Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Mary Hopkin - Knock Knock Who's There? (1970/ No. 2/ 14 weeks/ Apple)

A two-time loser, runner-up to 'All Kinds of Everything' in the 1970 Eurovision Song Contest, and then #2 in the charts behind 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'... But a lot better than either of those.

There appears to have been a real formula to arranging British Eurovision entries in the late sixties, a jaunty oompah feel and a chorus made super-memorable by a hook that you could sing along to if you were in nursery school. So this comes after 'Puppet On A String', 'Boom-Bang-A-Bang' and 'Congratulations', all songs that I quite enjoy listening to, but for which I couldn't make any claims for.

This is rather deeper, though I'm not sure how many 1970 Eurovision viewers picked up on this. The chorus is so bright and universal that it fits the competition formula;

Knock knock!
Who's there?
Could this be love that's calling?
The door is always open wiiiiiiiiide!
Knock knock!
Who's there?
Now as the night is falling,
Take off your coat and come insiiiiiiide!

And then, to impress the song upon the non-English speakers:

La la la la la!
La la la la!
La la la la la la la la la la la!
La la la la la!
La la la la!
La la la la la la la la la la la!

(You have to have a very appealing voice to pull off that particular trick without being irritating. Mary Hopkin was up to the task - remember how much her vocals contribute to David Bowie's 'Sound & Vision')

As is often the case with the songs I like, the verse undercuts the chorus. The happy arrival is a longed-for occurrence, disrupting solitude and misery;

Tears of rain
run down my window pane,
I'm on my own again
good evening, sorrow.
Sit and dream
of how things might have been,
And as I close my eyes,
I get the strangest fee-ling.

The knocking visitor is only a spectre, a product of imagination, "how things might have been".
Although its not quite as good as 'Those Were The Days' this is another song of projection and ghosts, events that don't take place...

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