top of page

Meet The Parentheses: 10 songs with brackets in the title

Updated: May 6, 2020

Phil Shaw

THE FACES: You Can Make Me Dance, Sing Or Anything (Even Take The Dog For A Walk, Mend A Fuse, Fold Away The Ironing Board Or Any Other Domestic Shortcomings)

History tells us the Faces were falling apart by 1974, brought low by Ronnie Lane’s departure. Tellingly, for this final single they were billed as Faces/Rod Stewart. But what a brilliant swansong: great melody, funky guitar riff by Ronnie Wood and typically quirky sub-title between the brackets.

FRANK WILSON: Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)

The most coveted Northern Soul single ever and one of the finest. Wilson was a Motown producer when he cut this rip-roaring dancer in 1965, but label boss Berry Gordy was reputedly unimpressed. Two of the 250 demo copies survived; one fetched £25,750 at auction in 2009. Do I love it? 'Deed I do.

P.P. ARNOLD: (If You Think You're) Groovy

PPA is now 70 and still groovy. This ‘put-down’ number peaked at 41 in the UK in 1968. Penned by Marriott and Lane of her Immediate label-mates the Small Faces (who also perform and sing on it), it shows the former Ikette’s gospel roots to dazzling effect. Stunning brass arrangement too.

THE BYRDS: Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season)

This is as close as I get to religion. Left-wing folkie Pete Seeger set the first eight verses of the Book of Ecclesiastes – King James’ Bible, 1611 – to music. In 1965 Roger McGuinn saw its Vietnam War-era potential for The Byrds’ ethereal harmonies and jangling guitars. ‘A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.’

THE DELFONICS: (Didn’t I) Blow Your Mind This Time?

Classic sweet soul from 1969, this is a slow song of lost love. William Hart’s signature falsetto carries a beautiful if mournful melody, but other characteristics also make it stand out, even in the Philly canon – the French horn that starts it and the electric sitar sound à la Paper Sun and Cry Like A Baby.

MANIC STREET PREACHERS: La Tristesse Durera (Scream To A Sigh)

The main title is taken from the reported dying words of Vincent Van Gogh, minus the ‘toujours’ which Van Gogh’s brother Theo also claimed he said: ‘The sadness will last forever.’ An anti-war song, about veterans at the Cenotaph, it featured the soon-gone Richey Edwards and reached No22 in 1993.

THE CHI-LITES: (For God’s Sake) Give More Power To The People

The Chi-Lites were better known for the pretty, lightweight pop of Have You Seen Her And Too Good To Be Forgotten. Here they try to out-psych The Temptations, thrusting ‘Black Power’ fists in the air on US-TV’s Soul Train. A slight flaw, maybe, is the concept of anyone giving power to the people?

THE STRANGLERS: (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)

Like the Beastie Boys’ (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party), this 1977 Stranglers single, their first, playfully features double brackets. Dave Greenfield’s Doors-ish keyboards propel a song with enough attitude to compensate for the line ‘The worst crime I ever did was play some rock ‘n’ roll’.

ARETHA FRANKLIN: (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman

Carol King wrote it with then-husband Gerry Goffin, and later recorded it, but she is savvy enough to realise that Aretha’s version, which hit the US top 10 in 1967, is the definitive one. Her vocal, by turns soft and soaring, is one of the greatest in a career littered with stunning performances.

SLY & THE FAMILY STONE: Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

I saw the Family Stone, minus their founder, at the Moseley Jazz Funk Festival and this, with Family Affair and Dance To the Music, was a highlight of a set bristling with his unique blend of funk, soul and rock styles. The sub-title showed Sly’s sense of humour before cocaine-fuelled paranoia kicked in.



Chubby Checker: (At the) Discotheque

The Pretenders: Brass In Pocket (I’m Special)

Junior Walker & The All Stars: How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)

Grandmaster Flash: White Lines (Don’t Do It)

John Lennon: Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)

Shirley Bassey: I (Who Have Nothing)

Phil Shaw first wrote about music in Time Out from 1978 to '81 before concentrating on sports journalism with the Guardian and the Independent for 35 years. His collection of 7" singles stands at more than 2,000 and among his proudest possessions is a silver disc for penning the sleeve notes to the official 1998 World Cup album.


1,122 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page