Synopsis of Pop Music
“Those were the days, my friend,
We thought they would never end…”
When the Beatles formed their own label, Apple, in 1968, they didn’t want it to exist only for their albums. They also wanted to make it possible for other aspiring pop stars to be heard. They scored a notable success that year with Mary Hopkin, an angelic lass with a gorgeous voice and a gift for folk-styled pop music. With songs like “Those Were the Days” and “Goodbye,” Hopkin sold millions of records and became internationally famous in the process.
Mary Hopkin was a natural troubadour and had been singing in folk and pop groups since her teens by the time she was discovered in 1968. Her lucky break arrived when she appeared on the U.K. television show Opportunity Knocks to sing “Turn Turn Turn.” Famous model Twiggy saw her performance, enjoyed it, and mentioned Hopkin to her friend Paul McCartney. He was looking for talent to add to the Apple record label and realized that Hopkin fit the bill when he heard her lovely voice. He promptly signed her to the label and took her into the studio to produce her first single.
The first result of Hopkin and McCartney’s creative teaming was “Those Were The Days,” a ballad based a traditional Ukrainian folk song. Its gentle mixture of traditional folk sounds and Hopkin’s angelic soprano voice made it one of the biggest international hits of the year. It went to #1 in the U.K. and #2 in the U.S., aided by a performance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Hopkin also recorded this song in Spanish, French, German, Italian and Hebrew, and these alternate versions helped add to the song’s international appeal. By early 1969, it had sold 8 million copies around the world.
In 1969, Mary Hopkin released her first album, Postcard, produced by McCartney and featuring songs by such noted songwriters as Harry Nilsson and Donovan. It became an international hit, as did its first single “Goodbye.” The next year, she began experimenting with less-folky pop material like “Temma Harbour,” which became a Top-40 hit for Hopkin in the U.S. In 1971, she released the album Earth Song – Ocean Song, whose rustic sound returned her to her first love, folk music.
After Earth Song – Ocean Song, Mary Hopkin decided to devote time to her new marriage and start a family. She remained inactive for much of the decade, but would record the occasional single. She also popped up on other artists’ work from time to time, most notably lending some distinctive background vocals to David Bowie’s 1977 U.K. hit, “Sound and Vision.” In the early 80’s she returned to the music business in two harmony-based groups, Sundance and Oasis (not that Oasis). In 1989, she released her first solo album since 1971, Spirit.
Mary Hopkin continues to be involved in music today and contributes to the occasional record or concert. Through collaborations with folk artists like Ralph McTell, she remains a presence on the English folk scene. Mary Hopkin’s classic album Postcard has also been reissued in recent years, ensuring that modern-pay pop fans can continue to enjoy her music. No matter what the current fashion in pop music may be, Mary Hopkin’s classic style of pop will always sound good.
Artist Release History1969 Post Card
1971 Earth Song, Ocean Song
1972 Those Were the Days
1979 The Welsh World of Mary Hopkin