Showing posts with label elvis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label elvis. Show all posts

Monday, December 6, 2021

Happy Happy Christmas Music


I try to listen to Christmas music at least once each year before the big day arrives. Sometimes I forget until Christmas Eve -- because I'm not a holiday music fanatic who tunes my car radio to the local oldies station on Thanksgiving in order to experience thirty days of Christmas tunes. Face it, even though a few great Christmas recordings exist, they're best doled out in small bytes. I'm not humming along to Holly Jolly Christmas in the dawning days of May.

And truth be told, Christmas tunes make me melancholy -- for days long gone, souls long gone. For a home that no longer exists except in winter-churned memories. Why do I want to remember? I can't recapture those days. I cry at least once every year when I push play on those tracks.

So as I am wont to do, I search out holiday tunes that are either quirky or cheesy. Those make me feel better. 

I also don't want to hear how certain songs are "overplayed". They're played once a year!  How sick of them could anyone be? "Oh, I heard that last December. I'm so over it." Buck up! I've played Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" every December for fifty years and I still like it.

Christmas gets special dispensation.

As a matter of fact, I've discovered Christmas songs that've become favorites only in the past few years. So it's all new to me. 

Like this one:


 And a different take on a classic:

And if you don't like these, may the lord have pity on you:

And speaking of cheesy, there's nothing like a sweaty Elvis in the middle of June hunka-hunka bumping out Blue Christmas:

To clean your palate:

For country flavor:

I try to keep my Christmas music light. It's really for the best. But if I'm gonna cry, there's no better song to cry over than this:

As you can tell, I'm ambivalent about Christmas. I'm always happy, or relieved, when the new year comes. That doesn't negate the fact that the day comes around every December 25, and the music featured here makes it mostly "jolly".

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Little Richard

1950's rock was so joyous.It may have had to do with the times. Music reflects the culture that begets it. From what I know of the fifties, the times were bland. Think Dwight D. Eisenhower; Arthur Godfrey; Perry Como. A boxy wooden radio in the kitchen; squiggly lines on a black and white TV with rabbit ears. "How Much Is That Doggie In The Window". White T-shirts and jeans with thick rolled-up cuffs.  Bobby socks and saddle shoes. Felt skirts and Peter Pan collared blouses. Kids were itching to break through the dreary fog, but they had no idea how. Listening to Dad's music -- Pat Boone, Patti Page, Paul Anka, and Rosemary Clooney -- just wasn't cutting it.

Then along came some crazy flamboyant acts -- out of nowhere. A greasy-haired pompadoured guy from Tupelo, Mississippi who could wiggle his hips; a poet from St. Louis who had a way with words and with a Telecaster; a Lubbock, Texas hillbilly with a hiccup in his voice; a New Orleans piano master with a deep voice; a Sun Records phenom with a straggle of blond bangs who set the black and white keys afire. And a Macon, Georgia black eye-lined, lipstick smeared screacher.

What was this? You mean there's life out there? People can be emotional? Show some enthusiasm? Mom told us that was bad. Our priest warned us against it.

What the hell...

Some guys from Liverpool covered the song, but not as well:

I learned that Little Richard employed unknown artists such as James Brown and Jimi Hendrix as members of his backup band. I also know that a Minnesota artist named Prince cut his teeth on Richard Penniman songs. It's rare to be a pioneer -- there's not much to discover anymore. Little Richard was a real one.

Rest in peace. You saved a generation.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Mundane '62

In 1962 all everybody cared about was space. Not me, mind you. I know everyone was supposed to be in awe of space travel, but all I knew was that the "astronaut" zipped through the sky in a "capsule", of which my only frame of reference was an Excedrin my mom took for a headache. When I was still in first grade that winter, my teacher wheeled a portable TV into our classroom so we could watch John Glenn do whatever he was doing. I was more fascinated by the diorama of songbirds Mrs. Fisher had built in a back corner of the room.

I wasn't completely disinterested in space. I did like this:

My interests were simple at age seven-going-on-eight. I got a sparkly paint set for Christmas and I liked dabbing it into my coloring book--sapphires and emeralds and rubies. I loved my phonograph. I had paper dolls-- cardboard cutouts of (generally) girls or sometimes someone older, like Patty Duke, for which one would cut outfits out of the book and drape them on the cardboard figure with little paper tabs that folded across the model's shoulders and hips. 

I liked TV. I never gave a second thought to the fact all the actors on television were black and white, whereas the real world bloomed with color. I would watch anything, which included my mom's soap operas. I learned that doctors led really melodramatic lives; at least Dr. Kildare and Ben Casey did. Matt Dillon was a sheriff of few words; Alfred Hitchcock was a fat scary man. Ed Sullivan had a lot of really crappy acts on his show, even a guy who talked with his hand and one whose claim to fame was spinning plates in the air. Lawrence Welk was woefully out of date, but my dad liked him. Game shows were a staple of prime time--they required you to "guess" something--what someone's job was or which one, out of three gamesters, was actually telling the truth. I lay on my stomach right in front of our big TV and absorbed every single thing that flashed on the screen. My favorite shows, by far, were Dick Van Dyke and The Andy Griffith Show.

In the fall, when I entered second grade, I transferred to Valley Elementary, which was a brand-spanking new school. I would spend four and a half years at Valley; years that would shape me into a semblance of a human person. Valley was where I would write and perform a play at the Hootenanny. Valley was where I would be chosen by my teacher to become part of the safety patrol, an awesomely responsible post in which I got to carry an official flag. Valley was where I blossomed, albeit temporarily, and learned to embrace my creativity.

In second grade, though, life was terribly mundane. I did worksheets and printed words on rough double-lined paper tablets, when I really preferred to write in cursive, which we weren't allowed to "learn" yet. I was a bit ahead of most of my classmates because my big sister had already taught me how to read and write before I even began kindergarten. However, one was not permitted to outdistance one's peers, so I was bored and fidgety. I did discover the school library, which flowered a whole new world. I devoured Laura Ingalls Wilder books, all eight of them; and then moved on to other biographies. I read every book in the library that was worth reading.

My mom bought me a lunch ticket every month, which the lunch matron punched each time I alighted the line of horizontal aluminum bars and plastic trays. I understand now why I was so skinny. Some people have fond memories of school lunches. Those people are freaks. I dumped more food in the giant trash receptacle than I ever ate. Nothing in the line ever looked appetizing--hamburger mush, gloppy mashed potatoes, possibly accompanied by carrot sticks, which were at least edible. Mini-cartons of milk were the only saving grace. Fridays were always fish sticks, in honor of the Lord. Granted, I was a very picky eater, but "Spanish rice" combined all the ingredients of horror.

