The Kinks, The Pretenders (and more!) : Stop Your Sobbing

The Kinks debut LP was rush released in October 1964 to capitalise on the enormous success of their third single, ‘You Really Got Me’ which shot to Number 1 in the UK Charts in mid September before hitting the Top 10 in the U.S.A.

You Really Got Me is the standout track from the LP.

Of course it bears saying that it was also one of the greatest and most influential recordings of the 1960s.

It exploded into the consciousness of listeners and fellow musicians all over the globe searing synapses with its astounding energy.

Dave Davies’ guitar solo, a product of fire and fury and a slashed little green amp, remains one of the most seismic ever recorded.

The Kinks couldn’t match the intensity of that performance on the other 13 tracks that made up, ‘The Kinks’.

Lightning is not caught in a botte to order.

11 of the other cuts on the LP are covers of Rock ‘n’ Roll and R&B classics from the likes of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Slim Harpo.

The Kinks approach to these songs is not that of knowing reverential devotees like The Rolling Stones.

Rather,  The Kinks come at these songs slant wise and when their feral energy locks in the results can be tremendously exciting.

But, as Ray Davies knew in his bones, the core of his and The Kinks creative energy was an amalgam of his (correct) sense that he was not like everybody else and thus an ideal observer of the world around him coupled with deep fraternal harmony only exceeded by fierce fraternal dischord.

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The Kinks and Ray Davies in particular didn’t dream of being American.

Though they loved American Music and were inspired by it they sensed their own songs, if they were to have authenticity and authority, would have to be reflective of their own lives – reflecting Muswell Hill rather than Blueberry Hill.

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The song on that debut record that demonstrated that Ray Davies and The Kinks could convey nuanced emotions and beguile an audience,  as well as exhaust them,  was the only other Ray Davies original present, ‘Stop Your Sobbing’.



Pure Pop for Now People!

Well … Pure Pop in the fragile melody and tremulous arrangement.

Pure Pop in the way Rasa Davies’ ghostly backing vocals shadow Ray’s lead.

Pure Pop in the way Dave Davies’ chiming guitar rhymes with our hearts as the song progresses.

Pure Pop in the way Pete Quaife and Mick Avory unobtrusively hold everything together.

But, but .. not so Pure in the emotional nuances of Ray Davies’ lyric and vocal.

Is he appalled by all the sobbing?

Or is he fascinated?

Does the sobbing turn him off or turn him on?

Is he a mixed up, frustrated, Lover or a disinterested observer carefully recording how the emotions play out?

Remember this is Ray Davies –  a man of passion who is also a man of reflection and contemplation.

A Lover who can’t stop being a Loner.

A writer who has that chip of ice in the heart that tells him, whatever the situation, to observe and record.

Observe, record and remember.

There’s a Song in this. There’s a Song in this.

Ray Davies never was and never will be just like everybody else.

And,  savvy songwriters with a sense of the history of  Pop songwriting  know that Ray Davies is a master of the craft.

A savvy songwriter like Chrissie Hynde who wanted the world to know she was special. That there was nobody else here and now like her.

She just had to have our attention and she was going to use all her resources to make sure she got it.

Most of all she was going to draw upon the deep well of her imagination.

An imagination that could relish the role reversal of a sassy woman singing, ‘Stop Your Sobbing’ and singing the hell out of it.


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Singing with the seductive charm of oh, oh,  won’t you be my baby, Ronnie Spector.

Singing with the, you sure gotta lot of gall,  dismissiveness of Bob Dylan.

Singing with the,  Oh No, no, no, no, no,  dramatic soliloquy intensity, of The Shagri Las’ Mary Weiss.

Singing so our attention is immediately captured and never released.

Singing that inspired highly imaginative guitar playing from James Honeyman-Scott.

Nick Lowe produced The Pretenders version of Stop Your Sobbing in late 1979 but amazingly he thought they ‘were going nowhere’ and stepped away.

Nick, Nick, Nick – you got that one one Wrong!

The Pretenders proved to be unstoppable Hit Makers.

