Blog, SLS

Song Lyric Sunday – A Taste of Honey

This week we have sensory prompts:

Odor/Scent/Smell/Taste


In the 1960s it seems we had a lot more instrumental songs hit the charts. Dave Brubeck (Take Five), Al Hirt (Java), Hugh Masekela (Grazing in the Grass), Ferrante and Teicher (Exodus), Henry Mancini (A Time for Us), and of course Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass (A Taste of Honey) were all familiar. This was a time when buying albums was as cool as the cover artwork.

A prime example was Herb Alpert’s “Whipped Cream and other Delights” album cover. It was very provocative at the time. The model used in the photograph was Dolores Erickson who was covered in shaving cream rather than whipped cream which would have melted under the lights. Underneath the shaving cream she wore a bikini and was draped in a blanket from the waist down. She was also three months pregnant at the time. (Lots of really interesting pop culture here but I am trying not to get too distracted.)

This album track included “A Taste of Honey”. This record was in my father’s collection which we played frequently. But Herb Alpert was definitely not the first to record this song.

”A Taste of Honey” was originally written as an instrumental track by Bobby Scott and Ric Marlow for the 1960 Broadway production of the original 1958 British play by Shelagh Delaney. The play, also released as a film in 1961, covered a number of taboo subjects of the time. From Wikipedia:

A Taste of Honey is set in Salford in North West England in the 1950s. It tells the story of Jo, a seventeen-year-old working class girl, and her mother, Helen, who is presented as crude and sexually indiscriminate. Helen leaves Jo alone in their new flat after she begins a relationship with Peter, a rich lover who is younger than her. At the same time Jo begins a romantic relationship with Jimmy, a black sailor. He proposes marriage but then goes to sea, leaving Jo pregnant and alone. She finds lodgings with a homosexual acquaintance, Geoffrey, who assumes the role of surrogate father. Helen returns after leaving her lover and the future of Jo’s new home is put into question.

A Taste of Honey comments on, and puts into question, class, race, gender and sexual orientation in mid-twentieth-century Britain. It became known as a “kitchen sink” play, part of a genre revolutionising British theatre at the time.

The first lyrical recording of the song was made by Billy Dee Williams who was cast as Jimmie in the Broadway production.

The recording by Lenny Welch performed very well in the charts in 1962.

The iconic version by Herb Alpert with the controversial album cover.

The Beatles also covered Lenny Welch’s version.

I include this version by Julie London because I simply really enjoyed it and these iconic photographs.

“A Taste of Honey”
Lyrics from: Genius Lyrics

Winds may blow over the icy sea
I’ll take with me the warmth of thee
A taste of honey
A taste much sweeter than wine

I will return
I’ll return
I’ll come back for the honey and you

I’ll leave behind my heart to wear
And may it e’er remind you of
A taste of honey
A taste much sweeter than wine

I will return
I’ll return
I’ll come back for the honey and you

He ne’er came back to his love so fair
And so she died dreaming of his kiss
His kiss of honey
A taste more bitter than wine

I will return
I will return
I’ll come back for the honey and you
I’ll come back for the honey and you

While researching the song, I was really drawn in by the original play written by Shelagh Delaney written when she was only 18. The work at the time featured social issues underrepresented in theatre and film. The play was directed by Joan Littlewood, “The Mother of Modern Theatre” who was surveilled by MI5 for her involvement with the Communist Party. Quite an interesting group of people!

If you are curious (as I have been) about the play, you might find this revision guide interesting (looks like it is from a high school film study class).

Here’s a clip from the original movie as well.


 

Why not join in on this Sunday blogging ritual. Head over to Jim Adams’ blog to check out the rules and read some of the great responses to the weekly prompt.

24 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday – A Taste of Honey”

  1. These are all great versions. My favorites are the TJB, The Beatles, and Julie London, who had a beautiful voice and looked like a pinup.

    Among your instrumentals, don’t forget Vince Guaraldi (all the music for the Peanuts specials, and “Cast Your Fate To The Wind,” which might have been 1959), The Ramsey Lewis Trio (“The In Crowd”), Young-Holt Unlimited (Eldee Young and Redd Holt, who had been the bassist and drummer for Ramsey Lewis), Booker T. & The M.G.’s (“Green Onions,” “Hang ‘Em High”), Hugo Montenegro (“The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly”), Paul Mauriat (“L’Amour Est Bleu”), Percy Faith (“Theme From A Summer Place”) etc. etc. That was a fantastic time for instrumentals as well as vocal music. I was in heaven, a preteen jazz fiend…

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    1. Now you had to go and list all those other great instrumental pieces, John! 😁They were all hallmarks of the time and now I am off to listen to them all again. It was a great time for music. Of course now I must also add Michel Legrand and “The Summer of 42” “The Summer Knows” one of my favorite coming of age films.

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      1. I have a playlist called Lounge Instrumentals on YouTube that I put together using a post from Craig over at PopRockBopTilUDrop that has a bunch, and that’s just a start. I really like instrumentals…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a real lovely song Maggie and I enjoyed every version, but if I had to pick just one, it would be Julie London. I never saw or heard about this movie but it looks interesting, thanks for adding the clip.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading, Don. I found it all very interesting myself. And Julie London – such an amazing performer and such a beautiful lady.

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  3. I love this song Maggie and the film thought sad is brilliant and of its time. You have covered all the versions . I have chosen the Beatles version among my selection today. 💜💜💜

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    1. I have not read any other SLS posts yet, but I always enjoy yours so much. The Beatles version of this song was an interesting one and there were so many versions to choose from! The film, while sad, was remarkable in that it was filmed in the location in which it took place. Yes sad, but definitely a segment of society that people like to turn a blind eye to.

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      1. Yes and those years were full of dark and light. The haves and have-nots. Where the film was made was a very poor and dark place in those days, the film caught the feel perfectly. I do love the song 💜💜

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  4. The film is still worth watching today, and Rita Tushingham continues to act in films and on TV here. My dad worked for the record company that distributed Herb’s albums in the UK, so we had them all, including the famous ‘whipped cream’ one.
    But it doesn’t get better than Julie London for me, one of my all-time favourites.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading, Pete. I found the film to be so interesting as were the lives of all those involved in the theatre in that time period. The song is a classic favorite of mine, but I had no idea so many people recorded it – I didn’t even scratch the surface. I love the Julie London rendition – so classically elegant and there is no arguing how stunning she is in those photos. Of course I will always like the Herb Alpert instrumental as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I never knew this about the song…the version I’ve heard the most is The Beatles version…Sure didn’t know it was first written as an instrumental. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Most of my travel photos are not readily accessible. I will see what I can find, and if possible, I will post, but it may take a few days to unearth things.

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I appreciate those who read and I enjoy your thoughtful comments.

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