Showing posts with label 1967. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1967. Show all posts

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Old Hippies

I have a certain fascination with the hippie era. Not as in, I wish I had been there, but more as an entomological study. On the Midwestern prairie we had no Summer of Love. We had a summer of working, a summer of riding bicycles and pressing transistor radios to our ears; a summer of stretching the coiled cord of the kitchen wall phone all the way around the corner into the hall so we could have private conversations.

The war was, of course, on everyone's mind, but more urgently than college kids who had deferments and spent their lunch periods carrying signs. To my big brother the war wasn't abstract -- he had to worry if his number was going to be pulled out of the big bingo jar and if he was going to die in a rice paddy. Working class boys didn't have a lot of options. They could flee to Canada or they could join the National Guard, which is what my brother did. My brother was hardly the military type, but he ultimately did his civic duty...and he stayed alive. Meanwhile, boys with wispy goatees in San Francisco twirled around in tie-dyed tee shirts.

I was twelve that summer. On TV I saw mystified CBS News reporters chronicling the Haight-Ashbury scene. All the characters looked like dizzy dorks. I especially loved the dance of the scarves, which was a classic. One could not flip the television dial without glimpsing some barefoot bra-less chick whirling on a hillside with a multi-hued scarf. So profound!

Old hippies probably don't grasp this, but we didn't envy them. We thought they were imbeciles.

Fifty-odd years later, I wonder how many of them have managed to maneuver life with all their brain cells intact. They'd be -- well, past retirement age. Do they entertain their grandkids with tales of past acid trips? Did some get elected to congress? (yes) Did they at some point learn to appreciate the joy of bar soap and penicillin?

Sage Midwesterners always knew that life was life, and there was no escaping it. My brother didn't "drop out", and I didn't, either. We didn't have that luxury.

Marty Balin died this week. He was a founding member of Jefferson Airplane, a band that encapsulated the summer of love. Reading about him, I learned that he was a pretty good guy, but that band epitomized everything I hated about the times.

Marty solo:

In my town we weren't listening to Jefferson Airplane. This is what we were tuning in to on our local radio station:

And especially this:

See? We were hip, too.

And we still possess all our brain cells.

Friday, December 1, 2017

It Was Fifty Years Ago Today

I didn't realize until tonight that 1967 was fifty years ago! My, how time flies.

Nineteen sixty-seven was a seminal year for me. We'd moved to our new home (or "house of horrors", as I prefer to call it) in December of 1966. As an almost twelve-year-old, I'd had a naive optimism that life in this new world would be superb. Just like me to act now and think later. Not that I was given a choice in the matter.

I was caught in that shadowy crevice between my old life and my new one. I'd left my very best friend behind, but my tiny mind discarded that reality in favor of the new, exciting life I'd conjured.

My brother was twenty years old and independent. He'd left someone behind, too, but he wasn't about to discard her. Thus, he traversed Interstate 94 about two hundred times that first year, to Minnesota and back, until he could bring his soon-to-be bride back with him permanently.

My brother was granted his very own room along the long back row of motel units; room number twenty, to be exact; while I shared a skinny cubbyhole and a set of bunk beds with my little brother and sister. My big brother was never around (see previous paragraph), so if I wanted (needed) a little me-time, I grabbed a pass key from the office and made myself at home in Room 20. It wasn't exactly like his room back on the farm. He no longer had a cozy nook for his albums; his new music center was a set of dark recessed shelves illuminated by a sixty-watt light bulb, directly adjacent to his bathroom. Nevertheless, I slipped "Pleasant Valley Sunday" on his turntable and performed my own version of the jerk in front of his vanity mirror.

I was careful to leave his room the way I'd found it. I smoothed out the bedspread that I'd sat on in between mirror performances. I placed his records back on the shelf in the exact order in which he'd arranged them. I'd had years of experience with this ritual; it came second nature to me.

Then I slumped back to the "house" and did my best to ignore everyone who lived there.

Adults who relocate to a new space in the world don't even consider the things kids worry about. Moving to a brand new school in a brand new town, I fretted about how lost I would be amidst the subject matter. I'd had a bit of exposure to a new school when I was nine and had moved with my mom to Lisbon, North Dakota for part of the school year. St. Aloysius had been woefully behind. I'd felt like a complete fraud when the nuns proposed to Mom that I skip a grade. I'd always been good at memorizing and that was essentially what made me look so smart to the St. A's sisters -- I'd already committed to memory everything they were teaching.

But, now, would the Mandan school system be far ahead of where I'd left off? What if I flunked and had to repeat the sixth grade? Add to that the reality that I would need to keep my head down and not make eye contact with a bunch of disdainful strangers. I was a jittery wreck.

