Who is Alice? Many music lovers ask this question when listening to the song Living Next Door to Alice performed by Smokie and the End of Film group.
Let’s find out who wrote the mega-hit ballad, which band played it first and who was the notorious Alice.
The story of the song Living Next Door to Alice
The song was written by songwriters Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn. They worked in tandem for a long time, collaborating with different singers, and many of their works became major hits.
The first sketches appeared in the late fifties. As legend has it, the idea came about when a producer locked Chapman and Chinn in a room, threatening not to let him out until they had written tracks for an entire album.
The track’s working title was Living Next Door to Mrs. Craven and Her Many Cats (“Living next door to Mrs. Craven and her many cats”). But then the authors drew attention to Chinn’s neighbor, whose name was Alice, and named the heroine of the song after her.
Chinn spoke of that woman:
She was amazing. Really amazing. She made the sun shine brighter. Not literally, of course, because she was not a witch, although that would be amazing.
In the early 1990s, the BBC aired a show claiming to have found the real Alice. According to them, she was a little out of her mind and admitted that she loved the ballad very much.
Meaning of Living Next Door to Alice
They say that in the mid-twentieth century, the phrase “living next to Alice” meant in slang being behind bars. Allegedly, the walls of the prisons were built from the material alicanium, which the prisoners called Alice.
The authors of the composition said that they had nothing of the kind in mind and were not even aware of the possibility of such an interpretation.
The song is performed on behalf of a modest guy who has been in love with a neighbor for almost a quarter of a century, but could not find the right moment to confess his feelings to her. As a result, she left without knowing about the admirer, and another local resident “picked up” the unlucky romantic.
In the first version of the song Living Next Door to Alice, it was said that the main character has been living next to Alice for twenty thousand years. However, then someone told the authors that this hyperbole sounds absurd, and they changed the time period to a realistic twenty-four years.
Recording and release
Living Next Door to Alice lay dormant until 1972, when it was recorded by New World. The track peaked at number 35 on the Australian charts.
In November 1976, the Smokie group proposed their own version. The track reached number five on the UK Singles Chart and topped the charts in several European countries. Watch the video clip of Living Next Door to Alice – Smokie.
Starting his solo career, Chris Norman recorded his cover of Living Next Door to Alice and included it on the album Full Circle (2000). Let’s listen to how the musician performed the song at the Avtoradio disco of the eighties.
Other cover versions
In 1995, the Dutch band Gompie recorded the song Living Next Door to Alice with the words “Alice, who the f**k is Alice?” added to the lyrics. The idea to release a cover with this line came about after one of the band members visited the Gompie bar and heard how a local DJ, putting on a song, muted the sound, and the crowd sang in chorus: “Alice, who the f**k is Alice? “.
The Gompie track turned out to be incredibly successful. The composition topped the charts in the Netherlands and Belgium, and also rose high in the charts of other countries.
Inspired by the success of Gompie, Smokie and comedian Roy Chubby Brown released their parody version of Living Next Door to Alice (Who the F**k is Alice?). The song reached number three on the UK Singles Chart. The composition was performed in Czech, Norwegian, Finnish, Hungarian, Korean, German and other languages.
In the post-Soviet space, the version of Mikhail Bashakov and Evgeny Feklistov was very popular. In 2001, the End of Film band recorded it under the name “Alice” for the album “Soundtrack (Goodbye Innocence!)”.
The meaning of the song “Alice” Mikhail Bashakov explained as follows:
A person is used to tormenting himself with such global questions as “What to do?” or “Who’s to blame?” We not only formulated the third most important question – “Where will we go?”, but also gave a concrete answer to it. You need to go to Alice. But the song also asks, “Who is that girl?”
And then I remember how Boris Grebenshchikov once spoke about the White Queen – the embodiment of purity and holiness. This may surprise some, but Alice reminds me of this goddess. Therefore, you can’t go to her with “such faces”, you must first cleanse yourself. I think that the main part of the audience perceives our heroine in a similar way. After all, this is the perfect person, if you think about it. He does not drink, does not smoke, heals from ailments and knows many languages. In general, a song about such a girl should carry an extremely positive charge.
And for that part of the public that believes that we offend their idols, I would like to say that we treat all participants in the campaign to Alice with sympathy and respect. And we hope that they themselves do not have problems with a sense of humor.
Arguments and facts, 2001
- American presenter Casey Kasem said that Chapman confessed to him that he wrote Living Next Door to Alice, being inspired by the song Sylvia’s Mother performed by Dr. Hook.
Living Next Door to Alice Lyrics
Sally called when she got the word
She said “I suppose you’ve heard
So, I rushed to the window, and I looked outside,
And I could hardly believe my eyes
This big limousine rolled up into Alice’s drive.
I don’t know why she’s leaving, or where she’s gonna go,
I guess she’s got her reasons but I just don’t want to know,
‘Cause for 24 years I’ve been living next door to Alice.
24 years, just waitin’ for a chance,
To tell her how I’m feeling, maybe get a second glance,
Now I’ve gotta get used to not living next door to Alice.
Grew up together, two kids in the park,
Carved our initials deep in the bark
Me and Alice.
Now she walks to the door, with her head held high,
Just for a moment, I caught her eye
As the big limousine pulled slowly out of Alice’s drive.
Sally called back, and asked how I felt,
She said “I know how to help
You get over Alice.”
She said “Now Alice is gone, but I’m still here
You know I’ve been waiting 24 years.”
And the big limousine disappeared.
No, I’ll never get used to not living next door to Alice
Michael Donald Chapman, Nicholas Barry Chinn
Publisher: Universal Music Publishing Group
Smokie Lyrics Living Next Door to Alice Lyrics Alternate
Sally called and started talking
She said “I guess you heard
I ran to the window, looked out
And he couldn’t believe his eyes.
A large limousine slowly drove up to Alice’s house.
I don’t know why she’s leaving or where she’s going.
I think she has her reasons but I don’t want to know
‘Cause I’ve lived next to Alice for twenty-four years
For twenty-four years I’ve waited for the right moment or the chance look
To tell her how you feel
But now I have to get used to living away from Alice.
We grew up together, two kids in the park
We carved our initials on the bark –
Me and Alice.
And so she goes to the door with her head held high.
For a moment our eyes met
As the big limousine pulled slowly away from her house.
Sally called back and asked how I was.
She said “I know how to help
You forget Alice.”
She said, “Now Alice is gone, but I am here.
You know, I’ve waited twenty-four years.”
And the big limousine was gone