Louise Goffin/Terry Reid – 5th of July
Wasn’t it Oscar Wilde who said, “For a song to fall into the Popvoid once may be regarded as a misfortune, for it to happen twice looks like carelessness”? On second thoughts, it might have been Paul Gambaccini. Anyway, whoever said it may just have been thinking about one particular song, 5th of July, a two-time Popvoid entry, in its original form by Louise Goffin and as a cover by Terry Reid.
As the daughter of two legendary songwriters, Carole King and Gerry Goffin, it’s hard to feel too much sympathy for Louise Goffin as she stands there sobbing, looking over the edge of the Popvoid…she didn’t have it so bad. By the time she was 14, Louise had written most of the songs on her debut album and for her second she even got a helping hand from her dad on a couple of tracks. By the time it came to record her third, 1988’s This is the Place, Goffin had moved to London on what looks like a Rock Royalty gap year arrangement and was being groomed by her label, Warner Brothers, for pop stardom. Louise was targeting an audience who wanted something a little more wholesome than Madonna and was pitched as a refreshing alternative for those who felt Cyndi Lauper would probably make better albums if she just stuck to her meds. Teamed with producers Swain and Jolley, still hot from working with Alison Moyet and Spandau Ballet, and featuring one track, Deep Kiss, co-written with top songwriting partnership, Kelly and Steinberg, the subsequent album predicts the bright and breezy ‘faith-pop’ sound which delivered a string of international hits for Amy Grant a few years later.
Amongst an embarrassment of riches, 5th of July is definitely a highlight. Downbeat and melancholy, in an unexpectedly uplifting and spiritual fashion, the song covers much of the same middle-American small town melodrama which Sheryl Crow would make her stock-in-trade over the next couple of decades.
Fast forward to 1991 and we find the song opening The Driver, the long-awaited comeback album from ‘Rock Legend’ Terry Reid. Reid had been playing guitar and singing alongside huge names like The Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac since the mid 1960s, and had famously turned down the chance to join both Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple as their lead vocalist. Reid hadn’t made a solo album for over a decade when he got together with Trevor Horn to produce The Driver. Here, 5th of July takes on an epic, Springsteen-esque sweep, but doesn’t lose any of its overriding melancholy or majesty. Released as the album’s lead single, its subtle blend of lyrical wistfulness and typical grandiose Horn production didn’t really stand a chance in a UK singles market dominated by the likes of Chesney Hawkes’ The One and Only and Cher’s The Shoop Shoop Song.
Entered chart: Neither version charted
Who could sing this today and have a hit? – Aside from building a time machine and zipping back to 1991 to force Susanna Hoffs to record it and add it to her When You’re A Boy solo album – where it would have been almost undetectable amongst that albums many pop gems – I would suggest taking the production down one more notch on the depress-o-meter and giving it to Lana Del Rey.