Gary Brooker “Say It Ain’t So Joe”

Gary Brooker "No More Fear of Flying"

Gary Brooker
“No More Fear of Flying”

“Say It Ain’t So Joe”

There are three different versions of this tune that are going to be showcased this week but I had to choose one version to name the post after. So after playing rock, paper, scissors with myself Gary Brooker’s 1979 version off of “No More Fear of Flying” won out. They were all recorded in a 5 year span by three different artists and all sound similar with just a few tweaks here and there. This is a great mellow song that you will find yourself wanting to listen to a few times in a row. No fancy guitar solos, drum solos or any thing like that. Just a simple yet pure song that is sung by three different gentleman.

The song was written by and originally recorded by actor and singer/songwriter Murray Seafield Saint-George Head or as he was better known as “Murray Head”. Murray Head was better known for singing the song “Superstar” from the famous rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar”. Murray’s version of “Say It Ain’t So Joe” comes off of his 1975 album Say It Ain’t So. Taken from the Wikipedia page:

“The song was provoked by a seventies documentary on Richard Nixon prior to his resignation. The presenter was asking the editor of a small town newspaper outside Washington, how, in the face of conclusive evidence and proof, his readers could still show such undying support for the president they elected. The editor likens the situation to a scandal in the twenties, when Joe Jackson, the famous baseball player, was rumored to have taken a bribe to sink his team in the final of the World series. His fans hung around the stadium chanting “Say it ain’t so Joe”.
The song is about heroes and their “Clay feet’. It is also a plea from myself to the kind of ‘Joe Public’ who in fear of losing face, refuse to relinquish their faith in a fallen idol”

Our second version is from Roger Daltrey’s third solo record “One Of The Boys” that was released in 1977. Roger’s version has a little more balls to it then the other two and even features his fellow Who band mates Keith Moon and John Entwistle. The attached video is a live playing of the tune and you can see Keith Moon in the background having a blast and showing us what made him so fun to watch at times.

In 1979 Procol Harum founding member Gary Brooker (along with Keith Reid) came out with his first solo record No More Fear of Flying. This happened to be the first time that I had heard any of the versions of the tune and just fell in love with it. Soon after hearing it I tried to learn more about it and found the other two. After all these years this is still my favorite version but not by much. Maybe the reason it still is my favorite is the fact that it was the first version that I heard? Or is it the fact that back in the days I listened to more Procol Harum then The Who. Take a listen and let me know what your favorite is?

Murray Head

Roger Daltrey

Gary Brooker

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2 thoughts on “Gary Brooker “Say It Ain’t So Joe”

  1. I’m not much into politics so I have never heard this story before. Thanks for the information I’ll have to look it up. While doing research it was interesting on how many different stories I found on or if the saying was said to Joe. The whole concept of Joe makes “Field of Dreams” so enjoyable to me. That plus Burt Lancaster’s role. Glad you enjoyed it and tell my buddy hello back for me. About a week ago one of our cats got away from us for a few days (Hes back now) and I was about to ask her to come out to California. I could have sold it much better then the other people offering her Florida and other states.

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  2. I find Gary Brooker’s version more haunting, but I love the instrumentals in Daltrey’s ballsier interpretation. Being a baseball fan, I know the background on the White Sox Scandal back in the 20’s. But I remember a more recent use of “Say it ain’t so, Joe” during the 2008 vice presidential debates. Sarah Palin sneakily set up Joe Biden, so she could deliver the line to him on national tv. One of her lowest moments and that’s saying something, because she’s had so many. I really do love all of these versions and once, again, Dennis, thanks for brightening up my morning while adding to my music knowledge. Clare (Roxie says “hello”)

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