Friday, 26 February 2016

My Top Ten Lonely Night Songs

Night-time is the loneliest time... especially if you're a songwriter.

This was a really tough one to put in order.

10. The Postal Service - The District Sleeps Alone Tonight

When Gibbard's girlfriend moved out, to a whole different district of Washington, this was his response.
You seem so out of context in this gaudy apartment complex
A stranger with your door key, explaining that I am just visiting
And I am finally seeing
Why I was the one worth leaving
Covered by lots of people, though obviously I prefer Frank Turner's version

9. James Taylor - Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight

James Taylor made this sort of thing look really easy.

The Isley Brothers did an excellent cover too.

8. Blake Shelton feat. Ashley Monroe - Lonely Tonight

Glossy and as shamelessly bling as the worst of contemporary r 'n' b, it's hard to explain why I dig the poppiest artist in modern country music as much as I do. This one's an outrageously schmaltzy power ballad that harkens back to the 80s (with 21st Century production values) and, frankly, the video made me choke on my Wotsits. But Blake Shelton can do no wrong in my eyes, because he writes pop songs that are catchy as the plague and TELL ACTUAL STORIES. I have no further defence.

7. Dr. Hook - I Don't Want To Be Alone Tonight

Tells basically the same story as the Blake Shelton number, but without the glitz. You see, you can't really believe Blake Shelton would be the guy in this story. Dennis Locorriere, though? He's a true hard-luck hero.

6. Harry Chapin - There's a Lot of Lonely People Tonight

Every time I think there might be a little justice in the world, I remind myself of Harry Chapin: a supremely talented singer-songwriter from the 70s who should have been as big as Elton John or Billy Joel, but for whatever reason never quite made it. (The same could be same of Harry Nilsson. Maybe there's a curse on Harry's. Maybe Cliff was right to change his name.) There's A Lot Of Lonely People Tonight is from the excellent album Short Stories, and while it's nowhere near the best track on there, it's still beautiful. There's a fragility to Chapin's work you don't find elsewhere. You feel like he's lived these stories, every one of them. 

5. Justin Townes Earle - Am I That Lonely Tonight?

Top Charity Shop Buy of the week, the 2012 album Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now by Steve Earle's son, Justin (his middle name is a tribute to legendary country singer Townes Van Zandt). Excellent acoustic Americana that reminds me very much of Ryan Adams' debut (and best) album, Heartbreaker. The CD cost me 75p, but I'll definitely be buying more of this artist's work in the future. If I ever have any money again.

4. Richard Hawley - Lonely Night

Nobody else does loneliness like Sheffield's answer to Roy Orbison. This is from his first full-length album, released in 2001... though it could just as easily have been released in 1957. 

3. Elvis Presley - Are You Lonesome Tonight?

Originally written in 1927, and recorded many times before The King got his hands on it, Are You Lonesome Tonight? was a huge hit in 1960... but is arguably remembered more for the live version recorded in Vegas in '68 where Elvis cracks up laughing and can't make it through the song.

2. John Cougar Mellencamp - Lonely Ol' Night

A single from probably my favourite Mellencamp album, 1985's Scarecrow, this was apparently inspired by the Paul Newman film Hud. Apparently, the wife of one of JM's pals told him not to feature "pretty girls" in the video as it wouldn't be realistic to suggest they had lonely nights. Mellencamp responded by offering her a role. She accepted, and played his girlfriend.
She calls me baby
She calls everybody baby
It's a lonely ol' night
But ain't they all?
Now. Is it a better song than Elvis's masterpiece? Definitely not. But it means a little bit more to me - and that's what this blog is all about.

1. Paul McCartney - No More Lonely Nights

Well, here's a first. As previously mentioned, I have a kind of love/hate relationship with Sir Paulius Thumbs-Aloft, and though I respect all he's given us... sometimes, he doesn't half get on my wick. No More Lonely Nights - a majestically schmaltzy slice of 80s balladeering that Collins would have given his right drumstick for - really ought to be awful. You may well argue that it is. And yet, I have a huge fondness for it, from the shiver-inducing a cappella intro to the Dave friggin' Gilmour guitar solo at the end. Plus, if you read between the lines, it's as good a stalker anthem as Every Breath You Take...
And I won't go away until you tell me so
No, I'll never go away...
The video, which begins with a long sequence in which Macca plays some kind of lonely but jolly Clive Dunn character working the nightshift as a projectionist in a low rent cinema... before jumping into a Victorian dream sequence in which Ringo goes over a waterfall in a rowing boat (and then things get really weird)... almost made me bump it down to #2. (Although it's not as bad as the video to One Lonely Night by REO Speedwagon, which was SO bad it got them disqualified from this whole Top Ten.)

Hopefully, those ten songs made you feel a little less lonely tonight...


  1. Paul?! *shudders*

    OH said Foreigner I want to know what loves is, I said there's no way that would get in that's 'lonely life' so he said ELO telephone line and sang, yes sang 'lonely, lonely, lonely nights' please don't make that happen ever again.

    I say 'the beds too big without you' but it'll definitely be without OH if he sings again.

    1. After my Number One, I'd have no shame in including either Foreigner or Telephone Line (although that was rather ruined for me a few years ago by a cinema ad). I'm just surprised at OH singing either of them in bed. If you'd told me he was singing Napalm Death, that I would have believed.

  2. 'Sir Paulius Thumbs-Aloft' haha! The man who recently got turned away from a post Grammy VIP bash with the ungrammatical outcry of 'how much more VIP do we gotta get?' Turns out he was at the wrong party, that's why the 'give Ireland back to the Irish' national treasure hypocrite and top hat giving tosspot* wasn't getting in.

    Some great songs here. I do so love your lists. Myself personally, I'd thrown in a few like Double, The Captain of Her Heart; Breathe, Hands to Heaven; Clifford T Ward, Home Thoughts From Abroad; and Roxy Music, Jealous Guy

    *Top hat giving tosspot refers to that hilarious bit on The Day Today which said that his one action to combat poverty in Liverpool was to give away top hats.

    1. Thanks, Mark. I'd forgotten all about "top hat giving tosspot"... I must watch TDT again soon.

      Any of your suggestions would have been fine (Clifford featured here just a couple of weeks ago), but I was restricting myself this time to titles that met the theme rather than songs (because the choice would have killed me). But I change that from week to week, depending how the mood takes me.

  3. The majority of Macca's video is a composite of scenes from his movie, 'Give My Regards to Broad Street', the soundtrack of which features two further versions of the song, one a reprise of the ballad, the other a cheesy dance mix.
    Great to see Richard Hawley making the cut. What a treasure that man is.

    1. And now I'm even more glad that I've never seen ...Broad Street.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...