Showing posts with label george mccrae. Show all posts
Showing posts with label george mccrae. Show all posts

Saturday, November 3, 2018

1974 ~ Music and Ineptitude

Hindsight is essentially useless, other than reminding us that we're (unfortunately) human, and therefore dumb.

In 1974 I was nineteen and ignorantly immature. In hindsight (see?) I realize just how green I really was. I, for instance, had no business pretending to be an adult. Society, however, deemed that a girl needed to be married by at least age nineteen or twenty. Every girl didn't do that, but most of us did. Our life's goal was to become betrothed. I remember when I told my parents that I was engaged, they were delighted. They almost clapped their hands together in glee, and muttered under their breath, "It's about time." I was still a few months shy of nineteen. My concept of marriage was having a sofa and a TV, and maybe a microwave oven. Life wouldn't change much, except that I could escape home. Truly, my primary motivation was escaping, as if that would make life better. Living a dysfunctional existence no doubt played a role. I had to get away from the craziness I'd lived with for the past seven or eight years. I was desperate. Additionally, my self-esteem was so minuscule that I couldn't pass up the only chance I'd ever have to snag a husband. (Happy ending: both of us have since found our true soulmates.)

I now think a good age to marry would be thirty ~ young enough to still have children; mature enough to know oneself.

I had a "starter" job ~ I could definitely type, so what better fit than a job as a clerk-typist? Living in the state capitol opened up a plethora of possibilities. There was never a dearth of job openings. One only needed to pass a test in order to qualify. The exam consisted of alphabetizing and vocabulary...and typing. All things that were well within in my wheelhouse. I didn't care or know how much I was getting paid for my position within the State Health Department. I did notice that my paycheck seemed to deduct a bunch of dollars for this and that; something called "Social Security" and other things I didn't understand, but that was neither here nor there. Shoot, I was still living at home, which was free, so all I needed was some clothes and new records.

All I knew about "credit" was my JC Penney charge card. Securing a place to live, in anticipation of my marriage, was contingent on what I liked; cost be damned. Payments? No problem. We perused the mobile homes on the sales lot. I was particularly enamored by the one with the black-and-white geometric kitchen linoleum and the harvest gold appliances. That's the one we got. Our mortgage, with zero down payment, figured out to be $149.00 a month. Everything else we came to own was secured through wedding gifts and hand-me-downs, including my console stereo. I did bring to the marriage a transistor radio.

I certainly didn't know how to cook, and was offended by the unreasonable expectation that I should. It was only after a fortnight of Kraft macaroni and cheese that I was informed a dinner of boxed dinners and toast would not suffice. I subsequently purchased the Betty Crocker cookbook, in a show of "cooperation". Thus began my too-brief immersion in cooking.

I soon quit my State job ~ I didn't even last there a full year. There was something (okay, someone) I didn't like. My pay was so low, one job was indistinguishable from another. Unfortunately, interviewing petrified me, so I nestled back in the bosom of my parents. They let me work for them again, not that I actually asked. I believe I just announced it. I panicked when faced with a new environment; I tended to not even give it a middling chance. Home was home. I knew the lay of the land, the arrangement of the furniture. I'd checked guests into our motel from the time I was far too young to be manning a cash register. Plus there was a lot of down time. I could read magazines, snatched from the rack. Mom had a fully-stocked refrigerator and I helped myself when I was hungry. And the motel office had a TV. It was like leisure time occasionally interrupted by work. I'd get up early, 5:30-ish, throw on some jeans, and scoot my blue '66 Chevy Impala across the Memorial Bridge, with nary another vehicle crossing my sight line. And back home by 2:30 in the afternoon, just in time for a nap.

Life, to me, at nineteen, still consisted of music. Music was number one, and if my new husband didn't get it, then that was unfortunate. I was more bonded to my little sister than I was to my husband, because she, at least, "got it".

I'd been a country music gal for so long, it was embedded in my bone marrow, but strangely, the songs I remember from 1974 are firmly Top Forty. One's exposure to music consisted of AM radio and television. There were still enough variety shows on TV that musical guests were de rigeur. I would sit through interminable comedy skits simply to see the hokey setup the show's producer had envisioned for the night's rock act, because he didn't trust that people would actually enjoy the music. Twenty-three minutes of torture simply to catch a two-and-a-half minute song. Truly, network television was awful. I guess people watched because they had no other choice but the Big Three, and the cathode rays hypnotized them.

There were tons of one-hit wonders in the seventies, and more power to them. Don't knock one-hit wonders. Do you think, I really enjoy the Dave Matthews catalog, or do you surreptitiously boogie out to the Hues Corporation?

