Category: Single of the week

Cotton-Eye Joe

A large proportion of the European music that ends up in the UK chart is generally a bit cheesy and tacky, but nonetheless catchy, however music from Sweden is perhaps among some of the best. Neneh Cherry, Roxette, The Cardigans, Zara Larsson and, of course, Abba are some good examples, but in 1995 the novelty act Rednex gave us their interpretation of Cotton Eye Joe which has stood the test of time as it’s still well received at parties over 20 years later. If you search around the internet many have tried to understand what the song is about and suggestions range from a cowboy to a tailor to a sexually transmitted disease, let’s find out the truth.

Rednex were initially as bunch of Swedish producers who, in 1994, came together for the sole purpose of recording and releasing the track in a Euro-dance version. When this song became an unexpected hit, they had to bring in performers to front it and called themselves Rednex as a play on word Redneck which is a slang term for an old southerner in the States. The initial line-up were lead singer Mary Joe (b: Annika Ljungberg), violinists Billy Ray (b: Jonas Nilsson) and Bobby Sue (b: Kent Olander), banjo player Ken Tacky (b: Arne Arstrand) and bass drummer Mup (b: Patrick Edenberg), but over the last 25 years they have had almost 30 different members.

From the outset, I’ll tell you now there is no definitive story of the origins of this song but it goes back a long long way. According to an article written by Kenneth Partridge, The first known published version appeared in Alabama writer Louise Clarke Pyrnelle’s 1882 novel Diddie, Dumps, and Tot, or Plantation Child-Life, a nostalgic look at the antebellum South. Drawing heavily on her own childhood experiences on her father’s plantation, the novel gives credence to what most experts now hold as fact: “Cotton-Eyed Joe” originated with black slaves well before the Civil War. Pyrnelle’s version describes the titular character as an ugly man saying that ‘His eyes wuz crossed, an’ his nose wuz flat, an’ his teef wuz out,’ who swoops into town and steals the protagonist’s sweetheart.

According to Dorothy Scarborough, the Texas-born folklorist, the ballad is “an authentic slavery-time song,” predating the Civil War. In her ledger On The Trail Of Negro Folk Songs, published in 1925, she explains, “The air and some of the words were given by my sister, Mrs. George Scarborough, as learned from the Negroes on a plantation in Texas, and other parts by an old man in Louisiana, who sang it to the same tune. He said he had known it from his earliest childhood and had heard the slaves sing it on plantations.”

Whatever the origins the song it soon became a square dance and quickly spread throughout the Deep South of America. The earliest known recorded version of the song was in 1927 as recorded by the string band Dykes Magic City Trio, but with that said, the trio’s leader John Dykes claimed he learned it from a Kenner C. Karchtner a fiddler who originated from Arizona who, in turn, said he picked it up in Mississippi at the end of the 19th century from a man named Youngblood.

According to one archive there have been more than 130 recorded versions since 1950 including versions by the unlikely named acts Gid Tanner & The Skillet Lickers (1928), Adolph Hofner & His San Antonians (1941) and Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys (1946). Among the more well-known names, Nina Simone (1959), Terry Callier (1964), The Chieftains (1981), Michelle Shocked (1992) and, wait for it, the Crazy Frog in 2006.

Cotton Eye Joe, apart from making number one in the UK, also topped the chart in Austria, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, Norway and Finland. Rednex had further UK hits, believe it or not, with Old Pop in an Oak (12) and Wild ‘n Free (55), which gives little indication of their popularity on the Continent. Wish You Were Here and Spirit of the Hawk were number one in Germany and their album Sex And Violins was a big European seller. In 2002, they released a greatest hits called The Best of the West.

Original members Billy Ray and Mup are still in the group and they still tour regularly and the ever-changing line-up includes such interestingly-named personnel such as Dagger, Bone Duster Crock, Ace Ratclaw and Pervis the Palergator.

Love it or hate, but this version continues to be a big favourite at various sports arenas and weddings across the country.

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Witch Doctor (David Seville)

David Bowie hated his 1967-recorded song The Laughing Gnome which was belatedly released in 1973, he tried, unsuccessfully, to stop it being released but the public lapped it up and thus became a top 10 hit. It’s not clear why he hated it, but one of its memorable features was the speeded-up voice of the gnome which his then-studio engineer Gus Dudgeon had recorded. In fact, when Dudgeon died in 2002, David sent flowers to his funeral with a missive saying ‘Farewell to the Laughing Gnome.’ However, David wasn’t the first to feature this type of technology, that invention went back to the fifties.

