Friday, 18 March 2016

My Top Ten Danny Songs

I used to work with a guy called Danny. I once heard him (non-ironically) tell a client, "yeah, yeah, it's cool, it's happening, it's us". Plus he called EVERYONE 'mate'. He couldn't finish a sentence without sticking that word on the end. As a result, I have a deep, irrational distrust of anyone called Danny... so I apologise if that's you. I'm sure you'd never say, "it's cool, it's happening, it's us". Would you?

Anyway, here's ten songs about Danny. No Daniels, they'll get their own turn some other day, Elton.

10. The Fall - Rollin' Dany

Mark E. Smith and co. cover a 1958 Gene Vincent song as the B / AA side of the Fall's 1986 single Couldn't Get Ahed. Missing out letters was cool back then. 

9. Billy Bragg - Danny Rose

Originally recorded by Lal & Mike Waterson in 1972 (with Richard Thompson and Martin Carthy on guitars), but I'm more taken by Billy's cover because... well, it's Billy. No idea who this Danny Rose is - but it's not Woody Allen's or any of the footballers.

8. Richard Hawley - Danny

Gorgeous instrumental from Hawley's third album, Lowedges.

7. Rufus Wainwright - Danny Boy

The second track on Rufus's debut album (18 years old, folks) is the first of three Danny Boys to make the Top Ten (all different songs). This one's a typically dramatic and beautiful ode to a former beau who let Rufus down (not advisable unless you want to be immortalised in song). 
We walk the streets
Gently starin' wonderin' what to do
The sun in sheets
Pourin' down those streets to eyes green and blue
And a ship with eight sails could come 'round the bend
Or a herd of bulls charging stop lights red
I'd be blind
6. Jackie Wilson - Danny Boy

The original Danny Boy: the Irish anthem, set to the tune of Londonderry Air, and a firm favourite of my dad, has been recorded by everybody from Elvis to Johnny Cash (twice), Patti LaBelle to Thin Lizzy. But I'll be damned  if I've ever heard a better version than Jackie Wilson's 1965 cover. He takes that tune to new places.

5. Ooberman - Danny Boy

Danny Popplewell will forever be Bradford's greatest musical export in my ears, and considering how long a career Stuart Murdoch has maintained in a very similar vein, I always feel it's tragic that Ooberman were not a much, much bigger band.

This is a pretty obscure b-side from their single Tears From A Willow... but it's still great.

4. Conway Twitty - Lonely Blue Boy (Danny)

OK, this one takes a bit of explaining. This song was written by Ben Weisman & Fred Wise who wrote a number of songs for Elvis movies, of which this was one, although it wasn't released at the time. A little later, the chorus (and title) were rewritten from Danny to Lonely Blue Boy, and re-recorded by Conway Twitty who had a US Top Ten hit with it in 1960. I could have linked to the Elvis version - y'know, the one that's actually called Danny - but I prefer the one by Mr. Twitty. I first came across it on the soundtrack to Punch Drunk Love, that rarest of beasts: a good Adam Sandler film. (No, really.)

That's twice Elvis has lost out today - don't worry, you're still the king.

3. The Ramones - Danny Says

At first, this doesn't sound like a regular Ramones song at all - it doesn't begin with a "One-choo-three-four!" for a start. Phil Spector's influence is all over this one though, and it does build (in typical Spector fashion) to sound just like a Ramones song: indeed, Joey apparently thought this was one of the best songs Spector produced for the band.

The Danny in question is Ramones' manager Danny Field, the man who also signed Iggy and the MC5 and also worked with Jonathan Richman. Without him, they say punk might not have happened.

There are a couple of cool covers of this song by Tom Waits and the Foo Fighters.

2. Prefab Sprout - The Songs of Danny Galway

From Paddy McAloon's glorious 2014 comeback album, Crimson/Red. I loved this song from the moment I first heard it, but it took Miller (yes, him again) to point out that it was a in fact a tribute to one of the greatest songwriters to ever walk the face of the earth: Wichita Lineman's own Jimmy Webb.
In words he paints a vivid scene, of places you may not have been
Yet listening, you're moved to swear, I know that house, I've climbed the stair
I've shared those overwhelming feelings, I've suffered loss - I've known such joy
Emotions we all know, are burnished til they glow, in the songs of Danny Galway
1. Anne Murray - Danny's Song

Have you been watching the Mick Jagger / Martin Scorcese TV show Vinyl? You know, the one about the record industry in the 70s with Jagger's son James doing his best to distance himself from his new Wicked Stepfather (like Jerry Hall hasn't got enough money) by working alongside daddy dearest? The show's not been particularly well-reviewed but I'm really loving it (once you get past the typical Scorcese excessive glorification of sleaze) and the soundtrack is excellent, mixing classic rock 'n' roll, soul, blues, punk and cheesy 70s pop to great effect.

A recent episode closed with Anne Murray's classic rendition of Danny's Song (written by Footloose maestro Kenny Loggins, trivia lovers) and it was a weird case of synchronicity since I've been playing this track a lot lately ever since I heard it played on the radio as a tribute to Wogan (it was one of his favourites I didn't get round to writing about in My Top Ten Terry Wogan Songs).

Altogether now...
"Even though we ain't got money
I'm so in love with you honey..."

Which one do you think is cool, happening, us?

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