I know what I do:

This was one of my little brother's favorites:

Grand Funk:

Some new girl singer, who'd, I guess, go on to make a movie, appeared on the scene in '74. She had a hyphenated name and was Australian, which was odd, because I only thought Americans made music:

 A song that will always scream "tornado!" to me (but that's a story for another time) was a hit in 1974:

Paper Lace had a big hit (and I didn't know there wasn't an east side of Chicago ~ geography was not my strong suit):

The biggest phenomenon of 1974 was ABBA; no question. '74 will always shout ABBA. 

'74 was a watershed year for me. Maybe it's because I was nineteen, embarking on adulthood. I'm not sure. I could include twenty more songs from that year. These will suffice. For now.

These tracks take me back to that black tile and to a time of utter obliviousness. 

We all have to grow up. I think it just took me longer than most.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Jobs and Things

I was thinking about work tonight, which is not like me. When I leave my workplace on Friday afternoon, bye-bye! One needs to maintain a separation between work life and actual life. I know people who live for their jobs. That used to be me, but I'm older and much wiser now.

I got my first real job in 1973; and by real job, I mean one in which I didn't report to my parents. As a newly-minted high school graduate, with no idea why I would want to attend college, I realized that I needed to put my two years of typing class to use. I'd also taken two years of shorthand, but you know what? Nobody in the course of history has ever employed shorthand in an actual job. Shorthand was a scam, but I prefer to call it a "lost art", because it sounds mystic.

Living in the capitol city of my state, government jobs flowed like water. Luckily for me. I landed a job as a Clerk Typist I in the State Health Department, Division of Vital Statistics. The office housed all the birth, death, and marriage records from the early days of Dakota Territory to the present day. Of course, the first thing I did when I had the chance was scan the shelves to find my own birth certificate, and then my dad's. Then I located my mom and dad's marriage document. None of those records contained anything eye-opening. But, after all, who wouldn't have looked? There were rack upon rack of big dusty books in the bowels of the Vital Statistics office.

Folks would pop in from time to time, ride the elevator (that had its own valet) up to the seventeenth floor, fill out a form and leave with a certified copy of their record of birth. I typed up my own copy for myself; made myself three years older than I actually was, so I could go to bars and not get kicked out. (Is it okay to admit that now? I'm thinking after forty-four years, the statute of limitations has run out.)

After a few months of manning the front desk and trying to look busy during the quiet times, I was chosen to be part of a new (exciting!) project. The big dusty books had to go -- we were now going to microfilm all the ancient reposing records. Microfilm. Much like shorthand, microfilm is a remnant of a bygone era. A microfilm machine was a big camera that one slid papers under and pressed a round red button. Oh, but I bet everyone else in the office was keenly jealous! Who wouldn't be?

As an eighteen-year-old, I didn't fully understand the solemnity of my charge. We were a three-woman team -- our new supervisor and a girl named Alice and me. We had an office in the back with a door that we closed behind us. We sat at two desks -- one for the supe and one for Alice and me. And we lugged those powdery books from the shelves in the catacombs of the warehouse back to our little cubby and traced with pencil over the ancient typing that had turned faint from decades of being encased between stiff binders. Ahh, the glamour! Then each of us would take a turn behind the secret curtain and snap pictures for an hour. Over and over and over.

Do that for a day and you will never want to come back. Do it for a year and you will be tempted to hurl yourself out the seventeenth-story window.

Luckily, we had our radio. And cigarettes. It was a putrid, smoky closet that had nice tunes.

AM radio was our suicide repellent. It was all that saved us. KFYR featured all manner of songs; radio was not yet compartmentalized in 1973-74.

We heard songs like this:

That's when I realized Barbra Streisand was actually a really good singer.

Nadia's Theme, we knew, was the theme song for the Young And The Restless. You can call it what you want, but come on.

I wonder if they still use that theme song today. My soap days are long behind me, so I don't know. I suppose Katherine Chancellor is long gone. She'd be about a hundred and ten years old if she were still around. 