Mandan was big on world history. A big fat textbook with crisp white pages of stories about the "Slovakias" and a study sheet crammed with foreign words. And science. A subject that made me question why God was punishing me. I'd been so good; had gone to confession every week just like He had decreed; had made up "sins" just to have something to utter to the priest dozing inside his little velvet-lined box. I'd done everything He'd wanted me to do -- ate fish sticks on Friday -- and this was my reward?

There was not one subject Mrs. Haas taught that gave me a sense of relief. My only saving grace was that I could spell. Mrs. Haas was big on spelldowns. Every week she'd line everyone up on opposite sides of the room and challenge them to spell words. I soared. My only real competitor was the other new girl who'd shown up in Mrs. Haas' classroom the same day I did. But I vanquished her, too. Take that, Becky Weeda!

I also had to endure the indignity of taking the city bus home from school. The Mandan School District didn't have bus routes that stretched out to the boondocks. Thus, I had to hike six blocks from the elementary school to the Prince Hotel in downtown Mandan to wait for Mister Paul to pull his big blue and white bus up to the stop to take me home.

Crazy people rode that bus. There was a guy who was always sitting in the front seat -- a guy who had some kind of neck stitch. He would crick his head to the right over and over and over again while he jabbered to Mister Paul. There was a seemingly sophisticated twenty-something girl who boarded the bus every day as I was wending my way home. One afternoon she had donned Jackie O sunglasses, and complained incessantly to Mister Paul that she'd recently suffered "snow blindness". I think all of these people were insane.

I sat in the middle row, far removed from the regular eccentrics. There were, at the most, five of us riding the route, and that included the driver. Mister Paul was always nice to me, though. He had a job to do, and I think he understood that as a twelve-year-old, these freaks freaked me out. I really liked Mister Paul. The following year, as I stumbled into seventh grade, I had an English teacher who was also named Mister Paul. He was a foppish dilettante who I was aghast to learn was the son of my kindly city bus driver.

I felt like I spent my life on a bus.

To my astonishment, somewhere between December and February, I acquired a friend. Mrs. Haas' classroom was a test of my memorizing skills. I couldn't really tell Glenn from Robert. I learned quickly that Russell was a big doofus, because every time Mrs. Haas called on him, he coughed up an inane response. As a sixth grader, I feigned condescension toward Russell, but today he would make me laugh. He was rather endearing in his naivete. A North Dakota Gomer Pyle.

All the girls were pale Germanic blondes, which made me stand out even more freakishly, with my Irish red hair. The blondest of the blondes was named Alice. I sat in the row next to hers, a couple of desks forward. Prim Mrs. Haas uttered something one morning that struck me as ridiculously funny, and I had no one with whom to share my amusement. I happened to glance back and saw the blonde girl grinning at me. Every friendship I've ever formed in my life was based on humor; a bond with someone who "got it". From that day forward, this girl Alice would be the best friend I ever had.

In the metamorphic stage of our friendship, though, I still had to deal with "home". Which essentially meant getting off the bus, tromping silently through the motel office, past Mom hovering behind the check-in desk, alighting in my shared bedroom and slamming the door behind me. My conduit for obtaining music was my transistor radio and a battery-powered record player. My latest '45's were the cloud-blue Turtles hit:

I even had this one (I don't know why):

Probably my favorite single at the time was on a yellow label with a revolver that shouted, "Bang":

Speaking of The Turtles, I liked this one even more than Happy Together, despite what Ferris Bueller might say:

Nobody ever mentions the Grass Roots, but in 1967 they were a phenomenon. This was my favorite:

I didn't have a lot of '45's. I had some miscellaneous Paul Revere and the Raiders singles. Paul Revere and the Raiders was a good band -- in concept -- but not an actually good band. I liked them because I thought Mark Lindsay was cute. At twelve, cuteness is of supreme importance. I tacked photos of the band (from Tiger Beat Magazine) up on my wall. The most nicely arranged archive of a band that I never really liked.

I did buy this one, but I don't know why. Roulette Records had a psychedelic orange label that would make one dizzy if they stared at it too long. This song was something my little sister could appreciate more than me, and yet I bought it:

As ashamed as I am now of the singles I plunked down money for, at least I can say I never dropped my pennies on the counter for songs like, "Up, Up And Away". So, in retrospect, this one doesn't look or sound that bad:

Those basically sum up my paltry record collection.  

My after-school schedule consisted of trekking my way down the driveway, pouting through the "family gauntlet" (which truthfully only consisted of my mom), burrowing behind the door of my birdhouse bedroom and reposing on the bottom bunk to the same six-pack of '45 records. 

