MIDWAY: Richards never rocked
Cliff Richard has a new single in the charts, Thank You For a Lifetime, 50 years after his first hit single. I heard it on YouTube. I almost threw up. More of the same old slop. But I mustn’t be too harsh. He brought happiness to many, and my friend Rosemary was one of them. “Are you ashamed of me?” she asked, going a bit pink.
“I quite liked Summer Holiday. It was rather jolly and wholesome and I was a deeply conventional girl. All that other stuff like Bill Haley seemed rather alarming. What a wet I was.” Another friend, Fielding, was never quite so wet. But he rather liked Cliff’s Living Doll, because it pleasingly reduced the woman to an object, and he did admire Move It.
“Remember that?” he asks. “Come on pretty baby lets a move it and a groove it?” But did Cliff
really know what he was singing about? Fielding didn’t. He had to ask in class what it all meant.
Even Fielding and I, who had gone hardcore, didn’t quite want to investigate Little Richard’s
use of the phrase “back alley”. And from then on, things just got ruder and ruder. It was just sex, sex, sex — screaming, writhing, grooving and drugging.
Terrifying. I didn’t really dare join in properly, being a fairly prudish grammar school girl and a late developer, so it’s no wonder Cliff chickened out and turned to pap, and Rosemary and millions like her followed him.
They perhaps felt safer with soppy summer holidays, clean living, tennis, Jesus and hristmas slop.
But Fielding and I bravely went for Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Buddy Holly, Elvis and the like.
Because, and I don’t want to show off but I have to say it — we had better taste. To us, Cliff was crap.
He was King of Bland. Never mind the namby-pamby lyrics and tunes, he never quite got the rhythm right. He never really rocked. Now here he comes again.
That is the magic of Cliff, that after so many decades of drek, he is still here. I can’t understand it. Is it a backlash, because the world is sick of sex? Is it the religious right needing a sing-song? Has Sarah Palin endorsed him? Is the world still full of Rosemarys? Is this Cliff’s swansong? Is that too much to hope for?