I told Alice she should use this next song in her wedding. She demurred. I still feel I was right:

I liked this one. I knew BJ Thomas had done the original, but Blue Swede took it to a whole new level:

I guess the bandwagon was filled to the brim with old songs done in new ways:

I never lie on this blog, or try to recreate history. This was a big hit in 1974, and we liked it:

I'm somewhat proud to say that one of the two worst songs of all time was released in 1974. It's a minor conceit, admittedly, but I'm going to claim it:

No offense to my little sister, but these next two songs remind me of her. While I, at age eleven, was grooving to the Beatles, she was stuck with tracks like this:

I won't delineate here why this next song is, to me, synonymous with tornadoes. That's a whole different scary story, but here it is:

We didn't exactly think Jim Stafford was funny, per se, but he was odd. If I was of a mind to look him up, I'd probably find that he had some serious songs. To everyone's dismay, though, he will be remembered for stuff like this:

"Star Baby" was a revelation and taught me that Burton Cummings was a sex-drenched god. But the Guess Who chose to follow that hit up with this one. Nevertheless, we liked it:

There was also this new guy who popped up around 1974. He was British. He could sing. He could definitely sing. He liked feather boas and humongous eyeglasses. 

But, boy, could he sing:

Yes, the tunes went on forever in that tiny, choke-filled room, and we tried to remember that there was actual breathing life somewhere far below the seventeenth floor.

This song was to I struggled to believe that blue sky existed somewhere...everything:

And yes, I wrote about that time. Of course.

Friday, June 8, 2012

More One-Hit Wonders ~ 1970's Edition

As readers of my blog know, once I find a topic that's interesting (to me), I like to beat it to death.

So, here we go!

And let me just note that, it appears, the 1970's has the distinction of producing more one-hit wonder songs than any other decade.  Kudos, nineteen seventies!  I knew you were good for something!

Did you ever notice that some of the songs that get the most airplay on oldies or classic rock radio stations just happen to be the one-hit wonders?  See, that's where they fool you.  You think, hey, they're playing Norman Greenbaum again!  He must have had a ton of hits!

Apparently, this video is supposed to look like this (and here I thought it was just a really bad transfer).

Curious about this song, I surfed over to Songfacts, and found this:

"Norman Greenbaum was kind enough to tell us about this song. He set out to write a religious rock song, and he is Jewish. Instead of using a Jewish word for God, he used "Jesus" because he thought it would be more marketable. It took months for Greenbaum to finish the music, but the lyrics came really quickly. Interesting fact we also learned about Norman: he used to run a goat farm."

Nice juxtaposition of relevant facts!  It's like saying, "Paul McCartney, in addition to being the most famous living rock star of all time, also, interestingly, wears a size ten shoe."

Spirit In The Sky

The Free Movement only had one hit record as well.  Being unable to find an actual performance video of their song led me to wonder whether they actually were a band.  However, this "video" does show a picture of the album cover, so my suspicions were unfounded. I realize it was 1971, so in context, the name makes sense, I guess, but I still find it rather unfortunate.

Honestly, the only reason I remember this song is because country singer Cal Smith had a hit with a cover version.

I've Found Someone Of My Own

Speaking of unfortunate band names, Climax had a 1972 hit with this next song, which happened to be the theme of my junior year high school prom.  Oh, I didn't go....I saw it in the yearbook, though (look, I wasn't exactly an active participant in high school activities).

Precious and few are the moments we two can share
Quiet and blue, like the sky, I'm hung over you
(how about just "hung over"?)
And if I can't find my way back home (obviously because I am hung over)

It just wouldn't be fair 
Precious and few are the moments we two can share 

This is apparently the last surviving remnant of Climax's live performance of the song, and thus the quality is atrocious. One would think the videographer was hung over.

Precious and Few

This next one makes me laugh.  Because it's by a group that was slapped with the name, "Hillside Singers".  Know why they were called the Hillside Singers?  How old are you?  Because it was a Coca-Cola commercial, and they were all standing on a hillside!  In fact, the only rendition of this song I could find was the actual Coca-Cola commercial. 

Coca-Cola started a heretofore unexplored trend; that of turning a TV commercial into a hit song.  They did it with Dottie West as well, with "Country Sunshine".

Now, I drink tons of Diet Coke, but I think I'll go with, "I'm a Pepper, You're a Pepper" instead.

I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing

If you don't remember the 1972 version of this next song, you may remember the 1985 Motley Crue cover.  Regardless, you will remember it.

The main reason I remember this song so well is that my little brother loved it.  He was 11.  Here is Brownsville Station:

Smokin' In The Boys' Room

Before we go further down memory lane, let me just interject, B.W. Stevenson and Clint Holmes ~ sorry, guys!  Apparently, you don't exist on video!  But, alas, we remember your songs!

But moving on, and speaking of band names, I think it's good to call yourselves something that really denotes your standing in the musical community.  For example, First Class.  Sounds like a group that would really be rocking the charts, right?  Well, no.  They had but one hit, but we do remember it.

