Feel the Blues with all that Jazz
English (United Kingdom)Polish (Poland)
Home Music Notes Rock Notes Crimson & Clover

Crimson & Clover

User Rating: / 1
PoorBest 

Crimson & Clover

It's pretty much a three-chord pop song with inarticulate lyrics, but Tommy James and the Shondells' classic is up there with the best. The weird logic of dreams. Images, colours, nonsense word combinations. They seem to make sense. Tommy James woke up one day with the phrase ‘Crimson & Clover’ in his head. Crimson, his favourite colour, clover, his favourite flower. (There is also a species of clover native to Europe called the crimson clover.)

Crimson & Clover

A song to fit the phrase was written by Tommy James and bassist Mike Vale, but was scrapped. His following collaboration with drummer Peter Lucia, Jr. was more successful. In interview with Tommy James, he told: "They were just two of my favorite words that came together. Actually, it was one morning as I was getting up out of bed, and it just came to me, those two words. And it sounded so poetic. I had no idea what it meant, or if it meant anything. They were just two of my favorite words. And Mike Vale and I – bass player – actually wrote another song called 'Crimson and Clover.' And it just wasn't quite there. And I ended up writing 'Crimson and Clover' with my drummer, Pete Lucia, who has since passed away."

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Crimson clover

 

Tommy James scored two chart toppers and five other top 10 hits in the US between 1966 and 1969 with his group the Shondells. After all, this was achieved while not only making the difficult, rarely successful transition from garage rock and bubblegum pop to full‑fledged psychedelia, but for a label, Roulette Records , that didn't exactly believe in paying its artists their rightful dues.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Tommy James

 

The group had worked with producers Bo Gentry and Ritchie Cordell since early 1967, beginning with the classic "I Think We're Alone Now." The Gentry-Cordell formula continued to bear fruit with "Mony Mony" in the early summer of 1968, but Tommy felt it was time for a change, as he wanted to take control of his own records.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Tommy James and the Shondells

 

In late 1968 during in the midst of psychedelia, “Crimson & Clover” was recorded in about 5 hours, with Tommy playing most of the instruments, Mike and Peter on bass and drums. It´s a very simple chord progression, just C, F and G with a key jump midway through. The tremolo effect on the guitar vibrates along with the song´s rhythm and it gets me every time. The band had the idea to stick the same effect on the vocals, with the microphone plugged into an Ampeg guitar amp with the tremolo effect, and Tommy singing “Crimson & Clover, over and over.”

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Tommy James and the Shondells

 

Tommy made a rough mix to play to record exec Morris Levy, for his feedback. The band had intended to improve on the mix with ambient sound and echo. A few days later James stopped by WLS radio station in Chicago, a station he´d already had a good relationship with, to get their view on it. After an interview talking about the forthcoming single, he agreed to play a rough mix for WLS off-air. Without his knowledge, they recorded the song, and played it on air in November 68 as a world exclusive.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Tommy James and Morris Levy

 

Morris Levy initially pleaded with WLS not to play the record before the release, but changed his mind after the enthusiastic reaction it generated. Roulette Records produced a specially pressed single and posted it to listeners who had called up about the song. WLS was also sent 800 copies for promotional purposes. James wasn´t allowed to produce the initial mix, and the rough mix was released as a single, with “Some Kind of Love” as the B-Side.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Crimson & Clover, single, 1968

 

Tommy says he is thankful for the complete artistic control that Roulette gave him at this critical point in his career "Probably no artist was given more creative freedom that I was, and I must say that I'm very grateful to Roulette for giving it to me," he notes. "I literally did everything from the artwork to the producing and recording -- everything but setting up record racks on the street corner. Roulette trusted me with huge budgets and allowed me to trust my own instincts. If I had been with a bigger label, I don't think I would have been given that kind of freedom."

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Tommy James

 

The single took off like a rocket in late 1968. It reached the Top 40 its second week on the chart. On January 26th 1969, Tommy James and the Shondells performed "Crimson and Clover" on the CBS-TV program 'The Ed Sullivan Show' and on that very same it day it peaked at #1 (for 2 weeks) on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

The Ed Sullivan Show with Tommy James & The Shondells'

 

While putting the finishing touches on the album, Tommy decided that it should include a long version of "Crimson & Clover." It was common in the late '60s for an album track to be edited for single release, but "Crimson & Clover" had been recorded in its "short" single version, so it was necessary to either re-record or expand it to create a long version. Tommy opted to lengthen the existing master, and the group duly went back into the studio to record a new middle section featuring a series of solos played in different styles by lead guitarist Ed Gray who used steel guitars and fuzz guitars.

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Crimson & Clover, album

 

This magical song was covered by Elijah Blue and his mom, Cher, for a 1999 film, “A Walk on the Moon,” but it was Joan Jett who brought it Top Ten in 1982 -- her second biggest hit following "I Love Rock & Roll."

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Cher and Elijah sing 'Crimson & Clover'

 

Tommy James & the Shondells - Crimson And Clover, lyrics


Oh
Now I don't hardly know her
But I think I could love her
Crimson and clover

Ah
When she comes walking over
Now I've been waiting to show her
Crimson and clover
Over and over

Yes (Da-da, da-da, da-da)
My mind is such a sweet thing (Da-da, da-da, da-da)
I want to do everything (Da-da, da-da, da-da)
What a beautiful feeling (Da-da, da-da, da-da)
Crimson and clover (Da-da, da-da, da-da)
Over and over

Crimson and clover, over and over

Image could not be displayed. Check browser for compatibility.

Joan Jett - 'Crimson & Clover'

 

 

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

Polls
What music genre would you like to find here the most?
 
Now onsite:
  • 225 guests
Content View Hits : 45853261