Although nominally part of the British Invasion, Petula Clark’s age and pre-rock career history gave her a different perspective from the beat groups and girl singers. Unlike the heightened emotions of most youth-oriented pop, her best ’60s singles are decidedly human in scale, dealing with ordinary adult challenges like stressful jobs (“I Know a Place”) and domestic discord (“Don’t Sleep in the Subway”). Clark’s voice is gentle but robust, sympathetic but encouraging. Because she frankly acknowledges the difficulty of these problems, her entreaties to keep your chin up and make your own happiness carry real weight. The choruses of these songs brim with a sense of relief that feels earned, rather than forced: a victory all the more significant because of its impermanence.
“My Love,” on the other hand, skips past the uncomfortable stuff straight to the glib, horn-laden chorus, barreling ahead without pausing to reflect. Whereas “Downtown” took an unconventional approach to a standard pop trope, emphasizing the melancholy that drives the need for escape, “My Love” is essentially a string of empty clichés: her love is “deeper than the deepest ocean,” “wider than the sky” and (rather tepidly) “warmer than the warmest sunshine.” Songwriter Tony Hatch half-heartedly attempts a bit of his usual pathos in the verses, casting Clark as someone who’d given up on love, but it’s unconvincing in the face of the rest of the record’s unrelenting cheer. Equally problematic is the miscasting of the levelheaded Clark as a love-blind Pollyanna. Perhaps a younger, brassier singer might convincingly sound like she believes nothing in the world could ever change her love. The Petula we know understands that change isn’t just inevitable – sometimes it’s a good thing. 4
Hit #1 on February 5, 1966; total of 2 weeks at #1
153 of 1015 #1’s reviewed; 15.07% through the Hot 100