21 September 2007

Only in Oz (5) Gene Pitney - Billy You're My Friend

5. Gene Pitney - Billy You're My Friend
(Edward Louis Goldman)
USA 1968
Musicor single #51331.
CBS (Australia) single #BA-152275.

Australian charts: #13 Melbourne, #24 Brisbane,
#13 Adelaide.


Gene Pitney's lesser known song Billy You're My Friend (1968) is like a slice of opera, with mood swings from lightheartedness to anguish, pumped up by ersatz classical orchestration and pointed tempo changes.

I've sneaked it into Only in Oz, my random list of songs that were hits in Australia but not in their home countries. True, it wasn't a national hit in the USA or Britain, but it was hardly a hit down here either: #13 in Melbourne, #24 in Brisbane, #13 in Adelaide, and #32 on Go-Set Magazine's national chart.

In fact, we can see five examples of Billy You're My Friend charting modestly in US cities, on charts posted at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive: Bakersfield CA (#43), Allentown PA (#36), Saint Charles MO (#13), Springfield MA (#51), Wilkes-Barre PA (#39) and New Haven CT (#15).

No doubt there were other cities, not enough to turn it into a national hit but enough to get it to #92 on both Billboard and Cash Box. Not enough, either, to get it onto your average Gene Pitney Best of collection.

The writer is listed at BMI as Edward Louis Goldman, about whom I can find nothing. (Eddy Goldman? Ted Goldman?) His modest repertoire at BMI includes some cues for Another World, which I take to be the TV soap opera. [I've since heard from Ed Goldman: see my update of 20 October about the writing of Billy You're My Friend.]


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Australian chart positions from Gavin Ryan's Australian chart books and Barry McKay's Go-Set chart collection.
US charts: Charts at Airheads Radio Survey Archive from October-December 1968 for KAFY Bakersfield CA, WAEB Allentown PA, KIRL St Charles Missouri, WHYN Springfield MA, WARM Wilkes-Barre PA, and WAVZ New Haven CT. Billboard chart positions at AMG; Randy Price's Cash Box charts site.

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