Scattershot Symphony: The Music of Peter Link

Episode 17: So Ya' Like Pop Songs ...

September 28, 2021 Peter Link Episode 17
Scattershot Symphony: The Music of Peter Link
Episode 17: So Ya' Like Pop Songs ...
Show Notes Transcript

Many of our listeners have asked to present more pop songs.  So we first decided to define the term “Pop Songs”.  Having established that, we’ll take you on a grand tour of decades of Pop songs ranging from the standard to the bizarre.  Ones that rock the house and ones that touch the heart -- ones that went all the way to the top of the charts and ones that never got off the ground -- but certainly should have.  And ones from famous movie scores and ones from Hit New York Musicals.  So if ya’ like Pop Songs, you’re not allowed to miss this Episode!

Scattershot Symphony is presented by Watchfire Music
watchfiremusic.com


Welcome to:
Scattershot Symphony
The Music of Peter Link
(That’s me.)

People ask me, “Why “Symphony? You’re not a classical composer.” Well, Wikipedia defines “Symphony” as: an extended musical composition most often written by composers for orchestra – often presented in several movements. 
And so, I bring you the music of a lifetime of composition – often presented in several movements.  That’s the nature of these podcasts – a scattershot look at a lifetime of music …

So, strap on them headphones.  
We’re 90% music with just a smattering of commentary. 

So for god sakes, 
(Crowd)
Turn it up!

This week being the seventeenth episode of this podcast, I prefer to let the music do the talkin’.  However, if you need to know more about me, please visit Wikipedia.com – Peter Link.    

This episode is entitled 
“So Ya’ Like Pop Songs ...”

Well, who doesn’t? That’s why they're called Pop songs. They’re popular. An’ we got lots of ‘em.  You asked, so we comply. So sit back an’ strap on them headphones. Here we go. Episode 17.

The Pop Song genre has to be the largest and most expansive and least specific genre in all of music.  In my lifetime it’s run the gamut from Purple People Eater to the Stones Sympathy for the Devil. In my Dad’s time there was Flat Foot Floogie With The Floy Floy, and then, of course, there’s the great country music hit, I’ve Got Tears In My Ears From Lyin’ On My Back In Bed While I Cry Over You. The point here is this: A Pop Song can be just about anything that gets the public’s attention and therefore gets popular. It can be about love, world issues, sex, bizaar issues, totally stupid stuff … and even about God.

So you’ll have to excuse me today if we move elastically from one concept to another. One thing to notice here is that each song must be a bit of a stretch from the normalcy of the usual “IWant You, I Need You, I Love You type songs that so often proliferate the charts.  This way, if they are beyond the normal cliches of Pop Music, they, at least, have a chance to get noticed.

Now, our first offering today has a kind of nobility. It deals with the issues of children’s thoughts and dreams -- children who live in war torn countries like Africa and the Middle East. Its title comes from the vocalist, Julia Wade who heard it from the lips of one such child. It struck a chord and stuck with her so much that she brought the idea to me and demanded that I write the song. So who was I to say,”No.”?  Seemed like a fine idea. So, here we go.

What Peace Looks Like
Music by Peter Link
Lyrics by Peter Link and Julia Wade

"I want to know what peace looks like"
The girl of Uganda said,
"I want to know what peace looks like"
She's spent her life in fractured war
But now she's stepping through a door
That takes her far from harm

"I want to know what peace looks like"
The boy of the Sudan said,
"I wanna feel what it feels like
I want to have enough to eat
I want to feel my mother's heat
As she wraps me in her arms"

"I want to know what peace looks like
I want to know what peace looks like
My wish, my hope, my dream
A night without the nightmares
I want to know the inner calm
The thread of self-esteem
I want to know what peace looks like
And I want to feel it too
Yes I do"

Oh Lord, the lessons of the children of war
The roar of their misfortune;
The hopelessness that lies before
And still they live to love again

Oh Lord, the lessons of the children of war
The roar of their misfortune;
The hopelessness that lies before
And still they live to love again

Because that's what children do
Yeah that's what children do

And if they can do it
We can do it too
Yes if they can do it
We can do it too

"I want to know what peace looks like"
The child of the ghetto said,
"I wanna go where peace is known
I've had enough of hopelessness
A cracked out mom and fatherless
And the gangs that haunt the streets"

And oh Lord, the lessons of the children of war
The roar of their misfortune;
The hopelessness that lies before
And still they live to love again

Oh Lord, the lessons of the children of war
The roar of their misfortune;
The hopelessness that lies before
And still they live to love again

Because that's what children do
Yeah that's what children do

And if they can do it
We can do it too
Yes if they can do it
We can do it too!

