DC ROCK CLUB
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Saturday, August 22, 2009

What's Yr Take On: The Hollies

The Band: The Hollies
From: Manchester, UK
Formed/Brokesed Up: 1962--
Sound & Vision: The Hollies are oldies radio staples, too clean to admit to liking. They were a bridge between the soft-as-shit sounds of the late 1950s, after Elvis was drafted, and the drop-acid-dodge-draft-make-long-boring-art-movie 1960s. They were signed to Parlophone in 1963. They were the Beatles labelmates, but they were for people who thought "wow, "Please Please Me" is too fucking radical, where can I find a band that's a little cheerier than this?"

Square Hollies

But all that changed with their 1966 hit "Bus Stop" which features the soprano harmonies of one of the best vocalists of the 1960s, Graham Nash, later to join Fleet Foxes Crosby, Stills and Nash. "Bus Stop" told a cool story of a guy who lives in a rainy locale (maybe Minas Gerais, Brazil, where I understand that annual rainfall is quite heavy) who gradually, over a period of months, wins the affections of a lovely who shares his bus route, by sharing his umbrella with her every rainy day (this is one of the best lyrics ever: "bus stop, wet day, she's there, I say, please share my umbrella."

Groovy Hollies (Graham Nash, second from left)

My first date with my wife we went to Tabard Inn and after we left it was rainy and we shared an umbrella. It's really a money situation for a date, even lurchy Asperbergerers can get a nice snuggle under the umbrella. So I can dig it and I'd put it in the same conversation as any Beatles song from Revolver, which was released the same year.

Bus Stop - [The Hollies] - The Hollies

Later, Nash left the band for his hippie rendezvous, but the Hollies carried on (they've never, in fact, to this day broken up, which usually is a bad sign for the listener). Sadly, one of the best days of my life was when Sacklunch and his housemates at Seaton Street said that they had no interest in the stack of Time-Life's 20-compact disc set, Sounds Of The Seventies, CDs that had been mistakenly delivered to their house, for a long-gone occupant. I scrounged the stack and I think it changed my life (I highly recommend disc 13, Punk and New Wave, it's Smithsonian quality). One special highlight was AM Hits, and featured within were not one but two Hollies hits. The first is "Air That I Breathe," which is something you'd hear on the "Wonder Years" (or plausibly "Freaks and Geeks") during a junior high (slow) dance scene. The Hollies' last big hit was the fantastic "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother," which is allegedly about civil rights, but when I think about it, I picture a fat newsie Depression street urchin, holding beneath the armpits a slightly less fat version of himself. Sometimes he's reporting to FDR on the progress of the New Deal while he tousles Little Orphan Annie's red hair. Don't ask me why, I just do.

"The Air That I Breathe," The Hollies (1974)

So, do you like The Hollies? Do you not like The Hollies? Myself, they're a guilty pleasure, and it pleases me to feel guilty.

9 comments:

Steve said...

Seriously, did George Harrison ever sue the Hollies over "The Air That I Breathe"? Basically everything except that refrain sounds exactly like something he would have written.

Jimbromski said...

wow, you're right, I never realized

Jimbromski said...

BTW did you know that's a cover of a Phil Everly song? Never knew that until tonight.

Anonymous said...

They rock, and eventhough I'm a total Bealtes head it's ridiculous to view this Hollies song purely through that lense. The beatles were very sophisticated writers but they were part of a larger community of songsters including the Holiies. Jesus, go back and read the interviews with Paul and George talking about how they were just trying to sound like Fleetwood Mac on Abbey Road. Evrybody was rubbing off on everybody.
PD

Jumbo Slice said...

Can't say I like the Hollies but that's only because I've never listened to them. My knowledge of '60s and '70s music is crap. Maybe if I had cooler older siblings that had bequeathed me a stack of vinyl or if I had stumbled upon a Time Life series I'd have a better appreciation. Sadly, my rock music knowledge begins squarely in the 80s.

Rick Mayfield said...

The Hollies also sang "Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress", which has a bit more of an edge than "Bus Stop" (hate it) and "Air That I Breathe" (love it). I don't think I ever realized that the Hollies sang that one--maybe I thought it was BJ Thomas or Loggins & Messina or some other 70s pantywaste. Bread, maybe.

Jimbromski said...

Long Cool Woman is a badass song for such a wuss group. I like all the poppy 60s stuff...generally if you are, like Anon up there, a Beatlehead, then you like the Hollies. If you're like Jumbo Slice you won't like them due to their Charmin-softness. But Jumbo's a numbnuts knownothing so we shall disregard his opinion in this case.

Beth said...

Carousel is another Hollies song I love to hear. It was at the start of the 1999 movie East is East I think.

Jet Age Eric said...

The Hollies are, generally, fucking awesome. (Carousel, indeed.) Even "Pegasus," as song whose refrain is "I'm Pegasus the flying horse" is fucking awesome.