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Friday Night Videos

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Summer of Covers does the walk of shame!

I’d always enjoyed Juice Newton’s “Angel Of The Morning” as nothing more than a bittersweet love song. Or perhaps some of my enjoyment was a result of Helsinki Syndrome — the song went to Number One in 1982, part of a time I spent listening to a lot of Top 40 radio. And by “a lot” I mean I’m not sure I ever turned it off, except to watch NBC’s original Friday Night Videos after Carson signed off for the night.

It wasn’t until more recently that I realized that the “bittersweet love song” was actually about a one night stand followed by the inevitable walk of shame:

There’ll be no strings to bind your hands
Not if my love can’t bind your heart
There’s no need to take a stand
For it was I who chose to start

I see no need to take me home
I’m old enough to face the dawn

And Juice always seemed like such a nice girl — I kid, I kid.

What I didn’t realize until this week was that “Angel” wasn’t originally a Juice Newton song at all. Written by Chip Taylor, Evie Sands was the first to record it in 1967, but it wouldn’t generate a hit single until Merrilee Rush took a stab at it the following year. Between then and Newton’s ’82 record, it looks like at least half a dozen artists made covers of their own — and so I’m not sure exactly how I managed to miss it completely during my musical coming-of-age during the ’70s.

Chalk it up to bad luck, because it really is a lovely song.

I never owned a copy, so after a number of years it became just another one of those songs I used to listen to sometimes — still a pleasure, but a half-forgotten one. Then Chrissie Hynde (of The Pretenders) performed it at Central Perk in a cameo appearance of the second season of Friends. The performance was great, her little scene opposite Lisa Kudrow’s Phoebe was charming, and so I went out bought what I thought were “both” versions of “Angel.” This of course was back in the day when we went out to buy music.

Tonight you get Chrissie Hynde’s cover of a cover of a cover of a cover. But my mission this weekend is to locate and download the others before I half-forget the song again.

Because walk or not, that would be the real shame.