Gloria (Them song)

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"Gloria"
Gloria (Them song) coverart.jpg
Single by Them
A-side"Baby, Please Don't Go"
Released2 December 1964 (1964-12-02)
Recorded8 April 1964
StudioDecca Three, West Hampstead, UK
Genre
Length2:38
LabelDecca
Songwriter(s)Van Morrison
Producer(s)Dick Rowe
Them singles chronology
"Baby, Please Don't Go"
(1964)
"Gloria"
(1964)
"Here Comes the Night"
(1965)
Audio sample

"Gloria" is a rock song written by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison, and originally recorded by Morrison's band Them in 1964. It was released as the B-side of "Baby, Please Don't Go". The song became a garage rock staple and a part of many rock bands' repertoires. It is particularly memorable for its "Gloria!" chorus. It is easy to play, as a simple three-chord song, and thus is popular with those learning to play guitar.

Composition and recording[edit]

According to Morrison, he wrote "Gloria" while performing with the Monarchs in Germany in the summer of 1963, at just about the time he turned 18 years old.[5] He started to perform it at the Maritime Hotel when he returned to Belfast and joined up with the Gamblers to form the band Them. He would ad-lib lyrics as he performed, sometimes stretching the song to 15 or 20 minutes. After signing a contract with Dick Rowe and Decca, Them went to London for a recording session at Decca Three Studios in West Hampstead on 5 April 1964; "Gloria" was one of the seven songs recorded that day.

Besides Morrison, present were Billy Harrison on guitar, Alan Henderson on bass guitar, Ronnie Millings on drums and Patrick John McCauley on keyboards. Rowe brought in session musicians Arthur Greenslade on organ and Bobby Graham on drums, since he considered the Them members too inexperienced. There remains some dispute about whether Millings and McCauley were actually miked, but Alan Henderson contends that Them constituted the first rock group to use two drummers on a recording.[6] Although some sources claim that Jimmy Page played second guitar, other sources deny this.[7][8]

Releases and charts[edit]

Decca Records released "Gloria" as the B-side of "Baby, Please Don't Go" in the UK on 6 November 1964, with only the latter reaching the singles chart. In the US, the same pairing was released by Parrot Records, which became a regional hit on the US West Coast.[9] Between March and June 1965, the single (both songs) appeared on weekly Top 40 playlists for Los Angeles radio station KRLA, reaching number one for three weeks in April.[10][11][12] A year later, after the release of a cover version of "Gloria" by the Shadows of Knight, Them's original entered the national Billboard Hot 100 chart. Both peaked during the week of 14 May 1966, with Them at number 75 and the Shadows of Knight at number 10.[13]

"Gloria" was added to Them's first UK album The Angry Young Them (1965), which was re-titled with some different tracks as Them in the US.[9] The song also appears on several compilations, including The Story of Them Featuring Van Morrison (1997) and The Best of Van Morrison (1990).[9]

Cover versions[edit]

"Gloria"
Single by the Shadows of Knight
B-side"Dark Side"
ReleasedDecember 1965 (1965-12)
GenreRock
Length2:35
LabelDunwich
Songwriter(s)Van Morrison
The Shadows of Knight singles chronology
"Gloria"
(1965)
"Oh Yeah"
(1966)
  • 1965 – The Shadows of Knight recorded "Gloria", which was released as a single in December 1965 and later included on the album of the same name. Janovitz describes it as "a faithful, though tamer version of the original".[9] The song reached number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1966,[13] due to its popularity with radio stations that chose not to play Them's original due to its more controversial lyrics – the Shadows of Knight replaced Morrison's line "She comes to my room" with "She calls out my name".[14][15]
  • 1968–1970 – The Doors performed the song several times, with one recording released on Alive, She Cried (1983). It was also released as a single, which reached number 18 on Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks and number 71 on Billboard Hot 100 in 1983.[16] The song is included on Legacy: The Absolute Best (2003) and The Very Best of The Doors (2007).
  • 1975 – Patti Smith recorded it for her album Horses. Based on the Morrison tune, the lyrics are reinvented for the nascent punk rock movement, retaining only the chorus, and adding possibly ironic allusions to the sacred allusions of the title. Smith's spoken intro begins "Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine".[9] According to Janovitz, "Smith's intermingling of lascivious sex and religious guilt (or lack thereof) certainly foreshadows similar sacred/profane juxtapositions from ultra-feminine Madonna and androgynous Prince."[9]
  • 1993 – Van Morrison recorded a version with John Lee Hooker, which reached the Top 40 in several countries: Irish Singles Chart No. 17,[17] UK Singles Chart No. 31,[18] US Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks No. 36,[19] and the Netherlands No. 37.[20]

Recognition[edit]

One explanation for the timeless popularity of the song was offered in AllMusic's review by Bill Janovitz:[9]

The beauty of the original is that Van Morrison needs only to speak-sing, in his Howlin' Wolf growl, "I watch her come up to my house/She knocks upon my door/And then she comes up to my room/I want to say she makes me feel all right/G-L-O-R-I-A!" to convey his teenage lust. The original Latin meaning of the name is not lost on Morrison. Them never varies from the three chords, using only dynamic changes to heighten the tension.

