One for Friday: The Sundays, “Don’t Tell Your Mother”

Across all the various concerts and liver performances that I’ve seen over the years, I maintain that I’ve seen two genuine encores, two instances in which the band was done for the night and the enthusiasm of the crowd drew them back on stage. I’m convinced these two particularly encores weren’t contrivances of showmanship with the performers holding back one of their hits (or, in the case of the bands that I tend to go see, “hits”) to blow the roof off the dump when the lot of us went through the sham of clapping and cheering to bring the musicians back from whatever temporary perch they’ve settled on just offstage to play the remainder of the pre-penned set list. One of these concerts was Too Much Joy at Milwaukee’s Shank Hall, at a time when my collegiate cohorts and I were uniquely passionate about the smart, smart-alecky quartet. The other was a performance at Madison’s Barrymore Theatre by the Sundays.

The Sundays were touring on their resoundingly successful debut album, Reading, Writing & Arithmetic. My ticket was provided by the record label. My station cohort and I even had backstage passes to interview the band. We sat in the dismal basement dressing room area of the Barrymore and asked questions of lead singer Harriet Wheeler and guitarist David Gavurin. (I used the word “we” very loosely in the preceding sentence as my fellow fledgling rock journalist spent most of his time speechless as he sat enthralled by Ms. Wheeler’s eyes.) When it came time for the show, we sat right in the midst of an audience that was absolutely enraptured with every bit of chiming, glistening pop the band put out. “Here’s Where the Story Ends” naturally received the greatest response, but this was a crowd filled with devotees. Every song was cause for joy.

After the band played their last song, they departed only to come back like clockwork for a couple more songs. Then they slipped from the stage again, the pact between performer and audience completed for the night. But the crowd wouldn’t stop cheering. House lights edged brighter, but still the assembled fans cried out for one more. After a long enough wait that I suspected that the band did need to traverse the clunky stairs from down below again, the band took the stage for a third time. Wheeler sheepishly explained that they didn’t actually know any more songs and basically asked if the audience if it would be all right to repeat a song from earlier in the show before launching into “Can’t Be Sure” for the second time that night.

The boundless charm of that night helped insure that “Can’t Be Sure” would push past the smashing lead single to become my favorite song off of that debut album, and I snapped up an extra copy of the single when it came into the radio station. “Don’t Tell Your Mother” is a b-side on that single and it’s simple proximity to that song, it’s tacit connection to it, means it carries some of the excitement of that night for me. I don’t remember for certain whether or not they played this song at that show, but they probably did. After all, they played every song they knew.

The Sundays, “Don’t Tell Your Mother”

(Disclaimer: It seems that most of the Sundays’ catalog remains in print, which only means that you should run, not walk, to your favorite local, independently-owned record store and secure a copy of Reading, Writing & Arithmetic. The song posted today, however, isn’t on that release, nor, as far as I can tell, is it on any other proper Sundays album. It may have landed on a compilation I don’t know about and I’ll admit that I discovered that it’s available for digital purchase, but the band probably gets cheated on compensation when the music is bought that way. At least that’s what Tim Quirk from Too Much Joy–see above–has told the world. Regardless, I post this to share the music, not to deprive any business owner or creative personnel from well-deserved earnings. If anyone with due authority to request its removal contacts me with such a request, I will promptly and graciously comply.)

2 thoughts on “One for Friday: The Sundays, “Don’t Tell Your Mother”

  1. I was at that concert with my then-girlfriend and now-wife. We have told that story over and over. It is the ONLY true encore I have ever witnessed. This morning I was fondly discussing the Barrymore with some friends because my friend from out east will be playing there Friday night. I was just doing some fact checking on my own story when I found this post. I’m so glad you wrote this,

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