In time, my little brother and sister would appear from wherever they'd been cavorting, and would sometimes expect me to let them in the room. This dispensation was granted only rarely. They got used to it. I did let them sleep in there, for God's sake. Depending on the night's TV schedule, I may give a cursory glance to my homework early, while the evening news was on the television in the living room. If it was Monday, I parked myself in front of the big TV -- directly in front of the TV -- to catch the latest Monkees episode. I was in love with the Monkees -- for the longest time, before I had an actual friend, they were my best friends. Of course, they didn't know that...or me.

TV was a hugely important part of my life. Ironically, television was basically awful in 1967. Laugh-In, The Dean Martin Show, Green Acres, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C, Petticoat Junction, Family Affair. Just awful, corn-pone shows. Yet I watched them. What else was there? Those bastard Hollywood producers really thought the audience was a bunch of rubes. Or they knew we had no choice, so they didn't give a damn. The best thing on TV in 1967 was on too late for me to watch, except for Friday nights -- The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

Wednesday nights I had CCD, which meant I missed nothing except my pride. Sitting behind a long table with my fellow hostages in the church basement, pretending to pay attention to Father Dukart "teach" us things, thinking, hmmm...Father is kind of cute...not grasping why he paid so much attention to the boys' side of the room. After class the boys squealed like little girls about a stupid new TV show, some space thing they called "Star Trek". Yawn.

I remember 1967 as dark. Dark and gloomy. Wintery; cold. My only goal was to get through. Step by slogging step.

Music-wise, even the top hits were gloomy. Cynical. Sure I remember my poppy songs fondly, but my transistor droned on with songs like this one, over and over:

I have no idea what that song meant, if anything. But it annoyed the hell out of me. And don't even get me started on Jefferson Airplane.

If I'm going to remember the year, though, I'd rather remember the music that was good; not the craptastic Summer of Love twaddle. (P.S. The summer of love was a scam.)

So I like these:

(Sorry for the summer of love nonsense footage, but it's still a good song.)

I made some faux paus in '67. I badgered my soon-to-be sister-in-law to barter away some long-forgotten '45 for this one, which is an awesome song and a classic:

This song I danced to in front of my brother's mirror, and I stand by it yet today:

This song sums up 1967 for me:

I know what you're thinking -- Aren't you missing some songs, Shelly? Yes, but those songs are for another time, another post. No, I haven't forgotten Jim and I haven't forgotten Felix Cavaliere.

And I'm well aware of the Whiter Shades and the Judes, but the songs featured here are how I remember 1967. Feel free to do your own retrospective.

These songs got me through.

And that, after all, was my goal.

Friday, July 21, 2017

If You're Going To San Francisco

There are a lot of fables in popular culture about the sixties. I was there.

The Summer of Love is represented in TV montages by young girls with garlands of daisies in their hair dancing about (not really dancing, but rather, floating on a marijuana cloud). Apparently teens in the late sixties were endeavoring to blot out the cruel world of reality. Frankly, I don't remember reality being all that awful. That's not true, of course. I was twelve in 1967 and life for me was a minefield of evading my mom's bitching and cursing and my dad's tipsy staggering across the parking lot of our motel. Luckily for me on that front, I rarely saw my dad.

Too, if one watched the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, things were definitely not fine. Young boys were getting killed in Viet Nam for no Godly reason. Truth was, though, Viet Nam was so far away, and we were safe and sound beside the pool, slathering Coppertone on our legs; white-framed sunglasses shading our eyes -- it was easy to get hypnotized by the summer sun and by Jim Morrison wanting to light our fire.

Nineteen sixty-seven was the summer of denial.

Despite, or maybe because of, my family issues, I let the July sun warm me; bake me; anesthetize me. The Rascals wafting from my transistor's speaker turned everything all right. "Groovin" helped me forget.

Much like today, I think the more "politically active" teens protested simply for something to do. It's not as if they were political science experts -- I learned more by just keeping my head down and studying actual civics than they did from holding "be-ins".  And geographically, things were just different. In the semi-rural Midwest, we watched these strange beings frolicking on our TV screens and saw them as otherworldly. They were apparently "Communists" -- today known as "Socialists", or "Idiots". Yes, life would be sublime if we could all just gather together on our communes and barter our organically-grown lettuce for a used radio. Sure, everything is groovy until human nature kicks in, as it inevitably does; and bad things like "jealousy", "greed", and "betrayal" rear their ugly heads. Changing the human essence is a losing battle.