OK, so let’s get it over with. There has to be at least one song in the whole batch that talks about missing the one you love. I wrote this song when I was in my very early 20s. Back then, as a neophyte composer, I could write a good song usually in every ten or fifteen tries. My averages have gotten better over the years, but here is one of those lucky early stabs in the dark. Give it a listen.

Without You
Music and Lyrics by Peter Link

Like a bird on the wing
Like the sound of the wind
I'm lonely within
Without you

And the rain on the porch
And the horn in the street
Play a song incomplete
Without you

And the albatross flies endless highways
And the sea and the sky are his only reward
And I sit and I watch
As he wanders through life
And I'm lonelier than before

And my mind turns within me without you
And my warm cools within without you
Oh I can't even begin without you

Though the sweet scent of you
Lingers here on my skin
I'm lonely within
Without you

As the ol' river flows
My loneliness grows
It's just too long to go
Without you

And my mind paints many pictures
But they all look the same
When they're all painted blue
So I'll sit and I'll wait
With my hat in my hand
Till I see you comin' home

And my mind turns within me without you
And my warm cools within without you
Oh I can't even begin without you

And now I long for the hour
When you come back to me
It's just too long to be
Without you

By now you all know that I worked with a vocalist named Jenny Burton for nearly 4 decades. Back then this next song powerhoused by Jenny probably had a deeper and more hidden connotation than Jenny playing only  the role of a tour guide, but I’ll let you discover that only if you choose to do so. If you don’t choose to do so, you can still enjoy it as simply a barn burning knock down the walls, 80s type Pop Song that was one of Jenny’s tour de force mainstays for decades. I hadn’t heard it in years when I dug it out of my treasure chest the other day, and I must say that it filled me up with the memories and the sounds of that very special time in life. So, pack your bags. Don’t forget your passport.

All Around the World
Performed by Jenny Burton
Music and Lyrics by Peter Link

In a moment
You can go all around the world
If you let me
I'll take you all around the world
Fell me touchin' you
Isn't it glorious?
Let yourself go
I'll make it a little lighter
Let yourself go
Open your heart a little wider
Let yourself go
And hold on to my love a little tighter

And I'll take you round the world
All around the world
All around the world
Tonight

Ooh in a moment
We can be higher than the sky
If you love me
Then we can kiss the earth goodbye
Feel me close to you
Isn't it heaven?
Now let yourself go
Give me the love thats deep inside you
Let yourself go
Oh I'm gonna stay right here beside you
Let yourself go
And hold on to my love and let me guide you

And I'll take you round the world
All around the world
All around the world
Tonight

Ooh

In this moment
In this moment
In this moment
Let yourself go
Let's go

In this moment
I can release the power in me
We're flyin'
We're as free as we can be
Feel me holdin' you
Tighter and tighter
Now let yourself go
Feel the heat from my desire
Let yourself go
I've got a love that's burning fire
Let yourself go
As we go rising higher and higher

Take you round the world
All around the world
All around the world
Tonight

This next song is a song that I wrote twice. The first iteration’s title was borrowed from the James Bond movie, From Russia With Love. It’s important to note here that one cannot copyright a song title. One can copyright a song, but not just the title. So I wasn’t breakin’ anybody’s law here. It was about a guy who falls in love with a Russian girl when she’s on a visit to America, but her visa expires and she has to go back to Russia. Yeah, I know, another song about missing the one you love, but this one is certainly one with a twist.

