On a Carousel

"On a Carousel"

US Picture Sleeve
Single by The Hollies
B-side "All the World Is Love"
Released UK: 10 February 1967
Format 7"
Recorded 11 & 13 January 1967
Abbey Road Studios[1]
Genre Pop
Length 3:07
Label UK: Parlophone R5562
US: Imperial 66231
Writer(s) Graham Nash
Allan Clarke
Tony Hicks
Producer(s) Ron Richards
The Hollies singles chronology
"Stop Stop Stop"
"On a Carousel"
"Carrie Anne"

"On a Carousel" is a song written by Allan Clarke, Graham Nash and Tony Hicks. It was released by The Hollies as a single in February 1967, having been recorded the previous month, on the Parlophone label in the UK and Imperial in the US. Nash would opine: "'On a Carousel' was one of the Hollies' best songs. It's a pop song with an infectious chorus, but flirts with gorgeous shifts in rhythmic texture [that keep] the melody from becoming predictable. And the lyric captures the essence of young love without the usual moon-and-June cliches. We knew it was a hit from the get-go." [2]

Original recording

Nash would recall that prior to "On a Carousel": "our biggest hits were Graham Gouldman songs...Tony, Allan and I wanted desperately to write a monster A-side...We thought we were good enough writers, we knew the combination, how to come up with a universal theme, the right kind of hook. So we went through a shitload of ideas until inspiration struck. I'm not sure which of the three of us came up with funfairs...We [realized] a love affair was pretty much like going round and round and round on a carousel. And before we knew it the song just took shape. It was all there, the words, the tune, there was no stopping it. And Tony and Bobby [Elliott] wrapped it up in an exceptional arrangement." [2]

"On a Carousel" was the Hollies first A-side in which Graham Nash sings lead vocals, although only for the first few lines. "On a Carousel" was the Hollies' second-to-last single in the US to be released by Imperial before the band switched to the Epic label. The song was a hit in the UK, peaking at #4 on the single charts and in Canada it made #7 in the RPM Magazine charts. It was also a moderate hit in the United States, peaking at #11 on the Billboard chart.


Chart (1967) Peak
Australia (Go-Set)[3] 14
Germany (Official German Charts)[4] 8
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[5] 16
Norway (VG-lista)[6] 10
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[7] 4
US Billboard Hot 100[8] 11

Glass Moon version

American power pop band Glass Moon had a Top 50 hit in 1982 with their remake of "On a Carousel" introduced on the group's second studio album Growing in the Dark recorded in 1981. Group frontman Dave Adams would recall that during the period that the band was still rehearsing songs for the album in Raleigh he'd been cleaning out a closet at his home and come across a copy of The Best of the Hollies which he'd purchased at a yard sale: after playing Side One Adams was especially struck by "On a Carousel" which he considered "catchy but not very well recorded or produced...almost as it was a rush job in the studio". Over the next week Adams found himself singing "On a Carousel" around the house: "it just felt good to sing. It was in a perfect range for me, so I thought if we could make it a polished production it would fit in well with the [original] songs [intended] for the [upcoming] album" for which one more song was still needed: Adams brought the song to his group's next rehearsal: "we worked up my new arrangement straightaway. Jamie" - ie. Jamie Glaser, the virtuoso session guitarist who played on the Glass Moon albums - "came to rehearse with us...the following week and he loved the song too." The following week the band left for New York City to record their second album at Electric Lady Studios: group member Chris Jones had met Ian Lloyd who was contributing background vocals to the 4 album which Foreigner was recording at Electric Lady, and Lloyd was recruited to contribute background vocals to the Glass Moon recording of "On a Carousel". [9]

The album Things That Grow in the Dark was belatedly released in February 1982: that same month "On a Carousel" was released as a single and a video was prepped for the track comprising footage shot at Pullen Park in Raleigh on 7 February 1982 and performance footage shot 24 February 1982 at the Stewart Theater at North Carolina State University: although the Pullen Park Carousel is a classic exemplar of a fairground ride it was not possible for that carousel to be featured in the video as the "animals" had at the time been removed for refurbishment, although the video did include several shots of the stationary horse figures. (The Pullen Park Carousel features various animal figures: the video only featured the horses to be coordinate with the lyrics of the song "On a Carousel".) The Pullen Park sequences feature Adams and also three female extras - including Sara Lynn Moore, mother of actress Evan Rachel Wood - while in the performance sequences the only featured personnel from the recording of "On a Carousel" are Adams on vocals and keyboards and Chris Jones on drums: Rod Abernethy - who would later join the band - is seen on guitar, as is Steve Burslowe on bass. [10]

The Glass Moon version of "On a Carousel" spent seven weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 in March and April 1982 peaking at #50: the video was reportedly only broadcast too late to buoy the single's Hot 100 presence being featured on HBO's Video Jukebox over the summer, its debut airing being 9 July 1982 - almost three months after the single's Hot 100 peak. [10] Despite the statistically modest chart performance of "On a Carousel" by Glass Moon, the group's frontman Dave Adams would later state: "Needless to say, I made a good living off that song for fourteen years", while praising Atlantic Records who had eventually agreed to distribute the Things That Grow in the Dark album with "On a Carousel" as its lead single: "The stellar Atlantic promotion team certainly made all the difference in making 'On a Carousel' the hit it became." [9]

Other versions


  1. The 30th Anniversary Collection (CD). The Hollies. EMI Records. 1993. D 202205.
  2. 1 2 Nash, Graham (2013). Wild Tales: a rock & roll life. NYC: Crown Archetype. p. 98. ISBN 978-0-385-34754-9.
  3. "Go-Set Australian Charts –26 April 1967". Pop Archives. Retrieved 24 May 2011.
  4. "Musicline.de – Hollies, The Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  5. "Dutchcharts.nl – The Hollies – On a Carousel" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  6. "Norwegiancharts.com – The Hollies – On a Carousel". VG-lista.
  7. "Archive Chart: 1966-11-12" UK Singles Chart.
  8. "The Hollies – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for The Hollies.
  9. 1 2 Michaels, Randolph (2005). Flashback to Happiness: 80s music revisited. Lincoln NE: ¡Universe. p. 79-80. ISBN 978-0595370078.
  10. 1 2 http://www.returntocomboland.com/glassmoon.htm
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