In 1969, a revolutionary time for popular music, Billy Joe Royal, a country pop star and a Georgia native, made the national Top 20 with a silly, mildly salacious little ditty called “Cherry Hill Park,” which had more in common with Fats Domino’s 1956 hit “Blueberry Hill” than anything else going on in popular music during that era (except maybe The Turtles’ 1967 hit “Happy Together,” whose chorus its own chorus resembles a bit).
The girl in the song, “Mary Hill,” “was such a thrill after dark, in Cherry Hill Park,” until she got married, and “since that day, it ain’t been the same,” sings Royal.
Royal didn’t write the song himself — it was penned by Robert Nix and Billy Gilmore — but in a 2008 interview with popculturemadness.com, he confirmed that, yes, the song was indeed inspired by Cherry Hill, N.J. Perhaps not the town itself, actually, but at least the name.
“A friend of mine had gone to Philadelphia somewhere and looked over and saw Cherry Hill and then just said, ‘Hey, Cherry Hill, merry hill,’ ” Royal said.
The song, which was the title track of an album Royal released in ’69, represented his third and final time in the pop Top 20, though he continued having hits on the country charts into the early ’90s.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday last year. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we are marking the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, for almost a year — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. We started in September 2014, and will keep going until late in the summer.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.