The most consequential event of my second grade year was when the school caught on fire. It was a dreary sun-deprived winter day. I don't remember even smelling smoke, but our teacher hastily informed us that the "superintendent" (which was what the head janitor was called) had informed her that fire had broken out somewhere in the vicinity of the furnace room. We were all shepherded out to waiting buses (single file, of course), and a gaggle of teachers alighted the open bus doors and dumped cardboard boxes of rubber snow boots onto the slippery stairs, from which we confusedly tried to snatch a matching pair. I arrived home with two red boots, one of them two sizes too large for my feet. I guess I was lucky to escape the (supposedly) roaring blaze, but I was mostly upset that I couldn't gracefully clomp through snowbanks wearing one jumbo boot.

Apparently the school was grievously damaged, because my class ended up attending class in the hallway of a neighboring elementary building for two very long weeks, with kids who belonged there staring derisively at us as they made their way to the lavatory.

In music, my tastes were influenced by my big sisters -- actually one big sister. My oldest sister was mercurial. She flitted in and out of the house like a sprite, mostly unseen. She was eighteen after all, and soon to march down the aisle. My sisters shared a record collection, however -- all '45's. My brother had yet to blow my mind with actual reams of astounding LP's. So I lived in a world of little vinyl discs. And unlike my brother, my sister didn't care if I played her collection. Her tastes, however, leaned heavily toward Elvis Presley, who I always wanted to like, but for the life of me just couldn't.

I think my favorite record my sister owned in 1962 was this, and I don't quite remember why:

One of the few times I remember my oldest sister being around, she and Rosemary did a little demo on our kitchen linoleum in front of Mom and me of this dance; and Mom, by the way, was mightily impressed (although in reality, it's a pretty easy dance, and I don't know why they called him "chubby"):

But, as the early sixties could do, popular music often devolved into syrup. I don't know anything about Bobby Vinton, except that he recorded the cheesiest songs this side of Bobby Goldsboro. But, hey, it worked for him. Bobby Vinton was an early-sixties phenomenon, with recordings like this:

One artist Rosemary liked a lot that I could get on board with was Dion. She had good taste.

My sisters shared an album that was, I think, one of two long-playing records they owned (I wonder how they divided their record collection once Carole was married). It's sort of funny in hindsight that this was considered pop music, when in actuality it foreshadowed my immersion into country, but, truly, it was pop in 1962:

This was neither pop nor country nor anything other than, I guess, Broadway, but Gene Pitney was a sensation in 1962. And rightfully so:

Every era produces timeless artists (so they say). My sister can claim these as hers:

The truth is, we and radio were a bit behind the times. So the hits of 1962 were probably not on any of our radar until '63. Not that it matters. My family owned a circular cardboard ice cream container of 45-RPM records, some of which I have no doubt my parents picked up at rummage sales, and we played them all on a scratchy phonograph.

It wasn't so much a year as a feeling. A reminiscence of soot and red rubber snow boots and twisting in the kitchen. 
Music was always there.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

What About 1972?

(not really)

1972 was kind of icky when it came to music. Yes, I was firmly ensconced in country music, but one could not escape the pop hits of the era since they were everywhere -- on my black and white portable TV, on my little sister's record player, in the bloodstream of every sixteen-year-old who hadn't slid into the dark side (shudder!) of music.

I was sixteen and a junior in high school. Being a junior has its own cache. One is almost there -- too sophisticated to be condescended to by the senior class like the puny freshmen. Juniors had earned a modicum of grudging respect by way of their advancing age. The nice thing about being sixteen was, I didn't have to meet any expectations. I was in that wedge phase; too young to assume adult responsibilities; too old to be patronized. Sixteen was when I started smoking -- a life decision I would now heartily disavow. But it seemed Kool and grown-up at the time. And subversive, which was very important.

The truth is, I was foundering. Granted, things weren't as bad at home as they had been, but the scars were still raw and not scabbed over. The difference was about 100 feet -- the distance from my newly-claimed room from the family living quarters. I could almost pretend that I wasn't part of that broken clan. I'd found something new to grasp onto -- order. Sublime order. Order is very important to the child of an alcoholic, which makes sense, although I didn't realize it at the time, because I was stupid. I didn't know why one minute's difference on my alarm clock would disrupt the course of my whole day. I didn't understand why I had to flip on my portable TV before I stumbled into the bathroom to apply my makeup and hear the same CBS promos every single morning. Every task had its time, and if some unexpected event occurred to scramble my schedule, my heart began pounding.

Humans are distinct from other mammals in that they can create a whole way of getting by out of nothing. The downside to that is, we become slaves to the course we've adapted, and it turns into a prison we can't break out of. I'm still very time-oriented and I experience a flash of panic if I am one minute off-schedule. I've gotten better, but it's still there.

What was family life like?

I would call it "unsure". I never knew what to expect when I burst through the kitchen doorway in the morning. I was, however, always on guard; girded against the worst. Some mornings it was eerily silent -- no one was around. I preferred those days. Other times, there was a super-serious discussion taking place -- my dad still woozy from his overnight carousing; my mom futilely trying to yell some sense into him. On the worst days, there was hair-pulling and obscenity-laced tirades, combined with amateur judo moves, played out on the green shag living room carpet. At times I'd find my dad with a trickle of blood oozing from his fingernail-scratched cheek. I'd step across the melee and head out the front door to wait for the school bus.

I compartmentalized. Compartmentalization is a very valuable tool. Keep stepping forward. Sadly, life seemed useless. I went through the motions. If I was cognizant enough to think about ending it all, I probably would have. I was too naive for that, though. My sinews wouldn't stand for it. I stiffly believed that life had to get better; that this wasn't all there was.  My life's goal was to get out. Then I'd show 'em.

I don't know (although I suspect) what my little brother's and sister's existence was like then. We all internalize things differently. Unfortunately, I was born a sensitive soul, and life simply battered me.

It didn't help that music was so schizophrenic. Aside from radio, I had my TV, which only featured the hits of the day on late-night Fridays. The Midnight Special was my tether. I didn't sleep much, so staying up late on Friday nights was de rigeur. I recall that Johnny Rivers hosted a lot of Midnight Specials. The music wasn't good.

The worst rock song of all time clocked in at approximately eight and a half minutes -- the height of self-indulgence.

No song should ever be eight-and-a half minutes long. Some say it's a great song. I say it's long. If this song is representative of 1972, let's just erase 1972 from history.

