Showing posts with label the dave clark five. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the dave clark five. Show all posts

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Glad All Over

It's impossible to convey the awe of discovering new music in the sixties to anyone who wasn't there. It was a singular time that will never again happen. There was probably a reason for it, but I don't know what it is. "Experts" ponder that it was an optimism borne out of the Kennedy era, but I don't think so. First of all, most of the fresh music emanated from the British Isles. Perhaps it was a post-war release, a baby leaf sprouting out of bombed-out soil. The Beatles came first, but there were, oh, so many others.

Everyone hypes the so-called rivalry between The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, but I was there, and The Beatles' competition was not The Stones--it was The Dave Clark Five.

It wasn't long after The Beatles debuted in America (on The Ed Sullivan Show) that The Dave Clark Five showed up. Long forgotten is the fact that The Beatles began their career by featuring tons of cover songs. Yes, they had She Loves You and I Want To Hold Your Hand, but they also covered Chuck Berry and Motown. The Five also copied previous hits, like Do You Love Me and You've Got What It Takes, but they also had originals:  Glad All Over and Can't You See That She's Mine.

My wondrous discovery of The Beatles in 1964 only made me salivate for more. And I didn't have to wait. It seemed like a confetti bomb burst and suddenly I was showered with more music than I could absorb into my tiny brain. And they were all British Invasion artists. Bam, bam, bam -- they exploded out of my transistor speaker. There were so many, I could afford to be picky. Gerry and The Pacemakers -- kinda boring. Freddy and The Dreamers and Herman's Hermits -- novelties.

But, ahhh, The Dave Clark Five. When one is nine, they ponder mundane realities like, why is the band named after the drummer? Nobody does that. It's not called "The Ringos", after all. At first I assumed the lead singer was Dave Clark, but I was oh so wrong. The soul of The Dave Clark Five was the astounding Mike Smith.

Mike Smith was hands-down the heart of the band.

At age nine, I didn't know what the tiny piano/organ was; some kind of jet-age invention. But the primary appeal of the band, aside from the drums, was Mike Smith's cuteness. Cuteness was a primary factor in a nine-year-old girl's assessment of...well, everything.

I didn't appreciate this song at the time, but boy:

Surprisingly, I can't find a live performance of this song, but c'mon:

Speaking of "c'mon":


In actual years, The Dave Clark Five had a short run, but it's not the calendar that signifies greatness. The Beatles had kind of a short run, too, but it seems that people keep listening to their songs.

Let's not forget The Five -- or if you're younger than me (as most people are), let's discover them. To a giddy nine-year-old, this band was out'a sight!

Thursday, February 7, 2019


 (I was the one with crooked bangs on the lower right. K is behind me.)

I didn't know that life was stark when I was a kid. I never felt poor ~ my mom made sure I had all the same things that kids in my classroom had. The early sixties weren't the age of conspicuous consumption. Sure, the clothes she picked out for me must have been clearance items, because they were so ugly. Either that, or Mom had really bad taste. But I never cared about clothes anyway.

We lived in an old farmhouse that was eighty years old (that would be about one hundred and forty years old now, if it's still standing.) I liked it. It had a hard wooden winding staircase leading up to the second floor and there was a cross-hatched vent about midway down that I could peek through and see everything happening in our living room (not that anything was happening). It had a scary unfinished basement that is a prerequisite for kids ~ scary things are de rigueur. How else would we ever learn to navigate life if it weren't for being scared so much that our breath catches in our chest?

I was lousy at making friends. Granted, living in the country precluded sleepovers. I never even had a best friend until I was in the fourth grade, and I met her on a walking bridge on the way to Wednesday catechism. My only real friend 'til then was my cousin K. K's dad was my dad's much younger brother, and Uncle A worshiped my dad (who wouldn't?), so our families spent an inordinate amount of time together. It was one of those rare perfect storms in which my mom and her mom actually liked one another. You know how couple friendships are ~ either the women are best pals and one guy learns to tolerate the other, or through family, the married pairs are thrown together and everybody decides to make the best of it. K's mom brought out the best in Mom ~ taught her to loosen up; not be such a prickly thorn.

K was one year older than me, which was acceptable in the annals of little-kid approval. From about age five, we tagged along together, creating tiny-girl mayhem.

She was one of those flawless beings ~ golden-haired and sky-blue-eyed ~ who couldn't do anything wrong even if the notion had flitted like a fat bumblebee into her mind. I, on the other hand, was a mess of dense red hair with a tangled desire to create something, but no earthly idea how to do it.

My mom actually preferred K to me. It didn't hurt my feelings ~ much. I would prefer K to me. In later years, Mom actually took vacations with her. Nevertheless, my cousin and I bonded over Ricky Nelson songs, like this:

Our eight-year-old paths converged. 

My dad got it into his head that I should take accordion lessons (I was apparently the experimental kid in the family), and thus, K and her brother took lessons, too. Our music teacher thought it would be neat to form a little trio with the three of us. (Of course, K played her accordion perfectly while I was admonished for dragging my basses). 