Patrick Jude, the vocalist on the second iteration of this song, was a male singer that I used a lot when I needed a rock singer with a bit of a whiskey voice. Patrick was also a Broadway veteran and consequently a good actor. In fact he starred in a musical I once wrote along with playwright Richard Wesley called On The Road To Babylon. I always loved working with Pat. He was super talented, a powerful presence and a total pro. I honestly don’t remember why I rewrote a new lyric for the song, but Patrick did a great job on it, as you will hear.  The lyrics and title changed, but the nature of the subtext stayed the same.

Lonely
Performed by Patrick Jude
Music and Lyrics by Peter Link

When are you comin' home?
Baby come home
When are you comin' home?
Baby come home
Ooh
I'll be waitin' up for you

I don't go places I just stay home
And still your face is hiding in every corner
I'm here makin' the best of it
But oh this heart is lonely

The empty spaces that once were filled
The subtle traces lingering in the airwaves
I'm makin' the best of it
But oh this heart is lonely now

It's taking my breath away
It's stealing my life away
It's taking me down
And oh this heart is lonely now

My mind it races The days stand still
And time erases all of the will to carry on
I'm makin' the best of it
But oh so lonely now

It's taking my breath away
It's stealing my life away
It's taking me down
And oh this heart is lonely now

It's taking my breath away
It's stealing my life away
It's taking me down
And oh this heart is lonely now

My big break as a composer in show biz came very early in life in the 70s when still an actor doing first the leading role in Hair on Broadway and then one of the two leading roles in my own production of a hit musical called Salvation that I wrote with Bookwriter and Lyricist, CC Courtney. He also played the other leading role. I first directed Salvation when it opened at the famous Village Gate in Greenwich Village. When it got a rave review in the NY Times, the producers decided to move it uptown more into the Broadway area. They also asked CC and I to write a starring role for me into Salvation since I was having my 15 minutes of fame not only from Hair, but also from my almost daily presence as Tom Hughes on CBS television’s soap opera, As The World Turns. The producers felt that we would sell more tickets if I were actually in the show besides writing the music. It was a busy time.

Salvation ran for a couple of years in New York. After about a year doing 8 shows a week, I got tired of doing the same thing day after day, night after night, and so when Salvation started opening in other cities around the world, I went back to my directing job and directed various productions of it out of town.

When I finished directing the Los Angeles production, I was at the end of my rope and really needed a vacation, so having no end of money pouring in, I bought a Jaguar XKE and decided to hit the road, disappear and just drive around the country for a while all by myself. For some dumb reason, I decided to hit all 48 states, so I just drove and drove and listened to the radio for over a month. Then I got tired of that as well, so I decided to go back to NewYork City and see what was to come next. 

By this time I was driving up the East Coast and listening to the radio and one day somewhere in North Carolina I heard a song come on the radio and thought, “Well, that’s catchy.” Then it hit me. “Wait a minute! I wrote that song!” It was the showstopper from Salvation and it was sung by Ronnie Dyson, a friend of mine from the Hair cast on Broadway. On that same day I heard it another 7 times on the radio as I drove and changed stations.

The next morning, the minute I got up in some motel, I called my publisher in New York to tell him the interesting news. When he got on the phone, he immediately said, “Where’ve you been? We’ve been looking all over the country for you!” 
The song had already climbed the charts into the top 10 and a couple of weeks later stood number one on the Billboard Pop Chart. It ended up selling a couple a’ million records.

Why was it a hit? It certainly wasn’t the best song I ever wrote. I don’t even think I would put it into the top one hundred. But it had that thing, that thing that grabbed people’s attention. It had that title — certainly one of the longest titles in the history of top 40 music. Also, Ronnie, who also was the guy in Hair who sang Aquarius, did real good! Best of all, I still get the royalty checks. Let me take ya’ back …

(If You Let Me Make Love to You Then) Why Can't I Touch You?
Performed by Ronnie Dyson
Lyrics by Charles Courtney
Music by Peter Link

If you let me make love to you
Then why can't I touch you?
If you let me make love to you
Then why can't I touch you?

I'm not saying I want to change you
I don't want to rearrange you

But if you let me make love to you
Then why can't I touch you?