The Hollies were still around. A lot of folks were still around. This song is the Hollies' road to glory. I may have heard it too many times, because now it's just background noise played on FM oldies radio. I don't know why they were working for the FBI, which seems rather far-fetched. And once we get past the (admittedly) iconic intro and the working for the FBI bit, I lose interest.

This song, on the other hand, I like. I think it boils down to repetition. Anyone can sing along with it, and really, isn't that all we want in our music? I love Neil Diamond.

In retrospect, it was a transitional time. Some of the fifties acts were still around and still churning out hits. Elvis Presley always makes me laugh when I catch his performances on screen. I can't help it. It's not that I want to laugh at him, but I find him to be so ridiculous. I actually would like to find resonance in his catalog of hits. I think perhaps it is that he was so synthetic -- a plastic facsimile of himself. Nevertheless, he still had a hit song in 1972:

Rick (nee "Ricky") Nelson was also still around from the fifties. I watched "Ozzie and Harriet" with my brother, who made delicious fun of "Ricky", and I was afraid to admit I liked some of his songs. Ricky later became sort of surly about his early success. After all, he would have had zero success in the music biz if it wasn't for his dad's TV show. His resentment was well on display with this song:

Carly Simon had a hit song in '72, which will always be immortalized like this:

Hey, that's what you get when you sell your soul to a condiment company.

There were songs from 1972 that I didn't hear, or I missed; that are now classics. That's sometimes how it goes with music. Nilsson was someone I didn't know. I choose not to know him by way of Jimmy Webb's awful book. But listen to this one all the way through. It's magic:

I also missed this song, because apparently Bread claimed the charts. Any band that calls itself "Bread" deserves to be lost to history.

Al Green:

One of the few things America has going for it is that this song was featured in Breaking Bad. The other thing they have going for them is that they actually had one good song. This one isn't it. Dave Barry did a whole riff on "for there ain't no one for to give you no pain". You be the judge:

There were other acts who hit big in 1972, like Jim Croce, who was awesome and underrated. And some new guy named "Elton John". And Chicago, who I frankly didn't care for until the eighties, when Peter Cetera (who the other band members disdain) joined the group. Derek Erick Clapton and the Dominos did "Layla", which wasn't ever any good until the "Unplugged" performance. 

All this was tangential to my pitiful life.  

Sometimes I wish I could revisit that time, to observe the person I was then. I might be able to offer some comfort to her; let her know that the future would be hard, but that things would work out in the end. Nothing exciting would ever happen, aside from giving birth, but the road would meander to places she never dared dream of.

Life is a conglomeration of memories, happenstance, accidents. NOTHING ever turns out the way one imagines when they are sixteen.  

I like this song, because my little sister and I shared it. That's the story of life. Memories are all well and good, but if you don't have someone to share them with, they'll just be a whisper in the wind.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Year Lost To Time -- 1962

(all cars looked like this)

My sisters could tell you more about 1962 than I am able to. It's not that I wasn't around -- I was -- I was seven, which is an age when one is barely conscious of the world around them. I was confused, trying to feel my way in the vast universe that primarily consisted of my school bus, home, and Valley Elementary School. 

In second grade my school caught on fire. That was something different. It was mid-winter, and all of us kids were stuffed into waiting buses, and then the teachers exited the school carrying boxes of snow boots and pressed them into our confused hands. I went home with one boot that fit and another red rubber boot that was two sizes too big. I don't recall being traumatized. Little kids tend to accept whatever happens to pop up. I had to go to a different school while mine was being rehabilitated. There were only three elementary schools in my town -- Riverside, Valley, and Crestwood. My class got bused to Crestwood, where my teacher commenced to instruct us in the hallway. Again, I was not unnerved by having to squat on the hard linoleum floor for six hours a day as the regular Crestwood kids stomped past on their way to the lunch room and stared at us. 

This went on for approximately six-to-twelve weeks, and then we returned to Valley, which looked brand-spankin'-fine, like a blazing inferno had never engulfed the furnace room. I tend to think everyone over-reacted. I had a boyfriend, who I liked but didn't like, Jon Bush, and I got mixed up the day we moved back to Valley, and pushed him away. I thought my teacher had only wanted me to correct one classmate's paper, but she had meant for me to correct everybody's. She got mad when she saw me give Jon a shove and she reprimanded me sternly. Last time in my life I ever shoved anyone. 

The big event in my seven-year-old life was Valentine's Day. We crafted our Valentine receptacles out of shoe boxes; decorated them with bric-a-brac from Mom's sewing box and festooned them with red Crayola hearts. Everybody had to give everybody a valentine. There was no quibbling. Mom chose the valentine pack based upon the number of students in my class. It was a difficult decision, however, determining which valentine to bestow upon whom. If a girl was a good friend, I gave her the prettiest sparkly heart. For Jon, I didn't really want to lead him on, but I did need to distinguish him from the other boys in my class. The sentiments printed on the cards contained subtle differences. For example, "You've Roped My Heart Podner" was far more meaningful than "Hi Cookie!" Choosing the appropriate valentine for each person in my class was a very serious undertaking. In retrospect, perhaps I placed too much significance on the process.

On Valentine's Day, when I got home with my shoe box stuffed full of hand-printed hearts, I perched on the top of the stairs and sorted and categorized my cards and created little songs to accompany them as I danced them about. I was a bit too invested in Valentine's Day.

That, in a nutshell, is my memory of 1962.

Music was haphazard. Granted, music was filtered through my sisters' tastes. My oldest sister was kind of flighty -- one could never pin her down as far as what she truly liked. My second oldest sister was damn moody. I didn't dare ask her what music she preferred, or anything, really; because she might just fly off the handle. I was her mangy mutt -- someone she was forced to tolerate, but really a giant pain in the ass.

I'm guessing my sisters didn't really like this song, but it was a giant hit. This is because radio in 1962 wasn't radio as we know it today (if anyone actually listens to radio today). Singles weren't slotted into crisp categories. There wasn't rock ('n roll) and country (western) and easy listening. The DJ played them all! And mixed them up! Right after Jay and the Americans came Frank Sinatra! Yes, disc jockeys didn't just stab a button and up came a whole pre-fab playlist. DJ's actually played real records and they picked them out themselves. They also gauged local hits by how many call-in requests they received -- yes. Ahh, so antiquated.

Anyway, this single, I'm guessing, was for the "old folks", because we all listened to the same radio station (in my case, KRAD), be we seven or seventy-seven.

