Petula Clark, Downtown, A Sign of the Times

Normally, when you think about the end of the baseball season, you don’t think about Petula Clark, but I do. I’m a rabid New York Mets fan, and when I was a kid, I had a VHS of “Amazin Era,” a film about the history of the New York Mets from 1962-1985. I watched that tape endlessly, over and over, and the soundtrack from that tape just fills me with that special brand of nostalgia. As the Mets season came to another disappointing finish yesterday afternoon, I randomly stumbled on the old Petula Clark song “A Sign of the Times.” This song was featured prominently in the “Amazin Era” tape, and its etched in the loops of my childhood memories. Now, those who read my website know that when I’m posting songs from the 60s, they are usually the absolute best songs of the era; the most artistic, the most serious, the most life changing. Petula’s 60s output doesn’t live up to those standards, but she WAS a product of the most glorious time in pop music, and as a consequence, her cheesy music still IS powerful. “Downtown,” made famous in modern times as a minor subplot in a Seinfeld episode, is an example of this. Its about a lonely woman who just travels to the city to see a movie to lift her spirits. Its totally dumb, but the melody, and Petula’s singing are out of this world. The same goes for “A Sign of the Times,” a sterling diamond of a song. To me, and I know this is borderline insanity, but “A Sign of the Times” was exactly the type of song Paul McCartney was writing in early 1967. It has an awesome vintage British feel that has proven incredibly hard to replicate by anyone since that era. So, sit back, and enjoy these two hunks of 60s confectionery sugar.

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