David Seville, who was born Ross Bagdasarian Sr, but chose Seville after the place he’d been stationed at whilst in the Air Force, was a singer, actor and record producer. His first real success came in 1951 when he co-wrote Come On-A My House which became an American chart-topper for Rosemary Clooney. In 1955, he signed a recording contract with Liberty records and had a one-off UK hit with a song called The Trouble with Harry which he recorded under the two pseudonyms Alfi and Harry.

In 1958, David created the Chipmunks who were animated characters with high-pitched voices but also with many human traits. They were created for song purposes which then led to their own cartoon series. His three inventions had names and were called Alvin, Theodore and Simon and all had their own ‘personalities’ – Alvin was a troublemaker, Theodore was the easily led loveable one and Simon was the intellectual with glasses.

David’s son, Ross Bagdasarian Jr, told Bruce Nash in an interview what his father was like and how he created the voices of the Chipmunks, “In late 1957, my family was down to about $200 and my dad decided to take $190 of that to buy a new tape recorder.” His father once told reporters, “My mind was a little madder that its normal semi-orderly state of confusion, I looked up from my desk and saw a book called Duel With The Witch Doctor which was written by Jan de Hartog and I realised that all the teenage records that were selling seemed to have one thing in common, you couldn’t understand any of the lyrics. So I decided to have the witch doctor give advice to the lovelorn in his own language – a kind of qualified gibberish.” So that advice you hear the witch doctor give the man to help win his woman over is, ‘Oo ee, oo ah, ting tang, walla walla bing bang.’ I think if someone said that to me, I’d swiftly disappear!

How the voices came about was, one day Ross was singing into the new tape recorder but didn’t realise it was running at half speed so when he played it back it played a high-pitched voice and Ross then realised he’d created the perfect voice for the witch doctor.

Once he had recorded the track he wondered if his record company would release it. It would seem unlikely that they would, but as luck, for him, would have it, Liberty Records were struggling badly and were on the verge of going under so, as Ross Jr recalled, “Had the people at Liberty not been as desperate as they were they would never have put Witch Doctor out. They thought it was ridiculous, absolute nonsense. My dad said to them, ‘Look, you’re already close to bankruptcy, you’ve got nothing to lose’ so they figured they would give it a try and, of course, it became a huge hit.” It topped the US chart for three weeks and in the UK peaked t number 11. As was so often the case back then, many British artists wanted to covered American stuff and this was no exception. Don Lang and his Frantic Five made a slightly faster version and it beat Seville by getting to number five having both entered the chart in the same week.

Devo did a cover version which was featured in the 1998 film Rugrats and the Danish group the Cartoons did a very Euro-like cover which clearly pleased the UK audience as they had the biggest hit when it entered the chart and peaked at number two in April 1999. It was only held off by the highest entry at number one by the French DJ Quentin Dupieux disguised at Mr Oizo.

Ross Sr died of a heart attack in 1972 at the age of 50, the whole Chipmunk empire, which included videos, books and films, in fact, over 250 licensed products, which are still looked after by Ross Jr and his wife Janice. There was also a female spin-off trio known as The Chipettes. They are called Brittany, Eleanor and Jeanette and are all voiced by Janice Eleanor Miller and their cover of Beyonce’s Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) appeared in the 2009 film Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. It was actually quite funny.

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You Give Me Something (James Morrison)

James Morrison is a guitarist and singer/songwriter who is very often mistaken for James Blunt because of their likeness, but he learned guitar to strengthen his voice, “All the really good guitar players – Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, or even Bert Jansch or John Martin – I love all those people,” he once said, “but I didn’t start out thinking that I would be a guitar player. In the beginning, I played the guitar so I could sing. I mainly concentrated on my voice.”

He was born James Catchpole in Rugby, Warwickshire in 1984 and, as a baby, a severe bout of whooping cough actually killed him, because he had to be resuscitated four times but thankfully he made a full recovery and has said that he puts his distinctive voice down to that terrible time. As a teenager, he began busking around Truro and Newquay where he’d moved to as a teenager.

