Sunday, July 05, 2015

Val Doonican: Elusive Butterfly

One by one, they are leaving.

The other day I posted an England team photograph from the 1977 Ashes series. Only afterwards did I notice that three of them (Bob Woolmer, Graham Roope, Tony Greig) have already died.

And, because my musical heart is in the Sixties, this Sunday video slot could easily become an obituary feature. So I shall take care that it does not.

But Val Doonican is worth noticing for two reasons.

First, because younger generations will have no idea how popular a figure he was in his heyday. The Val Doonican Music Show ran on BBC1 for more than 20 years. And it was the characteristically named LP Val Doonican Rocks, But Gently that knocked Sergeant Pepper off the top of the album charts.

Second, because this is one of the first singles I remember - a cover of the American version by the song's writer Bob Lind, it reached no. 5 in 1966. I can recall being a little disturbed by the idea of someone outside my window when I woke up.

Listening to it today it is a good song, but far less rich and strange than it did in my six-year-old imagination. And Doonican seems unsure whether to be American or Irish.

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