Hev Yew Gotta Loight, Boy?

Album: The Singing Postman (1964)


  • This dialect song was the surprise winner of the 1966 Ivor Novello Novelty Song Award. Allan Smethurst started playing the guitar only in 1949, in his early twenties. The music for "Hev Yew Gotta Loight, Boy?" was vaguely inspired by the American country star Jimmie Rogers, a personal favorite of his.
  • In 1953, Smethurst joined the Post Office as a postal delivery man (mailman), a position he held for twelve years. Although he was born in Lancashire, he spent most of his life in Norfolk, and wrote some eighty songs, all in the distinctive Norfolk dialect. He first came to the attention of BBC Radio in Norwich in 1959 after sending them a song he'd written about the town of Sheringham - reminiscences of his boyhood - but although there was some interest it was not until local businessman and radio broadcaster Ralph Tuck suggested sponsoring a record that he came to national prominence.
    Tuck had played some of his songs on his Wednesday Morning regional program, and in December 1964, a promotional EP was released on his own label, Four Winds, backed by Ralph Tuck Promotions Ltd. The other songs on the record were "Come Along A Me," "Moind Yer Hid Boy" and "A Miss From Diss."
    Tuck was motivated by altruism rather than by commercial considerations, and ordered a mere hundred copies for his first pressing. In four months, he sold nearly ten thousand! Briefly, the record outsold the Beatles in East Anglia. The same four tracks were later released by EMI as "First Delivery."
  • In 1966, Dick James Music published Songs of The Singing Postman Allan Smethurst Souvenir Album, which included the words and music as "Have You Got A Light Boy?" In the Foreword, James himself wrote "Allan Smethurst will probably go to America soon". Sadly, this prediction never came true.
  • "Hev Yew Gotta Loight, Boy?" is a love song which sees the writer romancing local girl Molly Windley; they marry, she presents him with triplets, and they live happily ever after, (notwithstanding the inadvisability of his heavily pregnant wife's chain-smoking). The actual story is somewhat different, and far sadder. Allan Smethurst never married, and appears never even to have had a girlfriend in the proper sense of the word. In 1966, he had a minor heart attack; he also suffered stage fright, and developed arthritis which hampered his guitar playing. By 1970 he was unemployed and broke, and would spend the last twenty years of his life living in a Salvation Army Hostel in Grimsby, a town whose main claim to fame is that Elton John and Bernie Taupin once wrote a tongue-in-cheek song about its delights. He died in poverty in December 2000. In his BBC obituary, Molly Bayfield, who was some six years his junior and the inspiration for his award winning song, said she was saddened by his death. Just before he died he was visited by Rolf Harris, who had also recorded the song; The Singing Postman spawned a number of tribute and copycat acts. In 1994, his hit was parodied for an Ovaltine advertisement; later, the song itself was re-released by Anglian Music as "Hev You Gotta Loight Bor?", the title track of one of a seven CD set said to contain his complete recordings. There is also a veiled reference to the song in David Bowie's contemporary (and quite awful novelty song) "The Laughing Gnome."
    While Allan Smethurst was afraid he would be remembered for just the one song, like the man himself it has become a metaphor for a fast disappearing way of life in the face of an increasingly Cosmopolitan Britain. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for all above

Comments: 1

  • Marc from Cleethorpes, United KingdomContry to popular belife Alan Smethhurst who was a friend of mine lived in cleethorpes for sevral years in Garnet St at least untill the mid 1990s
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