Who Are Them

I am sorry, as this is not about the Illuminati and I am not going into who killed JFK, because the Them that I am speaking about was an R&B garage band from Belfast Ireland before they moved to England in 1964.  Their most influential song of all, was ‘Gloria’, written by Van Morrison was released on the B-side of a record, and it got little air play.  ‘Gloria’ gained momentum over time and it became a highlight of the group’s live shows, sometimes developing into a 20-minute jam.  The song found a following in America where it was ranked at #71 on the charts and it was popular with the same garage rock audience that loved ‘Louie Louie’.  ‘Gloria’ was rated number 69 on Dave Marsh’s list in the 1989 book The Heart of Rock & Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made.  He described the song as “one of the few rock songs that’s actually as raunchy as its reputation”, unless you think that Gloria came to his room to see his etchings, or that all she has on her mind is a friendly chat.  In 1999, ‘Gloria’ by Them received the Grammy Hall of Fame Award.  In 2000, ‘Gloria’ by Them was listed as number 81 on VH1’s list of The 100 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time.  In 2004, ‘Gloria’ by Them was ranked #208 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Sir George Ivan ‘Van’ Morrison, OBE (Order of the British Empire) is a Northern Irish singer-songwriter and musician.  His live performances have been described as being mystical and transcendental, while some of his recordings, such as the studio albums Astral Weeks and Moondance and the live album It’s Too Late to Stop Now, are critically acclaimed.  He is known as “Van the Man” to his fans, and in 1960 at the age of 15, he quit school to join the local R&B band the Monarchs.  Morrison played a variety of instruments including guitar, harmonica, keyboards and saxophone for various Irish showbands covering the popular hits of the day.  Van played in the Golden Eagles and the Gamblers who eventually morphed into the group Them.  After Van Morrison left the group Them, he became a solo artist and in the summer of 1967 he recorded ‘Brown-Eyed Girl’, which became a Top Ten hit.  Van Morrison performed two songs at the Last Waltz, a farewell concert for The Band.

The history of the group Them is a bit confusing, as their lineup changed nine times between 1964 and 1966.  Van Morrison was the lead singer and he was the only songwriter, so he grabbed most of the attention, but guitarist Billy Harrison was the leader of the band at its inception.  It is thought that Jimmy Page played on their second single (which was their first British hit reaching #10 on the charts), ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’, which is likely an adaptation of ‘Long John’, an old folk theme which dates back to the time of slavery in the United States.  Them is considered to be part of the British Invasion and the original five band members consisted of Morrison, Alan Henderson, Ronnie Milling, Billy Harrison and Eric Wrixon.

In Latin, the name Gloria means Glory and Christians were instructed to let their light shine before men, so that others may see their good works, and glorify their Father who is in heaven.  Van Morrison said that he wrote ‘Gloria’ while he performed with the Monarchs in Germany in the summer of 1963, which was just about the time he turned 18 years old.  Van Morrison said that he titled the song after his cousin Gloria, who was 13 years older than him, but the song was not about her.  The song is about a girl who is a groupie and wants to be with a rock star, so she comes by for (presumably) sexual encounters.  This spunky gal has an eagerness to please and she comes around about midnight, thus making her a sexually skilled night owl.  The chorus spells out the letters in the name “G-L-O-R-I-A”, which is reminiscent of the 1955 Muddy Waters’ song ‘Mannish Boy’ with the lyric “I’m a man, I spell M-A-N”, which is a raunchy take on male sexual bragging.  This woman is approximately 5 feet, 4 inches tall and she is not playing hard to get, because she knocks on his door.  ‘Gloria’ was written with just three chords, being E, D and A, and they are always played in that order.  This makes it an easy song to learn.  It is a great party song and it always energizes a crowd.

On June 18, 1966, Them played their last night of their engagement at The Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip in LA where they did a series of shows with their opening act being a relatively new band called The Doors.  Them asked The Doors to appear onstage with their band.  The two bands combined and played an extended 25-minute version of Wilson Pickett’s ‘In The Midnight Hour’ and a 20-minute version of ‘Gloria’.  Van Morrison quit the band after this concert and Them splintered to become the Belfast Gypsies.

The Doors rock Gloria.

Jimi Hendrix kind of makes up his own lyrics for Gloria creating his own verses as he is ad-libbing.

Like to tell ya about my baby
You know she comes around
She about five feet four
A-from her head to the ground

You know she comes around here
At just about midnight
She make ya feel so good, Lord
She make ya feel all right

And her name is G-L-O-R-I
I’m gonna shout it all night (GLORIA)
I’m gonna shout it everyday (GLORIA)

She comes around here
Just about midnight
Ha, she make me feel so good, Lord
I wanna say she make me feel alright

Comes a-walkin’ down my street
When she comes to my house
She knocks upon my door
And then she comes in my room
Yeah, an’ she make me feel alright

I’m gonna shout it all night (GLORIA)
I’m gonna shout it everyday (GLORIA)
Looks so good (GLORIA) alright
Just so good (GLORIA) alright, yeah

10 thoughts on “Who Are Them

  1. “This spunky gal has an eagerness to please and she comes around about midnight, thus making her a sexually skilled night owl.” This is a great description. What’s with them throwing the donkey into the Them & Van video?

    Liked by 1 person

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