Happy birthday to Petula Clark, seventy years old today, who sings one of my favorite songs ever, "Don't Sleep in the Subway." Although it was a modest chart hit in 1967, I had never heard it until a few years ago when I was making a New York City mix for two friends who were about to move to Brooklyn. I looked for songs with "subway" in the title and it popped up. Listening to this song for the first time (the first several times, actually) was a delight-ambush: it starts off perfectly enough, with its brisk, cool, bustling first verse, but then it suddenly switches up into a grandiose orchestral cry, and then, whoa!--a steep dropoff into the minimalist chorus, like a reverse Pixies, all hush and pizzicato.
I played it again and again and again.
Nothing else in her oeuvre sounds quite like this or grabs me like this. But this is so perfect I couldn't ask for anything else.
Petula Clark, "Don't Sleep in the Subway"