And now we step, seemingly simultaneously, into the swanky world of international hotels and the less elegant rooms of that most put-upon figures in pop music, single girls. It is alternately grand and hysterical, tough (what other song of the period uses the word "chump"?) and maudlin. Carr sings the song as best she can (it was originally a song by Gilbert Becaud and Maurice Vidalin; the English lyrics are by Mack David, Hal David's older brother), giving a three-alarm-fire performance of desperation that nearly stood alone in the Top Ten against the invasion of strangeness and beauty that was the Summer of Love. You might wonder how something that reeks (if I can put it that way) of obsessive-compulsive behavior and disdain for others (that "puppet on a string" reference, as if she's in a position to judge) could be so successful, while songs like "See Emily Play," "Strange Brew," and "Paper Sun" didn't get to #2?
The answer is, that as receptive to psychedelia as the some of the British public were, there was a large segment that found it kind of...scary. Not hide-behind-the-sofa scary, but disturbing and weird nevertheless. (It should also be noted that psychedelia's greatest audience, from Sgt. Pepper on down, was in albums, not singles.) What was left for those who didn't dig the new scene, and who weren't crazy for Motown/Stax? Songs like this one, where our heroine has a relationship with the nameless/characterless "him" that makes you think she's virtually a prisoner of her love, unable to see how maybe if she just didn't answer the phone once and got out and mixed things up a little - instead of being so available - he might actually take some real interest in her. It is as if the whole world consisted of nothing but her and him, and all her praying and subsequent dashed hopes and wailing, etc. are all that matters.
This is yet another in I don't know how many songs of the 60s where the woman suffers and suffers and the song succeeds (commercially I mean; it was a big hit in the US as well) and it walks that very fine line between telling like it is and masochism. This puts Carr in the same unfortunate boat as Janis Joplin, who had to live with guys getting off on the pain in her songs - different crowd, of course, but the same dynamic is in place, whether it's in the glamorous world of Carr or the freaked-out one Joplin inhabited. (Oddly enough, they're both from Texas, of the same generation and may well have known of each other. Who knows?)
What is clear is that there are those who like the experimental and those who would just as soon hear a song of woe sung with unironical conviction; these two audiences don't crossover and the latter is taking over the singles chart, just as the former is taking over the albums. For some the 60s were just fine until about now; for others, it's just getting started. The generation gap is clear, and by the time the next song appears, pirate radio will be illegal and stations will begin to disappear from the dial. This lowest-common-denominator everyone-can-relate song will persist in the charts, the single woman's tormented relationship with her phone will also continue...but it's the sob stories that make the Summer of Love a lot less cool than it could have been, and it's not ending here...