Much like this:

Yes, there was a common thread running through the old folks' songs. Lots of violins and a rhythm that was sort of a "slow gait". Connie Francis was a mega-star in 1962. I remember playing at my cousin's house when one of those "be the first caller to guess this singer" blurbs came on the radio. My aunt hollered to my cousin, "Connie Francis!" and my cousin dialed the radio station's number. "Is it Connie Francis?" she asked. "You're our winner!" My cousin won the black MGM single and all she had to do was have her mom drive her to the station to pick it up. I played that game, too, except all the songs I knew were records I already owned, and I did my own guessing without my mom's help. I often ended up with double copies of the same '45, but it was the notoriety that counted. 

To be frank, there were only two renowned female singers in '62 -- Connie Francis and Brenda Lee -- so there was a fifty-fifty chance my cousin aunt would get it right. Sadly, I can find no live performance videos of this song (Connie is shy):

You can see why I had such a laissez-faire attitude toward music. Well, toward everything, really, but that's kind of a seven-year-old thing.

There were a few more rockin' hits in 1962; songs that my sisters much preferred. Face it, it was a new world. JFK was president and he was young. Ike probably liked Nat King Cole, but it was time to rocket into the second half of the twentieth century. Sputnik was being launched into space, whatever Sputnik was, and John Glenn had climbed inside a "capsule" and putted across the sky.

Yep, this was more like it:

Dang it, I loved this song in '62. I danced and sang in front of the upstairs bedroom mirror to it. It had a nonsense intro and harmony and a good beat (you could dance to it). What's not to love for a little kid?

In 1962 "twisting" was of supreme importance. My sisters did a masterful rendition of the dance in our kitchen one winter evening, to the family's delight and consternation. I've featured Chubby Checker's version here too many times, so here is a variation:

The "peppermint" twist was what all the cool cats did, especially in New York. You know, people like Truman Capote and Lee Radziwell. And their martinis.

The twist was by far not the only dance craze of the time. No. There was any stupid dance that any dunce could do, even if just by accident. The twist was really good exercise, but if one was tired, they could always do the mashed potato, which essentially involved simply contorting one's feet in and out. The remainder of the body could rest. Hey, I'm not a snob when it comes to dances. My generation had the jerk, which was ordinary arm exertion, as opposed to foot movement, but the result was the same. One could be their regular lazy self and still "dance".

Believe it or not, this single hit number five on the charts. You may think this is a tired old saw; the song that pops up every time a movie scene demands it, but there was a time when this was new. Of course, at seven I didn't know what a "stripper" was. My big brother knew. You gotta admit, it had a good beat.

Aside from the kitsch, music was beginning to show signs of what was to come. 

There was this new group that not many people paid attention to. They wore matching plaid shirts. So hokey. I don't know whatever happened to them. Maybe I should do a Google search.

I'm including this simply because it's good:

Gene Pitney was a rock star in the days before there was such a thing as rock stars. I suspect he probably really wanted to be on Broadway, but nevertheless. This guy could sing. And he had the look -- the early sixties Anthony Perkins look.

Yea, goofball was around. Sorry, I mean Elvis Presley. My sisters liked him a lot. I almost wish I liked him, but I'm not sure why. In '62 I frankly thought Ricky Nelson was better. Aside from being a caricature, it struck me that Elvis tried too hard.

My sisters had this album. I wonder if they remember. It seems, in my recollection, that my two sisters shared singles and albums. I'm averse to that. I think music should be the possession of one person. The reason I like this song is because it foreshadowed the direction my life would go, musically. It's not rock (or rock 'n roll). It's country. They called it rock 'n roll in 1962. It wasn't:

To sum up, at age seven I was confused, befuddled. I had the beginning of an inkling of what music was -- good music and bad music. Music wasn't the sum of my existence then. 

It soon would be.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Your Future Has Been Decided

Don't you love those stories about how someone abandoned their staid old life and embarked on an entirely new career at age fifty?

Sorry, I'm not buying it.

I'm a believer that what we will become has been decided for us by age five. We can fight against it, but we can't change the essence of ourselves. There may be detours along the way, but most of us come back to our real nature eventually.

When I was five, my career goal was to be "in charge". Rather a nebulous ambition, I admit, but there is a logical rationale behind it. I was a shy kid (which, by the way, is not a fun way to be); timid; scared of making a wrong move and drawing others' eyes to me. A darkened corner was my preferred resting place. Shy kids aren't wobbly toothpicks -- they do have a strong spirit, but it stays hidden. Shy kids are probably more resilient than most people. They depend on themselves -- for comfort, for validation. They know their talents, but take them for granted. I was a kid who drew pictures and made up stories and songs. These weren't pursuits I needed to "learn"; they were just what I did.

Alone in the clammy basement of our farmhouse, the games I played were those of a teacher instructing her class (of empty chairs I'd set up in front of my card table "desk"), or of a priest saying mass -- again in front of my card table altar. Mass was said in Latin at that time, so I just made up words as I held my chalice high -- "Domini...something..."

The thread that tied these games together was that I was at the front of the room and I was in charge.

Shy kids want to be in charge; be noticed; be the center of attention -- but only if they are in control.

I suppose I was, too, a bit of a ham. I craved attention, but only at my behest. You can look at me when I tell you it's okay to look at me.

Today, all these years later, I am a teacher, so to speak. I like parts of my job -- those that put me in front of the room. I can walk among my students and lecture extemporaneously. In real life, I'm generally tongue-tied, my words sputtering forth in fits and starts; but in front of a group, I'm transformed. There is no explanation for it, and I don't spend any minutes pondering it. It is what it is.

It's me. The essence of me.

I bided my time for a lot of years, functioning as a clerk-typist or another button-pusher -- a cashier -- working quietly; unobtrusively, before the opportunity presented itself, or perhaps before I made my own opportunity. It's difficult to say after all this time if the possibility found me or if I found the possibility. However, once I became "in charge", I was at home. And that's when I shined. All that practice at age five paid off, finally.

I could tell you about my kids and how what they were at age five turned out to be what they became, but trust me on this -- I was there. I saw it, and I know it.

I'm not saying that our life experiences after age five don't shape us. Everything shapes us. But those experiences are the extra cheese atop our pizza. They enhance, but they don't create.

Musically, at age five, I was adrift. There were good records released, but music confused me. It was schizophrenic. Some of it was as dull as the test pattern on our big console TV; some of it my big brother informed me was good music. The only song I made up my own mind about; the only one I definitively knew was good, was this:

The number one hit of 1960 is one that Don Draper would really like; one that Adrian Cronauer made fun of:

My most lingering memory of 1960 is that Connie Francis was the girl singer. One could win a free 45 RPM single from the local radio station by being the first caller to identify who sang this song:

As girl singers went, I preferred this: 

Yep, taste is not acquired, but born.

