I Thought You Loved Me

The Poppy Family consisted of the Canadian duo of Terry and Susan Jacks, who were husband and wife from 1967-1973 and two other musicians.  The group recorded the song ‘Which Way You Goin’ Billy?’ for their 1969 album of the same name.  Terry Jacks wrote the song while Susan sang lead and ‘Which Way You Goin’ Billy?’ went to #1 in Canada and Ireland.  It was also a significant hit in other parts of the world, reaching #2 on both the U.S. Cash Box and Billboard pop charts and it charted #7 in the UK.  It hit #6 on Billboards Easy Listening chart and it ranked as one of the ten biggest singles of the year (at #9) on the Canadian ‘List of Biggest Singles of 1969’ chart.  In Billboard’s ranking of the Top Hits of 1970, it was listed at #26 for the year.  It also ranked at #5 on the ‘List of RPM Biggest Adult Contemporary Hits of 1969’.  It was kept from the #1 spot by both ‘Everything Is Beautiful’ by Ray Stevens and ‘The Long and Winding Road’ by The Beatles.   Allmusic critic Mark Deming said, “If the ‘70s were supposed to be about having a nice day, ‘Which Way You Goin’ Billy?’ shows the Poppy Family were one band waiting for a cloud to blot out all that annoying sunshine…”

Terry Jacks was a big Buddy Holly fan, and he started writing the song with the working title ‘Which Way You Goin’ Buddy?’  He had the melody, but he couldn’t come up with a lyrical theme.  After he formed The Poppy Family, he hit on the idea that this song was about guys going to Vietnam and leaving their women behind, which he thought must have been awful.  He knew some guys that had to go to war and their wives or girlfriends didn’t know if they were coming back.  He felt that it was a stupid war, and he wanted to write about this woman that gets left behind.  Terry Jacks decided to name the lead character in this song “Billy” after hearing a song ‘Billy, Billy Went A Walkin’’ by one of his favorite acts, a Montreal group called The Beau Marks.  Jacks thought the name was a good fit, because lots of people are called Billy.  At Susan’s suggestion this song was rewritten to be sung by a female and Susan had a brother whose name was Billy.

When Susan did her vocal for this song, Terry thought it came out perfect, but it was too perfect, as it soundrd too happy with her beautiful voice, so it wasn’t right.  They were living over at 21st and Marine Drive in West Vancouver, way up in a high-rise, the Sea Strand.  The couple went home and they argued over whether or not she should redo it, as Terry felt it needed to include some type of heart being ripped out thing.  Terry eventually convinced her to give it another try.  The next day they went into the studio and she did it on her first take, probably because she was a mess from being tired and worn out, and that allowed her to capture the feel that this song needed.  When a couple is romantically involved and they make music together, the romance can fade, especially when the producer husband tries to coax a better vocal out of the singer wife.

This was the first song The Poppy Family released outside of Canada.  One night when the Chessmen were performing on a Canadian TV show, Terry Jacks met a singer named Susan Pesklevits.  Susan Pesklevits recorded her first singles with two other well-known Vancouver performers, Howie Vickers and Tom Northcott, using the name The Eternal Triangle.  In 1966, 18-year-old Susan Pesklevits asked Terry Jacks to back her at a gig when she needed a guitarist where she was scheduled to sing.  Terry Jacks’ group, the Chessmen, had already disbanded, so he agreed to fill in.  From there the pair formed a duo and started to perform at small nightspots.  The Poppy Family consisted of Satwant Singh, a tabla player, and the guitarist Craig McCaw.  Terry and Susan married, and they had several hits in Canada and internationally, with their biggest being this song.  The song was written and produced by Terry Jacks which earned him a Gold Leaf Juno award (Canada’s version of the Grammys) in 1970 for Best Produced Single.

Which way you goin’, Billy?
Can I go too?
Which way you goin’, Billy?
Can I go with you?

I really love you, Billy
And all this time
I thought you loved me, Billy
And you were mine

I’m gonna miss you, Billy
And though I’m trying
I’m hurtin’ so bad, Billy
I can’t help cryin’

You are my whole babe
My heart and my soul babe
I’d have nothing to show babe
If you should go away

You are my whole babe
My heart and my soul babe
I’d have nothing to show babe
If you should go

Which way you goin’, Billy?
Or need I ask?
‘Cause you don’t want me, Billy
You’re free at last

I won’t forget you, Billy
For all my life
I’ll always love you, Billy
I’ll stay your wife

You are my whole babe
My heart and my soul babe
I’d have nothing to show babe
If you should go away

You are my whole babe
My heart and my soul babe
I’d have nothing to show babe
If you should go

You are my whole babe
My heart and my soul babe
I’d have nothing to show babe
If you should go away

Written for Thursday Inspiration #119 Seasons in the Sun.

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