My song toy is ‘I Know Him So Well’. This is a duet from the concept album and subsequent musical ‘Chess; by Tim Rice, Benny Andersson, and Bjorn Ulvaeus. It was originally sung by Elaine Paige (as Florence) and Barbara Dickson (as Svetlana). In this duet, two women – Svetlana, the Russian chess champion's estranged wife, and Florence, his mistress – express their bittersweet feelings for him, and at seeing their relationships fall apart.
The duet was first released worldwide in the autumn of 1984. Later it was released as a single by Paige and Dickson, the duet reaching Number 1 in the ‘UK Singles Chart’ for four weeks in 1985. They laid down their vocals separately and never met during the recording of the song, only for the video and subsequent performances on ‘Top of the Pops’ and the European tours. This recording remains in the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest selling UK Chart single ever by a female duo. Paige also appeared in the original London West End stage production of ‘Chess’. The song peaked at Number 21 in Australia.]
In the United Kingdom on 18 September 2004, the BBC's ‘All-time Greatest Love Songs’ (hosted by Lionel Richie) saw the duet performed live by Paige and Dickson, together for the first time in 20 years, to a rapturous reception.
In January 2011, the ‘Official Charts Company’ released a list of the top 10 ‘All-Time Best-Selling Duets’ in which ‘I Know Him So Well’ was placed seventh in the chart.
Generally, any partnership which appears to have happily existed half a lifetime will usually lead the female in that relationship to genuinely believe, ‘I know him so well’. Pull the other leg ladies, and while you’re at it, let me put you right on a few points. Just because men get used to saying nothing in their relationships with women does not mean that they anesthetize their brain and suspend their critical judgment when one’s good lady is telling them again that if they had listened to their clear instructions the first time around, there would never be a second occasion for repeating the original error.
All good women know the Tolkien truth from the moment that the couple exchanges wedding rings at the sacred altar of male sacrifice, that there can only ever be one ‘Ruling Ring’. And, that ring is the wedding band of gold that the bride wears. The couple may stay married for eighty years, or the woman may elect to exchange her husband for a newer, faster, more energetic, and exciting model who can take her from nought to 60 before she has uttered the words ‘Yes, please!”.
As far as significant individual personality shifts which become visible during early marriage years, the husband usually remains the same man that he was when he married his wife, while she has changed from angel to devil woman in a mere five years, and from his ‘dearest’ to ‘most expensive’. His wife begins to resemble her mother more with the passing of each wedding anniversary. Before the poor husband realises what has hit him in the name of love and future happiness, he quickly appreciates that he is but a mere part of a doomed experiment.
Henceforth, his marriage is downhill all the way. His wife transmogrifies into Cruella De Ville or the Fat Controller. Whatever role the wife adopts within the marriage, by the time that the couple has come back from their honeymoon in Clapton by the Sea, the wife will have already mapped out her blueprint of their happy future together. She will have begun her new project; the shaping of her newly married husband into the man she always wanted to walk behind her. He will become and remain her lifelong project, and because she will always find room for improvement, he will never amount to anything more than ‘a work in progress’.
The more we believe ourselves to know all there is to know about our partner at the commencement of our relationship, the more we deceive ourselves. No person ever comes to a new relationship in their life without carrying some emotional baggage. Such is the nature of life, that sometimes, it can take fifty years of marriage to gradually tell one’s partner.
Love and Peace