From the very first moment I saw you
It's been a different world
From the very first moment I saw you
It's been such a different world

I seem to be a little bit stronger
Each moment seems just a little bit longer
Our missing links and little kinks
Have never been found and uncurled

But you're still the same
You're like a frozen flame
Well it sure seems a shame
That you let me make love to you
But you won't let me touch you

When I leave you I'm going someplace
That I've never been before
When I leave you I'm going someplace
That I've never been before

Oh reach out and touch me
Why don't you reach out and touch me

If you let me make love to you
Then why can't I touch you?
If you let me make love to you
Then why can't I touch you?

Somebody once said to me, “The best way to fall in love … is slowly.  I think what they meant by that was love’s always best if it starts as friendship. Probably some truth to that. But, of course, there’s always the opposite of that as well. The sudden flailing fall that brings you crashing down, knocking you senseless … or even worse. Surprise! Yesterday was just yesterday and today … whammo!

Right! The subtext for this next song …

Round In Circles
Music and Lyrics by Peter Link

Ah everybody knows
Sure as sin
So everybody’s tryin’
To put their two cents in

But nobody knows
The love I’ve found
Can’t imagine life
Without you around

I never knew the reason for the rain
I never knew my heart could feel such pain
Mama says, “you’re no good for me”
So what’ll it be?

I never knew that love could feel like this
Never knew the chaos of one kiss
Daddy says, “Boy, find someone new.”
So what’ll we do?

I guess I’m goin’ ‘round in circles
Runnin’ around in circles
‘Round an’ ‘round in circles
Over you

[Instrumental Bridge]

I never knew the meaning of the moon
I never knew that love could come so soon
Sister says, “Boy, don’t be a fool.”
So whaddo I do?

I guess I’m goin’ ‘round in circles
Runnin’ around in circles
‘Round an’ ‘round in circles
Over you

Yeah everybody knows
Sure as sin
So everybody’s tryin’
Ta put their two cents in

But nobody knows
The love I’ve found
Can’t imagine life
Without you around

Yeah it’s got me goin’ ‘round in circles
Runnin’ around in circles
‘Round an’ ‘round in circles
Over you

I never knew the meaning of the moon
I never knew that love could come so soon
I never knew that love could feel like this
Oh I never knew the chaos of one kiss
No I never knew the reason for the rain
I never knew my heart
Could feel such pain

Here’s a song I found at the bottom of the barrel. I will say this: It didn’t belong there. Back in the day, I owned Westrax Recording Studios in New York City and could record anything I wanted to, any time I wanted. So I took great advantage of that and developed my producing and recording chops.  And Jenny Burton was always my ‘turn to’ female vocalist. She was an easy choice. 

I have no Idea why we recorded this next song. Nor why I wrote it or why I lost track of it and totally forgot about it.  Perhaps Jenny remembers. I’ll have to ask her. But I’m glad to have found it because it’s again some classic Jenny Burton and simply just a fun ride down memory lane. There’s a story in there somewhere. Maybe her story, maybe part her story and the rest from my imagination.

Anyway, it’ll wake ya’ up an’ get your feet a’tappin’.

Burnin' Down the USA
Performed by Jenny Burton
Music and Lyrics by Peter Link

I know the soul of poverty
I've known the ghetto well
My brother was dead at seventeen
My daddy must've gone to hell
So I left home at twenty-one
Depression in my brain
With a bitter taste upon my tongue
Of all creation's pain
I was leavin' not to seek my fortune
I was off and runnin' scared
For I had lost my faith in man
And I no longer cared

So I started on the road from South Bronx to L.A.
Burnin' down the USA
Takin' what was mine and fakin' the fast lane
Tryin' to make my getaway
Breakin' all the rules and laughin' in the face
Of those who preached a better way

Leavin' all my bridges burnin' behind me
Bearin' down on judgment day
Burnin' down the USA
Burnin' down the USA
Burnin' down the USA
Burnin' down the USA

Then I met a man of destiny
With music in his hands
I offered him a ride with me
He said, "I've got other plans"
So I followed him through his fantasy
And oh the times were rare
I sang for him, he played for me
The fire was in the air

And so we took it on the from South Bronx to L.A.
Burnin' down the USA
Lightin' up the lives of all those around us
Smilin' back on yesterday
Makin' the music, breakin' the boundaries
Takin' all the pain away
Shakin' the ashes out of our lives
And burnin' down the USA
Burnin' down the USA
Burnin' down the USA
Burnin' down the USA
Burnin' down the USA

