Not all Cliff Richard’s hits have stood the test of time particularly well. Miss You Nights is the exception.
Maybe it’s that if you set yourself up (or at least don’t sue the first person who called you that) as the “Peter Pan of Pop” your material (and indeed your personal life) will be subjected to the microscope of examination.
Over the years he has so often been in the right place at the right time (yes, ok, occasionally he’s been in the wrong place too) but when the UK needed an answer to Elvis here was the rapidly re-named Harry Webb to answer the call (granted the rock ‘n’ roll energy of 1958’s Move It and High Class Baby didn’t last long).
When we needed a film star he obliged with the likes of The Young Ones, Wonderful Life and Summer Holiday. And when our Eurovision hopes needed bailing out he obliged with Congratulations and its accompanying daft dance.
Christmas never used to officially start until Cliff’s festive contribution and whoever picked his material certainly had an ear for a hit in a changing pop world.
To that end Miss You Nights stands head and shoulders above most of his hits – having stood the test of time since its 1975 release remarkably well.
Over the years Sir Cliff (he was knighted in 1995) has lined quite a few pockets with writing royalties. None more so than Dave Townsend who wrote Miss You Nights in 1974 while his girlfriend was away on holiday. He recorded it for Island Records, but the label shelved the album it was on and decided to recoup part of the cost through cover deals on some of it songs. Some demo tapes were handed to Bruce Welch of The Shadows who also worked as producer for Cliff and was looking for material to revitalize his career after a spell of mid 20s and 30s peaks.
Welch immediately recognized it as a hit saying later: “Andrew Powell’s string arrangement helped to make it a great love song through its imagery and potent feelings of longing and loneliness.”
Welch and Cliff recorded it in September 1975. It was the lead single from Cliff’s studio album I’m Nearly Famous and reached number 15 in the UK charts. Despite the rather lowly placing it has become an enduring favourite of his fans and in 2006 UK BBC Radio 2 listeners voted it their top Cliff Richard song of all time.
Of the song and its writer Cliff said: “I think it’s one of the nicest songs I’ve ever made… when I heard his version it was terrific. He [Townsend] was pleased to have that happen. I mean it could have been anybody and it would have been a hit.”
It’s probably not true that Townsend subsequently sent his girlfriend away every year in the hopes he would be inspired to write another hit (Still Miss You and Don’t Miss You Quite As Much never really worked out).
Townsend was born in Somerset and aside from his intermittent solo career, he was also a vocalist for The Alan Parsons Project, singing lead vocals on Don’t Let it Show on the album, I Robot (1977), and You Won’t Be There from Eve (1979).
He was nominated for an Ivor Novello Award in 1977 for Best Middle of the Road Song with Miss You Nights – although the eventual winner was John Miles for Music. He also wrote Jimmy Ruffin’s That’s When My Loving Begins and Elaine Paige’s Far Side of the Bay.
By 2003 it was reported that he was writing a Ph.D. thesis in history at Essex University.
As for Miss You Nights, the song has been recorded by numerous other artists, most notably Westlife, who released it as the second track on a double A-side single in 2003. The Westlife single reached number 3 in the UK singles chart.
In 1994, Cliff Richard re-released the song on a double A-side single with All I Have to Do Is Dream, which was listed first. All I Have to Do Is Dream, originally by The Everly Brothers was recorded as a live duet with Phil Everly, while Miss You Nights is a remix of the 1976 original. The double A-side single reached number 14 in the UK singles chart.
|14 November 1975
|Art Garfunkel, The Nolans