Lady Godiva (song)

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"Lady Godiva"
Single by Peter and Gordon
B-side"Morning's Calling"
Released9 September 1966
Recorded1966
StudioAbbey Road
GenrePop
Length2:24
LabelColumbia
Songwriter(s)Mike Leander, Charlie Mills, Gordon Mills
Producer(s)John Burgess

"Lady Godiva" is a 1966 single recorded by British pop duo Peter and Gordon.

The song is a music hall-style number which frivolously references the legend of Lady Godiva, re-imagining it in the modern day: a director from Hollywood witnesses her legendary ride (with "her long blonde hair" obscuring her breasts and other private parts) and recruits the lady to star in his movie, but he turns out to be a director of pornographic films.

Peter and Gordon version[edit]

The track was a drastic stylistic shift for Peter and Gordon, who had specialized in melancholy love songs. The music hall style of "Lady Godiva" matched several Herman's Hermits' hits, as well as "Winchester Cathedral" by the New Vaudeville Band, which was rising up the UK charts when Peter and Gordon recorded "Lady Godiva". Eventually "Winchester Cathedral" and "Lady Godiva" would share the US Top Ten, with the former succeeding the latter at #1 in Canada.

Peter and Gordon's producer, John Burgess, brought "Lady Godiva" to the duo after he produced the Paul Jones album My Way, which included the track. Peter Asher, who with Gordon Waller comprised Peter and Gordon, recalls that he [Asher] objected to recording the song but Waller retorted: "It'll be funny [so] shut up". The single was recorded at Abbey Road Studios and reunited Peter and Gordon with Geoff Love who, after arranging and conducting the duo's first six singles, had sat out their last three A-sides. "Lady Godiva" would be Love's final Peter and Gordon A-side collaboration.

Released September 1966, "Lady Godiva" afforded Peter and Gordon a comeback in both the UK and, especially, the US. In the UK, the single peaked at #16, returning Peter and Gordon to the Top 20 after their previous two singles "Woman" and "To Show I Love You" had fallen short, the latter not having reached the Top 50. In the US, "Lady Godiva" rose as high as #6 in December 1966, the duo's first Top Ten showing since "I Go to Pieces" in February 1965. The single sold over a million copies and was awarded a gold disc.[1]

It has been said that the mayor of Coventry attempted to suppress local airplay of the single. Peter Asher recalled hearing that the mayor felt the song "was insulting to his city or something", although Asher said of the reported boycott: "I don't know if some record company press hack dreamed that one up or if it was real. I [just] read [about] it".[2]

In Australia, "Lady Godiva" reached #1 on the chart dated 29 October 1966, remaining at #1 for three weeks. The song also afforded Peter and Gordon a #1 hit in Canada and a moderate hit in the Netherlands (#30), South Africa (#18) and Sweden (#19).

Peter and Gordon returned to the US Top 40 with two subsequent singles: "Knight In Rusty Armour" and "Sunday for Tea", but "Lady Godiva" would be the duo's final UK hit.

A Side B Side United Kingdom United States
Release date Record number Release date Record number
"Lady Godiva" "Morning's Calling" 9 September 1966 Columbia DB 8003 September 1966 US Capitol 5740

Alex Day version[edit]

"Lady Godiva"
Lady Godiva (single cover).jpg
Single by Alex Day
Released1 April 2012 (2012-04-01)
Recorded2011
GenrePop
Length2:28[3]
Songwriter(s)Mike Leander, Charlie Mills, Gordon Mills
Alex Day singles chronology
"Forever Yours"
(2011)
"Lady Godiva"
(2012)
"Stupid Stupid"
(2012)
Audio sample

In 2012, the song was covered and released as a single by English musician Alex Day who said: "I thought I'd pick an existing really great song and modernise it — I like introducing older music to my audience and this is a really fun way of doing that".[4]

"Lady Godiva" was Day's first single to get a physical release in UK record stores, following a distribution deal with Universal Music. He got the deal because the ten-year-old son of the head of distribution at Universal was a fan of Day's band, Chameleon Circuit.[5][6] "Lady Godiva" was included on Day's third album Epigrams and Interludes (2013). To promote the track, Day embarked on The Small Town Tour of the UK, signing copies of the single.

Music video[edit]

A music video to accompany the release of "Lady Godiva" was first released on YouTube on 14 March 2012.[7] It was directed by Day and starred Carrie Hope Fletcher (known as ItsWayPastMyBedTime by the YouTube community) as the titular Lady, as well as Day playing various characters.

Promotion[edit]

Day posted a video for the subscribers to his YouTube channel, saying that, to encourage viewers to buy the song, he would send personalized thank-you videos to every person who sent him an email with the receipt of his song. He quickly deleted the video to stem a flood of video requests, but still received approximately ten thousand emails. He sent out the final thank-you video on 16 August 2012.[8]

Chart performance[edit]

The track rose as high as #15 on the UK singles chart dated 8 April 2012, beating the #16 UK peak of the Peter and Gordon original.

Chart (2012) Peak
position
Ireland (IRMA)[9] 49
Scotland (OCC)[10] 16
UK Indie (OCC)[11] 1
UK Singles (OCC)[12] 15

Other versions[edit]

Besides the original Paul Jones version on his 1966 album My Way, "Lady Godiva" was also recorded by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass (Sounds Like...) and Young-Holt Unlimited (On-Stage), with both the last-named versions being instrumentals.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. pp. 180, 194 & 203. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  2. ^ "Peter Asher Interview". PennyBlackMusic.co.uk. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  3. ^ "Lady Godiva - Single by Alex Day". iTunes. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  4. ^ "Alex Day releases new single 'Lady Godiva' - #AltSounds". Hangout.altsounds.com. Archived from the original on 2012-02-27. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  5. ^ Milner, Lauren J. (26 February 2012). "Alex Day releases new single 'Lady Godiva'". Altsounds. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  6. ^ Day, Alex (27 February 2012). "The new single – 'Lady Godiva'". Alex Day's blog. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  7. ^ Lady Godiva on YouTube
  8. ^ "Twitter / thatalexday". Twitter.com. 2012-08-16. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  9. ^ "Chart Track: Week 14, 2012". Irish Singles Chart.
  10. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  11. ^ "Official Independent Singles Chart Top 50". Official Charts Company.
  12. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.