Burnin' down the USA
Burnin' down the USA
Burnin' down the USA
Burnin' down the USA
Burnin' down the USA
Burnin' down the USA
Shakin' the ashes out of our lives

I had a home in Antigua, an island off the coast of South America in the Caribbean …  when I was in my 30s. I would do a lot of writing down there sittin’ on the beach, guitar in hand, tape recorder at the ready. We would always go down for at least a month because it was so hard to leave. Being right on the ocean in a cove all to ourselves made this a place outside of time and space. It was always a high time where the thoughts of “Anything is possible” came daily. 

We would run the beach in the morning so that we could eat whatever we wanted to during the day. And running down the beach at the water’s edge always gave me the thought that I should be able to run on top of the water instead of the soft sand. I think that for ten years, every time I ran, I questioned the universe on that thought.

This is an old song and an old record. It’s pre-midi, pre-digital and recorded when I still was in the engineering/producing learning process.  At first I was hesitant to play it for you — because I could do soooo much better today — but then I decided to trust you, my audience. Remembering that when I was a kid, I used to practice the drums to many of my Dad’s old 78 RPM records that were a whole world of difference sonically than LPs, 45s, cassettes, and then CDs. Back then I thought they sounded just great! So let’s just call this Lo Res and just enjoy the song for what it is.

Back then, when I first got to New York, singin’ in bars and small cabaret rooms, this was my most popular song and always my closer.

So with slight apprehension, and perhaps a breath of anxiety, I now share this most early work with you.

Join me now, back then, for a …

Walk on the Water
Performed by Peter Link
Music and Lyrics by Peter Link

Saturday afternoon
The sky is hazy and sea is smooth
The wind is mellow there's a full moon on the rise
All I gotta do
Is to pray like crazy and to keep my cool
And if faith could carry me I could walk on the water

Well I think I'll take walk
Think I'll take walk
Think I'll take walk
On the water

I'll take a little walk
take a little walk
take a little walk
On the water

Saturday afternoon
There's a strange moon hangin' in the silver sky
Everybody's laughin' at me tryin' to walk on the water
Just between me and you
I'm callin' on Jesus to come on by
And take me by the hand while I step out on the water

He'll take me for a walk
Take me for a walk
Take me for a walk
On the water

I think I'll take walk
Think I'll take walk
Think I'll take walk
On the water

Man he do whatever he chooses
Sometimes wins and sometimes loses
Sometimes breaks and he sometimes bruises
But he'll do it all in time
He'll do it all in time

Think I'll take on the water
Maybe take a stroll down the water
Skippin' right along on the water
Dancin' down the waterline

Think I'll take on the water
Maybe take a stroll down the water
Skippin' right along on the water
Dancin' down the waterline

Saturday afternoon
Still here standin' by the waterline
Everybody left me laughin', leavin' me to stand alone
What am I gonna do? (Yeah what are ya gonna do?)
I can't find Jesus but I know the truth
And with a little more faith and a lot more understanding

He'll take me for a walk
Take me for a walk
Take me for a walk
On the water

Watch me now!

I'll take a little walk
take a little walk
take a little walk
On the water

Man he do whatever he chooses
Sometimes wins and sometimes loses
Sometimes breaks and he sometimes bruises
But he'll do it all in time
He'll do it all in time

Think I'll take on the water
Maybe take a stroll down the water
Skippin' right along on the water
Dancin' down the waterline

Think I'll take on the water
Maybe take a stroll down the water
Skippin' right along on the water
Dancin' down the waterline

Strollin' down the waterline
Skippin' down the waterline
Dancin' down the waterline

I married Jenny Burton. White man marries African-American woman. Some people were not FOR this union. And years later, I married Julia Wade. White on white. No problem, right? Wrong. Some people were not for this union either — for various reasons too stupid to discuss.  Seemed like there was always someone … agin’ it.  

Naturally, there evolved a song from all this Tomfoolery.

And so, my answer to all you Tom Fools ...

