Say It Ain't So, Joe?

Posted: Mar 6, 2024   1:13:57 PM   |   Last updated: Mar 7, 2024   5:04:07 PM
by Pascal-Denis Lussier

Here's one of my all-time favourite songs, which is also the name of Murray Head's 1975 album, Say It Ain't So, Joe.

That, combined with the sentiment it captures and expresses and our current times, never mind the "Joe" part, is why I share it. I was gonna say something about it similar to what's below, but the song's artist beat me to it, I guess?

The Wikipedia entry for the song offers:

According to Head, he wrote the song about fallen heroes. He wrote the following comment in the liner notes when he re-released the song in 1995 on the album When You're in Love:

"Say It Ain't So, Joe" was provoked by a seventies documentary on Richard Nixon prior to his resignation. The presenter was asking the editor of a small town newspaper outside Washington, how, in the face of conclusive evidence and proof, his readers could still show such undying support for the president they elected. The editor likens the situation to a scandal in the twenties, when Joe Jackson, the famous baseball player, was rumoured to have taken a bribe to sink his team in the final of the World series. His fans hung around the stadium chanting "Say it ain't so Joe".

The song is about heroes and their "Clay feet". It is also a plea from myself to the kind of 'Joe Public' who in fear of losing face, refuse to relinquish their faith in a fallen idol.

The song is on an album which has sold over a million copies and was produced by Paul Samwell-Smith, who recently decided to re-record the song. Shortly afterwards I was watching another documentary on the O.J. Simpson case and they showed a note pinned to his gate on which was written "Say it ain't so Joe". Two days later a friend, just returned from L.A., rang me to tell me they'd seen placards with that same old phrase. The occasion seemed apt for a re-release.

- Murray Head, 1994

I suggest giving "When I'm Yours" a listen as well, which is another superb tune on that album.

On a more positive note, here's "Everything's Alright" featuring Yvonne Elliman, Murray Head, and Ian Gillan, lead singer of the significant hard-rock vehicle, Deep Purple ("Child in Time"... wow).

It's from Jesus Christ Superstar, the only Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice rock-opera I can fully stomach, perhaps because it was initially conceived as a concept album rather than a Broadway fanfare. Some really great tracks off of the 1970 album, which is the only version I can listen to.

Posted 3 months ago  Last updated: Mar 7, 2024, 5:04 PM


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