And, frankly, maybe it's just me, but the only part of the song I remember is:

Beach baby, beach baby, give me your hand

I have absolutely no recollection of any of the rest of it, but let's learn together, shall we?

Beach Baby

You know, some songs, for various reasons, just stick with you.  Let me tell you why George McCrae's song sticks with me.

I woke up one summer Saturday morning; my husband (at the time) was at work.  I had left the AM radio on throughout the night.  I was all alone.  I heard sirens.  Yes, the tornado sirens were sounding.  We lived in a trailer.  You know what they say about the worst places to be in a tornado?  Yes, that's right.  We owned one car, which was currently with my husband, at work.  I frantically dialed my sister, who lived a couple of miles away.  She, too, was carless that morning.  She said she would call me a cab to take me to her house, which had a basement.  So, as I waited and grew more agitated by the second, this song was playing on the radio.

Rock Your Baby

Before I send my camel to bed, I thought I would like to hear Maria Muldaur's hit song:

Midnight At The Oasis

Picking on 1970's band names has become a fun part (for me) of this whole undertaking tonight.  Here is a helpful hint, nineteen seventies up-and-comers (again, you have to climb inside that time machine to hear it); just put any two words together!  A good tip is to make two columns; then try various combinations of Column A and Column B, until you come up with just the right cool-sounding name.  It's really pretty simple.

Now, Paper Lace, while pretty!  Sounds a bit twee.  At least for a male rock group.  All Valentine'ish.  Perhaps you should go back to the east side of Chicago and rethink your name choice.

The Night Chicago Died

There is a grainy, skippy live performance of this next song, but it just doesn't convey the awesomeness that is Blue Swede.

We all remember B.J. Thomas, right?  Great singer.  "Raindrops Keep Fallin'....", etc.  He had a really nice poppy record called, "Hooked on a Feelin'".  Unfortunately, now, I can no longer hear the B.J. Thomas version without inserting my own, "ooga-chawka ooga-chawka's", thanks to Blue Swede.

And what is a Blue Swede, actually?  A Swedish guy who got stranded out on the iceberg?

Hooked On A Feelin'

"Ace" is a nice, masculine name.  "Hey, Ace!"  "How ya doin', Ace?"  "How long has it been, Ace?"  "Hey, you ain't quite as dumb as you seem, Ace!"

Yes, Ace, with its homage to the piano/organ stylings of Steely Dan, had an unforgettable (even if we try) hit, that goes a little something like this:

How Long

Spain, heretofore only known for its catastrophic financial situation, did also produce a one-hit wonder band.   A band whose name, in English, translates to "youth".  Again, not to quibble, but really?  This is the best you could come up with, even in Spanish?  Youth?  You know, Paper Lace in Spanish is "Encajes de papel".  I'm not saying that sounds any more masculine than Paper Lace.  I just thought I would throw that out there.

Sure, Mocedades doesn't exactly roll off the tongue (or the brain, if something can roll off one's brain), but you, trust me, will remember them when you hear this song.  "Eres tu", meaning, (from my two years of high school Spanish, twenty thousand years ago)  "it's you".  That's all you need to know, really.  Just make up your own words to sing along.

Eres tu

Eres tu reminded me of this next song, which, inexplicably, is not listed on the One Hit Wonders site, but it was absolutely a one-hit wonder for Barry DeVorzon and Perry Botkin, Jr.  (Again, not to quibble, but that's the worst band name ever.)

You can call it by its original title if you want.  We all know, however, that it is actually the theme from the Young & the Restless.  Ahhh, Jack Abbott.  Ashley Abbott.  Victor Newman.  Kate Chancellor.  Yes, I remember them well.  I haven't seen that show in about 20 years, but I loved it.

Nadia's Theme

Around that same time, Minnie Riperton also had a hit.  Not to speak ill of the hits, but this is a song that would drive my dog nuts.  I, personally, am not able to hear the high notes, but Josie can.  I think it's all fine and dandy to show off one's extensive vocal range, but not to the point of driving the listener insane.  Forget the theme from Sesame Street.  I think they should play this song for the Gitmo detainees.  They'd be begging for Sesame Street, truly.

Lovin' You

Believe it or not, I have only begun to scratch the surface of one-hit wonder hits from the decade that was the seventies.

I realize, however, that this post is getting long, so I will save more hits for next time.

I leave you, and me, to wash out our ears with something a bit more pleasing.  I can't find any decent performance videos of this song, but I love it; always have, so we'll settle for this:

Elvin Bishop ~ Fooled Around and Fell In Love

Can't believe this guy only had one hit record. 

There is more to come, folks!

The First Episode of One-Hit Wonders