tremble clef

Monday, September 19, 2005

Helen Shapiro, "Waiting On The Shores of Nowhere" (1970)

Are you alone? Have you been waiting too long for your prince to come? Do you wonder, especially on cold quiet nights doomed to end with you crying yourself to sleep, why there is as yet no one for you? There are reasons, surely. Maybe you have been too busy carving out a career. Maybe the six cats are enough. Maybe you feel that you would rather not compromise, that 'tis better to be alone and mostly happy than to settle for a relationship you aren't that thrilled with. Maybe you want to learn to love yourself before you love someone else.



I learnt my mad pep-talking skillz from one Helen "Dr. Phil" Shapiro, who has the knack of looking into hearts and ripping them clean out. Not least her own. Helen was a bit of a child prodigy, topping the UK charts in 1961 at the tender age of fourteen with her debut single called -- wait for it -- "Don't Treat Me Like A Child." Some random songwriting team called Lennon and McCartney, whose band Helen actually toured with, liked her enough to write a song, "Misery," for her, though her management never released it. Because they wanted to make things harder for themselves, presumably. She did have a couple of other big hits, but then they got smaller, even after she appeared on Ready, Steady, Go! with John, Ringo, and George as her backing band. In 1970 she released a 7 inch single called "A Glass Of Wine" with this as the b-side. I was only one then, but had enough smarts to crawl out of my crib to purchase a copy. Or possibly I simply heard it years later on a compilation called 60s Brit Girls.

The first few times I listened to this, I enjoyed it and may have even tapped a foot or two. It has a nice dramatic flair -- that ba-ba-ba-BAAA!!! opening, and those fab horns continue throughout -- and a great melody, particularly on the chorus, which the backing vocals really help bring out. Sure, the beat, while competent, does make you want to see a better production team work on it, and Helen's voice isn't that great -- a fansite, from which I stole most of the above information, went so far as to compare it to a foghorn. But the ditty was pleasant enough. And then I clearly heard that lyric, and laughed for a good two minutes. (At least I think I clearly heard it -- to this day I'm still not 100% sure that's really what she's singing, but that might be as much due to my stunned disbelief that she would sing it.)

"But I'm still waiting on the shores of nowhere/Waiting till my boat comes in/I know it will someday/I've gotta find a way to make my life begin/BABY I'M A LOSER!" Awesome. There's honest self-appraisal, and then there's...this. Give me this, give me this!


  • Perhaps you've discovered the origin of her conversion to Christianity in 1987. She finally found the guy her daddy promised her.

    By Anonymous esque, at 8:16 PM  

  • Ha! There's a line in the first verse where the pronouns get a little mixed up, and it almost sounds like her daddy promises her that he himself will come along some day.

    The other line I like in the song is: "There will be a happy ending when it comes along." Because when a happy ending comes along...then there will be a happy ending. Can't argue with that.

    By Blogger Brittle, at 12:42 PM  

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