Saturday, January 21, 2012
I wonder who named 1967 "The Summer of Love". Obviously not a marketing person. Because if you're going to declare something the "Summer of....", you want to have that commercial tie-in.
For example, how about "The Summer of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese"?
You could give away wedge-shaped key chains; bumper stickers featuring globs of macaroni clinging together on a fork. You know. Marketing-type stuff.
From what I can tell, the Summer of Love really had no commercial potential, except for Bill Graham of the Fillmore West, who could tout his acts, the Jefferson Airplane and well, I guess that's just about it, on handbills, of which nobody could read, because all the kids were too stoned, and were just wandering aimlessly on the streets of San Fran, and playbills weren't really anything they could hawk to buy more drugs, so what good were they?
I sometimes wonder what happened to those kids from 1967? I guess they'd be retiring about now, but oh, the stories they can tell their grandchildren. Oh wait, maybe not.
"What did you do when you were a kid, Grandpa?"
"Oh, Thad, that's not important now. What's really important is that we get out there and vote for Obama! Wanna toke?"
If you watch newsreels from 1967, you would get the impression that everything was groovy, and kind of wavy, but the hit songs from that year don't necessarily reflect that.
But, you know, memory is selective.
1967, actually, was a pretty good year for rock music. Not to disappoint the old hippies, but most of it was pure pop.
While the kids on Haight Ashbury were zoning out, chillin' to seven and a half minute psych-o-delic jams, the rest of the population was buying 45-rpm records of songs such as this (yes, this was the number one hit of 1967):
(Kudos, Neil Diamond. Jan Wenner can ignore you all he wants, but this was the perfect pop song.)
I'm just going to go down the line here, and recount the top hits from that seminal year, in order, so let's see who wins ~ the hippie kids or possibly not.
(I always loved this song. Lulu; she never had another hit, but she was in a movie with Sidney Poitier, so she can be an American Idol mentor if she wants. Yea, yea, Petula Clark, sure. She had some hits. But was she in a movie with Sidney Poitier? Tough luck, Petunia ~ sorry, Petula.)
(Isn't Alex Chilton the epitome of every sixteen-year-old from time immemorial? Get that hair out of your eyes! And stop sulking, Alex! Stop being so moody! Ahh, the joys of raising a teenaged male. At least Alex was bringing home some moolah for the family, so they tended to overlook the bad posture and pouty look.)
(I know that this song is "mysterious"; or, in my opinion, "missing something". I used to sit in the back seat of the Ford Galaxy and hear this song blaring over the AM radio, and wonder, what the hell? But the main point I want to make about Bobbie Gentry is that she wore her hair in that long, dark "fall". Mesmerizing.)
(Let me just say how much I hated, and still hate, this song. I'll grant you, the Association had one good song ~ Never My Love ~ but this? It just grates on my nerves. No wonder kids took drugs. If I was on a desert island, and this was the only song I had to listen to, I would prefer to just drown myself and get it over with.)
(Ahhh, Felix. This song will still be played in the year 2112, and kids will say, yes! This song is cool! Really, was it from two centuries ago? I guess those neanderthals invented fire, after all.)
And speaking of fire, okay, I skipped the line a couple of songs, but well, c'mon:
(THIS was the song that I will always remember 1967 for. I was but twelve years old, and I don't know what it was about this song, and about Jim Morrison, but this was IT.)
Believe it or not, and the charts don't lie, THIS song superseded Light My Fire, by, in fact, a couple of spaces. So, though Grandpa Hipster may want entertain selective memory (or is it just dementia?), here ya go, Grandpa. Explain THIS to the grandkids:
Oh, look! The Monkees are back! Yes, the Monkees. Sure, pretend they weren't the biggest thing that happened in 1967. Pretend all you want. I was there. I remember.
I have nothing against Ferris Bueller (or John Hughes, for that matter), but you know, you didn't invent that song.
I happened to be there when it was happening.
Remember the Beatles? (ha)
Yes, they charted in 1967, too. Not with their choicest song, mind you. But, yes, they were still around.
The interesting thing (to me) about this song, by the Buckinghams, is that I have no idea what the backing singers are singing. But it's catchy, whatever it is.