Nevertheless, all we really needed to make this world a better place was:

"Love" was a very important word in 1967 (unlike now). Everything, every life's goal, was to obtain "love". The Jefferson Airplane sang about love, but it sounded angry, sort of like the "love" I experienced in my family; which was not a desirable state:

"Love" actually sucked, and it was phony. Perhaps that's the issue I have with 1967 -- its artifice. Frankly, I could have just as well worn flowers in my hair and have been equally happy:

And, naturally, it was the Age of Aquarius, which is another way of saying I'm a gullible imbecile who reads my horoscope every day in the newspaper and believes it. Of course, I have to barter away my hemp-woven moccasins for a newspaper, but still, it's well worth it. The Fifth Dimension, in retrospect, was just trying to make a living in show business, and they hitched their wagon to little Jimmy Webb, who, while on an acid trip, wrote a song about balloons:

Truth be told, there were a lot of crappy songs that were hits in 1967. By the same token, there were a bunch of good tracks, the ones we rubes really liked. But that's for another day, another post. Listening to these "hits", though, kind of makes me feel icky -- takes me back to a time and a place I don't care to remember. That's why I prefer the "nice" songs. 

Stay tuned...

Friday, February 10, 2012

1967 ~ The Finish Line!

Four posts! Four posts I have devoted to the simple little subject of the summer of love!

Who knew?

When you think about it, though, how many years have a name for their summer? Everybody knows that when you say "1967", you automatically tack on, "the summer of love".

What do you call 1975? "The summer of high interest rates"? Doesn't have quite the cache.

So, thus we have four posts for 1967. I think it deserves it.

I don't really know what happened to music after the sixties, and I was there. I mean, I know what happened; I just don't know why.

And it was a gradual thing. It snuck up on us. Sure, the early 1970's had some great, memorable hits. But, among those great songs, they wedged in some really (really) bad ones. And then it kind of snowballed. Until, finally, all we were left with was the Captain & Tenille.

It seems like, as the seventies fell upon us, we all got really tired and sleepy. And we just said, the hell with it. Just do whatever you want. Throw us some of those NBC "in living color" variety shows, with Tony Orlando and Dawn; or the Sonny & Cher Show; she with the Bob Mackie evening gowns; not the fur vests of the "I Got You, Babe" days. Sonny, hoisting up his cute little daughter son, as they all (three) performed their little comedy "skits". Donny & Marie on ABC (not to leave out the other big network of the day). She's a little bit country; he's a little bit rock and roll ("little bit" being the key word).

We were inexplicably easy to please. Because we were just so tired. We laughed at the comedy "routines", all the while hating ourselves for becoming so complacent that we had lost all sense of dignity.

Because none of this stuff was in the slightest regard "funny". Thank God for Saturday Night Live, or we could have just pronounced ourselves DOA. But who could stay up that late? We didn't have such a thing as DVR's, or even VCR's, so we pretty much saw the first half hour of SNL, and then we passed out from exhaustion.

I remember the big happening in TV during the seventies was, "Who shot JR?". This was for morons like me who had absolutely no life, so we watched nighttime soap operas on a Friday night, for God's sake. My parents and siblings would discuss the whole JR thing, as we gathered together to play cards and eat. And I had to try to keep up, even though I never even watched the stupid show. Truly, it was a major event in people's lives. We'd play cards in the kitchen and every once in awhile take a quick detour into the living room to see what was happenin' on the big TV (Donny & Marie on ice?), although Mom would have the little portable TV turned on in the dining area, so we wouldn't miss any shocking (shocking!) developments on Dallas.

And I thought at the time, this reeks. All of it. This is entertainment? Kill me now. Thank God I have kids to take care of. Come to think of it, maybe that's why I was so tired.....

So, la de da, that's perhaps why the sixties hold a fond place in my heart. It was carefree! I had no responsibilities! I was a kid. My biggest concern was whether the cute boy at my junior high would notice me, or at the very least, not make fun of me.

Music was a HUGE part of our lives in the sixties. You want your top 50? Well, you'd better, because that's all you're getting. Genres? What? Is that some exotic French word? We didn't know about "genres". It was all "music". All fifty songs. Cuz that's all you got. You had a choice. Listen to KFYR AM radio, or don't listen to the radio. Music on TV? Better tune in to the Ed Sullivan Show, or you'd miss it. Or, for the truly anarchic, the Smothers Brothers Show. And, of course, there was The Monkees TV show.

Why were the Monkees so huge? What was their competition on TV? We were the TV generation. The Beatles didn't have their own TV show. They wouldn't have been able to agree on the camera angles anyway. "Hey, why is Paul getting all the close-ups?" "I hate Paul." Yea? Well, I hate you, too!" "You wanna piece of me, mate?" That TV show would have been the ultimate reality series. Pathetic, sad, and embarrassing for everyone, especially the viewers.

So, yes, we loved the Monkees. They were so upbeat! So idealistic! Just like us!

This leads me to the final, and I do mean final, installment of the top hits from the summer of love.