"Gloria" was rated number 69 on Dave Marsh's list in the 1989 book The Heart of Rock & Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. He described the song as "one of the few rock songs that's actually as raunchy as its reputation."[21]

In his book Rock and Roll: The 100 Best Singles, Paul Williams said about the two sides of the "Baby Please Don't Go/Gloria" recording: "Into the heart of the beast ... here is something so good, so pure, that if no other hint of it but this record existed, there would still be such a thing as rock and roll ... Van Morrison's voice a fierce beacon in the darkness, the lighthouse at the end of the world. Resulting in one of the most perfect rock anthems known to humankind."[22]

In 1999, "Gloria" by Them received the Grammy Hall of Fame Award.[23] In 2000, "Gloria" by Them was listed as number 81 on VH1's list of The 100 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time.[24] In 2004, "Gloria" by Them was ranked No. 208 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, moving down to No. 211 in the 2010 updated list.[25] "Gloria" was also included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll twice: by Patti Smith and by Shadows of Knight.[26]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rogan, Johnny (2006). Van Morrison: No Surrender. Vintage. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-09-943183-1.
  2. ^ Pafford, Steve (6 July 2010). Bowie Style. Music Sales. p. 152. ISBN 978-0-85712-364-0.
  3. ^ Stiernberg, Bonnie. "The 50 Best Garage Rock Songs of All Time". Paste. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
  4. ^ Zoladz, Lindsay (28 November 2018). "Van Morrison's 'Astral Weeks' Is 50, but It Never Ages". The Ringer. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  5. ^ Heylin, p. 76
  6. ^ Turner, p. 46-49
  7. ^ Thompson, Gordon (2008). Please Please Me: Sixties British Pop, Inside Out. Oxford University Press. p. 303. ISBN 978-0-19-971555-8.
  8. ^ Bogdanov, Vladimir; Woodstra, Chris; Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (2002). All Music Guide to Rock: The Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop, and Soul. Backbeat Books. p. 1131. ISBN 978-0-87930-653-3.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Janovitz, Bill. "Them: 'Gloria' – Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 April 2008.
  10. ^ "KRLA Tunedex". KRLA Beat. 14 April 1965. p. 4.
  11. ^ "KRLA Tunedex". KRLA Beat. 21 April 1965. p. 4.
  12. ^ "KRLA Tunedex". KRLA Beat. 28 April 1965. p. 3.
  13. ^ a b "Hot 100". Billboard. Vol. 78 no. 20. 14 May 1966. p. 22. ISSN 0006-2510.
  14. ^ "Dunwich Album Discography". bsnpubs.com. Retrieved 31 October 2008.
  15. ^ "The History of Banned R&R". classicbands.com. Retrieved 31 October 2008.
  16. ^ AllMusic
  17. ^ "Van Morrison – Irish chart". Irish Recorded Music Association. Archived from the original on 2 June 2009. Retrieved 15 April 2008.
  18. ^ "Van Morrison – UK chart". Retrieved 14 April 2008.
  19. ^ "Van Morrison – Billboard chart". Allmusic. Retrieved 14 April 2008.
  20. ^ "Van Morrison and John Lee Hooker – "Gloria"". Dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  21. ^ Marsh, Dave (1989). "The Heart of Rock and Soul". Retrieved 15 April 2008.
  22. ^ Williams, Paul; Berryhill, Cindy Lee (December 1993). "Baby Please Don't Go / Gloria – Them (1964)". Rock and Roll: The 100 Best Singles (Hardcover ed.). United States: Entwhistle Books. pp. 71–72. ISBN 978-0-934558-41-9.
  23. ^ "GRAMMY Hall of Fame Award". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. 1999. Archived from the original on 7 July 2015. Retrieved 15 April 2008.
  24. ^ "VH1 100 Greatest Rock Songs 51–100". rockonnet.com. Retrieved 1 June 2008.
  25. ^ "The Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". rocklistmusic.co.uk. 9 December 2004. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  26. ^ "500 Songs that shaped rock". infoplease.com. Retrieved 3 November 2010.

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