There’s a great clip from around 1968 of Peter Noone having a rather heated discussion with Graham Nash about whether musicians have a responsibility to try to change the world. Of course, Nash thought that they did, wanting to put behind all the pop nonsense and get on with the business of educating people and sharing ‘the message’. Noone was having none of it, believing that his job was simply to be an entertainer.
On the whole, I’d say I’m on Noone’s side. But more than that: I think it’s pretty dismal to think that pop should somehow always try to be more than itself. As if ‘just’ providing pleasure to millions of people, for many years, is something worthless, something to be sniffed at. Of course, pop can be more than itself – but it doesn’t have to be.
I’m Into Something Good is an almost perfect example of how uplifting, enduring and worthwhile pure pop music can be. Recorded when Noone was sixteen-years-old, it’s a young man sharing his joy of meeting a great girl the night before. Pretty simple stuff – but you know, the stuff that really matters.
Written by the brilliant Goffin and King, the original version was by Earl Jean of The Cookies. And while that song has its merits (mainly among pop snobs) it lacks the light-footed exuberance of this version. That is, it doesn’t revel in the sheer joy of the story. That’s partly due to Noone’s wide-eyed vocal but is also due to the rolling perkiness of the guitar and the forcefulness of the backing “oooh, ooohs” that seem to share their lead singer’s delight.
There’s always room for this kind of thing because it touches people on levels they often don’t understand. It’s why songs like this endure. Something even grizzled old punks appreciate every time they crank up the radio when The Undertones’ (similar and equally wonderful) Teenage Kicks comes on.