Brute Force Q and A
Brute Force a/k/a Stephen Friedland
talks about meeting Del Shannon
and the writing of
"She Still Remembers Tony"

[plus various other related topics]
January 8, 2005
Questions by Rainman, Stephanie, Chris Goodwin and Mike Griffiths.

Q: Do you prefer to be called Stepen Friedland or Brute Force?

A: No one has ever called me Stepen...ha ha ha ha a joke, actually it's Stephen and when I'm entertaining it's perfectly OK for anyone to call me Brute. If I'm with someone who has always known me as Brute then Brute continues, but if I'm with someone who I've known for a while, an old friend for instance and they call me Brute it would feel weird. And if someone calls me Stephen at a show, someone I've never met and they have seen me perform as Brute, I kind of feel they aren't going along with the fantasy thing, but it's ok coz a rose by any other name, etc.  Outside of showbiz, I prefer to be called Stephen.

Q: You mentioned that the Tokens played a show at the Paramount in Asbury Park and Del Shannon was also on the bill.  Can you remember if this was late 1964 or early 1965? Do you remember what was the current hit for the Tokens at the time?  What about for Del: "Keep Searchin? or "Stranger In Town"?

A: Got me. You could ask Phil Margo of The Tokens at Whether it was 64 or 65 I don't know, I think it was in the summer of 64...I was living with my Mom, Dad and brother in a house by the sea in Deal, NJ. The concert was a few miles down the road in Asbury Park at the then beautiful Paramount Theatre. I think everyone stayed overnight at our house.

Q: Did you ever meet Del Shannon in person?

A. As I say I think Del stayed overnight as did the other Tokens at our house.

Q: What was your impression of him?

A: Well I was very happy to meet him. I am going out on a limb of memory here, because it's 41 years ago yet I believe he was a reserved young man, not extremely talkative, and a likeable gent.

Q: Did Del commission you to write him a single? Was he drawn to some of The Token's falsetto work like in "The Lion Sleeps tonight" perhaps?

A: I don't think he commissioned the song...but it was like we knew he had a session coming up and we, me and Charlotte Parsons, wrote the song with Del in mind. He had a release "Hats Off To Larry", so we figured maybe he'd follow with another song with a guys name in it.

Q: Were you under the impression that "She Still Remembers Tony" was going to be an A side or a B side?

A: I didn't know.

Q: The melody in the verse of  "She Still Remembers Tony" sounds similar to "Stranger In Town".  Was this planned in the writing?

A: I didn't pay attention to any other melody.

Q: Were you present at the recording session?

A: No.

Q: Was the last note Del hit on the record his idea or the producer?

A: I haven't the foggiest.

Q: Did you or anyone else think that the song was going to be a big hit?

A: Well we would have been very excited that Del Shannon, big star, was doing our song, whoop-dee-doo and all that, so who knows, at the time, you hope for the best...yes?

Q: "She Still Remembers Tony" - what is this song all about? I always envisioned that the song was about a woman whose lover goes missing in action in Vietnam. She is then haunted by the ghost of her lost love (i.e. like she is being haunted by feelings of guilt)...

A: Well we know that Tony sailed away. Now the demo that the Tokens made, or the track they also cut of the song, and I believe it would have been the demo that was sent to Del, has different lyrics in the 1st verse:

"She Still remembers Tony, She still remembers how she felt in his arms. She Still remembers Tony. She still remembers how he said they would never part. And when the day disappears into night, I get a feelin' she won't come back, coz she goes out there lookin' for Tony. She's walkin' 'round callin' his name, she says "Tony." She cries, "Tony, Tony baby, Tony baby where can you be?" But when she comes back to my arms I keep on tellin' her, "Baby, Tony's gone."

as opposed to:

"She Still remembers Tony, and the lonely night he sailed away. He told he not to worry, coz he'd come back to her the next day. And when the tide rushes in from the sea, I know 'bout (?) where she will be. She'll be out there lookin' for Tony, walkin' 'round callin his name, she cries, "Tony, Tony baby, Tony baby where can you be?" But when she comes back to my arms I keep on tellin' her, "Baby, Tony's gone." 2nd par same, 1st part totally diff. So I don't know if it was a rewrite by Del, bringing in the sailing away aspect.  I would be sure that the lyrics on the Tokens track are the ones I wrote with Charlotte.

The second verse is ditto except for a poignant difference the opening line, I don't think I can blame her, the way she mourns for him that way." in Del's record is. " I don't think I can blame her, the way she cries for him that way."

Q: Who was 'She'? Who was 'Tony'? I know they're unlikely to be real people - but they must be based on someone, even if it was the lady who used to buy bread every Thursday afternoon from the local store.

A. She and Tony were not based on anyone, really. At the time we were turning out a song or two a day, so this one was a pretty quick job.

Q: Who is/was Charlotte Martha Parsons, co-writer of "She Still Remembers Tony"?

A: a/k/a Jay Fishman, and I have tried to locate him but to no avail. A very creative and delightful chap as I recall, we wrote well together.

Q: Was there any other songs written with Del in mind?

A: No.

Q: Did you write any other songs with Charlotte Martha Parsons?

A: Yes, quite a few.

Q: In 1968 Del did a period piece entitled "The Further Adventures of Charles Westover". A similar pop-sike LP was put out that very same year by your own group ("The Tokens" - "Intercourse"). Was this a serious effort to produce some more hits? How involved were you in making that album?

A: Not involved at all. They included a very brief song of mine in the album, "6 5 4 3 2 1 Lou".

Q: Can you think of any other related stories or anecdotes?

A. Yes I always am inspired by Del, by the opening lick of "Runaway" and if I'm correct the same bass sax sound was used in "Tony". I like playing "Runaway" on guitar & his use of ondeline, would have led me to use it around 1969 in "Vicky" later included in the 21st century on my "Tour de Brute Force" cd. 

And of course his piercing falsetto would have increased my awareness of how different sounds by recording artists can make it.

I was very unfamiliar with the sadness that overcame his life. I imagine he would have been around my age now...64.

I have played UK 3 times now, with a fantastic band, Misty's Big Adventure, and invite all Del's fans to come out and see Brute Force the next time I make it to merry old England.

Mike, Thank you for this opportunity to be part of your work. If there are any further questions or proof reading brush ups, let me know.


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Del Shannon's recording of "She Still Remembers Tony" was released in 1965 as the b-side of "Move It On Over" Amy 937.

The Tokens version of "She Still Remembers Tony" was released for the first time in 2001 and can be ordered here:

- Mike Griffiths