Wednesday, May 09, 2012

I cant’ say goodbye to you (Peter Chan)

You say it would be better
if we stopped seeing each other
if you had only met me first
when you were free
'cause now you've got commitment
I should not expect things from you
that you can't give to me
oh, but baby, can't you see………………………

The above is an example of yesterday’s lyrics which is so meaningful, smooth and so touching, quite contrary to what I listen to these days.  Am I biased towards 21st Century music?  Maybe, especially when I perceive it to be based on “killer” physical looks, dance movements and taped music. 

Photo 1: Park Hotel at the corner of Cameron Road and Chatham Road, Hong Kong (c 1969). Complete refurbishment only took place in the late 1990s.

When I did this 1981 Helen Reddy number with a 3-man band in Hong Kong one evening winding down after a busy business day, an off-duty Hong Kong based air stewardess came up to me and asked: “You play that song again?” her voice cracking and eyes tearing at the same time.  She must have thought I was the resident musician at the Park Hotel’s Marigold Bar but it wasn’t the case.  I can’t say I remembered her name because that was so long ago.  Don’t ask me how I knew about her broken relationship:  When you work long enough in the professional music circuit, you know the saga of girl-friend and a married man. 

Now would you like to know what I was doing at the Park Hotel? 
In the 1980s, Cathay Pacific (CX) offered its passengers on trans-Pacific flights free accommodation/free airport transfer.  To cite an example take the Sing/HK/SFO return ticket.  It was a great travel arrangement whereby CX allowed one to break a long haul journey twice and to spend some time in Hong Kong.  To go back to my original story, I bumped into a good friend, Josie at the Park Hotel.  Josie Varghra, a talented Filipina singer and I worked together at the Club Elite in Singapore in the mid-70s when I was her back-up musician.

Photo 2: Captain of this CX flight guides his Tristar for a smooth landing at Kai Tak International Airport (c 1989).  Even CX has a great commercial called “Love’sTheme” with a distinctive Sounds of Philadelphia (SOP) touch. 

As a one-time lounge pianist of the 1970s, I whole-heartedly agree that music and love is one and the same thing.  Though we can share our feelings through writing, painting or sculpture, love expressed through music is so different.  It is not just the feelings of the singer/instrumentalist but of the lyrics and the tune harmoniously coming together conveying a powerful message. 

Photo 3: Though music scores were pricy, they were appreciated by music enthusiasts who needed them to learn new love songs.  I didn’t have much use for them as I “depended” on my ears to recall the songs (c 1988)

There were songs for being in love or when there was a breakup.  You could feel the passion and tempo of romance or loneliness up in the air.  I have found lovely couples of all ages starring at each other eyes, you find the guy pulling the girl closer to him and holding hands.  Sometimes a light kiss on the lips was even planted.  Over at the long bar, lonely drinkers would just stare hard at their half empty glass of Jim Bean.  This is all so awesome. 

Photo 4: The Marigold Bar with Lana and Kris, two Filipina singers back-up to Josie during their afternoon rehearsals (c 1985)

Here is what I think are some of the great love songs of my generation - you probably can make your own selection too; 
Para Decir Adio – Jose Feliciano
The Greatest Love of All - Whitney Houston
Feelings – Albert Hammond
I don’t Know How To Love Him –Helen Reddy
I Just Want To Stay Here - Edyie Gorme and Steve Lawrence
Torn Between Two Lovers – Maureen McGovern
Love Me For A Reason – The Osmonds
I Won’t Last A Day Without You – The Carpenters
Feel Like Makin Love – Roberto Flack
The Way We Were – Barbara Streisand
I’ll Never Love This Way Again – Dionne Warwick
I’m Stone In Love With You – The Stylistics

If I am asked to pick, I believe The Stylistics had the most number of popular romantic songs like, Loving You, Let’s Put It Altogether Again, I Can’t Give You Anything But Love (good for Salsa dancing), You Are Everything, You Make Me Feel Brand New, Star On A TV Show, Miracle, You Are Beautiful, Sideshow.  What was their unique selling proposition?  Singing in harmony – one is a falsetto voice - with strings and brass backing.  My personal favourite has to be “I’ll Never Love This Way Again” by Dionne Warwick when I listened for the first time in a hotel room in Union Square, San Francisco.  This song set me reminiscing of one person I really (2) liked.  Thanks to Facebook, we bumped into each other again. 

Why not try Youtube to listen to all those memorable love songs again, including those from Billy Ocean, James Ingram and George Benson.
Whilst the 1970s thru the 1980s offered diversity in love songs, this progressively disappeared by the mid-1990s, probably when people went crazy over Michael Jackson hands-on-his-crotch dancing.  There was no more “live music”.  It became piped-in and DJ music.  You couldn’t find a good crowd size except at noisier places like pubs, clubs and skyscraper bars. 

Photo 5: Love at the sky bar.

Where there used to be music in the hotel lounges, they have changed to become more business-like; you only go there for business discussions.  There are worse situations I have seen such as when a lounge is turned into a holding area for tour groups.  I guess in Singapore people are getting more into the eating fad instead of listening to music.  By doing so, they could be driving up the calories instead of the testosterone level.  Perhaps I might after all stumble on the problem with our national procreation strategy.


Lam Chun See said...

I like "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" lyrics. Not explicitly a romantic love song though.

Timothy said...

This are good thoughts your share Peter- thanks. It just so different people born or raise in different decades have different taste, way they think and different habits .

Brian and Tess said...

Hotel crooner! Peter loved the blog and there is a phrase used that describes a person who has many talents sometimes in surprising areas - you are what is known as 'A Man of Parts'!

Anonymous said...

BLUE MAGIC's 1970s hit Just Don't Want To Be Lonely.

Lam Chun See said...

I am quite fascinated by songs that have the same title but totally different. For example the song, Midnight Blue by Melissa Manchester is very popular. But there's also one by ELO. Very nice.

Siew Min said...

Peter, thanks for refreshing my memory on some of the beautiful songs of the 1970s. Brings me back to an era long gone......I was young then and depended primarily on Rediffusion and Radio for my music