When Joanna Loved Me – Scott Walker

When Joanna Loved Me is a grand romantic gesture.

Robert Wells wrote the words and Jack Segal wrote the music – it was a hit for Toni Bennett – well it reached number 94 on the singles chart in 1964!

I know it from Scott Walker‘s 1967 UK début album Scott.

 

It opens

 

Today is just another day,

tomorrow is just a guess, but

yesterday, oh what I’d give for yesterday,

to relive one yesterday and its happiness

 

A lyric of existential ennui, cool even cold toward the moment and the future but warm and nostalgic for days of Joanna gone by.

With no new love, living now on the embers of this past love.

Delivered in Scott’s luxurious baritone, as luxurious as the string arrangements that accompany him. Arranged by Wally Stott (and Wally was a she as this was a pen-name – real name Angela Morley), Reg Guest and Peter Knight.

Understated yet nothing left unsaid. Masterful.

When Joanna Loved Me,

Every town was Paris,

every day was Sunday,

every month was May.

When Joanna loved me,

every sound was music,

music made of laughter,

laughter that was bright and gay.

Angela Morley

Angela Morley

With Joanna in our life it was worth living, whereas now we just exist as Joanna fades into ever distant memory. Time not standing still.

But when Joanna left me,

May became December.

The day becomes the night,

hope extinguished like a candle-flame,

but no, listen on, hope still lingers…

‘Even in December, I remember her touch,

her smile, and for a little while, she loves me.

And once again its Paris,

Paris on a Sunday, And the month is May.

What a beautifully compact expression of love lost but still living, burning on in the heart and soul of the lorn lover.

It is never said if ‘He Loved Joanna’, or how their love ended, an infidelity perhaps. We do not need to know. The song is a vignette – what came before, what comes after, of no consequence.