Richard Hawley is probably best known as the “fifth member of Pulp,” in the sense that he was in the band for quick bit and didn’t get much of a chance to enjoy their success, but he’s also the guy who wrote one of my favorite modern soul songs: Tonight the Streets Are Ours. The song isn’t even Hawley’s best known work. But it is his best work. Coming off his fifth record, Lady’s Bridge, the song has everything you need for a white boy soul classic: It’s a desperate love story, it feels like a dark and rainy night, and it’s full of passionate longing. It (and most of the album, which is fantastic) feels timeless—the first time I heard it, I swore it was a cover of a late 1950s classic.
It’s definitely worth putting in my ongoing list of my personal 100 favorite songs. But where? Based on the songs I’ve done so far, it’s right up at #4.
- Layla by Derek and the Dominoes (1970) (link)
- Better Things by The Kinks (1981) (link); and: Covers of the top 30 Kinks songs here and here
- Somebody Told Me by The Killers (2004)(link)
- Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Richard Hawley (2007)
- Misfits by the Kinks (1978) (link); and: Covers of the top 30 Kinks songs here and here
- Grindin’ by Clipse (2002) (link)
- Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum (1969) (link)
Right above “Misfits” by The Kinks–but don’t cry for Ray Davies. His band has two songs on my list so far, with Better Things sitting up high at #2.
Further listening: Don’t Stare At The Sun; Baby, You’re My Light (recorded with his first band, The Longpigs); Don’t Get Hung Up in Your Soul; and the Haagen-Dazs commercial tune, “Open Up Your Door.”
Covers: Before we look at covers of this song, check out Hawley himself playing lead guitar for the All Saints, on their cover of “Under the Bridge,” and his own take on this great song.