Sunday, 25 October 2015

Games People Play

When I heard the announcement that Joe South had passed away, I felt personally bereaved. I remember the disbelief as I hurried to the radio at the end of my kitchen as if being in closer proximity to the source of information would change anything. It didn’t.

Joe South was an American songwriter and performer. His style has been described as country / soul. He wrote Lynn Anderson’s hit, ‘(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden)’ but the song I hold him dear for is ‘Games People Play’. I couldn’t get enough of that guitar intro, so rich and deep, then repeating through the song. I wasn’t listening properly to the words, just singing along without paying attention. It was 1969 and I was waking up to the music of the time and developing my life-long love of the blues and progressive rock. ‘Games People Play’ I thought was very bluesy. It was the best thing on the juke-box in our public bar.

I was brought up in an assortment of pubs. My parents, grandparents and other family members were licensees. There was always music on, somewhere. I spent my childhood to mid- teens being drip-fed the ‘Hit Parade’ from juke-boxes, the wireless, as it was known, and my mother’s record collection. It’s a legacy I feel thankful and privileged for.  1969 was a year of significant changes for my family. Those memories are wrapped in the music, including ‘Games People Play’.

Fast-forward a few years. Living in a house instead of a pub felt weird, too quiet and too small. I was working in my first proper job, which didn’t involve washing glasses or filling shelves with Britvic or Schweppes bottles. Sunday afternoons were for lazing around, listening to the Dave Lee Travis request show on Radio 1. He played good stuff. I decided to join in, so using a Parker fountain pen filled with turquoise ink and bright orange paper and envelope, (this is the early ‘70s), I wrote a letter to DLT requesting ‘Games People Play’ and was thrilled when he gave me a mention and played the record. My name on the radio! It was like being famous. My favourite DJ played one of my favourite songs for me. What a shame there was only me to hear it and no ‘listen again’ facility in those days. It was a memorable, special moment, none the less.

That guitar riff still stops me in my tracks and takes me straight back to those happy days. I’ve learnt to understand the poetry of the lyrics and when news of his death came through in September, 2012, I cried.
With thanks to Joe South, for what his song means to me.

Games People Play

Oh the games people play now
Every night and every day now
Never meaning what they say now
Never saying what they mean

While they wile away the hours
In their ivory towers
Till they’re covered up with flowers
In the back of a black limousine

La da da da da da da
La da da da da da de
Talking ‘bout you and me
And the games people play

Oh we make one another cry
Break a heart then we say goodbye
Cross our hearts and we hope to die
That the other was to blame

But neither one ever will give in
So we gaze at an eight by ten
Thinking ‘bout the things that might have been
And it’s a dirty rotten shame


People walking up to you
Singing glory hallelujah
And they try to sock it to you
In the name of the Lord

They’re gonna teach you how to meditate
Read your horoscope, cheat your fate
And further more to hell with hate
Come on and get on board


Look around tell me what you see
What’s happening to you and me
God grant me the serenity
To remember who I am

‘Cos you’ve given up your sanity
For your pride and your vanity
Turned your back on humanity
And you don’t give a da da da da da


Joe South, 1940 - 2012

Thanks for reading - Pamela Winning


Lady Curt said...

Yes, I couldn't get that song out of my mind either when given the title of this week's blog !