I'm a little perturbed about the fact that I cannot find a performance video of #45. You know, and I know, that Dionne Warwick performed the heck out of this song on TV, but is there any record of it? Apparently not.

But, because I don't want to include some lame duet, with some other singer that nobody has ever heard of, or cares about, I'm giving you this one. It's the best I could find. Sorry. And did I mention that I'm tired?

I am shocked (yes, shocked) that this next song was only number 46 on the charts for 1967. Hindsight can ultimately change one's perspective, can it not? Because this is a classic song. And so beautiful. The voice and the melody. I don't really care about wearing flowers in my hair (Who could find fresh flowers anyway, to stick in your head? I guess it was metaphorical. Even though it really wasn't).

But Scott MacKenzie, even though he never had another hit song that I know of, really captured the summer of love with this song, and you know that this is probably one of the two that you remember:

#47. Paul Revere & the Raiders. I guess you had to be there. None of my younger friends even know or recognize the name. Yes, it was a "niche" band; if by "niche", I mean, "novelty act that lasted about two years". But I liked them. Not so much their music, but just "them". I had their posters on my wall. Mark Lindsay. A completely embarrassed Freddy Weller, who was just trying to make a buck, you know? That's not to say they didn't have good songs, because they did have a couple. But it was a different time, and a different blah blah blah. Anyway, take it for what it is. Here is number forty-seven, "Good Thing":

Number 48 just happens to have been, at one time, one of my very favorite songs. I'll admit; I never was a big Herman's Hermits fan. Their music was rather "twee", as Paul might say.

But not this one. This one was something else. This song, well, watch and listen.

As an extra-added bonus, Peter Noone was only sixteen when this song was recorded, so he's still alive and kickin', unlike many from that period. That always makes me feel good, because, well, I'm still alive and kickin', and I don't wanna be the last man standing, if you get my drift.

#49. Bill Cosby. I remember Bill Cosby, of course, from the sitcom of the eighties, and also from I Spy, with Robert Vaughan (yes, I go back a ways).

I mostly remember Bill Cosby from the standup video that he did in the eighties. "But Dad, I thought my name was Jesus Christ!" Ahhh, I watched that concert video about four thousand times on HBO, so yes, I kind of have it memorized.

But did you know that Bill Cosby also made hit records? No, you didn't. Don't lie to me.

Sure, maybe he appropriated Stevie Wonder, but Stevie doesn't care, so why should we? Steal from the best, they say.

Alas, there is no performance video of this song, which would be so cool, but here is, nevertheless, "Little Ole Man":

And now, here we are. Number fifty. FOUR posts. FOUR.

I never recapped a year like I have here. And I never will again.

But there's just something about 1967. Something that won't ever happen again.

So, number fifty asks the ultimate question:

How can I be sure?
In a world that's constantly changing

Well, you can't. I can't. The further we get, the more confused we are.

The Rascals are woefully under-appreciated.

Because, if one was to rank the influential artists of 1967, one would be a fool to not include the Rascals right up towards the top.

It's probably fitting that there is no performance video of this song. Why? I don't know. I'm just trying to make excuses. There really should be a performance video, but there isn't, so let's try to end this on a high note, and not quibble.

A walk through time. If you weren't there, well, maybe you can at least appreciate the artistry. I have no comment on the culture. That's not my purpose here.

Okay, my comment is: It was all rather silly. But they all thought it was serious, so who am I to judge?

I'm just here for the music.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

It's The Summer Of Love! Again!

Have you been following along? Are you sick of this topic yet? Are you wondering if I will ever stop?

Well, of course I will stop! There is an ending to the charts, naturally. Well, maybe there isn't. Maybe there's a chart somewhere of every record that sold at least one copy in 1967, but trust me, that won't be happening here. By the time I get to the record of some guy humming through a comb, I know it's time to stop.

But, in all seriousness, this does end. At number 50.

And believe me, there are some really good songs yet to relive.

Unfortunately, this isn't one of them. Oh sure. "I've Got Rhythm" ~ who doesn't know that song, right? Written by George Gershwin. A nice song that perhaps Fred and Ginger would dance to. This version? Hmmm....The group calls themselves "The Happenings", because apparently, the name "The Crew Cuts" was already taken. I'm as conservative as the next guy, but the Happenings just don't seem to fit with 1967. Kudos on the lemon yellow blazers, though.

Number 37 is by Petula Clark, and just let me say, I have absolutely no recollection of this song whatsoever. That doesn't mean it's bad, because I'm a sucker for French, even though I don't understand it. But I don't remember this all. And it was #37? Well, here is This Is My Song:

Now, this is more my style. And one of my all-time favorite singers. As you know, this song was also recorded by the Four Tops. I love the Four Tops, but I love this version more.

