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The Hollies Bus Stop
Waiting for a bus is very English. There's a saying that you can wait ages for a bus to arrive then suddenly three will come along at once! During that time people will stand & chat, moan about the mercurial English weather, the cost of living, or their plans for the weekend. In the case of The Hollies, the Manchester based English group, 'Bus stop' was a place where true love blossomed.
Melody & Harmony
The song is very melodic & full of The Hollies' rich harmonies.It's a tale of boy meets girl at a bus stop on a wet day, 'A sweet romance beginning in a queue'. He offers to share his umbrella with her, people would stare at them as if they were insane as they stood there chatting, oblivious to those around them. It contains the great line 'someday my name & her's are going to be the same'. The song closes with the line 'nice to think that that umbrella led me to a vow', mission accomplished! On a note of trivia, some have suggested that the word 'umbrella' is a subtle drug reference to barbiturates, but this is not so. In England the weather can be very unpredictable, even in the summer, & it's often advisable to carry an umbrella with you, & in this case it had a lovely outcome for it's owner!
At Abbey Road Studios
The Hollies recorded 'Bus Stop' at Abbey Road studios on May 18th,1966. It was produced by Ron Richards, who'd also worked with The Beatles on 'Love me Do & ' P S I Love you' amongst others. It was released in the uk on June 1st,1966 on parlophoneR5469 & was backed with 'Don't Run & Hide'. It charted on June 23rd, reaching no.5 & spending 9 weeks on the chart. In the USA it was released on imperial 66186,charting on August 20th,1966, becoming the group's first stateside hit, also reaching no.5 & spending 9 weeks in the chart
Writing A Hit
The song itself was written by Graham Gouldman.Other songs he wrote included 'For your Love' for The Yardbirds, & 'No milk Today' for Herman's Hermits. Amazingly, he was only 16 when he wrote 'Bus Stop'. At the time he was working at a men's outfitters. He was living with his parents in Broughton park, Salford. He used to ride the no 95 Bus to work that passed through various suburbs of Manchester, including East Didsbury & sedgeley park. He got the idea for the song whilst traveling on the bus.
His father, Hyme Gouldman, was a playwright, & being very good with words, would often help Graham out with lyrics, or suggest a better word.As Graham returned from work one day, Hyme said he'd been working on the idea that Graham had mentioned, & had the opening line of 'Bus stop, wet day, she's there i say, please share my umbrella'.Graham worked on the song in his bedroom, where he came up with the guitar riff, but it still needed a middle 8. He later recalled that on the bus the next day it came to him 'in one gush', & he was eager to get back home & try it out. He described it as a 'gift from your subconscious', that it's amazing when it happens that way, 'like a tap being turned on', as he told Mojo magazine, but usually you have to 'slog'
The Hollies' manager at the time,michael cohen ,told the group that he knew a young songwriter that might have some material for them. The group paid him a visit & asked to hear some of his songs, & as Graham Nash said, it was 'astounding to see a 16 year old who was a fabulous songwriter'. The Hollies duly recorded 'Bus stop' in about an hour & a quarter at Abbey Road studios, though it's possible it took a bit longer with vocal overdubs.
Graham Gouldman 's manager,Harvey Lisberg, later suggested that he should record an album of his songs. 'The Graham Gouldman Thing' was recorded at Olympic sound studios in 1968. Lisberg said that Peter Noone ( of Herman's Hermits ) was meant to be producing, but vanished after the first session. John paul jones ( of Led Zeppelin fame ) helped with production, & the album was engineered by Eddie Kramer. CD releases were issued in 1992, & 2004. Graham of course later went on to greater fame & success with 10cc in the seventies.
As an interesting postscript, Graham appeared along with Fran Healy( of Travis ) & Ron Sexsmith as part of the BBc's 'songwriter's circle' series. The show was recorded at the Bush Hall, London on February 10th,2011, & broadcast on March 5th. Each of the writers took it in turns to perform a song, with the others sometimes joining in. Graham did play 'Bus stop' among his selection ( which also included 10cc's 'I'm not in Love'.) talking about the song's history before playing an acoustic version of the song.
Following this, Allan Clarke joined Graham Nash & David Crosby on stage at the Royal Albert Hall October 8th, 2011 to perform the song, which can also be enjoyed on youtube.
A superbly melodic song excellently delivered by The Hollies- now, where did I put my umbrella? !!
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