Sunday, August 09, 2015

CILLA BLACKS OUT - Phil Ochs "Changes"

Cilla Black was fairly unknown in America. Beatles fans who knew that Paul McCartney had given her "Love of the Loved," "Step Inside Love" and a few others couldn't even find 'em. Back in the 60's it was very hard to find import records in the average store (even the original Beatle discs on Parlophone) and AM-radio disc jockeys stuck to American pressings. A quick check of the Billboard Charts confirms that in the USA, Cilla had only one Top 40 hit, "You're My World," which peaked at #26 in July of 1964. The others, as senile morons like to say, "did not chart."

This may indicate that Cilla Black's style as a singer just wasn't to American tastes. Another British lady, Petula Clark, reached the Top 40 about 15 times in the 60's.

In her native country, the Liverpool star (born Priscilla White) had tremendous appeal. Perhaps her mildly cute looks and her huge overbite made her seem like the girl next door. Her cover of "Anyone Who Had a Heart" was #1 in 1964, and after a very good run of other pop tunes on the charts, Cilla cleverly moved on to television, with her own BBC series in 1968 and several more for ITV over the years, including "Blind Date" and "Surprise Surprise." As a "presenter" and hostess, she remained in the public eye for decades.

She was at her vacation home in Spain when she stood up too suddenly, became dizzy, and fell. The coroner's report indicated that a stroke did her in, but there was some question over whether it was the cause of her fall, or the result of what happened once she hit the floor. The tabloids were more concerned with pointing out that at 72, the beloved singer was not in good health, and had supposedly declared that she didn't want to hang on year after year, and figured passing on at 75 would be just fine.

Several friends noted she was suffering from arthritis among other maladies, and that she never quite recovered from the passing of her husband. Countering that, John Madejski, who claimed to have been her "soulmate" for the past dozen years, grabbed the attention of reporters by declaring, "Ceilla was not dying to die. Anyway it's nobody's damn business. Cilla was a private person. She had a hell of a lot of dignity."

She also had a pretty impressive list of cover songs on her resume. Among the songwriters she favored in her 60's heyday was Phil Ochs. "Changes" seems pretty apt for this sad time. Phil's song "Changes" had done well in England via Crispian St. Peters, and below is the distaff version; her humble rendition.

Cilla Black CHANGES

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