Thursday, 3 May 2018

My Top Ten 'Whatever Happened To...?' Songs

Another curse of growing older is nostalgia for things long past. Wondering whatever happened to the good old days. (Clue: they may not have been as good as we remember, but that's nostalgia for you.) Here's ten songs focussing on that age old question, Whatever Happened To...

But before we get to them, you may want to ask yourself Whatever Happened To 'Whatever Happened to Benny Santini?' by Chris Rea?

Truth is, it came in at a very respectable number #11. Sorry, Chris.

10. Van Morrison - Whatever Happened To PJ Proby?

Van The Man wonders where all his old contemporaries went... although we all know what happened to the guy in line 2. Obviously Van didn't see that one coming when he wrote this back in 2002...

Whatever happened to PJ Proby?
Wonder can you fix it Jim
Where the hell do you think is Scott Walker?
My memory's getting so dim
Don't have no frame of reference no more
Not even Screaming Lord Sutch
Without him now there's no Raving Loony Party
Nowadays I guess there's not much

At least he changed the lyric slightly when he re-recorded the song as a duet with PJ Proby himself in 2015.

9. The Buzzcocks - Whatever Happened To...?

Pete has a whole list of queries: they should invite him on one of those "I Remember The 70s" TV shows...
What ever happened to twin sets?
What ever happened to Hi-fi?
What ever happened to TV sex?
What ever happened to you and I?
Whatever happened to pick-up trucks?
Whatever happened to yellow pages?
Whatever happened to burning books?
Whatever happened to new ages?
Whatever happened to Chairman Mao?
Whatever happened to God above?
Whatever happened to the cow?
Whatever happened to plug-in love?

To be fair though, some of those things - particularly hi-fis, pick-ups and cows - never really went away.

8. The Statler Brothers - Whatever Happened To Randolph Scott?

While the Buzzcocks might be wondering whatever happened to TV sex (erm: there's more of it?), The Statler Brothers are sick of all the smut they see on their cinema screens...

Everybody knows when you go to the show
You can't take the kids along
You've gotta read the paper and know the code
Of G, PG and are and X
You gotta know what the movie's about
Before you even go
Tex Ritter's gone and Disney's dead
The screen is filled with sex.
Whatever happened to Randolph Scott?
Ridin' the range alone
Whatever happened to Gene and Tex
And Roy and Rex, the Durango Kid?
Whatever happened to Randolph Scott?
His horse, plain as can be
Whatever happened to Randolph Scott?
Has happened to the best of me.

(This one is real. I didn't make it up. Honest.)

7. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Whatever Happened To My Rock 'n' Roll? (Punk Song)

Something all true music lovers have no doubt asked themselves at one time or another...

I fell in love with the sweet sensation
I gave my heart to a simple chord
I gave my soul to a new religion
Whatever happened to you?
Whatever happened to our rock 'n roll?

6. Loudon Wainwright III - Whatever Happened To Us?

Loudon Wainwright writing a song about love gone rotten? You don't say...

We used to be in love but now we are in hate
You used to say I came too early
But it was you who came too late
Boy meets girl and they give it a whirl
And the very next thing you know
She thinks he's nuts and he hates her guts
Then the bad blood starts to flow

5. The Libertines - Whatever Became Of The Likely Lads?

Pete and Carl wonder where it all went wrong for their band... adapting the title of the British sitcom Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads? along the way.

Ironically, the Libertines best song is their most self-referential.

4. Eels - Whatever Happened To Soy Bomb?

Hired to dance behind Bob Dylan at the 1998 Grammy Awards, performance artist Michael Portnoy hijacked the show by ripping off his shirt and revealing the "two word poem" Soy Bomb while dancing alongside a bemused Dylan. (Was Dylan bemused or was he pissed off? Hard to tell, because he has a pissed off expression on his face most of the time. Seriously: when was the last time you saw Bob Dylan smile?)

When asked to explain himself, Portnoy later said: "Soy... represents dense nutritional life. Bomb is, obviously, an explosive destructive force. So, soy bomb is what I think art should be: dense, transformational, explosive life". He went on to explain that the incident was a "spontaneous explosion of the self to re-invigorate the current music scene".


Still, he inspired E to write a nice song, so it wasn't a complete waste of time.

3. Huey Lewis & The News - Whatever Happened To True Love?

Ah, Huey, that is the million dollar question, isn't it?
Hey, I know it's a modern world
And everybody's living for today
But you and I were gonna be the exception
Remember what you said, "let 'em all drop dead!"
Now all your friends are telling you that they
Have all been through this many times before
I don't want to sound like an old love song
I only want to know: where did our love go?

2. The Thrills - Whatever Happened To Corey Haim?

When former childstar Corey Haim heard this 2004 hit by Irish indie band The Thrills, he responded: "For eight and a half years, I was just watching movies, and just staying in bed and just eating food and just, you know, being just miserable," but now, he insisted, "I'm clean, sober, humble and happy". Sadly, he died of pneumonia just six years later, aged only 38.

1. The Stranglers - No More Heroes

What else was going to be Number One?

Whatever happened to
Leon Trotsky?
He got an ice pick
That made his ears burn
Whatever happened to
Dear old Lenin?
The great Elmyra
And Sancho Panza?

Whatever happened to the heroes?
Whatever happened to the heroes?
Whatever happened to
All of the heroes?
All the Shakespearoes?
They watched their Rome burn!

Whatever happened to your comments?


  1. Splendid and impressive as always Rol
    The Buzzcocks should have been number 2!

  2. Marvellous, but I'm with CC, Buzzcocks should be higher - we demand a recount! I further offer for consideration 'Whatever Happened to the Teenage Dream' by T.Rex and the frankly bonkers 'Whatever Happened To The Million Head Collide' by Pond.

  3. Excellent as ever - Had to be the Stranglers at No.1.

    You are right though, nostalgia is a tricky business always making you think things were better than they actually were.

  4. Another fine top 10.

    I'd like to add Dick Gaughan's "Whatever Happened" and the chorus which namechecks 3 well-known songs...

    "Whatever happened to those songs about getting back to the garden?
    Whatever happened to 'We shall overcome'?
    Whatever happened to '1-2-3 what are we fighting for'?
    When did you find yourself marching to the beat of the same old drum?"

  5. The (digital reconstituted) Beatles included the line:
    Whatever happened to the life that we once knew

    in Free As A Bird.
    Despite the claustrophobic, sounds like everything else he touches, Jeff Lynne production I actually really like that track
    (marvellous George slide guitar)

    And you can play "spot the song reference" while watching the video

  6. The wording is slightly different, but was reminded of Michael Jackson - Whatever Happens, from his 2001 album.

  7. Trivia note / moment of mild interest:
    The mid section of The Thrills Whatever Happened To Corey Hain is almost a direct lift from the theme to Mork & Mindy


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