They had Style and they had Swagger and big time success with a Songwriter and Singer like Chrisie Hynde was guaranteed.



Now, if we are trawling the annals of  modern songwriting for the, ‘Not like everybody else’ category there’s one thing we gotta do – call up the unique sensibility of Jonathan Richman!

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Checkout Jonathan’s crazy campfire singalong version!

Get groovin’ to that addictive rhythm!

You can’t listen to Jonathan,when he’s in this kind of form, and not feel wonderfully refreshed and cheered



Another Songwriter with style and imagination, Pete Yorn, found, ‘Stop Your Sobbing’ getting under the skin.

I’ll leave you with a charmingly understated vocal duet version featuring Scarlett Johansson.



Their smiles at the end say it all.

Ray Davies recorded Stop Your Sobbing more than half a Century ago.

I think its good for another 50 years at least.

Jonathan Richman : Roadrunner! One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six!


‘… He who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sun rise.’ (William Blake)

‘We’d come up over a hill and he’d see the radio towers, the beacons flashing, and he would get almost teary eyed .. He’d see all this beauty in things where other people just wouldn’t see it.’ (John Felice, childhood friend of Jonathan Richman)


‘… Roadrunner once, Roadrunner twice, I’m in love with rock & roll

and I’ll be out all night’ (Jonathan Richman)

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It is a matter of some hilarity in our family and eyebrow raising puzzlement to visitors to our home that whenever I perform any kind of count off I don’t echo the rock roadie, ‘One, two – one, two’ or the more conventional, ‘One, two, three, four …’.

Oh no!

When I count off I always chant with a crazed grin and extreme vigour:

One, two, three, four, five, six!

And, the reason for this is simple.

One, two, three, four, five, six!‘ is the intro to what may well be the most exhilarating rock and roll song ever recorded.

A song that never, ever, fails to thrill when you hear it – no matter which of its numerous live or recorded versions you chance upon or carefully select.

I refer, of course, to Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers immortal, ‘Roadrunner’.

We should, as they say, begin at the beginning.

Jonathan Richman was born in Natick, Massachusetts 10 miles west of Boston on May 16 1951. After a conventional suburban childhood the teenage Jonathan had a Pauline epiphany which would change his life forever.

On the radio, among 1967’s kaleidoscope of folk rock, blues rock, summery pop and psychedelia something shockingly, wonderfully, NEW crashed into his consciousness.

From the dark heart of New York City strange siren songs filled with sin and secrets – The Velvet Underground.

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The combination of Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison’s relentless guitar attack, Lou’s deadpan vocals, John Cale’s instrumental extremity and Mo Tucker’s zen drumming entirely redrew the map of the world for Jonathan.

From that epochal moment whenever The Velvets played Boston, invariably at the Boston Tea Party at 53 Berkeley Street, Jonathan was there – absorbing the music through every physical and spiritual pore.

A particular favourite of his was, ‘Sister Ray’ a dervish three chord cataclysm that could last for anything up to half an hour until the band and audience were transported to undreamt of dimensions of being.

And, no one listening flew further or higher on the astral plane than Jonathan. For he was a waking dreamer with dreams of his own.

Dreams of his own that would become songs like shooting stars.

Songs influenced by his beloved Velvets but glowingly imbued with the imagination of a young man who intuitively perceived the shining radiance of the everyday world all around him.

A young man who could make that radiant world burst into life through a few chords and the total immersion of his own being in the song he was singing.

A young man who could write and perform a transcendent anthem about listening to the radio as he drove round Boston’s suburbs.

A young man who could turn the, ‘Stop ‘n’ Shop’, Route 128, the suburban trees, the factories, the auto signs and the radio waves saturating the Massachusetts night into holy way-stations on an ecstatic journey to heaven!

Join Jonathan now on that journey.



Va Va Voom! Va Va Voom! Va Va Voom!

There are apocryphal tales of Disc Jockeys in the 1950s locking themselves into the studio as they played, ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ over and over and over until desperate radio station bosses broke in with axes to restore sanity to the airwaves.