In 1960 it was the battle of the girl singers -- Connie Francis versus Brenda Lee. We know who ultimately came out on top, don't we?

This song sucked, but that didn't stop the DJ's from playing it over and over. We were bereft of decent music in the midpoint of the twentieth century . Even at my tender age, I knew this song was just wrong:

My brother informed me this was good music. He was not wrong:

My older sisters were such slaves to pop fads. I'm so glad that never, ever, happened to me. I mean, I never once did The Jerk or The Watusi. Never.

My dad liked this song. I was never an Elvis fan (sorry; still am not), but if my dad liked something, that carried even more weight than my brother's opinion:

I missed this song in 1960 and only caught up with it later. At least the five-year-old me doesn't remember it. My loss. This guy would see me clear through the eighties. And...whoa...

This musical interlude not withstanding, remember the five-year-old you. The five-year-old you is who you really are.

Don't try to deny it.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Eddie Rabbitt

If you like reminiscing, I heartily recommend Sirius Radio. I'm a reminiscing kind of girl, so this marvel is a punch in the gut -- in a good way. It's said that humans only remember twenty per cent of what they hear. My theory is, we think we only remember twenty per cent. My other theory is, if we hear familiar things from long ago, we suddenly remember all sorts of memories that were deemed lost.

Example:  Here's a memory I retrieved from listening to an Eddie Rabbitt song tonight:

I love a rainy night
It's such a beautiful sock
I love to feel the rain on my face
Taste the rain on my lips

See, my four-year-old thought Eddie was singing, "It's such a beautiful sock". Four-year-olds don't stop to think, "That doesn't make sense", so that's what they sing. Why was he singing along to an Eddie Rabbitt song? Well, that's a whole other story. What kind of music does a mom expose her child to? Led Zeppelin? There's really nothing on the radio that's wholly appropriate.

Which leads me to Eddie Rabbitt. Eddie had an unusual background for a country singer. He was raised in New Jersey, not exactly a hotbed of country music. He began his career as a songwriter, penning hits such as:

(Note:  Elvis kind of creeps me out. I'm thinking one had to have been a teenager in the late fifties to fully appreciate Elvis. Alas, I, like my son, was only four years old in the late fifties, so my rock 'n roll bar was set by "Summertime Blues", a song that Elvis's manager would never have allowed him to sing.)

Eddie also wrote:

which is much better.

Then Eddie decided, what the heck, I can be a singer! And what a singer he was.

One might think that "I Love A Rainy Night" was the only earworm that Eddie created. That's not true. Herewith:

Clint Eastwood made some strange movies in the late seventies. This was not the "Gran Torino" Clint. This was the "what the heck" Clint; movies in which his costar was an orangutan.  Nevertheless, Eddie wrote this song for the movie:

 Eddie died young -- only 56. It was 1998. But just because someone's been gone for 20 or so years doesn't mean they didn't leave a memory. 

It's such a beautiful sock:

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Thing About Christmas Songs

If merchants had to depend on me for their Christmas cheer, they'd be crying into their mug of wassail.

I'm not a Christmas fan.

I do have my reasons. Number one, I happen to work in an industry whose busiest time of the year is the last three weeks before Christmas. Therefore, no one is allowed to take time off, not even one lousy day to do their shopping. Add to that the stress of a long, heart-attack inducing day, and the last thing I want to do when I (finally) get off work is go shopping for holiday trinkets. All I want is a cup gallon of hot wassail. Secondly, Christmas is happy and exciting when there are kids in the house. Cats and dogs don't experience that same euphoria of anticipation that actual human kids do. In fact, Josie and Bob only anticipate when their next meal will be forthcoming, as they perch in their assigned spots two hours before suppertime.

When I had young kids, I exalted in the subterfuge -- writing out my shopping list in shorthand so no little eyes would tempt themselves and spoil the surprise.

That one big day with one big shopping cart, trudging my goodies through the snow and slush, the cart's wheels refusing to budge, as I twisted the cart like a pinwheel to deposit all those special toys in my trunk.

The Saturday evening when I would put on a favorite Christmas CD, dim the lights and decorate the tree, placing the school-made ornaments in very prominent spots on the branches; stringing together wreaths made of popcorn.

Writing out Christmas cards and slipping school photographs inside. Getting Christmas cards with school photographs slipped inside.

Pasting red, green, and blue window clings on the big picture window in the living room -- red trees and green boughs, white snowflakes, and blue letters that spelled out MERRY CHRISTMAS.

Hauling the big stand mixer out of the top cupboard and mixing up a batch of sugar cookies to be decorated, and a big pan of fudge, and divinity, and whatever other cookies struck my fancy that particular year.

The kids tearing open their gifts on Christmas Eve, exclaiming it was just what they wanted. Me on the floor assembling Fisher Price farm yards and, in ensuing years, admiring all manner of Transformers and Deluxe Lego cities (Those little yellow plastic bricks hurt like hell when you step on one with your bare feet two days after Christmas!)

When we packed up the car and drove to spend Christmas Day with Grandma and Grandpa, the kids loathe to leave their new treasures behind at home, Grandma pulling open the oven door to baste the giant turkey, Grandpa "helping" by sitting back in his recliner in the living room. Me salivating over the fresh-baked pecan pie. My brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews gathered around the long table Dad had set up in the living room to accommodate everybody; munching on green olives and carrot sticks from the relish tray to quell our hunger, Mom's candle evergreen centerpiece gracing the center.

That was Christmas to me.

I really should just chalk it up as a life phase that's come and gone. My kids are grown and they have new traditions of their own. Mom and Dad left in 2001. Really, the only thing I have remaining from Christmas Past is music, if I take the time to listen to it.

But here's the thing about Christmas songs....

Thank God they only come around once a year.

Our local oldies station begins playing Christmas music twenty-four/seven, right after (or maybe even before) Thanksgiving. Those DJ's must be hitting up the liquor store every couple of days, because if one has to find enough holiday music to fill all that airtime, one knows (the DJ's know more than anyone) that the great majority of it sucks. I listened for a few brief moments on my car radio today as I was motoring off to perform a semblance of actual gift-shopping (I got two -- yes, two gifts). I learned, from my radio, that Christmas music falls into a few categories:

  • Sucky
  • Maudlin
  • Instrumental (which, to be frank, could be anything - could be Arbor Day music for all anyone knows)
  • Too jazzy
  • Annoying
  • Cheesy
  • Not bad

I thought I would highlight a few of these types.

Best drunk performance by someone trying to appear sober:

(Yes, I know this is a montage. Sorry, it's all I could find.)

