Downtown – Petula Clark by Yuval Argoetti - Illustrated by from the album Downtown - Ourboox.com
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Downtown – Petula Clark

by

Artwork: from the album Downtown

  • Joined May 2021
  • Published Books 1

Introduction

Downtown is a song recorded by Petula Clark and composed by Tony Hatch.
The song became an international hit in 1964, and in 23 January 1965 peaked number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and number two on the UK Singles Chart.

 

Petula Clark became the first UK female artist to have a US #1 hit during the rock and roll era.

In 1981 Hatch received the ‘Ivor Novello’ award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically.

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The song has been covered by many singers, including Dolly Parton, Emma Bunton and The Saw Doctors, and it was remastered in 1988.

 

The song also appear in the famous TV show ‘Lost‘ few times, most memorable in the intro of the third season (2006), which made it come to the headlines again.

The song is also on the soundtrack of the 1999 film Girl, Interrupted and is sung in character by Winona Ryder.

The song plays on a loop in a scene from the 2019 film Escape Room.

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Lyrics

[Verse 1]
When you’re alone and life is making you lonely
You can always go downtown
When you’ve got worries, all the noise and the hurry
Seems to help, I know, downtown
[Pre-Chorus]
Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city
Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty
How can you lose?
The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares
[Chorus]
So go downtown
Things will be great when you’re downtown
No finer place for sure, downtown
Everything’s waiting for you
[Verse 2]
Don’t hang around and let your problems surround you
There are movie shows downtown
Maybe you know some little places to go to
Where they never close downtown
[Pre-Chorus]
Just listen to the rhythm of a gentle bossa nova
You’ll be dancing with ’em too before the night is over
Happy again
The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares
[Chorus]
So go downtown
Where all the lights are bright, downtown
Waiting for you tonight, downtown
You’re gonna be alright now, downtown
[Instrumental Break w/ Backing Vocals]
Downtown
Downtown
[Pre-Chorus]
And you may find somebody kind to help and understand you
Someone who is just like you and needs a gentle hand to
Guide them along
So maybe I’ll see you there
We can forget all our troubles, forget all our cares
[Chorus]
So go downtown
Things will be great when you’re downtown
Don’t wait a minute more, downtown
Everything is waiting for you, downtown
[Outro]
Downtown (downtown)
Downtown (downtown)
Downtown (downtown)
Downtown (downtown)
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The Composition

In the autumn of 1964 Hatch made his first visit to New York City, spending three days there in search of material from music publishers for the artists he was producing. He recalled, “I was staying at a hotel on Central Park and I wandered down to Broadway and to Times Square and, naively, I thought I was downtown. . . . I loved the whole atmosphere there and the [music] came to me very, very quickly”

He was standing on the corner of 48th Street waiting for the traffic lights to change, looking towards Times Square when “the melody first came to me, just as the neon signs went on.”

Hatch gave Julie Grant the opportunity to record ‘Downtown’, but Grant turned down. Hatch played the song for Petula Clark within few days of conceiving the melody and only completed the song’s lyrics after Clark had asked to record it.

 

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In an interview Petula clark said “Tony Hatch, a junior producer at Pye Records, came to see me in Paris and told me I had to record again in English. I was in the kitchen making some tea when I first heard him playing the melody to Downtown. I ran in and said: “What’s that?”.
At that point, it was just a melody and a title, but I said: “If you can write a lyric as good as that melody, I’d love to sing it.””

Hatch has also said that prior to Clark’s expressed interest in ‘Downtown’, “it never occurred to me that a white woman could even sing it. Without Petula recognising the strength of the melody, I might never have finished it. It’s my favourite of all my songs. In 2013, I was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and Petula sang Downtown and presented me with the award – at the Marriott in Times Square, the place that inspired the song.”

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Downtown – Petula Clark by Yuval Argoetti - Illustrated by from the album Downtown - Ourboox.com

‘Downtown’ was recorded on 16 October 1964 at the Pye Studios in Marble Arch.
It included about 40 musicians, even Jimmy page, one of the greatest guitarists of all time played on the record.
Thirty minutes before the session was scheduled, Hatch was still touching up the song’s lyrics in the studio’s washroom, as Petula Clark said in an interview ‘There were 40 musicians in the studio waiting to record it – but Tony Hatch was still in the bathroom writing the lyrics’
Hatch said of his arrangement: “I had to connect with young record buyers… but not alienate Pet[ula]’s older core audience… The trick was to make a giant orchestra sound like a rock band.”

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Rising into fame

“When I sang it on The Ed Sullivan Show in New York, everyone went berserk. It reached No 1 in the US and became a hit around the world. It’s a song that just won’t lie down.” said Clark.

 

The Pye’s general manager called and said Joe Smith – Warner Bros.’ head of A&R – was in London looking for British material. When Joe heard the record, he loved it and
scheduled the single for urgent release in the United States.

When Hatch, surprised by Smith’s enthusiasm for releasing “Downtown” in the US, asked if Smith didn’t consider “Downtown” to be a “very English record” Smith replied: “It’s perfect. It’s just an observation from outside of America and it’s just beautiful and just perfect.”

 

 

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‘Downtown’ released in the UK in 1964, it rose to #2 UK in December 1964, remaining there for three weeks, kept out of the #1 position by the Beatles’ “I Feel Fine”.
‘Downtown’ also reached #2 in Ireland and #1 in Australia, New Zealand, Rhodesia and South Africa, and was also a hit in Denmark (#2), India (#3), the Netherlands (#4) and Norway (#8).

 

‘Downtown’ had its greatest significance in the reception it was afforded in the United States, where it was released by Warner Bros. The song became the first #1 hit for the year 1965. Petula Clark thus became the first UK female artist to have a US #1 hit during the rock and roll era.

 

 

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Dolly Parton cover

Dolly Parton recorded “Downtown” in Nashville in October 1983 in the sessions for her covers album The Great Pretender.

“Downtown” served as the album’s second single release in March 1984 reaching #36

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Emma Bunton cover

Bunton said “I’ve always loved ‘Downtown’and I’m really looking forward to putting my own stamp on it. The track’s good fun and one everyone will know.”

Although Bunton said that she knew “Downtown” composer Tony Hatch “quite well”, Petula Clark said that neither she [i.e. Clark] nor Hatch had prior knowledge of Bunton’s remake. Clark also stated that she considered Bunton’s remake to be an “outright copy” of Clark’s original recording: “I could ask: ‘What’s the point’but Emma’s recording is wonderful andfor a great cause”

“Downtown” by Emma Bunton debuted on the UK singles chart 25 November 2006 at #24.

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The Saw Doctors cover

In October 2011 Irish band the Saw Doctors remade ‘Downtown’ with Petula Clark singing some lines

“One night for no particular reason we did ‘Downtown’ and you could see people loved it. All ages. You could see it brought joy to people’s faces.”  said the band members.

Top Irish cinematographer Eugene O’ Connor directed the video for the Saw Doctor’s “Downtown” which was uploaded to YouTube on 17 November 2011.

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Debut on Lost

 

from 00:00 to 01:06

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Conclusion

The song was, and still is, a great success along with all the covers.
This song made a UK woman musician for the first time, in the rock and roll era, the #1 in the US with the hit.

Hope you enjoyed this eBook! 🙂

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