I know exactly how those DJs felt.

I remember, as if it were yesterday, buying in August 1976 the vinyl LP, ‘Modern Lovers’ which had, ‘Roadrunner’ as its opening track.

I believe it took me several dazed days and nights before I even attempted to play another track on the record as I obsessively wore out the Roadrunner groove.

As soon as I got back to college I announced with a prophet’s zeal to anyone who would listen that their lives would be transformed by listening to Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers, ‘Roadrunner’.

Look what listening to it a couple of hundred times had done for me!

Jonathan wrote Roadrunner in 1970 and recorded it first with John Cale as producer in 1972 – though such were the vagaries of the music business that it took until 1976 for it to emerge.

You can hear the homage to The Velvet Underground and especially Cale’s organ sound all through this version of Roadrunner.

The rhapsodic keyboards are courtesy of Jerry Harrison who would later achieve fame with Talking Heads. David Robinson, later of The Cars, provides the foot to the floor and keep it there drums. Ernie Brooks anchors everything on the bass.

And Jonathan? Well, miraculously, Jonathan brings his innocent eye and his full heart to the song and conjures a lustrous landscape where the spiritual and physical realms we live and move in balletically entwine.

In this song, and to my mind particularly in this version, Jonathan Richman achieves something very rare.

He manages to create a work of art which captures the quantum quick of life.

The reach and energy of his imagination takes him to a place where is viscerally aware of the unique distinctiveness of the people and objects in the world around him.

And, surrendering his ego to that vision he accepts it as a gift and offers it to us.

If we accept it, as he did, we too will have had a glimpse of eternity’s sunrise.



There are many versions of Roadrunner.

‘Roadrunner Twice’ a hit single in the UK was recorded in 1974 with Jonathan backed by The Greg Kihn Band.

‘Roadrunner Thrice’ is a wonderful live version.

Jonathan is a mesmeric performer able to fill a room with joy with a capital J.

So the best version of Roadrunner ever may be one he is yet to play.


Rock and Roll Will Stand! Jonathan Richman & The Showmen tell you why!

Some folks never liked Rock and Roll.

It was too loud, too pagan, too young, too black, too sexy, too shameless, too crude, just too, too, too!

But, if you got it – you got it! It was the sound; of an ice age thawing, of continental plates shifting, of blood singing in the veins, of a door being thrown open so wide that nothing could ever close it.

It was the sound of today and the sound of a million better tomorrows. It was the sound you had been waiting for all your life. It was the sound of destiny.

And it was heard loud and clear in Detroit and Delhi, in Louisville and Liverpool, in Hibbing and Harrow, in Memphis and Manchester, in Newcastle and New Orleans, in Sydney and Singapore, in Paris and Paros, in Zeebrugge and Zurich.

It was heard loud and clear in Norfolk Virginia where Norman ‘General Johnson’, Milton, ‘Smokes’ Bates, Dorsey ‘Chops’ Knight, Gene ‘Cheater’ Knight and Leslie ‘Fat Boy’ Felton formed a group which came to be known as The Showmen.

In 1961 in New Orleans under the tutelage of the great Alan Toussaint (RIP) they cut a record for Minit Records which with sashaying charm really says it all (and you can dance close, really, really close to your true love while you’re listening)

‘ It will be here for ever, Ain’t gonna fade, Never no never … Rock and Roll forever will stand’.

It Will Stand was a top 100 hit in 1961 and 1964 and a radio and Jukebox hit always and everywhere. It’s irresistible good humour is bound to lift every heart and bring a smile to every face.

Who can stand against heartbeats and drum beats, finger popping and stomping feet, saxes blowin’ sharp as lightnin’, voices lifted in harmonious joy and celebration?

Some artists have a ragged but right, rough and ready, rock and roll heart. Think Keith Richard, Bonnie Raitt, Paul Westerberg and Ray Davies.

Think Jonathan Richman who has always had the keys to the secret heart of Rock and Roll.

Jonathan knows in his very bones that Rock and Roll will stand. And I’ m here to tell you he’s 100% right.