As a side note, don't you find these "dancers" distracting? I bet Johnny wanted to do a couple of moves of his own, and reach out and just smack them. And trust me, we didn't dance like that in 1967. But I guess that's what you get when you try to do the Jerk to a slow song....morons.

Here is Johnny Rivers:

I'm really excited about number thirty-nine. This is one of my all-time favorite pop songs. Yes, everybody thinks "Happy Together" is the Turtles' best song. Maybe it is; maybe it isn't. I just happen to like this one better:

That was fun! People forget sometimes that music is supposed to be fun! And I love seeing a performer really enjoying himself. This was a really nice find!

Number forty is another one of my favorite songs from the era. Oh sure, you can have your Last Train To Clarksville and your Daydream Believer, but this was the Monkees getting all ironic and cynical (and that in itself is ironic, considering it was the Monkees).

I do also appreciate that, though Micky Dolenz is upfront about the guys not playing on their own records, he almost looks like a drummer in this video.

Here is Pleasant Valley Sunday:

No time-appropriate video of number forty-one, but Tommy James still sounds the same, doesn't he?

Oh yea, this song had a couple of lives. But we who were there will never forget our AM radios blaring this song...over and over and over...

I didn't even know that Smokey Robinson and the Miracles were still making hit records in 1967. Well, I was wrong, wasn't I?

Because here is "I Second That Emotion":

I had absolutely no idea what "Expressway To Your Heart" was; until I heard it.

So, yes, of course, I know this song. Kind of reminds me of the Rascals, and yet it is by the Soul Survivors. I don't know how or why the song rang no bells with me, but obviously I've heard this a million times, and here is one more time:

Number forty-four is by my favorite, and I'm sure yours (okay, that is irony, of course), Engelbert Humperdinck, doing that old country favorite, "Please Release Me".

There are so many things to say about this video, I'm not sure where to start.

First of all, why are there strobe lights flashing on his nether regions? Is this a natural phenomenon? Because I've never personally experienced that.

Number two ~ she's just trying to sleep, and here's Engelbert belting out a number in the bed, on his zebra-patterned sheets, and that's just insensitive. Let her sleep, Engelbert! Geez, I would take my zebra-striped pillow and smack him over the head a few times! Bastard.

And notice he wants her to release him "after the lovin'". Typical.

Yes, he's found a new love, dear. That's because she's got a steady supply of booze.

And he's singing this whole thing while admiring himself in the mirror.

Engelbert, you are just a pig! Seriously. You have no redeeming virtues.

And you sing it with such angst. There's no angst, Engelbert! You are a narcissistic creep. You and your new floozy deserve each other.

I hope you and Fabio are deliriously happy comparing hairdos.

I'm thinking the women of 1967 maybe outwardly put up with this crap, but inwardly, they cleaned out the guy's bank account and moved on to the Italian Rivera. And never again listened to another Engelbert Humperdinck song.

And thus we end tonight with number forty-four. Sorry to end this on a sour note. But seriously, Engelbert? That's just sorry and shallow and sad.

But more, better songs to come!

Stay tuned, as we round out the top fifty from the summer of love!

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Summer of Love Redux

It's rare that one particular year in music can produce so many classic songs. 1967 did that.

I never really gave 1967 a whole lotta thought, in the annals of popular music, but you know, one year tended to waft into another, especially in the sixties, if you get my drift. And by "get my drift", I mean, "trying to sound way hipper than I obviously was, since I was only twelve years old".

That said, I DO remember popular music from those years, especially given that the AM radio was playing all manner of popular music then; not just one tiny isolated genre. How else does one explain the intermingling of Bobby Gentry, the Rolling Stones, and, say, Frank and Nancy Sinatra? We heard it all, and we liked most of it.

I sat in the back seat of our Ford Galaxie, and the it didn't really matter which station the radio was tuned to. All of the stations played everything. And my dad didn't even make one derogatory comment about any of the songs. He actually didn't make any comment, and neither did my mom, so I was left, there in the back seat with my toddler siblings, to make up my own mind about the music.

So, here we are. At #26 on the charts. And here are the Seekers:

I vaguely remember walking along, alone, singing that song out loud. Why? Well, it's got everything a mere adolescent would enjoy...the melody was sing-songy. The words were easy to remember, because they tended to repeat a lot. Folk music was meant to be that way. It was perfect for folks to gather at the hootenanny, and, I guess, commune. Hootenanny. You never hear that word anymore. We should bring it back, just because it's fun to say.

#27 - I Was Made To Love Her - Stevie Wonder

A note: I try really hard to find actual performances of the songs from the period in which they were hits. This was the best quality video I could find, but you will note that Stevie is not actually singing in this video. A concept video, perhaps? Or just lazy editing? Don't know.

