APRA BEST SONGS

 

Friday On My Mind (Vanda/Young) – Easybeats 1966 

 The Easybeats had blitzed the local charts throughout 1965-66 with no less than six of their original songs hitting the top ten – She’s So Fine, Women (Make You feel All Right), Come and See Her, I’ll Make You Happy, Sorry and Wedding Ring. “Easyfever” was a force of nature and the band with the support of their manager Mike Vaughan, and record label guru Ted Albert, now felt confident enough to take on the world.

The decision by the band to move to the UK to gamble on international success, was not one that was taken unanimously at first,  Gordon “Snowy” Fleet, was married with a daughter who he would have to leave behind, and Dick Diamonde came from a fervent Jehovah’s Witness family who were bitterly opposed to Dick’s pursuit of worldly fame and success, equating it with a form of idolatry.

Even more tragic was the death of Harry’s wife Pam, who was suffering from post-natal depression following the birth of the couple’s son Johan, only five months before. Distraught at not being able to accompany her husband overseas, she committed suicide on July 4th.

Six days later the band left for the UK to face their biggest professional challenge, while still dealing with grief, the loneliness of separation from loved ones, and having to endure the hand-to-mouth existence of a struggling band in the most highly competitive music market in the world.

The farewell shot of the band waving goodbye from atop the steps of their Qantas aircraft that would take them to London, included a secret sign from Harry Vanda that his baby son was also on board the flight and going back to live with his grandparents in Holland. Harry was waving little Johan’s teddy bear above his head.

That they succeeded is remarkable. From their dingy Willesden Green flat in London, Vanda and Young, worked at crafting their greatest song. Stevie Wright was no longer the lyricist for the band, but he was still an impressive front-man and his vocal interpretation of Friday On My Mind perfectly complemented the complex and beguiling Harry Vanda guitar solos and metronomic rhythm support of Young, Diamonde and Fleet.

Voted the best Australian song of all time by APRA in the period 1926-2001, Friday On My Mind was recorded in the UK at the Abbey Road studios under the guidance of American producer Shel Talmy who had worked closely with the Who (My Generation) and the Kinks (You Really Got Me). The song was a contemporary mod anthem, evocative of such bands as the Small Faces and has become a working-class tribute to slogging through boring jobs Monday to Friday until the blissful release on Friday night and the weekend beyond.

A crash of cymbals precedes the opening staccato of guitar chords which are intriguing and draw the listener into the verses, Stevie is plaintive and impatient for the working week to end, he uses vocal melismas on the words “baaad” and “naaag” to emphasize his frustration.

He leads us to the  countdown of the days of the week until the glorious chorus which carries the whole band forward in a call-and-response chant “Gonna have fun in the city/(Dadadadadadaa) Be with my girl, she’s so pretty/(Dadadadadadadaa) She looks fine tonight/ She is out of sight to me/Tonight I’ll spend my bread, tonight/ I’ll lose my head, tonight / I got to get tonight”/ Monday I’ll have Friday on my mind.” The group has claimed that the opening chords of the song were inspired by an a capella performance of a song by the Swingle Singers which they adapted, Vanda and Young were already proving to be artful appropriators of diverse musical influences.

Although the band has denied that the song was a class statement, such lines as “nothing else that bugs me /more than working for the rich man,” resonated with Australians who see themselves as an egalitarian lot, and Harry and George were respectively an apprentice printer and draftsman, who would have longed for Friday night, and the attractions of the city.

Unique for its time the song did not possess an overtly danceable beat, its Eastern-influenced interweaving guitar parts were quite complex, but the lyrics were so engaging and listenable that no one really noticed.

 

Except George Young, who felt that the group were shifting dangerously away from their roots, and he subsequently revealed in Jane Albert’s book House of Hits, that he thought “Friday On My Mind was such a departure from the kind of band that we were. We were a three-chord pop rock band and Friday On My Mind was a classic-influenced piece of pop music, so we wanted to go back to the more traditional pop rock thing.”

The song was truly an international hit – #1 in Australia for eight weeks, #1 in the Netherlands, #6 in the UK, #16 in the USA and has been covered by such artists as the Shadows, David Bowie, Peter Frampton, Gary Moore, Blue Oyster Cult, Rickie Lee Jones, and in 2001 in a duet by Vanessa Amorosi and Lee Kernaghan.

When Paul McCartney first heard the song on his car radio, he was so impressed that he pulled into a roadway garage and phoned the BBC requesting that they replay it – and they did!

The Easies toe-tapping, working class, three -minute, power pop tribute to the TGIF syndrome has become their most recognizable composition and a national musical icon, it was the 10th biggest-selling record of 1966.

The song has echoed down the years in the compositions of others, anticipating the end of the working week and the revelry beyond – Working for The Weekend (Loverboy 1981), Out With My Baby (Guy Sebastian 2004) and the dance anthem Ready For The Weekend (Calvin Harris 2009).

 

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