When I was young, I never needed anyone. And makin’ love was just for fun. Those days are gone.

So sang Eric Carmen on his big breakup hit All By Myself, a parent pleasing couple of minutes during Top of the Pops. Huge in the mid ’70s, the song signalled the man as a major contender whose career was about to go stellar.

At the time I despised the song thinking it was maudlin balladeering at its worst although those days are gone too and I’ve developed a sneaking admiration for its grandiose piano, George Harrison guitars and Carmen’s soaring vocal delivery.

You may well disagree but it is a good tune and stands the test of time and I can back this up with proof – it ‘borrows’ heavily from Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, composed in the early days of the twentieth century.

Before all this, Carmen was the singer in The Raspberries, a powerpop combo from Cleveland that also tasted success in the States and were tipped for very big things.

Incessantly catchy and with a great punchy guitar riff and exquisite harmonies, the first thirty seconds of Go All the Way sounds like Steve Marriot fronting Big Star as do the final thirty seconds, which is surely no bad thing. The in-between bits are pretty damned good too.

Here it is, three and a half minutes of powerpop gorgeosity:


According to Wikipedia, young people like myself though didn’t get the chance to hear Go All the Way at the time of its release in Britain because the BBC banned their wholesome DJs from playing it due to its suggestive title. Well, they wouldn’t want us corrupted by listening to a pop song, would they?

The Raspberries continued on a high in America. In 1974, their single Overnight Sensation charted in the Billboard top twenty and Rolling Stone raved about their Starting Over album. And maybe even better, when they played L.A.’s Whisky a Go Go, Keith Moon jammed with them.

They broke up, though, after playing a show in Pennsylvania in the spring of 1975 and Eric decided that he actually did want to go forward all by himself.

PowerPop Raspberries & The Knack

And now for a song that in 1979 became the fastest selling American single since I Want to Hold Your Hand in the Beatlemania days of 1964. This came on the jukebox in one of my locals a while back and my pal was more than a little surprised when I admitted that I was a big fan of The Knack’s finest moment.

‘The Knack? The Cack, more like.’

Admittedly this was a band that were never going to be deemed remotely cool with their identikit American ‘new wave’ skinny ties and suits and lack of charisma. Apparently George W. Bush is a fan too which doen’t retrospectively help but then again, David Cameron likes The Smiths and The Jam.

I know very little about The Knack other than My Sharona was written about a girl that that singer Doug Fieger had a major crush on. Luckily she wasn’t called Elizabeth or Lesley or even Sharon or Rhona. Just imagine Muh muh muh muh muh my Rhona. Would just not have been as good, would it?

Here’s a tip if you want to impress any female you might have a crush on yourself. Write a song about her that goes to #1 and stays there for six weeks, selling more copies than any other single in America in the year of its release. This certainly worked for Doug and the pair soon started dating but separated after four years. Sharona rose to the top herself. In the real estate business anyway, selling mansions to the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio.

And who is that good looking gal on the cover of the single?

Well, apparently that is Sharona (Alperin).

The only other Knack related story I know is that Quentin Tarantino wanted to use My Sharona in the middle section of Pulp Fiction when some rednecks take Marsellus and Butch hostage in the basement of a pawnshop, intending to do things to them that the pair really don’t want done to them.

Talking to Movieline magazine, Quentin claimed of the song: ‘It’s got a good butt-fucking beat to it.’

Something I personally hadn’t equated with it previously.

Sadly, he couldn’t secure the rights to the track, which was used instead on 1994’s Reality Bites, a Generation X romcom directed by Ben Stiller which is worth a watch if you haven’t seen it.

Anyway, here is My Sharona.


More PowerPop again next week, folks.