The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Baker's Dozen

Evidently Chicken Supreme: John Cooper Clarke's Favourite Songs
Alex Burrows , November 18th, 2020 11:32

Performance poet, style icon and broadcaster John Cooper Clarke tells Alex Burrows about his most-loved songs of all time and growing up during the birth of rock & roll. Portrait by Paul Wolfgang Webster.


Patti Page – ‘Tennessee Waltz’
She sings this so beautifully. I love to hear women sing. Her diction comes into it – it’s just the overall unanswerable sadness of it. I haven’t checked, but I suspect it was produced by Mitch Miller [it was – Ed]. He was the first guy to use an echo chamber and sound effects. Sinatra hated him when he was at Columbia because he thought Miller was vulgar. Sinatra called him “The Beard”. And to an extent, he’s right. But Sinatra wasn’t in a bargaining position when Miller took over at Columbia, so he had to do as he was told for a little while there. It was Mitch Miller who had him doing, for instance, ‘Mama Will Bark’. A duet with a heavy-breasted screen siren by the name of Dagmar - her breasts influenced the Eldorado Biarritz [a 1950s convertible Cadillac with a distinctive body shape]. It had those torpedo shapes on its fenders, which were called dagmars. Anyway, sorry, I’m digressing here! She’s on this song called ‘Mama Will Bark’. Sinatra had this running battle with Mitch Miller. But ‘Tennessee Waltz’ was more restrained in that there aren’t any sound effects in it. But the band really have the sound of a rural dance hall – a real stripped-down affair, but with Patti’s lovely voice and the heart-breaking scenario of her best friend stealing her lover.