265. ‘Blackberry Way’, by The Move

This next #1 single is one that opens with a bang, right in the middle of the story. ‘In media res’, if you want to be fancy about it. Blackberry way, Absolutely pouring down with rain, It’s a terrible day…

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Blackberry Way, by The Move (their 1st and only #1)

1 week, from 5th – 12th February 1969

I like the absolutely pouring down with rain line – it sounds very British. As the picture is filled in, you really can picture a dull suburban street – probably lined with bungalows – in the rain, as girl ends it with boy. So now I’m standing on the corner, Lost in the things that I said…

It’s a dramatic record. Make that melodramatic. The strings moan like the soundtrack to a haunted house. The drums are thick and portentous. As the singer makes his way from Blackberry Way, through the park and past the boating lake, where the boats float: just like myself they are neglected… Before each chorus, he asks himself: What am I supposed to do now? He gets on the train, with one final look over his shoulder, to see if she’s followed him… We can assume that she hasn’t.

This is kind of fun; if a little OTT. Even though it’s about heartbreak ,the scale of the song, and the lyrics about the mundane things he sees on his walk in the rain, keep it slightly tongue-in-cheek. Only occasionally does it get ahead of itself – what exactly does the line: See the battlefields of careless sins, Cast the to the wind… mean? I like the fact that it’s quite a psychedelic sounding song, but one describing a fairly everyday scene. No flower-power here. And I like the contradiction in the chorus: Goodbye Blackberry Way, I can’t see you, I don’t need you… Sure to want me back another day… Ain’t that just how a break-up goes…?

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The Move were a Birmingham band, that had already enjoyed four Top 5 hits before they scored their sole chart-topper. I always liked ‘Fire Brigade’ as a kid – it must have been on a sixties-hits tape we had lying around – and ‘Flowers in the Rain’ was famously the first ever song played on Radio 1. They were quite a sonically experimental band, mixing Spector-ish production with innovative sounds and effects. You can hear the instruments on ‘Blackberry Way’, straining to make themselves the most important part of the song over the vocals. It’s a record that bursts from the speakers…

Central to The Move was songwriter and singer Roy Wood, who we will meet again in the coming decade – a man who played a big role in shaping the sound of the seventies when The Move morphed into Electric Light Orchestra. Wood didn’t hang around long with ELO, though, leaving to form glam-rockers Wizzard. Luckily for all of us, we’ll meet both of his bands-to-be later in this countdown. Not many artists can claim to have been involved in three hugely successful, chart-topping acts… Kudos to Wood!

9 thoughts on “265. ‘Blackberry Way’, by The Move

  1. I started to listen to them only last year when I did a post on Do Ya. I really like their sound and songs. They are very British. I have enjoyed everything I’ve heard so far.

    • Yes I like a lot of their stuff, the songs I mentioned in the post and later ones like ‘California Man’, which Cheap Trick covered.

      Then of course there’s Wizzard and ELO… He really is a bit of a pop genius.

      • He really is. Lynn learned from Wood no doubt. I’m going to post another one of their songs soon. Pretty cool time though eh? Albatross and then this one.

        I also like I Can Hear The Grass Grow…a lot of good songs. Over in America they are just not known at all.

  2. Roy was my multi-instrumentalist hero as I hit 15 – not just the Move singles, early ELO, but also Wizzard and playing every instrument on his solo stuff. Pity he’s mainly known for THAT christmas record these days (great though it is, I OD’d on it about 20 christmases back). Still touring and playing stuff from his entire back catalogue. He also wrote a top 10 hit for Amen Corner, who by coincidence…. 🙂

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