1972.

This was before pop became homogenised, and quirkiness was only permitted at Christmas -- the UK Chart in 1972 was all about quirky. It had Donny and Little Jimmy Osmond, The Pipes and Drums of the Scots Guards, Glam rockers like The Sweet and Suzi Quatro. It had Roberta Flack's gorgeous rendition of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. And it had the Peter Skellern ballad "You're a Lady".

Peter Skellern was a composer, pianist and singer who graduated from the Guildhall School of Music in 1968. He briefly became a concert pianist but his classical future was derailed when he joined vocal harmony group March Hare. They were spectacularly unsuccessful, disbanding after only one album, but Peter had, by then, turned all his attention to popular music.

Of course, as a career choice, pop wasn't that financially stable so other jobs had to supplement his income. It was while working as a hotel porter in Shaftesbury, Dorset that he wrote the song that would be his greatest hit, and would always be identified with him.

Now, the evening has come to a close
And I've had my last dance with you.
Along the empty streets we go,
And it might be my last chance with you.

So I might as well get it over.
The things I have to say won' t wait until another day.

You're a lady, I'm a man.
You're supposed to understand.
How these things are often planned
To be.

You're romantic, I'm a fool.
You're teacher, I've come to school.
Here I sit and hope that you'll
Love me.

You're pure magic, unlock my chain.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
And so I say with no restraint.
Be mine,
Be mine.

Hard to answer , yes I agree,
But then I've got to know,
I'm not asking you to marry me,
Just a little love to show.

Oh, I know I could make you happy,
So the things I have to say won't wait until another day

You're a lady, I'm a man.
You're supposed to understand.
How these things are often planned
To be.

You're romantic, I'm a fool.
You're teacher, I've come to school.
Here I sit and hope that you'll
Love me.

You're pure magic, unlock my chain.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
And so I say with no restraint.
Be mine,
Be mine.

When you read the lyrics, it looks sentimental, maybe just a touch banal. But you have to hear it. There are three distinct layers

The top layer is Skellern's wistful, gentle and slightly melancholy voice. It sounds utterly genuine. Like a George Formby movie, it conveys "I'm a simple man, but I love you, and I'll do everything I can't make you happy." With just that layer, it would be a sweetly pretty, but forgettable song.

But supporting this is flawless piano - Peter was classically trained, and if you listen, it shows. The playing is fluid and lyrical. Adding this layer alone would have made the song memorable.

Then - and this is where the quirkiness and the brilliance of the song shows - there is the richness of a full northern brass band. It doesn't roar, it certainly doesn't "oompah" but the muted tones of the horns, trumpets and trombones add a texture and depth that turns something pretty into something beautiful, and makes "memorable" into "unforgettable".

It's not one of those insistent, irritating songs that plagues you; but if you've ever heard it, you're likely to find that some evening you'll be sitting or walking in the moonlight, probably with someone you love, and it'll drift gently into your mind. And you'll smile.

Lyrics noded with permission.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.