The Making Of "Ballerina Valerie" - Joe Scholes
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27 Nov The Making Of “Ballerina Valerie”

Some songs rule the charts for years after being written in one drunken afternoon I hear, one of the most prominent examples being “In The Summertime” by Mungo Jerry.

My songs are different. Not only in a way that they don’t sell 16 million copies (like “In The Summertime” by Mungo Jerry), they also take a hell lot of time to finish.

All About Julia (name changed by the editor)

I’ll give you “Ballerina Valerie” as an example. It’s about my girl moving to another place and never looking back. Such a thing happened to me in 1996, when I was living in Bonn. (It probably happened to me more often, but now let’s talk about 1996.) The girl was Julia (name still changed by the editor) and she moved to Hamburg to go to a Musical School. Okay, we were not on speaking terms any longer when she left Bonn. So the detail in the lyrics with me carrying her stuff to the new flat was all made up. The contrary to “keeping it real”. Still the emotional distress was there. Otherwise I hadn’t had the impulse to take some miserable notes on a piece of paper.

Fettes Brot

I remember how much I envied her, hearing that she moved to the great party metropolis Hamburg. I could almost sense her having one great night out after the other, getting high with musicians from the best German and international bands, and getting off with Dr. Renz from the Hip Hop act Fettes Brot. Later I heard that she soon had to quit that school again because of problems with her knees, and moved to Berlin. If the results of my recent research are correct, she moved to Australia.


The whole thing came back to me in 2004, eight years later, when I watched the video to “Call On Me” by the Swedish Dance Music Producer Eric Prydz, a cover version of Steve Winwood’s classic song “Valerie”. The video to this song featured a bunch of well-trained dancers that indulged in moves that could by some be regarded as obscene. It was a number one hit in the UK and other countries and watching it quite often was part of my job, as a script writer for the likes of Daisy Dee and Annemarie Warnkross, the presenters of the Dance Show “Clubrotation” on German music television channel VIVA. This confession won’t help my street credibility, but I’m here to tell nothing but the truth. Anyway, I imagined one of the girls in the video to be my former ex-girlfriend and the topic for “Ballerina Valerie” was set. By the way, the chords of the verse were nicked from a favourite song of mine, “You’re All I Need To Get By” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell.

Additional comment (25 Apr 2016) Let me in invite you to do an experiment. Turn off the sound of the video to Eric Prydz’ “Valerie”, let the video run and start my version of “Ballerina Valerie” from bandcamp – just until I have a proper video for “Ballerina Valerie”, okay?

You can also read just read the lyrics to “Ballerina Valerie”. They are here.

You can find this song and nine more on the new Joe Scholes album “Songbook Vol. II”. Learn how to get it right here on the website.

1 Comment
  • Gregor Pottmeier
    Posted at 18:33h, 27 November

    Jetzt versteh ich auch endlich die autobiografischen Zusammenhänge, Herr Scholes. War das etwa die Taxifahrerin, die mal bei mir übernachtet hat?

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