Somehow we were coerced into buying matching bandolero outfits, with Cordobes hats, white-fringed black felt skirts, and plastic cowboy boots. We may have even had neckerchiefs. Our mothers paraded us out to local nursing homes to ply our trade. By then I had been relegated to snapping brushes against a snare drum (because my accordion skills were so lacking). K's brother claimed the accordion spot and K strummed a guitar. We were the complete package. Our big number was "Bye Bye Love", on which I somehow snagged the solo on the opening verse. We eventually harvested more money than any eight-and-nine-year-olds could dream of reaping ~ through drunken tips ~ not from nursing home residents! (see below).

K and I (and her big brother) actually ended up living together for half a year. Our bachelor uncle had purchased a triple-threat establishment in a small town that featured a bar, a restaurant and a service station; and he sorely needed a cook. So my mom and K's mom rotated weeks of short-order hash-slinging for extra seed money; and thus it only made sense to move us kids there permanently and enroll us in the local parochial school. We were ensconced in Uncle Howard's attached apartment and plied our trade as traveling minstrels, holed up in the service station lobby as drunks exiting the bar threw quarters and dollar bills at us. The three of us purchased glass piggy banks at the local mercantile and stuffed those hogs with loose cash and coin. K and I periodically raided our stash and bought colorful beaded necklaces and miscellaneous scraps at the five-and-dime.

Our first day at Catholic school, K, naturally, was a big hit; while I wanted to crawl inside a culvert. I think I eventually made one friendship ~ a girl who was as mousy as I. K was effervescent. Complete strangers would amass at her feet. She instantly became the most popular girl in her fifth-grade class. At home, she and I were best buds, but out in the real world K had many universes to command, and she precisely ignored me. I didn't have enough friends that I could afford to diss any of them. K was a princess in any company.

Our life in Uncle Howard's apartment was a cornucopia of new rock and roll sounds and images on the black and white TV. There was a syndicated program called The Lloyd Thaxton Show that was the poor itinerant's alternative to Bandstand, but, holy cow, was it great!

Here is what our eyeballs witnessed on our cathode-ray tube:

I guess you had to be there:

Albeit not rock and roll, this guy was everywhere in 1964:

Yep, The Beatles didn't appear on Lloyd Thaxton's show in '64. I guess Lloyd just didn't pay enough. Not that we didn't know who The Beatles were. We had to appease ourselves with our pocket-friendly transistor radios to hear the most influential band of all time.

The last time I saw K, I was eighteen and not quite moved out of my house, and she and some friends came to visit my mom. Not me. My mom.

But one can't sweep away what once was. K was a huge part of my life; at least a very momentous piece of it. 

I bet she's still out there, sweeping strangers off their feet.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Sharing Music

It occurred to me tonight that throughout my life, the majority of my music-listening has been solitary. It's not that I'm anti-social (though sometimes I am), but sharing music is a gamble. I like what I like, and I don't need somebody telling me, "That song sucks." Maybe it does, but maybe there's a reason I like it that you wouldn't understand. Maybe it takes me back to a special time in my life that you can't relate to, because you weren't there. I was never one to say, "Hey, listen to this," because if I loved a song and the other person didn't get it, my feelings would be hurt. Thus, my musical "sharing" happened organically.

I can say essentially that there were three periods in my life when I shared music.

1. My big brother

Okay, technically, I didn't share music with my brother. He shared with me. Honestly, if it wasn't for my big brother, I think my musical life would have been paltry -- sort of like those old dudes driving big Cadillacs, puffing on big cigars, who slip a CD into the changer to show you how "hip" they are -- and the CD is by John Mayer.

Before I even knew what music was, my big brother pointed at the big radio in our kitchen and schooled me in good music and bad. I was little more than five years old.

The first song he taught me was "good" was by a group called the Tornados. I believe the year was 1962.

Technology, as people naively called it then, was the next big thing. I didn't know that Telstar was a satellite. I thought it was some kind of rocket ship. My big brother was a teenager, so phenomenons like John Glenn going 'round and 'round the earth was a revelation. I watched Glenn's blast-off (or whatever they called it) on a tiny black and white TV in my first-grade classroom and I didn't see what all the fuss was about. I guess one needed to be older and more mature, like my fifteen-year-old brother, to truly grasp the magnitude of the event.

My big brother introduced me to Bob Dylan, who he told me was really Robert Zimmerman, from Hibbing, Minnesota. I was confused why Robert Zimmerman wanted to change his name, but I was proud that he was from Minnesota, just like me. My brother chuckled over this song. I figured it was because it was so ragtime. 

The thing my brother did that sent me flying toward the rest of my life was to clue me in to albums. I was a singles girl -- I rarely could gather enough spare change to purchase one measly '45 at Poplar's Music, and at that, my indecision was excruciating. It was a monumental choice; one that my whole life depended on. If I chose wrong, my existence would be ruined. My big brother, on the other hand, slipped albums 'neath his coat like he'd just popped a stick of Black Jack chewing gum between his gums. 

My big brother showed me a brown and white LP called "The Beatles Second Album". I thought the Beatles were awesome and such good songwriters -- with songs like this:

Granted, it was 1964 and I had no knowledge of musical history. Thus, I naturally assumed the songs on the album were all originals.