He learned guitar, but now prefers the acoustic, he explained, “I love the electric guitar, but I never felt like I could get good enough on it to really sort of ‘own’ it in a sense. If you plug an electric in, you’d better be able to f***ing rip it up, you know what I mean? I could never do that confidently. I mean, I can sit in my room and rip out a lead and really enjoy it, but on stage is a different thing.”

His first hit, in 2006, was You Give Me Something, which he explained to a contestant on New Zealand Idol when he appeared on the show, “It was intended as a harsh love song,” and seemingly about an uneven relationship where one person loves the other much more than the other way round. “I basically got the initial idea together on my own while working with someone else,” James explained to the Songwriting Team. “I remember I had the C to the descending A minor, to the G, the F and back to the G. That was what I had, which is the progression in the verse, with a few subtle changes. I was saying something like, ‘Will you stay with me in the morning, will you hold me in the morning’ to make it more harsh like you’ve got to work to get the love. I think that was the key that kind of turned the song around, really, the reluctance in giving away nice comments in the song. I like the idea of trying to write a mean love song – as mean as you can be without making the other person go, ‘What’s the point?’ It’s kind of like backhanded compliments really. It was those three chords in the intro that really cemented it. I had the verse and then we worked on the chorus together (with producer and co-writer Eg White) and I imagined the chorus melody to be like brass. Once I got the chorus, I remember thinking ‘I don’t want brass in my songs because it’s too like Frank Sinatra’. I was that naive with music. It was only after a few months of listening to the song that I thought, ‘Yeah, actually, this is a f***ing good song.”

The song reached number five in the UK, top five in Venezuela, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Austria, Belgium and Australia, but in New Zealand it went to number one. The parent album, Undiscovered, went to number one in the UK, spent 81 weeks on the chart and eventually sold just over a million copies.

He released a further four albums, Songs For You Truths For Me (2008), The Awakening (2011), Higher Than Here (2015) and his latest, You’re Stronger Than You Know, is still on the album chart. He begins a UK tour in October.

James is always striving to improve, he says, “I feel like I have to prove myself and to keep getting better, I don’t think that’ll ever end. So many things have come together – my family, the music sounding the way I want it to, and having the freedom that I’ve always wanted. The stars have aligned and this new album has given me a new lease of life.”

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It Wasn’t Me (Shaggy feat Rikrok)

In this day and age so many songs are credited with a ‘featuring’ act or an ‘x’ collaboration and thus usually indicates that the main credited artists will provide much of the input with the collaborative act adding something extra to the mix. Usually an equal billing i.e. ‘and’ or ‘with’ will imply a more or less 50/50 duet. However, this week’s suggestion the ‘featuring’ person provides the majority of the story. How come? Let’s find out.

Shaggy was born Orville Richard Burrell in Kingston, Jamaica in October 1968 and after taking singing lessons, he began singing on the street with friends when he was discovered. As a kid he was tall and slim with a hairstyle that was part afro and “part hedge” he once admitted. His friends likened the look to that of Scooby Doo’s mate Shaggy and that is where the name came from. “I hated that name until I came to England and discovered what ‘shagger’ means. Suddenly I liked it. These days, when chicks ask how I got my name, I say, ‘It’s because I’m a shagger – want me to shag you?’ Heh, heh,” he explained to John Aizlewood.

In 1986, he moved to Brooklyn, New York with his mother, he said of her, “She was a very, very stern woman; I wish I had a closer relationship with her,” but he continued singing and earned his keep in dancehall. The following year he joined the Marines, sort of by accident. “I swear to God I didn’t know the Marines was the hardest service,” he continued. “I just wanted to get off the streets. I saw a Marines uniform and thought it looked really mean. The recruiting officer sold me a bunch of bullshit and I was in.”

Shaggy began working as a DJ supporting Maxi Priest, who had recently topped the Billboard singles chart with Close To You and in doing so it became the first American number one by a British reggae act. In 1992 the pair toured around Brazil. “That was the turning point. I saw 30,000 people who didn’t speak English singing along with his version of Wild World and I knew that’s what I wanted. Maxi was criticised because he had this pop element, but he had seen the bigger picture and wanted it. Bob Marley was criticised for the same thing.”

Shaggy’s first UK hit was in 1993 when his cover of a Folkes Brothers track called Oh Carolina topped the chart for two weeks. He had further hits with In The Summertime, Boombastic (his second chart-topper and helped by a jeans advert), Why You Treat Me So Bad, That Girl and Piece Of My Heart, but then in late 1997 he found himself without a record deal, “I received a letter saying I was not on Virgin any more. I never saw that curve ball coming; it shattered my ego and self-esteem,” he revealed.