You'd never know it, but this song was number thirteen in the year 1967. Yes, thirteen. Not that there's anything wrong with thirteen, but if you were to listen to the revisionists, you'd think this was the number one song of all time. It wasn't.
Okay, this video is horrendous, but it's the only one I could find of the Strawberry Alarm Clock performing this song.
And I'm officially nominating the Strawberry Alarm Clock for the worst band name ever.
I wonder whatever happened to the SAC. And who was in the band? And did any of them go on to bigger and better things? I wish I cared enough to look that up, but it's late, and all I know is, I heard this song a lot on my transistor radio as I was riding the stupid school bus, and listening to all the geeky boys talk about Star Trek, and I was bored out of my mind, and this song didn't help things, believe me. I do sort of remember 1967 as the year of perpetual boredom. But maybe that was just me.
I'll end this post with number fifteen.
And who could forget the Rolling Stones? Nobody. Because they're still out there, touring. Even at their age. Those kids from the year 2167 will be saying, "The Stones are still touring? Who do they think they are? Cher? Or Elton John?"
Nevertheless, you can't deny that this song, the number fifteen hit of 1967, is a great one.
In all candor, 1967 was a damn good year for music. I'll give it that.
But it's not due to some headband-wearing, greasy-haired, Nehru-jacketed seventeen-year-old who was tripping out on the California coast.
No, it was solely due to some awesome talent, and to some record producers who knew how to create mega-hits (Frank and Nancy notwithstanding).
I got through number fifteen, but I really only scratched the surface.
This calls for another blog post! Let's keep keepin' on with hits from the summer of love!
But I still say, let's rename it something that we, as consumers, can get behind. I'm thinking the Summer of Trix Cereal.
Because, Silly Rabbit. Trix are for kids. Moron.
Friday, August 31, 2007
I don't watch it anymore.
Funny (meaning, "pathetic") story: In my teens, I really, really wanted to be part of the CMA nominating and voting process, so I lied and said that I either worked for or owned a radio station (can't remember which). I made up call letters for my station and everything. I think it only cost something like $15.00 to become a CMA member.
Obviously, the CMA didn't employ fact-checkers, because I easily became a member.
It was fun. I think the first ballot listed a bunch of names for each category, and also included a space for write-in votes. Then, a short while later, the second ballot came in the mail. That one had each category narrowed down to 10 names, I believe. Then, later, the final ballot.
My people/songs usually didn't win, however. But, hey, at least my voice was heard (the voice of the fictitious radio station owner/manager/what-not).
Ah, so many years ago.
Now, it doesn't really matter to me. Like anything that one grows tired of, it happened gradually. The last CMA awards show that I remember distinctly was the 1987 telecast. That was the year that Rodney Crowell won for best album for "Diamonds And Dirt". I was so thrilled. I LOVED that album.
Subsequent years became increasingly boring and/or irritating. I was always happy when George Strait picked up an award, but other than that, it pretty much lost its relevance.
The only connection I have to the CMA's nowadays is reading the list of nominations, and later, the list of winners.
I did find it interesting this year, however, that the two artists who garnered the most nominations were Brad Paisley and George Strait. Both very traditional country artists. Had Alan Jackson been in the mix, I would have thought I was back in the eighties again.
All I can say is, HA! So! I guess real country wins out in the end after all. Maybe I'm not so old and over the hill. Maybe I'm right in the MAINSTREAM of country music, and all those OTHER people are woefully out of touch. Either that, or I've entered the twilight zone.
I mean, what the heck? What happened to all the country music "superstars"? Where are their nominations?
Oh sure, there's a Keith here, a Kenny there. But where are Bo and Hope....I mean, Tim and Faith? Where's Toby? Where's all those "hot", smokin' artists?
In case you haven't seen the list, here it is: CMA Nominations
It feels like 1987 again, again.
Friday, August 10, 2007
(originally posted 09-03-06)
The good, no, great news is, George Strait is being inducted into the CMA Hall Of Fame this year. I’m currently listening to George on my computer, and good grief - he is SO good!
Travelling back in time, to the 1980’s, when I’d had my fill of the country music that was being played on the radio (sound familiar????), I switched over to rock (thank goodness, or my kids would be outcasts, being exposed to only country music). And thank goodness, I have “Jump” by Van Halen seared into my brain.