I also would be ignoring the obvious if I didn't mention that this video completely reminds me of Eddie Murphy doing Stevie Wonder.

Anyway, it's a better song that Georgy Girl, but taste is all relative, I guess.

Fine; so much for original performances. I have failed with this next song, and it really makes me mad, because this is one of my very favorite songs, and I don't even like the Association. To be honest, most of their songs grate on my nerves (especially "Windy" - see #5. And who names their kid "Windy"? I think that's just asking for trouble.)

But I love this song, and the only decent video I could find is from, I think, 1983, but still:

Number twenty-nine is, again, by the Supremes, who, if you ask me, were kind of chart hogs in 1967. And for the most part, their 1967 songs weren't even very good. But that's what happens once you make a name for yourself. Anybody will buy anything.

This is another song that makes me clench my teeth, but that's just me. I mean no disrespect. I like a lot of Supremes songs; just (especially) not this one.

Here they are (in silver lame this time - I appreciate that they at least change up their wardrobe colors) with Reflections:

1967 was the year that Frankie Valli ditched those damn Four Seasons for once and for all. The hell with those guys! I was getting tired of singing falsetto all the time anyway, said imaginary Frankie. That stuff is hard when you're my age!

This is one of those songs that one will always remember. I'm not sure why, but my guess is because of the Bacharach/David-type arrangement. Unfortunately, that also dates it. Takes one back to the days of Dionne Warwick asking how to get to San Jose. But that doesn't make it a bad song. It's actually a "not bad" song.

#31 is by Arthur Conley. Who? Yea, I know. I wonder if Arthur ever did anything besides this one. If not, fine by me. This is a good song. I could look him up, but I've got more songs to get to, and so little time.

Here is Sweet Soul Music:

Number thirty-two's video is obviously not a 1967 performance. I mean, you know Aaron Neville. You probably thought that all he did was country duets with Linda Ronstadt. Obviously not.

Another voice I love; Aaron Neville. Tell It Like It Is (obviously with help from that guy who was married to Cher, and from Bonnie and her guitar):

If you know the Monkees (and who doesn't?), you know that they never did actual performances. That's because they never actually played on their own songs (well, sure, maybe the maracas). Micky Dolenz will be the first to tell you that.

So, their songs are all "performance pieces", which is another term for "cheesy situation comedy skits" that all the cool kids (and the nerdy kids - raise your hands!) watched on Tuesday nights (was it Tuesdays?) on NBC.

So, here is A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You (#33 on the charts for 1967):

You probably don't know Bobby Vee, unless you're my age. Bobby Vee (nee Bobby Velline) was born in Fargo, North Dakota (my home state!), and he has a storied musical history. (See anything about the Day The Music Died, except of course the actual songs about that, which I hate, hate, hate).

I'm not going to recount Bobby Vee's career here, but I will say, it's nice nowadays that artists are allowed to use their real names, because "Vee" is stupid.

But Robert Velline had some really nice songs. No, not Rubber Ball, but others. I saw him once in person; some kind of bar gig; and he was a really good, professional entertainer. Which I'm sure he still is, by the way.

Number thirty-four on the 1967 charts is Come Back When You Grow Up (and no, there is no video ~ fine. Whatever.)

I hate to end this post on a down note, but I must be true to the charts.

Let me preface this video by saying I really hate those "acting" songs. You know, the overly dramatic renditions; the bad Laurence Olivier auditions. They remind me of smoking jackets and cigarette holders and those Laura Petrie flip hairdo's.

I like "retro" as much as the next person, but this is just a little too strange for even me.

This song has no redeeming virtues, but somebody must have liked it. A lot of people, apparently. Even more than Johnny Rivers and the Turtles? It must have been the geezer vote.

So, rock on (ha), I say, Vikki Carr. I bet Ed Sullivan just loved you. He didn't "get" the Beatles, but he got this.

Amazingly, we are through number thirty-five, and we still haven't gotten to some of my favorite songs from 1967. And the ones that are left are way more memorable than some of these others.

It was quite a year, and you'll be surprised at what rounds out the top fifty from the summer of love.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

More Hits From the Summer of Lo-oo-ve!

Hey, kids! (Well, I guess you're not really kids anymore, are you?)

If you have any cognitive memory of the hits of 1967, sorry, but you are old. I hate to break it to you (and to myself), but it's unfortunately true.

If you remember two posts ago, I began enumerating the top hits of that seminal year in music. And I got through number fifteen.

Well, FYI, there were more hits than just fifteen! That is why I'm here to discuss.....

So, let's continue on, shall we?

Number sixteen. The Beatles said, all you need is love. Well, the Beatles were lying. They absolutely abhorred each other by 1967. Even Ringo, and that's saying a lot.