Having spent four years without a recording contract, Shaggy moved to Long Island and built a studio in his basement. He began writing songs for films. He contributed tracks to Kevin Costner’s 1999 film For the Love of the Game, Speed II and Jungle To Jungle before teaming up with noted writer/producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for Luv Me Luv Me, a duet between Shaggy and Janet Jackson, which was featured in the movie How Stella Got Her Groove Back. All this led to him being signed by MCA. “I don’t hold any grudges against Virgin,” he maintained. “I tell you, nothing clears up animosity like a hit record. I bet they are scratching their heads thinking, ‘Damn! We should have kept him’.”

He recorded the album Hot Shot, which initially failed to make any impact. It was only when a DJ in Honolulu, Pablo Sato, downloaded an MP3 of It Wasn’t Me, a track from the album and began playing it to death on his KIKI-FM radio show that the public began to take notice.

The song was inspired by a comedy routine Eddie Murphy performed in his movie Raw. He explained that no matter what your girl accuses you of, never admit to anything, just say ‘It Wasn’t Me.’ The story tells of a guy who is caught red-handed by his girlfriend, cheating with the girl next door. He then tries to deny all allegations despite her catching him on camera. “Everybody cheats at some time or another in their lives,” Shaggy claimed. “I just wanted to put a funny twist on it. I think a lot of people saw themselves in it. Bill Clinton was a cheater, Jesse Jackson did it too.”

The majority of the song features Ricardo ‘Rikrok’ Ducent, whom Shaggy met through one of his backing singers. Shaggy said, “He had a good personality, a good vibe and was a very humble kid. I let him demo the track with a view to getting someone else to sing on the final version, but when my producer, Shaun Pizzonia, heard his vocals, he convinced me to leave him on the track.” Rikrok added, “Shaun came up with the beat, Brian (Gold) came up with some words, Shaggy came up with the verses and I came up with the melody.” The song features on the album Hot Shot and, not one to blow his own trumpet, but Shaggy said, at the time, “The album is exceptional. I knew I had to come back with an album that was incredible and getting dropped by Virgin was fuel to my fire!”

In the UK, the song initially spent three weeks on the chart as an import where it reached number 31. Once it was released in the UK it crashed into the chart at number one. A few weeks later, a bootleg parody surfaced about a mother who catches her son masturbating. It was titled Caught Me One Handed as recorded by The Parodies (aka Bob Rivers) and was just a little too rude for radio. Typically, in the proper version, the BBC deemed the lyric ‘Banging on the bathroom floor’ too rude so a radio-friendly version was recorded with the re-worded ‘Making love on the bathroom floor’.

The video was also amusing showing the girlfriend trying to get revenge by trying to run her cheating man over in a juggernaut but it ends with the culprit jumping off a bridge onto the roof of the said vehicle.

The only thing that’s ever bothered me about the song it why the hell were they at it on the bathroom floor of all places. It can’t be the most hygienic of places or maybe they put a bath towel down first. Who knows?

At the 2018 Grammy Awards ceremony, both Shaggy and Sting were performing with the show’s host, James Corden and when James mentioned the song and asked Shaggy “Whose idea was this anyway,” Shaggy’s response was “It wasn’t me!”

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Dude (Looks Like A Lady) – (Aerosmith)

In this PC world we live in, it does make me wonder how some songs get away with some airplay and this week’s choice was one that made the suggestee wonder too. Mummy Bear, in an email said, “We were listening to Dude Looks like a Lady in the car and wondering whether it was PC for today’s audience. Looking at the lyrics it seems pretty tame and I was wondering what its origins were.” Well, let’s find out.

When Boston, Massachusetts-formed Aerosmith first hit the UK chart in 1987 they were well received by the British rock fans, but many didn’t realise they had been going for 17 years. Yes, they formed as early as 1970 and had their first American hit single with Dream On in 1973. In 1976, they recorded Walk This Way which made the US top 10 and more famously revived in 1986 as a rap hit by Run DMC. The band’s lead singer Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry feature with Run DMC, but are uncredited.

