I don’t think I’ve had a Music Tuesday post in a while. I’ve had this song in my head for a week now, and I’ve got to post it. The song is “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” by Herman’s Hermits. I wanted to fill in my music collection on the British Invasion groups outside the typical Beatles, Who, Stones, and I realized I didn’t have anything by Herman’s Hermits. I had heard of the group but other than this particular song I didn’t know much about them. I wound up buying one of their greatest hits compilations. They’re not a great group, but I was surprised at how many top ten songs they recorded. Perhaps one might consider them a lesser Beatles, whose sound and style they sort of share, at least with the early Beatles’ songs.
“Mrs.Brown You’ve got a Lovely Daughter” was one of their two number one hits in the United States (the other being “I'm Henery the Eighth, I Am” which I don’t like) and I’ve been trying to figure out why this song was such a hit. Musically I really like the rhythm guitar that accentuates the melody, and the lyrics feel quite honest, mostly I think because they’re so humble and restrained. It sounds like the fellow has really lost this girl. And yet, it’s overly melodramatic: Who is actually going to open up his heart like this to the girl’s mother? It’s almost absurd, and yet it feels honest. And that I think is because of lead singer Peter Noone’s vocals. It’s a sort of weird, off-beat voice that seems to have echoes of puberty still in it. At the time of its release, Noone was remarkably only eighteen years old. In his Wikipedia bio entry it says he studied voice growing up, and yet no one would say the singer of “Mrs. Brown” sounds like a mellifluous crooner. In addition to the restrained lyrics and adolescent voice, Noone’s Mancunian dialect adds to that honesty.
And yet, when you read the Wikipedia entry for the song, it says that no one on the Hermits wrote the song, and it wasn’t even an original recording. The song had been around for a few years and was a song that British bands in the day played at girl’s birthday parties, replacing the name “Brown” with whatever was the birthday girl’s name. So there is no actual honesty in the song. It never happened to Noone or anyone else, actually. Noone just happened to hit the right vocal articulation. That and the nice guitar work with a pleasant backup vocals make the song very appealing. Listen:
What do you think makes this song so appealing?