‘We’ve No One To Hold . . .’

One of the more sentimental songs in the folk/pop canon is “Turn Around,” written in the 1950s by Malvina Reynolds, Alan Greene, and Harry Belafonte and first recorded by Belafonte for his 1959 album Love Is A Gentle Thing. The song might be most memorable to folks of my generation for its use in a 1960s television commercial for Kodak.

We’ll get to all that, I think, as well as a discussion of which male vocalist sang the tune for the Kodak commercial, in the coming days. Today, I just wanted to note why the song slid back into my life. Not quite two weeks ago, I concluded a brief meditation on autumn with the late Charlie Louvin’s 1996 version of Sandy Denny’s lovely song “Who Knows Where The Time Goes.”

The song was from Louvin’s album The Longest Train, and after I wrote the post, I did some digging, listening to a few more tracks from the album at YouTube and checking out how the album was received by listeners and critics. And I decided to invest a small amount of cash in a used copy of the CD, which arrived yesterday. After listening to the album, I can say it’s one of the best investments of six bucks I’ve ever made.

Louvin was in his seventies when he recorded The Longest Train, and his voice shows it. But the aging that’s evident in his voice adds a poignant touch to many of the album’s tracks. That was true of “Who Knows Where The Time Goes” when I shared it twelve days ago, and it’s equally true in Louvin’s take on “Turn Around.”

There are numerous variations to the lyrics of “Turn Around.” Here’s how Louvin sings it on The Longest Train:

Where have you gone, my little boy, little boy?
Where have you gone, my sonny, my own?
Turn around, you’re two.
Turn around, and you’re four.
Turn around, you’re a young man going out the door.

Where have you gone, my little girl, little girl?
Pigtails and petticoats, where have they gone?
Turn around, you’re young.
Turn around, you’re grown.
Turn around, you’re a young wife with babes of your own.

Where have they gone, our little ones, those little ones?
Where have they gone, our children, our own?
Turn around, they’re young.
Turn around, they’re old.
Turn around, and they’ve gone and we’ve no one to hold.

Turn around, they’re young.
Turn around, they’re old.
Turn around, they’ve gone and we’ve no one to hold.

(For those interested, Louvin recorded the song once before, for the 1966 album The Many Moods of Charlie Louvin. That version is here.)

Tags:

Leave a Reply