Most of their early material was written by just the aforementioned Tyler and Perry, but when other rock bands began using an outside writer, they were not keen to follow suite. For Dude (Looks like a Lady) they teamed up with Desmond Child who Kiss had brought in to co-write I Was Made for Loving You back in 1979, which, in-turn, inspired Bon Jovi who hire his hand for their 1986 hits You Give Love A Bad Name and Livin’ On A Prayer. Therefore, when John Kalodner, the A&R man at Aerosmith’s label, Geffen, suggested writing with Child but they were reluctant. Desmond Child said in an interview with Song Facts, “They had never written with an outside writer, and they were not happy to see me. They were going along with it to please John Kalodner, but they were not that happy about it.”

The result was Aerosmith’s debut UK hit, which, on its initial release only reached number 45. In the same interview, Child continued, “Steven Tyler was much more friendly, as he is, and was very generous, really, and showed me a song that they had started called Cruisin’ for the Ladies. I listened to that lyric, and I said, ‘You know what, that’s a very boring title.’ And they looked at me like, ‘How dare you?’ And then Steven volunteered, sheepishly, and said that when he first wrote the melody he was singing ‘Dude Looks like a Lady.’ It was kind of a tongue twister that sounded more like scatting. He got the idea because they had gone to a bar and had seen a girl at the end of the bar with ginormous blonde rock hair, and the girl turned around and it ended up being Vince Neil from Motley Crue. So then they started making fun of him and started saying, ‘That dude looks like a lady, dude looks like a lady, dude looks like a lady.’ So that’s how that was born. That’s the true story of how that was born. So I grabbed onto that and I said, ‘No, that’s the title of the song.'”

Child, in an interview with Ultimate Classic Rock also said, “They played me a backwards guitar loop that sounded like a boogie blues harmonica and Steven began singing ‘Cruisin’ for the ladies, da-dap da-dap… cruisin’ for the ladies’ and asked me what I thought. The first words out of my mouth were, ‘I think that really sucks. It sounds like a bad Van Halen cast-off they wouldn’t even put on the worst record of their enemy.'”

The band had a few reservations, mainly Perry, who said he didn’t want to upset the gay community. Perry is not gay but also had no reservations about singing about having sex with a ‘dude’, but also didn’t want the fans thinking they were poking fun at anyone non-heterosexual. When he aired his view to Child, the reply was, “Okay, I’m gay, and I’m not insulted. Let’s write this song. So I talked them into the whole scenario of a guy that walks into a strip joint and falls in love with the stripper on stage, goes backstage and finds out it’s a guy. But besides that, he’s gonna go with it. He says, ‘My funky lady, I like it, like it, like it like that.’ And so he doesn’t run out of there, he stays.”

The accompanying video was a sort of parody. It was directed by Marty Callner whose work with rock act video was held in high esteem and he earned a reputation for getting loads of airtime on MTV. It opens with a close-up of the base of a pneumatic drill pounding into concrete and then flicks to Tyler and Perry walking along the road. The camera then pans up to reveal a blonde female operating the drill and Tyler looking shocked. Later on there’s a rear shot of a bride and groom walking in an underground car park and as they turn round the figure in the suit and top hat is the lady with the drill and the person in the brides dress is a bearded John Kalodner – the man who suggested the writer collaboration in the first place.

The song was used to great effect in the 1993 film Mrs Doubtfire where Robin Williams, who transforms into an old lady numerous times just so he can see his kids by pretending to be a nanny. He goes out into the street and crosses a busy road to the sound of the song.

Child, who is obviously proud of the song’s content, said, in a more recent interview, “The idea of a transgendered character in a hit song being shown in a positive light was completely fresh and revolutionary. It was so catchy that even without knowing what the song was about, people everywhere started spontaneously singing it at the top of their lungs. Even Mrs Doubtfire was doing the broom dance to it and every little kid in America could sing all the words by heart.

Rather than find out by accident, Child told Vince Neil the story who took it in good spirit because he even acknowledges it in his autobiography Tattoos & Tequila: To Hell and Back with One of Rock’s Most Notorious Frontmen.

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Bright Eyes (Art Garfunkel)

Richard Adams, in 1972, wrote his first book Watership Down while he was working at the Department of the Environment. It depicted a colony of rabbits, who are forced to move from their warren by building developments. Unlike many children’s books, Adams did not endow them with human characteristics and took great pains to treat life in the warren seriously: in short, they behaved like rabbits. The stand-out song went on to be the best-selling single of 1979, but how did it come about and, more importantly, what did the author think of the song?

