#643: Midnight Blue by Louise Tucker

Peak Month: September 1983
9 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #5
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #46
YouTube.com link: “Midnight Blue
“Midnight Blue” lyrics

Louise Tucker was born in 1956 in Bristol, UK. She was trained in opera at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. She has performed opera with the Ax-en-Province Festival, the Dublin Grand Opera, the Holland Park Festival, the Kent Opera and the Orleans Opera. She is an acclaimed opera star and has wowed music critics and fans alike with her renditions of Elgar’s Sea Pictures, Verdi’s Requiem and Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius. She has also sung numerous times in Handel’s Messiah.

In 1982, Tucker went to the home of archeologist, Tim Smit, with a friend of hers who happened to be Smit’s sister-in-law. The reason for their visit was for Smit’s sister-in-law to babysit his children. Tim Smit and Louise Tucker instantly hit it off and began a conversation to collaborate on an album fusing opera with synth-pop music. The single, “Midnight Blue,” and its accompanying album were the result.

Midnight Blue by Louise Tucker

Prior to meeting Louise Tucker, Tim Smit had been an archeologist. But Smit decided to try his hand at songwriting and producing. Smit and record producer, Charlie Skarbek, wrote the lyrics for “Midnight Blue.” The song owes its melodic inspiration to Ludwig van Beethoven. In 1798, at the age of 27, Beethoven composed Piano Sonata No. 8 in C Minor, Op. 13. It is more commonly known as Sonata Pathétique. The piece was published in 1799. Along with Louise Tucker, vocals on “Midnight Blue” were provided by Charlie Skarbek.

The song is about a relationship that is “gone now and forever.” There is a song they liked that is played to kindled treasured thoughts and memories. However, the relationship was unsustainable. Louise Tucker sings: “I forgave you, couldn’t save you, drove you from my mind.” Despite an act of forgiveness, one of the partners was beyond healing, perhaps doomed to repeat what needed to be forgiven in the first place. Was he addicted to something? Involved in criminal activities? Dealing with mental health issues? Was there an affair? Whatever the case, consequently, the woman drives the guy completely out of her “mind.” Or attempts to. After whatever period has elapsed, even as her tears come flowing in concert with memories of him, and the music, she vows “I’ll never forget you.”

There is an online article on Relate.org titled My Relationship is Making Me Sad. The British writer comments that if one person is feeling sad in the relationship, it is likely true for the partner as well. In “Midnight Blue,” it is likely that both lovers felt the push-pull of treasured thoughts and having to make a choice to move on, move away from burdensome and troublesome relationship dynamics. In another article, 11 Ways To Decide If You Should End Your Relationship If You’ve Been On The Fence, Carolyn Steber writes “No relationship is 100 percent wonderful 100 percent of the time. Life is tough and relationships are tough, so you can reasonably expect to experience ups and downs as a couple. But take note if there are more downs than ups… If you are finding that you are more unhappy than happy with the person, you may realize that you are not meant to be together.”

“Midnight Blue” was first a hit in the Netherlands where it stalled at #13 in December 1982. A year later, it topped the charts in France in December 1983. It also climbed that year to #1 in Denmark. It was successful in  in Sweden and Belgium where it peaked in both nations at #6. In Canada, on the national RPM charts, “Midnight Blue” made it to #7. In different Canadian markets, “Midnight Blue” climbed to #2 in Regina, #3 in Hamilton, #4 in Toronto and Halifax, #5 in Vancouver, #6 in Yellowknife, #7 in Winnipeg, #1 on CHYM in Kitchener, and #1 on both CFRA and CFMO in Ottawa. In the USA, “Midnight Blue” managed to climb to #5 in Kansas City and Louisville, and #1 in Roanoke (VA) and Springfield (MA). However, nationally on the Billboard Hot 100, “Midnight Blue” stalled at #46.

Louise Tucker, Charlie Skarbek and Tim Smit got international coverage in the press. A September 4, 1983, article in the Sydney Morning Herald, that started with a review of Joan Rivers, lauded the 26-year old Tucker and her accomplishments in jazz, musicals and opera.

In 1990, Tim Smit went on to restore the The Lost Gardens of Heligan that surround Heligan House in Mevagissey, a village on the south coast of Cornwall. Later, he created the Eden Project in St. Blazey, Cornwall, consisting of a series of domes that house a rainforest climate and a Mediterranean biosphere.

Charlie Skarbek produced “A Dream Come True” for Cilla Black in 1993. In 1994, Skarbek produced “Gloryland,” the FIFA World Cup song popularized by Daryl Hall and Sounds of Blackness.  Skarbek has gone on to record pop adaptations of Chopin’s “Tristesse” Etude, Op. 10/3, Debussy’s “Clair de lune” and Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto.

After the release of “Midnight Blue,” Louise Tucker made appearances with numbers of recording artists including John Denver, Marvin Gaye, Dire Straits and Randy Crawford. She released a second album titled After The Storm. .has appeared in more musicals, sung jazz and opera and taught young singers.

In 2012, after almost three decades away from the recording studio, Louise Tucker released a new album titled Beyond The Blue. At the time, her website (now offline) said of the album:

People who love Louise Tucker’s unique voice will be delighted to learn that she has a new album called “Beyond The Blue”. It is a mixture of old and new tracks, and even some festive tracks to help put you in the mood! It is a collection of songs which cover a wide range.

“Music of the Heart” is a tribute to the music of Mozart, and “Wootton Bassett Requiem” is an emotional salute to the Wiltshire town which sprang to international attention with its dignified reception of soldiers lost in Afghanistan. The “Saddest Song” is an excerpt from Faure’s Requiem.

The festive season is celebrated with new arrangements of “O Come Emmanuel” and “In The Bleak Midwinter”. There is a new mix of “Midnight Blue”, and “Bluesy”, one of Louise’s favourites from the past, is taken from the album “After The Storm”. For many, the thrilling version of “The Lord’s Prayer” will be a highlight.

In the new album, Louise demonstrates different facets of her voice: its appealing vulnerability, best heard in “In The Bleak Midwinter”; her power and range which comes from her operatic training, best heard in “The Lord’s Prayer”; and then listen to “Whatever He Does” as a complete contrast; and not least, there is the sensuality of “Bluesy”.

October 15, 2018
Ray McGinnis

References:
Louise Tucker bio, Simply Pop Music.com
Louise Tucker bioLast.fm
Tim Smit bio, Wikipedia.org
Lost Gardens of Heligan – The Story, Heligan.com
Joan Rivers… Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, Australia, September 4, 1983
My Relationship is Making me Sad, Relate.org
Carolyn Steber, 11 Ways To Decide If You Should End Your Relationship If You’ve Been On The Fence, Bustle.com, February 9, 2017
Louise Tucker, Beyond The Blue, Discogs.com

For more song reviews visit the Countdown.

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