1. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow – The Shirelles
The genius songwriting partnership of Carole King and Gerry Goffin yielded many of the pop standards we now call ‘classics’. There is none perhaps as melancholic however, as the track that would give The Shirelles an historic US number one (the first by an all-girl group). From its enormously melodic string arrangement to the gated production typical of its time, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow has been memorably covered by everyone, from Amy Winehouse to its own author on her 1971 solo LP, Tapesty. Interestingly, both covers are maudlin re-imaginings. The charm of the song for me, however, has always been its buoyancy – like Ray Peterson’s Tell Laura I Love Her or Connie Francis’ Lipstick on Your Collar, the romantic tension of the moment is set in fierce contrast here with the musical execution – and not by accident either. In the case of all these songs, I sense an almost perverse desire to capture the thrill of the chase – be it after love, life or otherwise. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow is a very simple song – its chord progression, message and production are all incredibly frugal. It conjures a very particular feeling though, one I think Stephin Merritt tried very hard to bottle when it came to his turn in 1999.
2. Jilted John – Jilted John
Jilted John is one of those legendary figures in UK punk – one without real artistic integrity, but one who has remained significant nonetheless. Unlike Jon the Postman however, Jilted John was an invention – a character created by comedian Graham Fellows and yet marketed using the same labels and promotional vehicles as the real deal. Perhaps even stranger is the success of this record; the song was introduced by David Jensen on Top Of The Pops as “one of the most bizarre singles of the decade”, and then shot straight to number four in the UK Singles Chart. An unprecedented work of grass-roots faux-genius, Jilted John recounts tragic events in the life of a young northerner who is abandoned by his girlfriend Julie, being as she has found a more attractive, but apparently ‘poof’-like replacement, Gordon. Fellows inverts the love-song with Jilted John, placing the captive, gobsmacked audience allied unwaveringly to John’s unfortunate disposition. “Gordon is a moron”, he cries during the song’s climax. Indeed…
3. I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday – Morrissey
Every now and again, the good St. Steven (pictured) takes a moment to behave himself and say something sincere. I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday, appearing at the apex of the Mick Ronson produced Your Arsenal, is a grandiose, glam-rock masterstroke, a promise to the lover purloined of one’s future that moments of togetherness are simply waiting to occur. With a coda more or less accidentally stolen from Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide and a massive, ambient design that has every musician firing their creative cylinders on full, the song is majestic, sad, exciting and patient – a testament to Morrissey’s ability to really touch you. David Bowie himself was such a fan of this song that he covered it for the album Black Tie White Noise. After completion of the track, Morrissey was personally invited to Bowie’s New York recording suite where he claims to have shed a tear at the beauty of his hero acknowledging him so personally. For all the flack that eventually flew between the two, you can’t help smiling at the idea of this precious little moment having come to pass.