The story told of a small group of rabbits who had to get out of the warren they lived in because it was to be built upon and therefore they were not happy bunnies. The book tells of how they find their new home and all the trials, tribulations and challenges they faced. Unbelievably, 13 different publishers turned it down before being accepted by Rex Collings Ltd. In 1974, work began on an animated film based on that furry tale.

There was much speculation as to how the book could be filmed and, after several years in the making, an animated film was released in 1979. When Mike Batt heard that an animated feature was being produced, he wrote and submitted many songs to the director. John Hurt’s voice was used for Hazel and Richard Briers’ for Fiver, whilst Joss Ackland was the Black Rabbit and Sir Ralph Richardson the Chief. Mike Batt was a big fan of the novel and desperately wanted to write the score, but the work went to Angela Morley (previously known as Wally Stott) and Malcolm Williamson. Mike kept submitting ideas for songs.

Watership Down director, Martin Rosen, gave Batt a brief and said he wanted a song about death. Those words did not come easily, “I remember coming home and thinking, ‘wow, how do you write a song about death without it seeming ridiculously dark or totally stupid?'” recalled Batt in an interview with Liam Allen. “It was then that I started to think, ‘well it’s going to be a song about wondering and not knowing’ Therefore, the opening words, ‘is it a kind of dream?’ came into my mind as I was sitting playing at the piano. I sang, ‘is it a kind of dream’, and then that minor thing of, ‘floating out on the tide’. I realised I was on to something because you start singing it and you’re so choked up you can’t carry on.”

He submitted the song and then recalled, “They didn’t initially want to use Bright Eyes, but then Over the Rainbow was almost taken out of The Wizard of Oz. I had two songs that were dropped, so I then recorded Run like the Wind with Barbara Dickson and Losing Your Way in the Rain with Colin Blunstone. I told the producers that Art Garfunkel would be ideal for Bright Eyes and within a week, there he was, in my home in Surbiton, routining the song.” Eventually Bright Eyes was selected.

Art Garfunkel recalled his thoughts after being sent the original demo, “It knocked me out. I knew my own tone of voice has a quasi-religious pop element to it and I knew that I can create goose bumps with this mysterious enquiry into ‘what is this life and what is death for all of us? So it’s a wonderfully large, philosophical set of words.”

The song was released in March 1979 and went to number one where it stayed for six weeks. It went on to sell over a million copies and won the hearts of the nation, but one person who was not impressed was Richard Adams. Mike Batt told my 1000 UK Number One Hits co-author, Spencer Leigh, “I was watching Wogan and he asked Richard Adams what he thought of the film. He said that he hated Bright Eyes. He based his dislike on the assumption that it was wrong factually. He said it was about a dead rabbit – well, if he reads his own book, he’ll realise that the song is sung and thought by Fiver at a time when he thinks Hazel is dead. The point is that the other rabbit thought he was dead.”

Mike Batt looked back on the recording remembering, “It was one of the most difficult sessions I’ve ever been involved in, we even just argued over the way it should be sung and everything.” There was certainly some tension, “At the heart of the tension was a battle of wills over a duff guitar note. We did this great take which everyone loved including Art and yet there was one note, just one little slip. I told Art Garfunkel that, with a 60-piece orchestra waiting to come into the studio to record, I would simply ask the guitarist to come back the next morning to drop that note in. Art said ‘No, I don’t think we should do that, I think we should get it right now’,” Batt added.

Then another problem arose. Goddard Lieberson, the head of Columbia records and exec producer of the film told Batt he didn’t like the string arrangement. “I thought ‘how rude'”, Batt said, “that’s all right, I’ll go then, I’ll take my song and you can get someone else to write a song. I walked out through the orchestra with my score in my hand and I drove off in my car.” Thankfully, he was persuaded by the film’s director Martin Rosen to return and carry on and he could do it on his own terms.

When it was finished, Mike and Art listened back and realised they had made a hit, “all the tension and distrust had suddenly ebbed away”, Batt added. As soon as the song hit number one in the UK, Art called Mike and said, “Mike, I just wanted to say thanks and to share with you that we did so well with the record.”

There is a brilliant scene in Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, where Gromit is hesitantly waiting for the Were-Rabbit to pop out, so in the meantime turns the radio on and hears a clip of Bright Eyes and quickly turns it off looking horrified.

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