Rock and Roll will stand.

Rock and roll will stand because of Chuck Berry’s cruising Cadillac way with words.

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Rock and roll will stand because of Jerry Lee Lewis’ backwoods testifying and hotter than hellfire piano.

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Rock and roll will stand because of the you can feel it in the pit of your stomach and centre of your soul Bo Diddley beat.

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Rock and roll will stand because of the tenderly tough crooning of Gene Vincent.

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Rock and Roll will stand because you can still hear the sonic boom that followed the entry of the quasar – Little Richard, into our universe.

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Rock and roll will stand because Elvis Aron Presley’s stance and singing tilted the axis of the earth.

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Rock and roll will stand because Don and Phil Everly sang sweeter than any nightingale choir.

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Rock and Roll will stand because Dion and The Belmonts sang Homeric tales of street corner life.

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Rock and Roll will stand because Antoine Fats Domino made everyone’s day brighter every time he sat down at the piano to sing!
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Rock and Roll will stand because that mist you see high above in the dawn sky is the vapour trail of The Moonglows, The Orioles, The Penguins and The Five Satins.

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Rock and roll will stand because Lowman Pauling, Duane Eddy, Link Wray and Lonnie Mack made their strings rumble and flash like thunder and lightning.

Rock and Roll will stand because of Buddy Holly’s heartening and heartbreaking songs.

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Rock and Roll will stand because Earl Palmer, Hal Blaine, Charlie Watts and Ringo Starr laid down a beat that can never die.

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Rock and roll will stand because Goffin and King, Leiber and Stoller, Greenwich, and Barry. Pomus and Shuman and Bumps Blackwell told us the story of our lives and made us dance and fall in love at the same time.

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Rock and Roll will stand because The Shangri Las, led by the great dramatic actress Mary Weiss, found grand opera in the lives of teenage girls.

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Rock and roll will stand because John Lennon and Paul McCartney sagged off school and learned to write songs that made you feel that to be alive was a very fine thing indeed.

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Rock and roll will stand because one of the great American pathfinders Bob Dylan refused to recognise the bounds of the maps he inherited while brilliantly and brazenly opening up a whole new territory for song.

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Rock and roll will stand because Jimi Hendrix unleashed a cosmic orchestra of sound from the electric guitar.

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Rock and Roll will stand because true artists like Patti Smith keep reinventing it!

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Rock and roll will stand because Brian Wilson, a chubby kid from Hawthorn California, heard a celestial blend of voices and instruments in his head and had the genius to make that blend come alive in pop symphonies.

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Rock and Roll will stand because even though Amy Winehouse drew a losing hand in love and life she left a lasting legacy of songs that will always wring our hearts.

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Rock and Roll will never die because though Pete Townsend grows old, ‘My Generation’ never will.

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Rock and Roll will stand because Lucinda Williams knows what a sweet old world we live in and can make us cry as we realise that.

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Rock and Roll will never die because that’s what you listen to, full blast with the top down, as you leave a town full of losers – pulling out to win.

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Rock and roll will stand because somewhere right now a teenage singer is thrusting out his hip, leaning into the mike and counting the band in:

.. ‘1, 2, 3, 4!’

Rock and roll will stand because somewhere right now a teenage guitarist is windmilling his arm and about to hit that magic, magic note.

Rock and Roll will stand because somewhere right now in a back bedroom while her parents are asleep a teenage songwriter has found a way to express the inexpressible thrill of falling in love.

Rock and Roll will stand because in a basement across the tracks a band are vamping for all their worth as they chant in unison,

‘And her name is G L O R I A!’.

Rock and Roll will stand because you KNOW exactly what; Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding, Awop Bop a Loo Bop a Lop Bam Boom and Great Googly Moo really, really, mean.

Rock and Roll will stand.

This is Christmas Cracker 4 and the 100th post on The Immortal Jukebox – an opportunity for me to thank everyone who has read, commented and shared these missives from my own Rock and Roll heart. I hope you will stick with me for the next 100!