When We Love the Way We Do
Performed by Peter Link
Music and Lyrics by Peter Link

Everybody gonna talk about us
Everybody gonna chip away
Everybody gonna want to have their say
But it don't mean a thing
It don't mean a thing
No it don't mean a thing
When we love the way we do

Everybody gonna talk about us
Everybody gonna shoot to kill
Everybody gonna cast a stone an' still
It don't mean a thing
It don't mean a thing
No it don't mean a thing
When we love the way we do

Though they frown
And turn their backs upon us
Nothing really touches us
When all I have to do
Is look into your eyes

Cause there the only thing that matters
Is the love between us
Keeping us and guarding us
And watching over us as time goes by

Everybody gonna talk about us
Everybody gonna fire away
Everybody gonna have their little say
But it don't mean a thing
It don't mean a thing
No it don't mean a thing
When we love the way we do

The disapproval of a thousand voices
Matters not
The innuendo long forgot
The whispering and slurs
Remain untrue

And as the rattle round us
Turns to insignificance
And gossip to indifference
The shadows fall away
The light burns through

And when we love the way we do
No talk can blind us
Yes when we love the way we do
No harm can find us
Oh when we love the way we do
No one can shame us
No one can touch our innocence
No claim can name us

Everybody used to talk about us
But now they've gone away

Harry Belafonte asked me if I might have a song or two for his movie, Beatstreet, which he produced.  I looked through my catalogue and also wrote a couple, thinking that I might give him 5 choices from which he could pick one or two. He surprised the hell out of me when he responded with, “I’ll take all five.” Jenny was also the vocalist on all five, so I certainly can’t take all the credit. Several had already been recorded — namely All Around The World — which you heard earlier. 
But this next one was recorded in Atlantic Records Studios in New York and one other was produced by Emir Deodato in his Studio in Soho. This closer for today’s Episode is my favorite of them all. 

Most singers lean to one side or the other in their ability to sing up tempo songs or ballads. Not many tend to sing both equally well.  Jenny Burton is one of the few who can.

I think this song will prove my point. It’s also in my top ten of all the songs I’ve written in my life. 

From the movie, Beatstreet …

It's All Right By Me
Music and Lyrics by Peter Link

Now don't you go cryin' to mama
When you need a little sympathy
Don't think twice about comin' my way
When you need some comfort
Baby take your troubles to me

And stop all this talk about botherin'
You're never gonna bother me
I got so much invested
An' I'm ridin' on you
If you think I won't care now
Well babe that's not the way it will be

So use my shoulder to lean on
Use me any way you please
Use my life and the love in my heart
It will lift you up with ease

It's all right
It's all right
It's all right
It's all right by me

Ya' see I got nothin' to hide
I've got nothin' to keep from you
So come on in
Let the feelin' begin
You're safe inside
Babe I'm gonna see you through

So use me when you lose your confidence
Use me when you need a friend
When all seems lost and it looks like the end
Use me when you need a friend

It's all right
It's all right
It's all right
It's all right by me 

So there you have it.

Scattershot Symphony Episode 17. Next, Episode 18:  
Songs From The Trunk – A Little Unfinished Business.
Join me in looking at and listening  to some older, but promising material that begs to be reworked, brought up to date, and developed further.  We’ll even give you a link to write in and share your thoughts on your favorites and even throw me a thumbs down if you like. I’m not asking you to collaborate, mind you, just seeing if there might be some beginnings that might work for people today! 


Also, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts … etc.
 
A grateful nod goes to all the folks and musicians who gave their talents to this music. Sadly, back in the day, I never knew that I would be doing something like this podcast, so I did not keep track of those that sang or played on whatever song. If I’ve forgotten you, please know that your good work is not forgotten.

Thank you, to all!

A very special thanks also to Stuart Barefoot, our Associate Producer for all your invaluable knowledge and good vibes.
And a posthumous thanks to Ludwig Van Beethoven for your opening 4 bars.
 
Julia
(over playout music)
This podcast is presented with loving care by the staff at Watchfire Music. If you liked what you heard, we got lots more where that came from. In the meantime, you can find the songs you just heard on watchfiremusic.com. There you can purchase the singles or albums and have access to all the lyrics. Also, there you will find all previous podcasts and future scheduling.
 
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