Best sober performance by someone trying to act drunk:

Best cry in your beer, drown your heartache Christmas song:

Christmas song that makes you want to drink yourself to death:

(I'm sure Andy Williams was a fine man. But this song falls into the "sucky", "too jazzy" category. Sorry.)

Other songs I would pay top dollar to never hear again:

  • Do You Hear What I Hear (no, and stop asking me!)
  • Little Drummer Boy (especially the Johnny Cash version...rum pa pah PUM)
  • Christmas Time Is Here (that stupid Peanuts maudlin song with the screechy kids singing. Really gets one in the spirit!)

Now, I like my eighties pop, as you know. Some people, particularly my husband, would say my favorites are sucky. I'm okay with that. Because I like what I like.

Hence, I like this:

It's not so much that I like this song, but I love the performance:

Let's not forget the sixties:

But honestly, Christmas is not Christmas for me until I hear these two songs (I heard one of them today as I was shopping, which inspired this post.)

In conclusion, there are two songs that are my special treasures, for different reasons. The first reminds me what we're doing this all for (and this is the version that lives in my heart):

And this one just makes me cry, because there is no more home:

If I don't have time, and I know I won't, Merry Christmas to you.

Friday, June 1, 2012

My "Career" ~ Part 6 ~ "Who Do You Think You Are?"

The IKFI unit was an outcast.

We weren't "Claims", after all.  But we shared the same floor as Claims, albeit with our own entrance that no one from the Claims Department deigned to use, because, after all, that would taint them.

There is an inherent snobbery that exists in any office.  A pecking order.  "We're better than....(insert department name here)."

We weren't "smart" like Claims.  We did data entry.  Some of the Claims supervisors even stopped by from time to time to let me know what my division was doing wrong, since they, naturally, were the end users.  I didn't have a problem with that; I did have a problem with the way the feedback was conveyed.  The condescension.

So, even though I had been a top Claims supervisor before my promotion, I was no longer part of the clique.

So, IKFI just went its own way.

We kept growing, and growing rapidly.  We had to take over more office footage, because we were running out of room to seat everyone.  We still had that mix of permanent employees and temps, but by this point, it was understood that a temp position was an audition, really, for permanent placement.  A top performer was guaranteed the opportunity to be hired by the company, and that word had gotten around.

Our first Halloween rolled around, and we, naturally, were delighted to participate in the festivities.

You see, at our office, a tradition had been born back in the first year of our existence.  I don't know exactly how it started, but I do know that I was part of its inception.

We dressed up, as a unit, generally, in some type of theme.  That sounds innocuous enough, but what began as a simple dress-up contest with silly prizes, quickly snowballed into an all-out competition.  Quickly, after that, it was not good enough to simply dress up.  A group had to put on a "skit" of some sort; really wow the crowd...and especially the judges.

Oh, it became cutthroat.  

It started like this:

And progressed to this:

And on and on.

Since the IKFI people were considered morons and imbeciles, we decided to do a "Hee Haw" theme.  It was wonderful.  We had a lady dressed up as Minnie Pearl, with the price tag hanging from her flowered hat.  We had all manner of rubes, especially me; we had a woman in her flannel nightgown and nightcap, ironing at her ironing board.  We even had a cow.

 That's me in my "cap".

My mentor, Carlene, and me (I looked lovely!)

Oh, we were all lovely hayseeds. 

Unfortunately, we were encroaching, it seems, upon a time-honored tradition; and when we won grand prize, well, that just capped it.

It was not our fault that the Claims units were lame.  They were timid.  We were not.  We had no reputation to uphold.  We didn't care.

As time passed, and things started to snowball, I was given the green light to hire additional supervisors.  We split into three units!  And then we hired a second shift!  Two more supervisors!  All total, by the end, we had over 150 people in IKFI.....from three to one hundred and fifty.  In about a year and a half.

The girl who was to become my "main supervisor", Laurel, had started out as an examiner in one of my Claims units.  We found that we shared the same birthday, so that became a natural bond, a starting point for our relationship.  When the opportunity arose to hire another supervisor, Laurel applied, and I took her immediately.  Laurel was one of those people whom you feel like you've known all your life, even if you've only known her for a minute.  She had that special touch. 

Laurel became situated in a glass-walled supervisor cubicle halfway across the room from me.  We could look out and wave to each other, but other communication required direct face-to-face interaction, or a phone call.

By this time, Phil had been "uploaded" to a more responsible position in Fresno, California, proving that it's not what you know; it's who you know.  His replacement was Brenda, who'd been moved upstairs from the Customer Service Department.  Brenda, in essence, shared manager responsibilities with the lovely (to herself) blonde-haired Linda, who was persnickety and decorum-obsessed.  Both Linda and Brenda elevated their secretary, Lisa, to the highest level on the office pedestal.  Lisa was, for all intents and purposes, third in line of ascension to the Acme throne; well above us mere supervisors. 

Some supervisors dealt with that insult by cultivating Lisa's friendship.  Laurel and I, on the other hand, dealt with it by being snarky at every turn.

One day, Brenda sent out a loving email to all the supervisors, informing us that Lisa had been blessed with additional responsibilities.  The email told of how indespensable Lisa was; what a vital wheel of the organization she had proven to be.

TIP:  If you are going to make snarky remarks about an email sent by, ostensibly your boss, be sure to hit "forward", and not "reply".

I don't remember exactly what I said, but it wasn't nice.  My intention was to forward my comments to Laurel, across the way; but I, as you have gathered by now, hit "reply" instead.

You know that moment?  When you realize you just made a giant faux pas?  And it's already been done, and now what the hell are you going to do?  Well, I did that.  One second after I "replied" with my remarks, it hit me that I had screwed up, badly.

Damn.  Here I go again.  Another apology, and I knew I had to give it in person.  Downtrodden, I willed my legs to propel themselves forward, onward to Brenda's office.  I blindly, instinctively, found a chair to plop my ass in, and proceeded to praise Lisa to the heavens.  I mumbled something about how I was "just kidding around", and how I was profusely sorry for my indescretion, and that, trust me, it would never happen again.

Brenda was, to her credit, pretty nice about it.  She kind of waved me off; said, don't worry about it.  She was most likely as uncomfortable, there, in her office, having this conversation, as I was. 

But, as my luck would go, this didn't end there.  Just a few short months later, my number one supervisor, Laurel, committed the exact same sin as I had.  Another glowing email; another snarky comment; another "reply", rather than "forward". 

Laurel was cool about it, though.  She blithely trudged into Brenda's office (I bet Brenda was getting weary of this drill by now), spilled out her requistite apology, and, as icing on the cake, said, "I guess I pulled a 'Shelly'". 

