Sunday, June 29, 2008

Harriet Schock - Smooth Then, Still Smooth Now

A while back, the illfolks blog paid tribute to Patti Dahlstrom.
Here's her labelmate at the doomed 20th Century Fox record label, another Texas-based singer-songwriter, Harriet Schock. About all they have in common, besides the label, is that they each had a tune covered by Helen Reddy. Patti's was "Emotion," and Harriet's was "Ain't No Way to Treat a Lady."
The song was on Harriet's debut album in 1973, for which she was voted Best New Female artist by Cashbox.
The pick for the download is an album track: "Hold Me." What is particularly good about this song is that for an excellent lyricist, Schock also knows how to let the music dictate the words. She repeats "Hold me" urgently during the refrain. It works. So does the repetition of "run-run-running."
The refrain and its repetitions represent the passion, while the lyrics in each stanza explore the intellectual issues: "I could learn to thrive on reality. I could subscribe to the theory of weary old soldiers who say that love never dies. Still they say it fades a way. But what do they know?"
What you'll know, if you dig up "Hollywood Town" (her best album) or "She's Low Clouds" and "You Don't Know What You're In For" is that Harriet Schock's 70's albums have tasty hooks, smart phrasing, and almost none of the cringe you'd associate with Helen Reddy. Some of her songs are liberated ("You're a man, and I need you, take my hand and I'll lead you...") and she offered "He's so Macho" as a tart send-up of "I'm a Woman," but she also could give a cool stab of the ice pick to another woman ("Southern Belle").
If anything worked against Schock, it was her lack of shock; a pleasant looking songwriter with a nice voice...not quite as distinctive as Carly or as emotional as Joni.
The good news is that while Dahlstrom disappeared after 4 albums, Schock didn't quit after her 3 releases. "During the eighties, I mostly wrote songs for films and TV, including "First Time On A Ferris Wheel," with Misha Segal for the Motown film, "The Last Dragon." To date, about 30 people have sung this song either live, or on record. Misha and I also wrote all the songs for "The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking" and ABC's "The Secret Garden," among many others. I co-wrote with Frederick Talgorn the end title song for "Delta Force II" and mostly these years were consumed with assignment writing for film, TV and artists. My songs were being recorded by Smokey Robinson, Roberta Flack, Lee Greenwood, Johnny Mathis, Carl Anderson, Gloria Loring, Nancy Wilson, Manfred Mann, The Little Mermaid and others."
In the 90's she became a solo artist again via adult indie-label CDs. "Rosebud" is the first choice, an excellent comeback with several songs that touch on how movies and music influence our lives. "Rosebud" refers to THAT Rosebud from "Citizen Kane," while other songs reference Patsy Cline and "Casablanca." She's also written a book, "Becoming Remarkable," and is both a lecturer, teacher and independent performer. You can learn more about her at her website,
The Pop of Schock: HOLD ME

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