100 Great Songs From The British Invasion: 1963-1966: Gloria- Them. ‘Gloria’- one of the most iconic rock anthems- was never a hit for Them. The song was written by an 18 year old Van Morrison while he was in Germany performing for The Monarchs in 1963. When he returned to Belfast- and formed Them- he began performing the song- and would ad-lib the lyrics- and stretch the song out to 15-20 minutes. For the recording in April 1964- it would clock in at less than 3 minutes. ‘Gloria’ was released in the US as the b-side to ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’- and in 1965 would reach #93 on the Billboard Hot 100. It re-entered the charts in 1966- and peaked at #71. ‘Gloria’ would become a hit though- Shadows Of Knight’s version went to #10 in 1966. It would become one of those songs every garage band would play- and there have been many versions of the song over the years- most notably by The Doors and Patti Smith. Van would record it again in 1993 with one of his musical heroes- John Lee Hooker. Rolling Stone Magazine in 2004 ranked it at #208 in their 500 Greatest Songs Ever list. The Shadows Of Knight and Patti Smith versions would be included in the 500 Songs Which Shaped Rock and Roll- by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Dave Marsh in his book The Heart Of Rock And Soul- 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made- ranked it at #69. In 1999 the song received the Grammy Hall Of Fame Award.
Rock critic Paul Williams wrote about the two sides of the “Baby Please Don’t Go/Gloria” recording: “Into the heart of the beast … here is something so good, so pure, that if no other hint of it but this record existed, there would still be such a thing as rock and roll … Van Morrison’s voice a fierce beacon in the darkness, the lighthouse at the end of the world. Resulting in one of the most perfect rock anthems known to humankind.
- Single: ‘Gloria’ Them
- Record Company- Parrot
- Genre: Rock
- Written by Van Morrison
- Time: 2:38
- B side of ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’
- Album- The Angry Young Them
- Grade: A+
- Peaked at # 93 in 1965 #71 in 1966 US Billboard Hot 100.
Morrison and Them did the best version. Yep, every damn garage band in the universe played this song, and most of them played it wrong. The chords are E/Em-D-A and back to E. Most bands skipped the Em because its too hard to transition into ands it’s in the middle of a beat. Then there is the middle 48 bars that go D-A D-A with a ringing tone on the end of the D chord. For such a simpleton tune, the chords are quite complicated to make the song sound right. I know, I’ve played the damn song since it came out up until 2019, and if I ever hear it again, I will slit my vein. I do like Van Morrison.