Thanks, pal!  Now I was famous infamous.  Any stupid, assinine mistake would henceforth be referred to as, "pulling a 'Shelly'". 

Even though Laurel blatantly threw me under the bus, I couldn't not stay friends with her.

Plus, I guess, one way to look at it was, we were in this thing together.  We made the same mistakes, we made the same right decisions.  We were a natural team.

And thus, IKFI continued to do things that annoyed the heck out of everyone.

Overtime was a way of life at our company.  If there was ever a stretch when overtime was not mandatory, people began to quake.  They started wondering what was wrong.  Thankfully, for most, those periods only ever happened for a week or two, and then things returned to "normal".  Frankly, the staff had begun to depend on their overtime pay, and they were adrift without it.

On Saturdays, we, like everyone else, had OT.  But we did things a bit differently in our department.  We had a (remote!) manager who gave us a budget to buy prizes, so the supes would go out shopping and buy as many nice things as we could with the dollars we were given.

Then, on Saturday, every half hour or so, we would draw a name out of the hat (literally, a hat), and blow some god-awful sounding horn, and bestow a prize upon some lucky individual, and of course, have our picture taken with the winner; all of us supes wearing our very special hats.........Yes, it was "hat day".

 Tracy on "Hat Day"

I can say without hesitation that we had fun.  And yet, we never shirked our work.  We posted great stats; both quality and production.  I believe it was because our people liked their jobs.

Who else had Elvis show up for my supe, Peg's, birthday?  Nobody, of course.  And, if anyone had even thought of it, would they think to corral an actual employee to play Elvis?  No.  They would have hired one of those impersonators.  And that would have stripped the occasion of all the fun (thanks, Rob!)

 Elvis (Rob) and Peg

And on Peg's next birthday, who would have thought to have President Clinton stop by?  Nobody.  And who would have written a very special speech for the President to deliver to Peg?  Nobody.  (Thanks, Rob, again, for portraying the President!)

 President Clinton (Rob) and Secret Service Agent, Laurel

Shortly after the "hat days", the baton was passed, back there in Philly, to a new manager; a new overseer of the IKFI Department.

A new, young up-and-comer.  Out to prove himself, with our division as the catalyst.

His name was Peter.

To be continued.......... 

My "Career" ~ Part 7 ~ Another New Boss?

My "Career" ~ Part  8 ~ "Everything's Great!"

My "Career" ~ Part 9 ~ A Cold Wind

My "Career" ~ Part 10 ~  Thank You ~ Goodbye

My "Career" ~ Part 11 ~ Breaking the News 

My "Career" ~ Part 12 ~ Loose Ends 

My "Career" ~ Epilogue

Previous Chapters:

My "Career" ~ Part 5 ~ Welcome to the I-Land

My "Career" ~ Part 4 ~ Phil

My "Career" ~ Part 3 ~ Karma

My "Career" ~ Part 2 ~ Evil Bosses

My "Career" ~ Chapter 1

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What Fame Does

I'm obviously not a famous person, nor will I ever be. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing.

I've been thinking about it a lot this past week, and kind of getting angry.

It seems that what fame does is destroy fragile souls.

Face it, artists are fragile to begin with. At least most of them. It's that sensitivity that allows them to tap into the feelings, wants, fears of the world at large.

It's a double-edged sword, to quote an over-used cliche.

But even not-so-sensitive people fall prey to the dishonesty that comes with fame.

You know, the hangers-on; the ones who really don't give a damn about you, but they'll say, "Yes, Ma'am", "You bet, Sir", just to keep getting their palms greased. They're no fools.

I read some stories in the past week, where people who interacted with Whitney in her last days said, "Oh, she was FINE! No, there was no strange behavior! Are you kidding? She was great ~ in high spirits; fully in control."


I saw the pictures. If those people think she was "fine", they must live in a nether world that the rest of us simpletons can't seem to view through our naive haze of reality.

Fine. Protect her reputation. It's a little late now, though.

How about one of those morons taking her aside and asking, "Are you okay? Is there anything I can do to help you? I'm worried about you".

But it's not just Whitney. It was Michael. It was Amy. It was Elvis.

They were all "just fine". Okay.

"Are you sure you should be mixing those pills with alcohol, Whitney?" Did anyone ask that?

Elvis had his own "mafia" around him. Hand-picked. "Hey, Big E! TCB! Got another Cadillac you'd like me to take of your hands?" I wonder if they feel really good about themselves.

"Oh, Michael? Well, he's just 'shy'."

"So, Mr. Jackson, you want me to smuggle some Propofol out of the hospital and shoot it through your veins? I see absolutely no problem with that!", says Dr. Murray. "By the way, when can I expect my next paycheck?"

"Amy, you are looking GOOD! Have you put on a few pounds? You look so healthy!"

Did any, just ONE, person around these artists ever deign to tell them the truth? I doubt it.

They surrounded themselves with sycophants.

Of course, it's ultimately the responsibility of the person themselves to get it together.

They become...I don't know, spoiled? Big spoiled brats?

So used to everyone bowing and scraping that they take advantage of it? Expect it?

It seems like Elvis was that way. Seems to me that he banished anyone who would dare speak some truth. How dare they? Don't they know who I am? THEY don't think. I do the thinking around here. And it's all about me. Nobody else. ME. I am the star. I am, in fact, the king of the world! Everyone tells me I am. So, I am.

"All my fans really love me."

Well, here's the thing: unless you're some kind of shallow, celebrity-obsessed cyborg, you do not actually LOVE an artist.

What you love is, the memories they have created for you.

It's really NOT about them; it's about you.

Honestly. Think about the songs that flash in your mind. The ones that, to you, are classics. Why are they classics to you? Because they were the soundtrack of YOUR life. A special time. These songs were the BACKGROUND for your movie.

You flash back on these songs, you're not picturing the artist. You're picturing where YOU were; what YOU were doing; what YOU were feeling, at that exact time.

They flatter themselves too much. If it wasn't them, in particular, it would have been someone else. That's just the way it is.

I don't LOVE Whitney Houston. I never met Whitney Houston. How could I love her? Even among the people I actually know, I wouldn't say I love the majority of them. I love my husband. I love my kids. I love my siblings. I like a lot of people, but again, these are people I have actually met and interacted with.

I do love some of Whitney's songs. They take me back to a time in my life. I remember turning the radio on, waltzing around, cleaning house, singing along off-key. It was a happy time for me. My kids were young; life seemed so open and bright.

