Eric Carmen came to prominence in 1972 as the lead singer of the US group the Raspberries who had a hit with Go All The Way, but by 1975 Carmen had gone solo and was looking for his debut hit. While listening to Rachmaninoff’s 2nd piano concerto, written in 1901, he heard the melody that would become the verse music for All By Myself, and he found the chorus music after he re-played one of his earlier unpublished songs written for the Raspberries, called Let’s Pretend. After he cobbled the two together, he produced one of the great ballads of lament and anguish, and a clear and simple message to anyone who has felt alone, isolated, and hungry for human contact, as we are in the time of COVID -19 “All by myself/ Don’t wanna be/ All by myself/ Anymore…” Carmen had also assumed that the Rachmaninoff composition was in the public domain, but it was still under copyright, and so he had to negotiate an agreed settlement with the Rachmaninoff estate.
Social distancing means we don’t get too many unexpected knocks on the door these days, unless it’s the police, checking to see that we are at home, and obeying self-quarantine procedures, but the Dave Edmunds hit from 1970 was too good to leave out of this COVID-19 issue. The song was written by two New Orleans musos, Dave Bartholomew and Earl King in 1955, and its slow, swinging blues sound, was emblematic of the music of the Big Easy, and early versions were recorded by New Orleans legends, Smiley Lewis and Fats Domino. The song is about a guy whose lover has spurned him, despite his pleas for her to re-consider, but when she does return and knocks on his door, he is unmoved, and ignores her. Edmunds had already decided to record a Wilbert Harrison song Let’s Work Together, and had recorded the backing track for this recording, but Canned Heat beat him to the punch. Then he heard Smiley Lewis’s version of I Hear You Knocking on his car radio, and realised the format for both songs was identical, so he could retain his existing backing track, and simply record the lyrics for I Hear You Knocking over the top, which he did, and it became a global smash and sold over 3 million copies. Edmunds name checks several legendary performers who had recorded this song in the past in his version – Fats Domino., Smiley Lewis and Chuck Berry, and you may notice in this video that the boys have neglected to plug their guitars in, but Dave still adjusts his tuning knob, a complete professional.
Besides the unintentional humor of Dave Edmunds in this clip, COVID-19 has of course generated its own brand of ironic humor, here is but a small sample:
What’s the difference between COVID-19 and Romeo & Juliet? One’s a coronavirus and the other is a Verona crisis.
Prediction: There will be a minor baby boom in nine months and then, one day in 2033, we shall witness the rise of the Quaranteens.
In an unsettling reversal of roles, teenagers are now yelling at their parents for going out.