Friday, May 27, 2011

Playing His Ace: Ned Miller: "From A Jack To A King"

After the world-shaking clamor of The Beatles it is heart-warming and surprisingly reassuring to come across this; a song where a man is simply grateful that he took a chance, though as usual there are odd moments. I don't mean that the sentiment is off, because there is a universal emotion here - he proposed, she accepted, he feels like a king. To have this as a card game is what seems odd; as if she was an opponent and not a sweetheart. (Perhaps he had a rival for her that we don't hear about? If they are in love, why should "Lady Luck" have any say in the matter?) But the clearest feeling here is sheer relief; he says he wasn't sure (ah how I remember my anxiety!) and that there was a look in her eye (dubiousness? equal anxiety masked as something else?) and those are now gone, washed clean by her losing/giving in to him (if this is a card game, and his hand defeated hers, so to speak). His success is genuine and heartfelt, though - the song's story is clear enough, and the melody is simplicity itself (Miller wrote it as well as performed it). (For a female version of this, "Your Love Is King" by Sade must be it.) This is as much what folks in Scotland and Northern England were listening to as The Beatles, a constituency that was the same as Jim Reeves (who of course covered this song, as did Elvis). I can imagine a pub, a singalong, a basic story shared, a simple melody echoing around - humble and proud too, a good counter to the excited noises from next door...

(One thing that is endearing about this was that Miller suffered from terrible stage fright, and during the pre-video age this was most awkward for a performer. There will always be those who love to create but hate being in public, and Miller is definitely one of those.)

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