You're bringing me down
You stood and you watched as
My baby left town
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Winchester Cathedral exterior
You just never know if something is going to turn out a hit. In 1966 the novelty song "Winchester Cathedral" hit the charts and became a smash. It made it to #1 in the USA and to #10 in the UK. In style it was a tribute to the dance band music of the 1920s and the vocal style of Rudy Vallee, who used a megaphone to create a certain vocal sound.
"Novelty song" is a good title for its genre. Wacky is another description. It’s about a guy annoyed at a church because it - the building - didn’t react when the guy’s girlfriend left town. The very least the church could have done was to ring its bell. And from such lyrical nonsense came an international hit. Or maybe it was the catchy melody and the zany vocal style through a megaphone that did the trick.
You can tell a song has done well when you see the list of artists who have recorded a cover version. With "Winchester Cathedral," the list of covers includes Petula Clark, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Conniff, Frank Sinatra and Lawrence Welk.
The New Vaudeville Band single sold 3 million copies of "Winchester Cathedral" and it won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Song in 1967. Sadly, the band didn’t do quite as well. There were disputes over money, and when they toured, almost all the players were new. In the 1970s they released an album without a date, and like the sun, the band slowly disappeared below the Hampshire horizon.
Winchester is a city in the County Hampshire in the southeast of England. If you go to Winchester, you’ve got to visit the cathedral. Dating back to 1079, it is one of the largest cathedrals in the world and boasts the longest nave in all of Europe. Among other illustrious events, Winchester Cathedral doubled as a London church in The Da Vinci Code
, the movie starring Tom Hanks, based on the huge hit novel by Dan Brown.
There are also ties to another famous novelist: Jane Austen, who is buried just inside the cathedral near the front. Of many Austen-penned novels, Pride And Prejudice
stands out as a hit TV series with none other than Colin Firth in the lead role of Mr. Darcy. Firth himself was born in Hampshire.
Except on the Sabbath, daily tours of the Cathedral are offered. If you don’t mind heights, you can walk the almost 525 feet of the nave on the floor and/or upstairs on the roof. And if you’re a campanologist, Winchester Cathedral has the only peal of 14 bells in a diatonic tone in the world.
Hampshire is easy to reach by train from London or by car, with several major roads taking you to this beautiful and much-visited county. Winchester, with only some 40,000 inhabitants, is easy to get around and enjoy.
~ Cenarth Fox
Winchester Cathedral Songfacts
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