My Classic Singers 1- Susanna Hoffs

Yes, it’s time to be subjective on a subject that is guaranteed to cause debate and outright disagreement – music. I am going to pick, every now and then, a singer whom I like and then choose five songs that best show their voice. Sounds like fun to me, let’s hope it is for you too – if any of you are reading. So who to start with?

I chose Susanna Hoffs – and yes, I can already hear you saying ‘George, you’ve simply got crush on her,’ to which I can say, ‘Well…yeah! But, more than that, her voice is just gorgeous and I could listen to it all day.’ So why Ms Hoffs first? No reason other than I was recently sifting through my collection and came across Different Light on cassette. From there I just did what I usually do and began wondering what the Bangles were doing now and started investigating. I worked through the Bangles reunion and albums and Susanna Hoff’s partnership with Matthew Sweet, which has produced some great moments. Then on to the recent album Someday.

The first time I heard Susanna’s voice was when I heard Going Down to Liverpool on Radio 1 one evening in my home town of Stafford, UK in about 1985 (probably) It was a bright moment on a cold rainy night. I didn’t know who it was who was singing backing vocals and harmonies, but the voice sounded great.

But enough rambling, which five songs did I pick – well, here goes in no particular order:

1. If She Knew What She Wants – This is on the album Different Light and I was surprised it didn’t do better in the charts in the UK. I preferred it to all of the other singles as the melody fitted so well with her voice.  She really gets the angst, frustration, and emotion of a story about somebody who is certain that there’s something better out there but can’t define it.

2. Raining –  This is a recent song, and a classic – very country and a great musical journey that proves she’s still got it. I used to think that I didn’t like folky / country music, but various people, notably Paul Kelly & Rodney Crowell, have convinced me otherwise. It’s not the genre, it’s the song that is important – the melody and the voice. This has both.  This song took me on a nostalgic journey, but not mine. I felt the raw emotion, the feeling of loss, and the almost unstoppable urge to pick up my guitar and start writing a song. Love it.

3. The Look of Love – This is a spankingly good version of this classic song. There is a delightful hint of huskiness to her voice in this song. I felt like getting a glass of good red wine and curling by a fire.  And you can’t beat a good saxophone – despite its over-use in the 80s!

4. Something That You Said –  This is off Dollhouse Revolution and is, maybe, my favourite with her voice. I was pretty much spellbound by this when I heard it and, to be honest, I can’t really put it into words. The best I can do is to say that this is one of those songs that picks you up and then takes you floating along on the cushion that is her voice…wow. Umm…speechless.

5. Manic Monday – Can’t really leave this out. For me it is the song that introduced me to Susanna Hoff’s voice. A great pop song that was written by Prince, but the Bangles made it their own, and I probably saw them performing on Top of the Pops and that was it – I was hooked. And if you track down the acoustic version on youtube you’re in for a treat.

Up next – who knows – perhaps Ian Dury, Paul Kelly, or maybe Cyndi Lauper (I once wrote a poem about her after one of her concerts, so Cyndi will be in the mix somewhere). But just in case Susanna feels somehow slighted, I have to come clean and say that I’ve never seen Susanna perform live – my loss I know – but if I ever do I promise to write a poem about her too – or perhaps even a song.

Now, I’m going to pick up my guitar and start writing more songs – probably bad ones. Even the cat looks petrified every time I go near the guitar – so that’s hardly a glowing endorsement.

See ya later


About George Fripley
I am a writer who enjoys writing humour, satire, poetry and sometimes a bit of philosophy. I live in Perth, Western Australia and occasionally get a poem or article published. It's all good fun! I have two books available for unwary readers, Grudges, Rumours and Drama Queens- The Civil Servant's Manual (This contains all that anybody could ever want to know about why government runs so slowly) and More Gravy Please! - the Politician's Handbook. (available through Amazon)

3 Responses to My Classic Singers 1- Susanna Hoffs

  1. Definitely a great voice – my favourite of her vocals is ‘Dover Beach’ off ‘All Over the Place’!

  2. Pingback: Classic Singers 3 – Kirsty MacColl | Another Grumpy Commuter

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