by James Wallace Harris, 3/23/22
For many many years, the song “Glad and Sorry” from the album Down by the Old Mainstream by Golden Smog has randomly played from my main playlist. I bought the CD because I was a fan of The Jayhawks and some of their members were playing on it. The song originally appeared on Ooh La La by the Faces in 1973 (originally, the Small Faces). I’m pretty sure I had that album back in the 1970s but didn’t remember it or “Glad and Sorry” when I first listened to Down by the Old Mainstream back in the 1990s.
I like to play whole albums after lunch and Spotify offered up Ooh La La. When I heard “Glad and Sorry” I recalled that album by Golden Smog. That’s when I started my research and discovered the song was written by Ronnie Lane of the Faces. Then I found a lovely remembrance of the song which I’ll quote below.
Here’s how the Faces did “Glad and Sorry” in 1973
Here it is again by Golden Smog.
The song is loved enough that it inspired 14 playlists on Spotify, and there are many cover versions. I love how some songs inspire countless performers to sing and record them. Here’s a nice jam session.
The lyrics are very simple:
That beautiful interpretation of the song is at the site One Week // One Band but without the name of who wrote the essay. Here’s the quote I mentioned, but it’s worth reading the entire piece. This is the way I wish I could write about music (I took this quote starting about halfway down the page, after the history of the song):
“Thank you kindly/For thinking of me/If I’m not smiling/I’m just thinking.” All my life I’ve been the Quiet One, the one who (mostly) doesn’t say what he’s thinking, the one who doesn’t interact with others because he’s too withdrawn, or too self-serious, or too afraid that he’s bothering people. Always thinking, never sure he’s thought of anything worthwhile to say. “Smile,” they used to tell me, back when I had people in my life who would regularly engage in what they called encouraging me. “It’s not that bad.” Well, no—but smiling for the sake of smiling feels like dishonesty to me. Anyway, I’m thinking. “Glad and sorry/Happy or sad/When all is done and spoken/You’re up or I’m down.” It’s never “I’m up,” it’s never “you’re down.” There’s always a fundamental disconnect, we never meet in the middle, and I’m always lower. Not class or any bullshit like that, just circumstance. I can never meet your needs—emotional, physical, social, financial. The person who is You changes every so often, as people pass in and out of my life, but the relationship, once begun, is always the same. It’s bittersweet every time; the emotions are always tangled up. Glad, happy, sorry, sad—and then, at some point, I’ve done everything and said everything I’m going to do or say.
I wish I could relate to lyrics and poems like that.
I’m writing this because this song moves me, but I don’t know how to describe how it moves me. I’m writing this because I love how some songs stick with us for years. I’m writing this because I love how some very simple songs resonate deeply with people. I’m writing this to remember this afternoon, and to remember “Glad and Sorry.” Sadly, I won’t remember it every day, but on those days the songs pop up in my playlist, and I’ll add the original to my main playlist.
6 thoughts on ““Glad and Sorry” by Ronnie Lane”
I’m not familiar with this music, but I can relate very much to what you write in your last paragraph. I feel this way about some songs by Cat Stevens, whose music I’ve always liked. Jim, many thanks for all your posts on music and SF!
The Faces did not later become The Small Faces. It was the other way around.
I just saw my mistake and sat down to change it. I was hoping to fix it before someone spotted it. But Piet, you were too fast for me.
A mistake now and then only makes your enjoyable blog more human!
I haven’t heard the Jayhawks’ version, but in The Faces’ original, the lyric is: “Can you show me a dream Can you show me one that’s better than mine”. Your printed lyrics say “life” instead of “mine”. I think that significantly changes the meaning. I don’t think the protagonist is looking to escape into a dreamworld, he’s baring his soul to his lover, trying to find a connection and a reason to be optimistic (but at the same time, he’s not holding out much hope)
Love your write up on this classic. I have loved this song forever too. There is a simplicity and vagueness to the lyric that has made it appropriate for me at many different times in my life. I just recorded a cover of it for my Patreon, it’s here: https://on.soundcloud.com/VRmLb if you feel like hearing it. I’m not re-inventing the wheel. More like wanting more people to be aware of this song. No bombast. Just musicians dealing with their hopes and dreams and reality.
all the best.