I love some of Michael Jackson's songs, and mostly, his performances of them. It was the time of MTV videos. My kids were of an age when they were starting to get into music. I loved watching their interest in music begin to take root.

I admired Amy Winehouse's artistry. I liked that she was kind of a throwback to an earlier time. I remember my husband and I listening to her CD together. I remember the closeness we felt as we shared that time.

I admit, I am a bit lost about Elvis. You see, he was before my time, really. I was always sort of critical of his recordings, because I found them to be over-produced and his voice too bombastic.

Yet, I do remember as a kid, playing the 45 of "Return To Sender" and singing along. Honestly, at that age, I thought he was singing, "Return to Cinda" ~ a variation of Cindy? So, hearing that song takes me back to the upstairs of the farmhouse, and me dropping the needle on the turntable, and pretending I was the one on stage singing. Again, a time in my life.

It was only years later, when I heard some of his Sun recordings, that I began to appreciate Elvis more. In the time that he was around, in my memory bank, in the seventies, I remember seeing footage of middle-aged women throwing their underwear at him, and me wondering, what the hell? He was doing a parody of himself, I thought. "Hunka hunka burnin' love"? You could hear the background singers way more than you could actually hear Elvis.

To me, he was completely delusional. Doing those karate stances. Wearing the big chains and the big sunglasses. Those vacant, drug-addled eyes. I thought he was a joke, but he was the only one who wasn't in on it.

But then, I would hear, "Can't Help Falling In Love", where he actually practiced some modulation, that I thought, well, he really CAN sing.

So, much as these artists chose to believe that people really loved them, people really didn't.

I guess the price of fame was that they became more and more isolated, and they chose to surround themselves with people who would give them what they wanted them to give, and would say things that they wanted them to say.

It's a self-centeredness that, I suppose, is human nature. Maybe I'd like to have a servant, too. But would I? I think it would begin to feel like a sort of prison. Always being hovered over. No time to myself. Losing myself.

I think these guys were lost.

And while I'm on the subject, I'm going to say this: These entertainment magazines, and these tabloids, just love, LOVE, this kind of story. It's one last way to exploit these people. One last way to extract a buck from them. Sure we read this stuff, so maybe we're exploiting them, too. Maybe the whole world just feeds off the sad stories of their lives. It completes the circle. In one flash of time, we dance joyously to their music, and in the next flash, we gossip in hushed tones about their downfall.

It just seems to me that the price of fame is too high.

I thought about this, and I decided that I would end this post with the way they were. The way WE remember them. The soundtrack of OUR lives. Thank you for the memories. Regardless of how it turned out in the end, we won't, can't, forget your music.

Monday, January 24, 2011

May 19 - A Not-Too-Shabby Date For Music Lovers

Since I'm just sitting around with nothing to do; no projects on the horizon, I thought I would continue with my "Number One Song on the Day You Were Born" theme. I love music videos anyway, so it's fun to rediscover some old tunes that make me happy.

So, yes, the year of my birth (05/19/55) does not reflect the best in the annals of music. Granted.

However, to compensate for that, I checked out the charts for May 19 in subsequent years, and found stuff such as this:



all shook up elvis presley (oldies)
Uploaded by onizuka-junior. - Explore more music videos.

Unfortunately, this video is from the "Karate Elvis" years, but it was the only decent one I could find.


See, this is more my speed. Okay, the video isn't from 1958, but let's allow for better sound quality, shall we?

I was a big Everly copier, it seems. My little three-piece band, back in 1964, specialized in Everly covers. Not this one, but still. Beautiful song.


Okay, I do know that the Beatles didn't originate this song. It was Wilbert Harrison. But this is where I first heard the song, and c'mon, it's the Beatles!


Unbeknownst to me, Elvis played a big part in my early development, and I'm not even a big Elvis fan!

However, I do admit, this is one of my favorite Elvis songs. I clearly remember singing along to this, even though I just made up the words as I went, since I didn't quite catch them all:


Now we're talking. This is one of my all-time favorite rock & roll songs. And yes, I was well aware of this Del Shannon song in 1961:

Fast forward to 1964, and this:

Now, of course, we move to the truly important music of my life, this one from 1965. I love this live performance, interspersed with the "music video" the boys did for the song (which is really dumb, when you see Ringo standing over the drum kit, looking embarrassed as hell, and why wouldn't he be, with that setup?)

This song was number one in May of 1966. Here are the Mamas and the Papas lip-synching to Monday Monday.

Can anyone explain to me why the Mamas and Papas songs were mixed so strangely? Any of them you hear, half the sound comes out of one speaker and half out of the other. Who's bright idea was this? Lou Adler's, apparently. Maybe he was deaf in one ear.

1967, the summer of love. Here's an iconic song, and surprisingly, one can only find one performance video of the Rascals, doing "Groovin'". I don't know for sure, but I'd guess this was from the Ed Sullivan Show, because Ed's people did NOT know rock & roll. They focus on the harmonica player almost the whole time! Or the tambourine guy. Basically anyone except Felix, who is the star of the band. Alas. But here is "Groovin'":

I would include 1968's Archie Bell & the Drells ("Hi everybody! We're Archie Bell and the Drells! From Houston, Texas!"), doing "Tighten Up", but the only available video is of horrendous quality, so just sing the song in your head. You remember it.

Ahh, the famous rooftop performance from 1969. The swan song, as it was.

1970, from the Midnight Special. Ha ~ remember that show well. I'd come home on a Friday night, after having a few too many.....Diet Cokes....and flip on my little portable TV, and catch the last acts on the show.

Seriously, along with Felix Cavaliere, one of the greatest voices in rock & roll, Burton Cummings. Here are the Guess Who:

1971, eh? No wonder the seventies sucked for music. This has to be one of my all-time most annoying songs. Maybe it's just that I had to hear it seventy thousand times back then, or maybe it's because it's a really stupid song. No offense, Hoyt. And can you imagine how much the Three Dog Night'ers hate doing this song, as they make their rounds of the various Indian casinos? Of course, money in your pocket cures a lot of heartburn.

And, believe it or not, it goes downhill from there. So, I'm going to stop with 1971.

Oh sure, I could include "The Streak", from 1974, but really, why would I want to? I could include some bombastic Whitney Houston songs. Or Madonna, or Paula Abdul. But why ruin a nice post about music with that kind of stuff?

Well, okay, I do like 1981's selection. No, it's not Madonna or Paula or Mariah. It's someone I actually enjoy listening to.

No, really there is. Just one more. 1976. It's not entirely a performance video, alas. But it is the official video, apparently, And what's wrong with that? I'd like to know. So here I go. Again.