SAY IT AIN’T SO JOE….(Memory Lane…1979, 1964, 1972, 1976)

Well ain’t this a kick. I’m on a little bit of a Joe Jackson binge and I decide to look up one of my favorite singles from the black hole that was engulfing the Pop Charts from 1977–1980 or so, which was this one…from 1979:

Which, even at the time, I knew had nicked something or other from this (let me know if you miss the connection and I’ll be happy to point it out)…

Now, I never thought too much about this. Quoting/covering Shangs records was de rigueur for punk/new wave types (among others). I doubt any pre-punk act contributed more language, attitude or zeitgeist to every form of alternative music from the late sixties to yesterday morning.

And mostly that’s been acknowledged. Not by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or anything, but by the influenced acts themselves (The Dolls, Ramones, Blondie, Pink Floyd, Any Winehouse to name only the more obvious).

All these years I just assumed Joe had done the same.

Then I read this (from Songfacts):

Now, that is just one of those songs that started with the title. I heard that phrase somewhere and I thought that could be a kind of funny song about gorgeous girls going out with monsters. 

Hmmmm. He heard that phrase…somewhere. And couldn’t quite pin down where it might have come from.

Surely not from growing up in England.

You know. The country where the song that starts “Is she really going out with him?” hit #11 in 1964.

When Joe was ten.

And didn’t go higher because it was banned.

And hit #3 in 1972.

When Joe was 18….wonder if he was listening to the radio by then?

And hit #7 in 1976.

When Joe was 22…by then, maybe?

Come on, Joe.

Nothing could make me love “Is She Really Going Out With Him?” less…but you’re better than that.

Aren’t you?

I mean, dude. I still got the 45…

…and it’s one of those they’ll have to pry from my cold, dead fingers.

Because it’s one more little sliver of proof that, unlike me and probably you, the Shangri-Las will never die!

6 thoughts on “SAY IT AIN’T SO JOE….(Memory Lane…1979, 1964, 1972, 1976)

  1. At least he still remembered where he’d gotten the title in the ’80s! I recall being delighted when I read an interview (around the time of Night & Day’s release) in which he precisely said of his earlier hit, “The chorus is from ‘Leader of the Pack’ by the Shangri-Las.” I’ll hunt for it and send you the link if it exists online somewhere. What might make it difficult is that I don’t remember which magazine it was.

    His memory faded a bit over the following thirty-odd years, I guess. I’m not saying there’s any excuse for forgetting (look who yer talkin’ to here), but it’s some reassurance that he genuinely forgot!

    Recommended “too catchy for words” listening: A song from his second album that wouldn’t exist without, if not the Shangs themselves, than the girl-group era in general:

    • Ya know….moderate dementia hadn’t occurred to me but it probably should have. (I can definitely relate to not being as sharp as I used to be!)

      On the other hand it might be akin to the members of Toto and Peter Gabriel “forgetting” (or anyway deciding much later) that “Rosanna” and “In These Eyes” were about Rosanna Arquette…They might all be hoping we’ve forgotten too!

  2. Side note…..

    The first time I heard Badfinger’s “Day After Day” was a year or two after Joe’s “Breaking Us In Two” had been a hit. For a split second I thought they were the same song until I realized that Joe (whether he meant to or not a la George Harrison and “My Sweet Lord”) was borrowing a little bit from Badfinger.

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