Someday Soon, reprised

Many years ago I was posting on Judy Collins doing Ian Tyson’s Someday Soon. Share with me:

Gets me every time. That YouTube is captioned with all I need to know:

Classic song from 1969 written by Canadian Ian Tyson (Ian & Sylvia) and performed by Judy Collins. She is backed by Buddy Emmons/pedal steel guitar; James Burton/electric guitar; Jim Gordon/Drums; Chris Ethridge/bass; Stephen Stills/guitar and Van Dyke Parks or one of two others on piano. (Credits at end of video)

MI0000020160That’s about as stellar a late ’60s line-up as one might wish to assemble. The date (1969) is clearly wrong, except for the Collins recording. Ian Tyson first did it with his then-wife Sylvia, back in 1964.

Elsewhere I came across that Stills had introduced Collins to the song. Another piece of magic.

A Malcolmian aside

Why does that song work?

Well, it’s a classic ballad. A bit of nostalgia, but essentially the old “loved and lost” theme. You’ll find some things similar all the way back to Child 299:

She’s taen her gown out-ower her arms,
And followed him to Stirling,
And aye the trooper he did say,
‘O turn ye back, my darling.”
‘O when will we twa meet again?
Or when will you me marry?’
‘When rashin rinds grow gay gowd rings,
I winna langer tarry.’

In particular, there’s that seeming very contemporary set-up intro:

There’s a young man that I know,
His age is twenty-one,
Comes from down
In southern Colorado,
Just out of the service
And he’s looking for his fun …

Tyson’s composition goes back to 1964. So the young man‘s service could likely be Vietnam. To cite just one other example, Jimmy Webb’s Galveston, from as late as 1969, was always taken as a Vietnam song.

I’ve frequently wondered whether there was a Ph.D. thesis in “popular music+war”. There must be, somewhere in there, the kind of yearning that made Don’t Fence me In (Cole Porter in 1934, lest we forget) the song of 1944: a very curious amalgam of  slickerdom and pining. Despite that, I see it having certain attributes — perhaps essentially of where and when, shared with Someday Soon.

I find I have the original Ian & Sylvia version on the Big Bastard iTunes back-up. Going back to it, I can see why I wasn’t wholly unimpressed:

  • it lacks any great emotional heat or intensity;
  • it ought to be a girly song, not a close-harmony duo (with Tyson dominating), and Sylvia Tyson is not up to it:

There are various versions of Tyson doing it solo, or as a duo with whatever “star” he was a-guesting.

Still, I find it easy to forgive Tyson, if only for Four Strong Winds (though that one is just to easy to parody)

41HXNP579YLThere’s another reason to rate Tyson’s taste: the duo (though it’s Ian channelling his inner Gordon) beat PPM to Early Morning Rain, now most-easily available through the Vanguard boxed set.

That said, I know which of the many, many versions I’d want played at my wake. Or on the iPod, stuck in a motorway tail-back. It’s those suave, smooth, buttoned-down New Yorkers — and the glitzy one, from 1966:

Hey, Malc, time to bring your witterings to some sort of a conclusion!

Indeed.

And, on mature reflection, I’m almost convinced that, of me, it was Suzy Bogguss who comes close to the immortal Judy on Someday Soon (and, back in 1991, she almost looked the part)Yes, it really does need that bit of steel (a taste I still haven’t fully acquired, Mike Johnson with Bogguss there — I believe — though Buddy Emmons on the Judy Collins version is the real eye-opener and one to match):

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Filed under Cole Porter, folk music, History, Music

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