Classic Country

Sylvia, Taylor Swift Before Her Time

todayAugust 20, 2023 50 9

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Taylor Swift can write a popular song. There is little arguing about that fact. From her early days on YouTube to country music stardom through her transition to global pop star, Talyor’s lyrics have become a part of her success. She writes songs that connect with people’s emotions. They have experienced it before or can empathize with her subject matter. When you package that with her wholesome, girl-next-door image and ability to entertain on stage, you have a once in a generation phenomenon.

However, there were many country singers and songwriters producing Taylor Swift’ level material long before she was born. Her music tends to tell a story, and no genre does so better than country. It’s probably why she started out in our world. Story songs take people on a three minute or so journey with a chorus thrown in so everyone can sing along for a brief moment.

In the early 1980s, a fresh face arrived on the scene in country music. Sylvia Jane Kirby, who I confused with Crystal Gayle for a time, began playing on the radio. Her songs were a perfect fit for the era. It was after Urban Cowboy, and pop was heavily influencing country music. In fact, I can still remember where I was the first time I heard the song, “Nobody.” I can still smell the velour seats in my Dad’s relatively new Oldsmobile. We were on the way to the airport, and the song aired on KIKK country radio in Houston, Texas. The pop sound perked my ears up, and my parents turned it up to hear a new song. Well, it had a story, so we had to discuss it, after it played. (Hush son, we’re listening.)

The song opens with an already suspicious wife or girlfriend. They are in a restaurant, and a woman walks by their table. The narrator senses and sees a connection between her significant other and the woman. If you have been in this position, you know. She inquires and is told that the woman is, “nobody.” Nobody in the sense of a random stranger. This is just the beginning of where “Nobody” continues to become more and more clever, lyrically

The narrator begins to put two and two together during the restaurant encounter. The man has become distant and has been working late for a while. She asks with whom he has been working late, and he replies with the same answer, “nobody.”

“Working late againI ask who with, you said nobody, oh nobody”

Then we learn that “nobody” has called the narrator on the phone, and has become somebody, a threat to her relationship, who makes direct contact, but then hangs up when asked her identity. The narrator then drops the knowledge bomb on her companion.

“Well, your nobody called today.
She hung up when I asked her name.
Well, I wonder. Does she think she’s being clever”

It’s at this exact moment where the narrator give gives the probable mistress a name and the letter “n” goes from lower case to upper case, “Nobody.” The brilliance here is that the word “nobody” takes on a triple meaning. The mistress is a “nobody,” meaning no one of significance, so says the man trying to downplay her existence, “Nobody” as a name given by the narrator, and “nobody” in the sense of a put down by the narrator. Genius writing.

“You say nobody’s after you.
The fact is what you say is true.
But I can love you like Nobody can, even better.”

In the remaining verses, the couple goes for a drive, and he is distracted by thoughts of Nobody with a capital N, and she calls him out on it. In a final effort to save her relationship from the threat of Nobody/nobody, they are preparing to go to bed, and the narrator tells us her thoughts, “I said to myself, I’ve got one shot left. You’re still mine and I won’t stand in line behind nobody, nobody.”  We are led to believe that she is going to make love to him, proving that she is better for him than Nobody. “I can love you like nobody can, even better.”

I would be remiss here if I didn’t point out that the song is of its time. The narrator’s plan is to fight off the threat of Nobody/nobody and save her relationship in the bedroom. In the years since, as society has evolved for the better in many ways and lyrics have changed to reflect that, I think the song would be written differently today, and maybe not by men.

I dare say that Taylor Swift would show the man the door once she realized there was a Nobody/nobody in the picture. But, I can still hear her singing this song today, even if it had adjustments for the times.

The song was released in 1982 on Sylvia’s album, “Just Sylvia.” It was written by Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan. It became the second and final number one hit for Sylvia, before a change in country music back to a traditional sound with The Judds, Randy Travis and Reba McEntire. It topped the country charts at number 1 on the Billboard Country singles chart, came in at number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100, and number 5 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart. Sylvia was named the Female Vocalist of the Year by the Academy of Country music for 1982.

Another credit to her name was making the first concept music video clip to air on Country Music Television for the song, “The Matador,” which happens to be one of our signature songs here on Bull Classic Country.

To hear Sylvia and every other classic country artist you love, download our easy-to-use app. Search Bull Classic Country in the app stores or hit the download links right here on our website and come take a ride with us on The Bull.

Now, enjoy Sylvia performing Nobody, live, and sing along with the lyrics below. I love this lady.

Video for Nobody By Sylvia

 

Lyrics for Nobody By Sylvia

Sittin’ in restaurant she walked byI seem to recall that certain look in your eyeI said who is thatYou said with a smileOh it’s nobody, oh nobody

Well maybe that explains the last two weeksYou called me up, dead on your feetWorking late againI ask who with, you said nobody, oh nobody

Well your nobody called todayShe hung up when I asked her nameWell I wonder does she think she’s being cleverYou say nobody’s after youThe fact is what you say is trueBut I can love you like nobody can, even better

Late last night we went for a drive you were miles awayI ask who’s on your mind, you said nobodyWhy do you askOh her again, I could’ve told you that

We came back home got ready for bedI said to myself, I’ve got one shot leftYou’re still mine and I won’t stand in line behind nobody, nobody

Well your nobody called todayShe hung up when I asked her name, well I wonderDoes she think she’s being cleverYou say nobody’s after youThe fact is what you say is trueBut I can love you like nobody can, even bette

Well your nobody called todayShe hung up when I asked her name, well I wonderDoes she think she’s being cleverYou say nobody’s after youThe fact is what you say is trueBut I can love you like nobody can, even better

Oh well your nobody called todayShe hung up when I asked her name, well I wonderDoes she think she’s being clever

Written by: Nick Rainey

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