One song to the tune of another 2: Forever Young

By Aaron Galbraith and Tony Attwood

We recently launched a new idea – finding songs with the same title as a Dylan song, not written by Bob.

The first episode of the new series is available here covering “You’re a big girl now” and taking us into some of the backwaters of popular music from the last century.  Now we have episode two: “Forever Young”.

Forever Young seems to be one of those song titles that has been used lots of times. Let’s remind ourselves of Bob’s take on the title, from The Band’s Last Waltz concert,

If you search for “Forever Young” in Google [at least on Aaron’s computer in the US and Tony’s in the UK- you may well get different results in other parts of the universe], the first result is not for the Dylan track. The first result is for the hit song by Alphaville. And the second hit is for a cover of the Alphaville track by Laura Brannigan. Dylan’s track is eventually mentioned after these along with similarly titled tracks by Rod Stewart and BLACKPINK.

Here is the Alphaville track

Alphaville were/are a German synth-pop band, popular in the 80s, named after the Jean Luc Goddard movie. The track concerns the fear of nuclear war and is obviously influenced by the political climate of the time. Remember, this was the time of Reagan, the Cold War was at its height, so asking “Do you want to live forever?” under the threat of nuclear war was a very bold move indeed.

Aaron’s score: Five out of five….wonderful, this is the type of 80s music I love.

Tony’s score: Three out of five.  The idea of 16 bars of music repeated over and over can work but it doesn’t really grab me or dig itself into my heart, soul, head or anywhere else.  It just goes around and around.

And since my first thought was the Jean Luc Godard movie, I thought maybe this band was taking its influences from a very diverse range of sources, so I went scouting around the rest of the band’s music, since I am not familiar with it.  What I came across was this item below,which has a very strange video.  Plus it is quite a jolly piece of music, which has the merit that one can modern jive to it.

What actually was disappointing however was that the band have a song “Dance with me” which one can’t modern jive to at all, so nowhere to go with that.

But there is a song called “Forever Young” by Rod Stewart, written by Stewart along with Jim Cregan and Kevin Savigar from his band.   It’s not something I would play over and over but it’s ok, and I wouldn’t be inclined to flip forward.  It’s a decent enough song, although I think they spin the end of unnecessarily.    And the bonus here is that the video sequence (at least in the UK at the moment) goes on to the Wilburys.

However, my hopes remained high because Aaron then says…

Aaron: The next “Forever Young” is this one by acerbic pop and rock duo Sparks

 

The track appeared on the bands seventh album 1977’s Introducing Sparks. It’s a much different take on the title from both Dylan and Alphavilles, this time the singer wants to stay forever young himself for purely selfish reasons (I’ll meet a million girls in a million places).

Aaron’s score: Three out of five…not Sparks’ best work but it’s punky enough for 1977. I do love the bit around the 2:30 mark (“and I don’t care what you do babe…”)

Tony’s score: One out of five.  Probably it ought to have two, but I was hopeful, since I can remember one (but only one) Sparks composition/performance.  That was “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both of Us” which was a hit in Britain.  I bought it as a youngster, and had no idea what it was about… which probably opened my ears and eyes to the fact that popular music doesn’t have to be about anything.  If you have any interest in this, the record version is followed by an on stage version recorded in 2017.  The music is identical but it is fun to see the guys.

It was nigh on impossible to get the lyrics from listening to the songs and of course in the 1970s there wasn’t an internet, so I spent ages trying to decipher the song.  Just in case you are interested here they are

Zoo time is she and you time
The mammals are your favourite type, and you want her tonight
Heartbeat, increasing heartbeat
You hear the thunder of stampeding rhinos, elephants and tacky tigers
This town ain't big enough for the both of us
And it ain't me who's gonna leave

Flying, domestic flying
And when the stewardess is near do not show any fear
Heartbeat, increasing heartbeat
You are a khaki-coloured bombardier, it's Hiroshima that you're nearing
This town ain't big enough for both of us
And it ain't me who's gonna leave

Daily, except for Sunday
You dawdle in to the cafe where you meet her each day
Heartbeat, increasing heartbeat
As 20 cannibals have hold of you, they need their protein just like you do
This town ain't big enough for the both of us
And it ain't me who's gonna leave

Shower, another shower
You got to look your best for her and be clean everywhere
Heartbeat, increasing heartbeat
The rain is pouring on the foreign town, the bullets cannot cut you down
This town ain't big enough for the both of us
And it ain't me who's gonna leave

Now we all know.

Untold Dylan

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