Nothing Rhymed

Album: Himself (1970)
Charted: 8 114
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Songfacts®:

  • "Nothing rhymed" is a way of saying that things are out of order, which is how Gilbert O'Sullivan felt when he saw footage of famished children in Africa. "That was the first time on television there had been starving children," he told the Sodajerker podcast. "There had never been any film of what was going on in Africa, so that really resonated with everybody who watched that. As a lyric writer, I very often write about what I read in the newspaper or see on television. It was a song of the times. The horror that goes on in the world, the violence, the starving, those issues are the day-to-day things that for me as a lyricist interest me."
  • This was O'Sullivan's first single from his debut album Himself. Released on the MAM Label backed by "Everybody Knows," it was recorded at Audio International Studios, London, and produced by Gordon Mills.

    According to Dick Tatham writing in the British girls' weekly Jackie in 1974, Mills was sure "Nothing Rhymed" was the best of the songs to start the ball rolling, and advised him to pack in his job with Mobil Oil at once, but having worked for them for three years, O'Sullivan felt obliged to give them two weeks' notice.
  • "Nothing Rhymed" was released October 30, 1970; he was at Mills' house when a call came through to say it had charted at #30 in the UK. This fully orchestrated, somewhat enigmatic song was a breakthrough for O'Sullivan and rose to #8 on that tally. Perhaps more surprising, the very British-sounding song also found an audience in America, where it reached #114. O'Sullivan's next album, Back To Front, contained his US #1 "Alone Again (Naturally)" and his UK chart-topper "Clair."
  • Tom Jones and Burton Cummings are among those to cover the song. It has also been recorded in other languages: in Dutch as "Niets Gedaan" by Marc-Marie Huijbregts (with lyrics by Frank Houtappels), and in Italian as "Era Bella" by I Profeti (with lyrics by Daniel Pace). >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 3
  • To symbolize his decadent comfort, O'Sullivan sings:

    I'm drinking my Bonaparte shandy
    Eating more than enough apple pies


    Speaking with Songfacts, he explained that "Bonaparte shandy" indicates Napoleon brandy, which is a luxury spirit.

Comments: 1

  • Alistair from Daventry, United KingdomIt was a ground-breaking song and not only for O'Sullivan's drummer style of piano playing. He had further good songs to his name and is still touring to this day.
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