You Gotta Believe Me

‘Sorry Suzanne’ is a 1969 single by The Hollies, co-written by Geoff Stephens and Tony Macaulay.  It was the group’s first song to feature Terry Sylvester (formerly of Liverpool bands the Escorts and Swinging Blue Jeans) in the place of Graham Nash.  ‘Sorry Suzanne’ was released with the B-side ‘Not That Way at All’ on the Parlophone label.  The song reached #3 on the UK singles chart in March 1969, and it ended up being the #57 song on the year end 1969 charts.  This was recorded at the Abbey Road Studios on January 27, 1969 and it was originally mixed in mono, but it was given a stereo mix at the same time, which was shelved for a future release.  It came out on the Hollies Greatest, Vol. 2 compilation album in 1971.  Graham Nash left a sweet gig with one of the great British pop groups of the ‘60s, partly due to creative frustration, but mostly because he’d experienced a harmonic epiphany which convinced him that his future lay not with Allan Clarke and Tony Hicks but with David Crosby and Stephen Stills.

Hailing from Manchester, Graham Nash (rhythm guitar, vocals) and Allan Clarke (lead vocals, harmonica) formed The Hollies in 1962, and they added guitarist Vic Steele, bassist Eric Haydock and drummer Don Rathbone, and went on to perfect their three-part harmony becoming one of the most popular bands in England.  Shortly after, Vic Steele was replaced by lead guitarist Tony Hicks and Rathbone was replaced by drummer Bobby Elliott.  In 1966, Haydock was replaced by bassist Bernie Calvert and the group remained with Nash, Clarke, Hicks, Elliott and Calvert till Nash left to join Crosby & Stills.  Between 1964 and 1969, only two Hollies songs failed to reach the UK Top 10, spending 231 weeks on the UK singles chart before the turn of the decade.

The second chapter in Hollie History unfolded with the group wearing matching white or cream-colored suits with bow ties which Graham Nash suggested they try, as an attempt to find a type of more mature audience made up of people who would actually listen to their music and didn’t just scream all over the songs which was something that Nash particularly loathed.  In the summer of 1968 after Graham Nash met Joni Mitchell and hung out in Laurel Canyon, he was inspired to write ‘Marrakesh Express’ which was turned down by the Hollies.  He decided to leave his wife for his new girlfriend and after this one show, Nash took off the white suit and floppy bow tie which was the band’s outfit, cracked open his hash which he had painstakingly secreted among his luggage, took out his guitar and wrote ‘Lady Of The Island’ and the beginning of ‘Teach Your Children’ and by the end of the year he left the Hollies.

With Nash gone, the group reverted to outside songwriters which resulted in four consecutive UK hits over the next two years including ‘Sorry, Suzanne’ and ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’ (with a young Elton John on piano).  Geoff Stephens and Tony Macaulay had a #5 hit in the US with ‘Smile A Little Smile For Me’ which was recorded by The Flying Machine in 1969.  Tony Macaulay had his first success in 1967 with a song that he co-wrote and produced called, ‘Baby, Now That I’ve Found You’ which was recorded and performed by the Foundations.  He followed that success with a long string of pop releases which included 12 number ones in the U.K. and U.S., plus 38 top 20 U.K. tracks.  His music has been recorded by everyone from Elvis Presley to Gladys Knight to Tom Jones and many of his songs were recorded by several artists.  Geoff Stephens wrote a long series of hit records, often in conjunction with other British songwriters.  He also formed The New Vaudeville Band, and their song ‘Winchester Cathedral’ won Stephens the 1966 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary (R&R) Recording.

‘Sorry Suzanne’ is a song about guy wants to get back with his girl after they broke up.  He seems a bit desperate and he knows that he made a mistake.  He wants Suzanne to forgive him because he is still in love with her and he apologizes for hurting her.  He regrets that he made her cry, when he was trying to hit on another girl.  He admits that this was foolish when he acted on his impulse to pursue this other girl.  He shamelessly begs her not to leave him as he asks her to still believe in him.  He tells her that if she takes him back that things will be different and he would like her to give him one more chance.  He tells her that he won’t be able to make it if she leaves him.  If you want my opinion, Suzanne would be a real jerk if she ever takes this guy back, as once a cheater, always a cheater.  Two of the core members, Tony Hicks and Bobby Elliot, still perform with The Hollies into the new millennium.  The Hollies members Bernie Calvert, Allan Clarke, Bobby Elliott, Eric Haydock, Tony Hicks, Graham Nash and Terry Sylvester were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame in 2010.

I can’t make it if you leave me
I’m sorry Suzanne, believe me
I was wrong
And I knew I was all along

Forgive me
I still love you more than ever
I’m sorry Suzanne forever
Hurting you
You know I never wanted to
I’m truly sorry Suzanne

I could never, ever justify
All the tears I made you cry
But I do regret it, my Suzanne
You gotta believe me

I was looking ‘round for someone new
What a foolish thing to do
All the time I knew it
Heaven knows what made me do it, girl

I can’t make it if you leave me
I’m sorry Suzanne, believe me
I was wrong
And I knew I was all along
All along

I’m truly sorry Suzanne

If you would only take me back again
Things would be so different then
What I wouldn’t give for
One more chance to live for you, Suzanne

I can’t make it if you leave me
I’m sorry Suzanne, believe me
I was wrong
And I knew I was all along

Forgive me
I still love you more than ever
I’m sorry Suzanne forever
Hurting you
You know I never wanted to
I’m truly sorry Suzanne

Written for Song Lyric Sunday where the prompt this week is to find a song that includes a girl’s name that starts with the letter S.

18 thoughts on “You Gotta Believe Me

  1. Thanks for the great write up Jim. Loved the Hollies in the day and was sad to see Nash go. He had the same trouble as the Beatles did. They were frustrated with the fans screaming all the time and not actually listening to them perform. They quit touring to concentrate on writing and perfecting their songbook. I can understand. Graham Nash heard America calling and never looked back.

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  2. I think Nash made the right choice leaving the Hollies for CSN. But maybe that’s just my preference of one group over the other 😉
    I hadn’t heard this Hollies song before, so thank you.
    They almost sound like they have a southern US accent to me when they’re singing “I’m sorry Suzanne, believe me”. Pretty funny for British guys. 😆

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  3. Good write up Jim…Tony Hicks is one of my favorite guitar players from that period…he was really good and wasn’t noticed much in the Hollies. Bobby Elliot is a great drummer also…I do agree with Nash as far as the music…not leaving his wife… but both went on to have hits so I guess everyone won.

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