Whatever happened to music's Jolene, Roxanne and Mrs Jones?

Wed Sep 4, 2013 8:16am EDT
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By Jeremy Gaunt

LONDON (Reuters) - Ever wonder what happened to Dolly Parton's Jolene? Or The Police's Roxanne? Or Elton John's Daniel?

A new album of so-called answer songs is heading your way to tell you just that and more.

The brainchild of British musician David Rotheray, former lead guitarist with The Beautiful South, "Answer Ballads" takes some of the most famous songs in popular music and updates the listener on the later years of the principal subject.

As well as Jolene, Roxanne and Daniel, it includes Mrs Jones from Billy Paul's "Me and Mrs Jones", Maggie from Rod Stewart's "Maggie Mae", Marie from Chuck Berry's "Memphis" and both Mrs Avery and her daughter Sylvia from Dr Hook's "Sylvia's Mother".

"I was amazed nobody had done it before," Rotheray told Reuters, noting there appeared only to have been individual answer songs before - Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" to Neil Young's "Southern Man", for example.

Rotheray got the idea for a theme album from Tom Stoppard's "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead", a play that follows the story of two minor characters in Shakespeare's "Hamlet" after they leave the stage, so to speak.

"Answer Ballads" does the same. It is contemporary folk music in often gentle tones but with darker social commentary.

Take "Marie's Song", for example. In the original, "Memphis, Tennessee", rocker Chuck Berry is dialing long-distance information to get a number for 6-year old Marie, who it turns out is his daughter by an estranged wife or lover.   Continued...