Thursday, January 13, 2011

Last Breaths: Cliff Richard and the Shadows: "Do You Want To Dance/I'm Looking Out The Window"

This presents two rather different versions of the Cliff Richard Experience; an experience which is rooted in the 50s (those lock-steps that he does with the Shadows) and yet the same song, as done by the Beach Boys just a few later (I cannot help but mention my fellow Californians, particularly since Dennis is singing lead here) is a song that verily defies you not to dance; the Cliff Richard/Shadows version sounds as if maybe you'd want to do a brisk minuet or perhaps the stroll, at best. I know it is unfair to jump into the future here, but the future in 1962 was very close to appearing; in a way this seems like the last breath, the last relic before something is about to happen - something that Cliff and the Shadows will bravely live through and endure in their own ways. But in the meantime, here they are doing their dance and being the polite and lovable rockers that they are.

And now we have Cliff's future, and thus a way out - a gentle mourning hum, softly hoping and waiting, the Shadows like a beneficent sun on Cliff's focused pain. He sits in his suit (a suit he claims to wear every day, just in case - not visible here, just audible here, alas) and sings the words as if they were almost too awful to sing. How can he be second best? How can he have fallen for someone who treats him like this? The main problem here is that Richard is just, lest we forget, 21 and cannot really be suffering as much as he claims here; but again the poignancy of this is that he can see into his future, wherein he is always there, ready and well-dressed and waiting, but no one calls; at the time this may have been just a song, but songs have a way of becoming uneasy reality after a while. The girls presumably loved this one and rightly found Richard too beautiful to suffer; Cliff and the Shadows' dancing had everyone happily tapping their toes. However it is late June 1962, and while heavy smog descends once again on London, Algerians are about to gain their independence and the Port Huron statement is written, printed and distributed across the U.S.; the polite world that Cliff Richard and the Shadows represent is coming to a close, with rougher and wilder voices just edging in from the wilderness.

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