Welcome to Yesterday’s Papers, a fortnightly musical playlist themed around topical events.
This week’s theme, inevitably, is Bad Romance, inspired by the various political calamities that have befallen our leaders this week as relationships break down.
Musically — because we could all do with something soothing — our theme this week is doo wop and pop from the ’50s and ’60s, where immaculately turned-out vocal groups sang mini-operas for sad teens about the punishments endured for no crime except loving.
What a difference a day made. On Monday, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian confessed on the ICAC stand to “a close personal relationship” with former MP Daryl Maguire, while he was engaged in a level of shonkiness and spivery that was only redeemed by how bad at it he seemed to be.
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“Dark End of the Street” — Percy Sledge’s devastating tale of clandestine love — may have you shedding a tear for these two… at least until you recall that, when they were both sitting ministers, Berejiklian replied to a Maguire text about receiving money from a property developer with “woo hoo“.
The Del-Vikings’ sprightly a capella “Cold Feet” is for Maguire, who had to hear it publicly stated that she didn’t consider their relationship of “sufficient status” to tell anyone else about it.
We include Gladys Knight and the Pips’ “It Should Have Been Me” on account of John Barilaro and various hard-right backbenchers, who must have felt a pang of something ineffable watching Maguire achieve what they had wanted so badly, but could never attain: destroying Berejiklian’s career.
Meanwhile in Melbourne, Victoria’s top public servant Chris Eccles left Dan Andrews, and the population continued to watch weekends stretch into nothing from the confines of our living rooms.
We end on “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. The story of the singer who gave us possibly doo wop’s definitive song is a sad one, and the baby-faced crooner became most acquainted with bad romance. He quit the group in 1957, thinking (incorrectly) he could prosper without them. A superstar at 14 and a has-been by 20, he married Elizabeth Waters in 1964 (the only problem being that she was already married) and together they fathered a daughter, who tragically died soon after birth.
After the marriage failed, he was linked with The Platters’ Zola Taylor (whose “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” is included in our playlist). They apparently married Mexico in 1965, although it ended mere months later, and may have been a publicity stunt all along.
All this time Lymon had a serious drug addiction and was mainly employed lip-syncing his decade-old hits on TV. In 1967 Lymon married Georgia school teacher Emira Eagle. In 1968, potentially on the verge of a comeback, Lymon died of a heroin overdose.
Lymon’s sad story continued beyond his death. In the early 1980s, Waters, Taylor and Eagle all approached Morris Levy — the colourful music industry figure/organised crime enthusiast — who controlled Lymon’s royalties. Each claimed to be Lymon’s rightful widow. As it turns out, Lymon had neglected to divorce any of them.
Listen to the full playlist below.