Maybe If I Pray

Growing up, I was surrounded by an extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins, lots and lots of cousins. America saw a baby boom in the years following WWII and I think my family was expecting another one after the Vietnam War. Wanting to get a jump on the boom, everybody had lots of sex during the war resulting in about 15 kids born from the late 60’s to the mid early 70’s. This way when the post war boom kids went to school, my relatives would already be there, waiting to steal there lunch money and beat them up. It was a brilliant plan, except the post Vietnam baby boom was only experienced by my mom. So with no one to beat up we had to find other things to do. We gathered on Sundays at my great grandmother’s where we played games together, watched TV and plotted together to try and talk our parents into agreeing to the sleepover.

The sleepover was the holy grail of cousin related activities and with so many of us the opportunity to mix and match kids was pretty much endless. For the parents it was a chance to swap their kids for some other, hopefully better behaved kids, but for us kids it was the absolute best thing in the world. Pack your pajamas and the board games, we’re gonna have ice pops and play Life until we pass out from exhaustion.

I haven’t thought about these sleepovers in years but something I heard yesterday reminded me of them. My Aunt Ann lived two blocks away had five kids an old hi-fi with velvet covered speakers that, as far as I can tell, only played oldies. Remember how in 1987’s Adventures in Babysitting nobody left without singing the blues? My aunt’s house was like that except it was oldies. You could spend the night, ride the Kawasaki spin out big wheel, eat ham and play the Battle of the Network Stars board game, but your ass was gonna be singing Runaround Sue before the end of the night.

While I thought the songs we unbearable as a kid, I remember all of them and I heard a version of one of them yesterday that absolutely killed me.

Lets take a step backwards… The song I heard yesterday was Maybe. Maybe written by Richard Barrett is a treasure straight out of songwriting 101 about a lost love and was a huge hit in 1957 by the Chantels (not to be confused with the JennChantals) who despite having an average age of 15 at the time it was recorded, manage to convey the heartbreak and weariness in the lyrics. Maybe, if I pray every night/You’ll come back to me./Maybe, if I cry everyday/You’ll come back to stay.

Now the punk rock and new wave fans who read this blog are probably familiar with Stiff Records, the UK label that released Elvis Costello’s early stuff as well as a slew of other great records in the 70’s and 80’s (Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, Wreckless Eric, Desmond Decker and many more). So, yesterday I was listening to a Stiff Records compilation that featured some singles released in the early days by some of the lesser known artists (lesser known today at least) on the label’s roster and it included a version of Maybe released in 1977 by a singer named Jill Read and she…absolutely, positively nails it. While Stiff is best known for punk and new wave artists they also put out a lot of roots rock and soul; Jill Read’s take on Maybe is squarely in the soul camp (Soul Camp sounds like an awesome place doesn’t it?)

So as I’m listening to the song and thinking about my aunt’s house I start to look for info on Jill Read and I can’t find a thing about her, not even on the Stiff records site. All I know is that Maybe is an absolutely killer song, released on Stiff Records and the single possibly features Dave Edmunds backing her up. Apparently others have tried to find her too because the one picture I found of the record sleeve says “Jill, if your out there, write to us for your royalties”. Does anyone have any information on Jill Read? If you can find any, let me know. I’ll be extremely grateful and I’ll ask my aunt if you can go to her house and listen to some oldies with her.

Updated 1/30/08
According to several sources, Jill Read was actually Dave Edmunds, which explains why she’s never been located. Apparently Dave’s vocal was speed up on the track. This does nothing to take away from the fact that it’s a great song.

Here’s the song for you and the Chantels version. I know I post music here all the time but the Jill Read version is one song you absolutely have to hear. Click the link to download.

Jill Read – Maybe

The Chantels – Maybe



Filed under General Tomfoolery

2 responses to “Maybe If I Pray

  1. Anne(cousin of the boy)

    I love this post it brings back the very best memories we had as kids!!! I’m sure my mom will let anyone you send her way over for some oldies anytime!!!

  2. I found you through Tom’s site. . .extraordinary post.

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