It was around the late ’80’s when we started going out to a nice club called Dakota Lounge (ah, those were the days) to dance to the featured bands. I started hearing songs that were REALLY GOOD. And I thought, hmmmm, maybe I should check out the country radio dial to see what’s up. Naturally, I’d missed the revolution that had happened in country music. There was this guy called “George Strait”. Actually, I remember before that, going over to Mom & Dad’s, and they insisted on playing this VCR tape they had of a “George Strait” concert. I was like, who is this guy? He seems real popular.
But back to the radio dial. There were some really good songs by singers I’d never heard of. Some guy named “Clint Black” was doing “Better Man”. There was this guy in a white cowboy hat, who was “country with an edge”, doing songs like, “Guitars, Cadillacs”. There was a new guy, with a song called, “Here In The Real World”. I really liked him. Then there was a guy named Randy Travis, doing, “1982″. On the female side, there was a group called “Sweethearts Of The Rodeo”, and I really liked their songs. Theirs was actually the first cassette tape I bought, once I decided to take the plunge back into country music.
Anyway, I thought, “just my luck. I finally turned away from country music, and it got GOOD while I was away.”
So, I changed the dial in my car back to the country station, and I heard this guy, George Strait, more and more. And I REALLY liked him. I started anticipating when his next record would be released, because I knew that I would love the songs. I sat at the junior high school, waiting to pick up my kids, and I heard George’s songs on the radio, and all was sublime.
Then it became just obnoxious. I made mix tapes with all George songs on them. I played the tapes in the car. I found out that his birthday was May 18, one day before mine. Once CD’s took over, I would scour the liner notes to see which writers George had chosen to record songs by. I nodded my head in agreement that he had picked people like Jim Lauderdale and Wayne Kemp.
I admired the fact that he liked the old songs, too. “Love Bug”, an old song by George Jones (that all the reviewers mistakenly labeled as a Buck Owens song). “Drinkin’ Champagne”, a song written by one of my favorite overnight disc jockeys, Bill Mack, and recorded by one of my all-time favorite artists, Faron Young.
George could do no wrong.
Now, if this were a cautionary tale, it would end with George somehow betraying my trust and me becoming disillusioned. Naw, George is still NUMBER ONE in my book. I’ve followed him for many a long journey, and I will always buy George’s CD’s (and I don’t buy very many CD’s).
And to the business side of things, record executives in Nashville better THANK THEIR LUCKY STARS that George Strait appeared on the scene. How many millions has he made for these people? How consistent has he been? How many years, and still putting out NUMBER ONE records? Over twenty? Who can match that?
I finally (finally!) got to see George in concert. It was a torturous quest. We travelled to Billings, Montana to see him, only to find out that his tour bus had gotten caught in a snowstorm in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and the concert was cancelled. So, we trudged back to Bismarck, playing my mix tape of George’s songs.
A year or so later, it was announced that George would be appearing at the Fargodome. Okay, on the phone to Ticketmaster, got the tix, got the hotel reservations, and off to Fargo. It was summertime, so no snowstorms!
The audience was crazy. Girls and “older women” standing up on chairs to get a better view. George finally appearing (after the so-so opening act), working the crowd like a politician, working his way to the stage, accompanied by the Ace In The Hole Band playing “Deep In The Heart Of Texas”.
And he was so nonchalant and cool, leaning on his guitar, rarely even strumming it. Knowing that “the voice” was what people had come to hear, and no doubt knowing that the man himself was no slouch to look at, either (!)
The coolest part was when he did an old Conway Twitty song, “Linda On My Mind”. George always threw a song into his concerts that he had never recorded , and this time it was the Conway song. Again, superb taste.
When I got back to work the following Monday, my folks gave me a lot of grief, knowing what a huge fan of George I was. One of them presented me with a picture of George that they had “personally autographed”, just for me. Another person had pictures blown up of George in concert, and gave them to me. I still have those.
I know, as a writer, I should probably be appalled that George doesn’t write his own songs. But, frankly, I don’t care. This man has more talent than all of Nashville and beyond put together. This man truly deserves to be inducted into the CMA Hall Of Fame, and I will record the program on my DVR and fast-forward to the “George” part of the show, and then I’ll pop “Amarillo By Morning” into my CD player and all will be right with the world.