliet’, the last chart-topper that I’d never heard of… And in its defence, we’ve just enjoyed the highest-quality run of #1 singles in British chart-history, and it would be unfair to completely write a record off just because it doesn’t hit the heights of ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ or ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.
I am, for example, a sucker for those yearning chords that pop up time and time again in folk-rock. See lines like You’ll be my someone, Forever and a day… Or If I should lose your love dear, I don’t know what I’ll do… The first song I ever loved – I’m reliably informed, as I was too young to remember – was ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’, which I would sing anywhere and everywhere as a toddler, driving everyone around me to the edge of insanity. And ‘Puff’’s got plenty of those yearning, minor-key chords in it. Who knows – maybe I’m a folky at heart?
Of course, all that stuff I just spouted about ‘I’ll Never Find Another You’ being an all-American slice of hippyish folk is undone by the fact that The Seekers were Australian, and that the song was composed by British songwriter Tom Springfield (brother of Dusty – who keeps cropping up via other people’s songs – when will she appear on her own merits?) But hey. It sounds American, and was definitely influenced by American folk-rock artists of the day, so we’re claiming it for the Yanks.
To finish, I’ll return to the pre-rock days that I mentioned at the start of the post. Back then, as Vera Lynn, Dickie Valentine, Winifred Atwell et al were jostling for attention at the top of the charts, the word I reached for more often than most was ‘twee’. And that’s what this is: the twee-est number one single we’ve had in a long time. Altogether then, grab the marshmallows and back round the campfire for another singalong!
Catch up with this handily compiled playlist!