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Rock & Roll Lullaby - B J Thomas

The entry for B. J. Thomas' song "Rock & Roll Lullaby" from the great Dave Marsh's book "The Heart of Rock and Roll - The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made":

"My kind of rock opera - especially for it's best line:

"Now, I can't recall the words at all

it don't make no sense to try...."

If only Pete Townshend and Ray Davies had taken that idea to heart!

The lyric recounts the life of the offspring of a teenage pregnancy who spells out what it's like to grow up side by side with your only parent. It's also about the ways they used rock and roll records for middle of the night solace. It's got all the hallmarks of a tearjerker and maybe that's all it would be, if the reverberant guitar line weren't by Duane Eddy, if the male harmonies weren't a ringer of the Beach Boys, if Darlene Love wasn't part of the female chorus, or if Thomas, not much better than a B-level country-rock hack on every other record he made, didn't sing the song as if getting these particular facts straight was a matter of personal honour and dignity. If you want to know what rock and roll means to people, why many lives would be unliveable without it, this is a good place to start learning."

What else is there to say? Marsh is a fan of both the Who and the Kinks, but not of their portentous rock operas; their songs feature in his book. B J Thomas died aged 78, three years and four days ago, having had a couple of dozen fairly naff US hits in the sixties and seventies. And Marsh's book is the best publication of its kind ever written.


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