You know what they say: you can take the boy out of Liverpool, but you’ll never take Liverpool out of the boy. So, this week’s Song Lyric Sunday prompt of Mersey Beat is very much a home fixture for me.
When I was eleven or twelve years old, I wanted to be Billy Fury. He could sing, he was handsome, he made the girls scream.
It was a very competitive field, British male soloists back then. Let’s be honest, everyone wanted to be the British Elvis. There’s no doubt that the top dog was Cliff Richard of course: but your Nan liked Cliff (and he’d probably take her on holiday on a big red London bus – whether she liked it or not). Cliff was safe.
Billy, though, had the Elvis looks – including a matchless quiff that I could only envy – and the moves, which got him into trouble with TV producers sometimes. And he was from Liverpool – one of our own. He was already well-established before I became aware of him; I have a clear memory of seeing him on ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’ – an early Saturday evening pop porogramme that went out on ITV in the in the early to mid-sixties. He was singing a song called ‘Bumble Bee’, which was an album track from 1963.
However, I think this song by Goffin and King gives a far better idea of what Billy was about. This version reached No 3 in the UK charts in 1961 and could reasonably be described as his ‘breakthrough’ release.
I want to be your lover
But your friend is all I’ve stayed
I’m only halfway to paradise
So near, yet so far away
I long for your lips to kiss my lips
But just when I think they may
You lead me halfway to paradise
So near, yet so far away, mmm
Bein’ close to you is almost heaven (heaven)
But seein’ you can do just so much
It hurts me so to know your heart’s a treasure (treasure)
And that my heart is forbidden to touch, so
Put your sweet lips close to my lips
And tell me that’s where they’re gonna stay
Don’t lead me halfway to paradise
Mmm, so near, yet so far away
Oh, uh, oh so near, yet so far away
Yeah, yeah so near, yet so far away
Written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King