31 Comments

  1. Remember? We discussed the (original) Maurice Chevalier version a few years ago about ‘des mots croisés de quatre cases’. You can see him on the magazine cover at 0:05.

  2. What were the circumstances to be overcome when the original was new? Did this go all the way back to the Occupation?
    Yes, I noticed something about four-square crosswords in the captions to this (very nice!) ZAZ version. But I missed the significance. Was it like an indiicator of shortages — even crossword puzzles had to be shrunk?

  3. The original was recorded in November 1939. After the war started (September), but before the invasion of France (May 1940), during the ‘funny war’.
    There were no shortages during that period. Censorship had been reestablished during the summer of 1939. The song mentions a few of the measures taken to protect the city as well. It sounds to me halfway between boldness and whistling in the dark.

  4. Oops! Thanks Andréa. The French idiom is ‘drôle de guerre’ and I stupidly translated it literally.

  5. Thanks for filling that in!

    BTW, the usual expression in English for that brief period was “the phony war” — very similar phonetically to “funny” indeed.

  6. I guess my comment on the ‘phoney war’ was invisible to everyone but Olivier . . . weird.

    I knew about this because of a book on preparations (such as they were) for the London Blitz that I read a few months ago.

    And yes, I see it mostly spelt with an ‘e’.

  7. Sorry, I did pick up from context (Olivier at 8:02 saying oops and thanks Andrea) that you must have offered a correction, but I couldn’t see it and didn’t know how redundant mine might or might not be. Later, I did see it , in another timeline 🙂

    I’m pretty consistent in using the phony spelling, not the phoney spelling. Also for stony; except that there is a street in my neighborhood called Stony Island Avenue, and something makes me sometimes spell it Stoney.

  8. Actually, I do know what leads me to write Stoney Island Avenue. It’s this Laura Nyro lyric:

    I was born from love
    And my poor mother worked the mines
    I was raised on the Good Book Jesus
    Till I read between the lines
    Now I don’t believe
    I want to see the morning
    Going down the Stoney End
    I never wanted to go
    Down the Stoney End
    Mama let me start all over
    Cradle me, Mama, cradle me again
    I can still remember him
    With love light in his eyes
    But the light flickered out and parted
    As the sun began to rise
    Now I don’t believe
    I want to see the morning
    Going down the Stoney End
    I never wanted to go
    Down the Stoney End
    Mama let me start all over
    Cradle me, mama, cradle me again
    (Cradle me, mama, cradle me again
    Mama, cradle me again…)
    Never mind the forecast
    ‘Cause the sky has lost control
    ‘Cause the furry and the broken thunders
    Come to match my raging soul
    Now I don’t believe
    I want to see the morning
    Going down the Stoney End
    I never wanted to go
    Down the Stoney End
    Mama let me start all over
    Cradle me, mama, cradle me again
    Going down the Stoney End…

    And I will sing “Goin down Stony Island Avenue, never wanted to go down Stoney Island …”.

  9. I s’pose phonEy is British spelling, and as it never happened in USA, it has retained that spelling, for the most part.

  10. @ Mitch4 – There’s also “story” (narrative) vs. “storey” (floor of a building).
    P.S. @ Andréa – The Wiki-article on “The Phon(e)y War” describes the development of the American spelling variations.

  11. Thanks!

    Here is another intense female voice in a hit from the same era — and with another “special” spelling! The Stoney Ponies??

  12. I’m huge Laura Nyro fan. She was one of the most popular songwriters of the 60s and 70s mostly without trying to be. She’d release albums and then people would cover the songs and have hits. “Stoney End” was a top ten hit for Barbra Streisand. Laura also wrote “Wedding Bell Blues”, “Sweet Blindness”, and “Stoned Soul Picnic”, which were hits for The Fifth Dimension. “Eli’s Comin'” was covered by Three Dog Night. Blood, Sweat & Tears had a hit with “And When I Die”, although Peter Paul and Mary recorded it first (even before Laura).

    Ironically, the only top ten Laura had was a over of “Up on the Roof”.

  13. The Stone Poneys also covered “Stoney End” although in my opinion not a very good version. Including changing the lyrics slightly.

  14. Another tidbit about “Stoney End” was that it wasn’t considered acceptable for radio, so Laura cut another version. Like a number of the songs on “More Than a New Discovery”, the producers tended to make the songs more up-tempo and pop-oriented than Laura originally wanted. Later she would do many of them in live performances the way she’d intended. Here’s one such version:

    [audio src="https://www.jmeshel.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/6-Stoney-End.mp3" /]

    Sorry, I tend to go on and on with the subject of Laura comes up.

  15. The funny thing is, all I put in was the URL. WP added the embed code that doesn’t work.

    In some of the things I read, Laura apparently became less and less happy with the arrangements on MTaND. In later years she recounted how unhappy she was at the time and the arguments with the producers. However, her friends and contemporaries didn’t recall it that way. They say she was thrilled with it at the time.

    Considering that she was a teenager when it was released, that’s not hard to believe. At the time, few people her age, let alone women, had an album under their name. Then consider that she wrote all of the songs, no covers of popular songs, almost extraordinary.

  16. Brian, I assume your Stony Island Avenue is on the South Side of Chicago? I lived there through the 90s and I remember many, many people misspelled it as “Stoney.” (The other local spelling trap was Jeffery Boulevard.)

  17. Just trying Apple Maps, couldn’t get the label as well as the big broad view of Stony Island Avenue as a flourishing business boulevard. This stretch was just repaved recently.

    (Yes, Hyde Park Animal Hospital main facility is in South Shore, not Hyde Park.).
    Among the issues with the development of the Obama Center are the possible closure of Cornell Avenue thru the park and traffic congestion on Stony Island.

    Yes, I would have trouble spelling Jeffery Avenue. Do you remember the old old comedy clip of “Chicago Language Tape” , where different voice tones and mannerisms were used to name some locations by street name? By now quite inappropriate, but still hilarious. I think “Seventy First and Jeffery!” was one of the locations.

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