Nevertheless, they apparently loved somebody; just not each other.

#17 is a sparkly song, and I don't mean that in a good way. I just watched an episode of Modern Family, in which Lily was forced to wear a light-up dress as a flower girl in a wedding, and I thought, how preposterous. Apparently not. Shield your eyes as you watch the Supremes:

What do you know? Number eighteen is also from the Supremes. This time in pale yellow nauseating chiffon. I remember this song, but I think it was because there was some kind of commercial tie-in; I could be wrong. I wanna say some car company appropriated this song, but you know, that was a long time ago, but heavens, there must be some reason I remember it. It can't be for its artistic merit.

Seriously? This next song was only number nineteen? And "The Happening" beat it out? Hmmm, let's see, which song do we remember? Well, I guess if I'm in the mood to shop for a new Chevy, and I have a time machine, maybe "The Happening" springs to mind.

Otherwise, I'll just go with Penny Lane.

Never mind that a pretty nurse is selling puppies from a tray. And how does she keep the puppies from jumping off that tray? It's a mystery. Just like the "four of fish and finger pie", which sounds scrumptious!

Remember the Royal Guardsmen? Of course not! I hate to even bring this up, since 1967 was kind of my era, but yes, we had putrid songs back then that became big hits, and here's one of them!

Again, like I sometimes do, I wonder if any of the Guardsmen went on to bigger and better things. I could do a Google search, but I'm thinking that would be rather pointless.

So, okay, here you go:

I really like Gladys Knight, but I don't get why she didn't just pick her own new songs, rather than trying to outdo Marvin Gaye (which no one could), but this was number twenty-one in 1967, and just for the record, I still like Marvin's version a LOT better:

Okay, here's a revelation: I really only knew this song because of John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd. I don't know how or why I missed it; I mean I had "some" recollection of it, but it was never seared into my brain.

But watching this performance by Sam & Dave, I'm thinking, wow, this is WAY cooler than the Blues Brothers.

I always had this nagging suspicion that the Mamas & The Papas turned off Michelle's microphone before every performance. But I guess I was wrong.

I will say, though, that they probably should have. But, of course, she wasn't in the group because of her singing abilities. At least she had her looks to fall back on, since the group was totally dominated by two of the best pop singers ever ~ Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty. As this song will attest:

I completely forgot about this next song. And, (naturally)I also forgot about a group called "Music Explosion". That name is rather presumptuous, isn't it? I mean, I don't think the music is actually "exploding" here. It kind of just moves on in its own meandering way.

Someone commented on this video that they didn't know that Kevin Bacon was in the band. Kudos! You (YouTube poster) win an honored place in the Shelly/Lissa trademarked game called, "The Face Is Familiar".

Number twenty-five is a song that holds fond memories for me. Sure, it was twenty-five, which doesn't seem like a high number, but I liked the Cowsills, especially because my older brother did a mean imitation of the many hand gestures the group used in performing this song.

Sure, most people don't remember the Cowsills. If they remember them at all, it's because of the weird makeup of the band. MOM was part of it! I think the deal was, the kids just wanted to form a band, and Mom said, oh, no you don't! I've heard about that show biz culture! None of MY kids will fall into that den of iniquity.

So, of course, the kids, industrious as kids can be, said, "Hey Mom! Why don't you be in the band with us?" And Mom, unable to resist the many temptations of the celebrity life, said, "Oh, me?? Why, I never.....Okay!"

And Dad, of course, never got another home-cooked meal for the rest of his life. And Shirley Jones sent a nice thank-you letter to Mama Cowsill, for the idea for a new TV sitcom titled, "The Partridge Family". So, full circle, as they say.

So, there we go. We've reached number twenty-five for the year 1967.

And believe it or not, there are many big hits to come!

And many that you will remember even more than the ones featured here.

Yes, 1967 was kind of a seminal year in rock (pop) music.

So, stay tuned for Part 3 of the "Summer of Love" revisited.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I Won An Award At Work Today!

Yes, it's true! I won an award! And I won $50.00, in addition to a nice certificate!

I'm not going to tell you what I won an award for, but I'm opening this up for guesses!

If you guess right, you can have a free Red River CD - OR- 12 free mp3 downloads of Red River songs! Your choice!

(I would personally go with the mp3 downloads, but that's just me.)

Since this is kind of open-ended, I'll give you a few hints:

  • I won by 1%
  • My final tally was a whopping 12.4%!
  • It took me 3 months to achieve this milestone
  • This is NOT work-related
  • It was a team effort
  • Not only me, but my TEAM won - by 3.2%
  • I'm going to go out and buy new clothes with my $50.00
So, send me your guesses! I want to share the wealth, so to speak.