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.