Later, my brother would show me LP's like "Help!" and "Rubber Soul". By then I was gone -- besotted -- immersed. 

If I have anyone to thank for my lot in life, and I surely do, it was MY BIG BROTHER.

2. My grade school best friend

The early sixties was a time that was innocent in its naivete. What did we know at age ten? We thought the whole wide world rained exquisite songs. And it did, then. Superb singles were as abundant as the lacy snowflakes we caught on our tongues. 

We were so jaded then. "This song is great, but I can't wait for the next one." "Yea, the Beach Boys. They're so nineteen-sixty-three." My best friend, Cathy, and I, traversed the Louis Murray Bridge on sultry summer Saturdays to partake in the YWCA dances, which consisted of twenty-six gangly fifth-grade girls doing the Jerk to singles buzzed on a record player, like:

3. Alice

Alice and I dragged Main Street in 1973 in her mud-brown Chrysler.  Alice was the best friend I didn't deserve to have. If she were still living, I'd think about asking her what she ever saw in me. I brought nothing of import to the table. Perhaps I had a good sense of humor and she appreciated that. Other than that, I got nothin'. 

In 1973, we were about to turn eighteen -- the magic number. Life was a soon-to-be-devoured feast we'd yet to conjure. We shared the music blaring out of the tinny AM car radio, the wide-open windows tossing our hair in the breeze. The nights were starry and still. Country fanatics that we were, it's strange that we had the radio tuned to KFYR, the local rock station. I think maybe rock was more apropos for the timbre of the times, more befitting the nights.

There are songs from then, from 1973, that remind me of those nights. Here are the ones I remember most because they were played the most:

All that aside, there were two songs -- two songs -- that crystallized 1973 for Alice and me. Here is the first:

And here is our anthem. 

We sang along with it, over and over and over. We were in love with it. The stars, the blade-sharp black sky. The hot, yet cool, arm-tingling promise of the night. If I close my eyes I can see Alice now, gliding the car down the double-strip street, her blue eyes sparkling with a giggle, her blonde bangs fluttering in her eyes . We sang bad harmony -- she was the singer; I was the pretender. We sang at the top of our lungs; sang at the sleepy denizens whose misfortune it was to dwell in second-story apartments above Conlin's Furniture Store, in apartments in the top stories of the old Patterson Hotel.

We sang along with:

Music alone is fine. I can conjure my own memories. The trouble with that is, nobody else knows. And sometimes I get weary of no one else knowing; of pretending that that one special person is in the room with me as the song unwinds, but they're not.

If you find that special song, life is superb if someone else knows it's special, too.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Goodbye, Mike Smith

Mike Smith, lead singer and keyboard player for The Dave Clark Five, passed away yesterday.

Ironically, The Dave Clark Five will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in two weeks. It's really a shame that it took so long for this group to get into the Hall, and now it seems too little, too late, in some ways. Mike had intended to be present at the induction.

In addition to being the "soul" of the DC5, Mike also co-wrote a lot of the group's hits, along with Dave Clark, including, "Glad All Over", "Bits And Pieces", and "Can't You See That She's Mine".

Mike was paralyzed in an accident in 2003, but he had enjoyed a long career as a record producer prior to his injury. He produced, among others, Shirley Bassey.

My favorite performance by the DC5 was a song written by Chuck Berry, "Reelin' And Rockin'", but I really enjoyed all their recordings. I also have very fond memories of "Over And Over".

The Dave Clark Five hit the music scene around the same time as the Beatles, and they suffered by comparison, which is really unfair. Of all the British Invasion groups of that time, the best three would arguably be The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Dave Clark Five. The DC5 was the second British Invasion group, after the Beatles, to have a chart hit in the US (in 1964, "Glad All Over").

Here is a Dave Clark Five performance of one of their hits that went to #3 on the US charts in 1964; "Because":

So, thanks for the memories, Mike Smith. Be seein' you on my iPod.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Is A Farce

I mean, face it, if Neil Diamond isn't in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, what in the world does it take? You can quibble all you want, but Neil Diamond wrote some KILLER songs, and a bunch of 'em. Does "Solitary Man", "Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon", "I Am, I Said", "Thank The Lord For The Nighttime", "Holly Holy", et al, come to mind? How about, "I'm A Believer"? "Sweet Caroline"? "Kentucky Woman"? I could go on and on, and on.

Take a gander at this:

So, I hear Madonna and John "Cougar" Mellencamp are getting in. What the ....??

So, I don't put much stock in the R&R Hall Of Fame. Hey, I can't be responsible for anyone's lack of taste or judgment.

But at least, The Dave Clark Five is FINALLY getting in.

Geez, what the hell? Is it because the voters were all born in the 1970's or what? Guys...and I'm talking to you that are in your late twenties/early thirties.........don't be taken in by the so-called "music" that they're playing on the Gen-X radio stations. THAT'S NOT MUSIC. They want you to think that it's music, but in actuality, it's just a bunch of people feeling sorry for themselves. It's pathetic.

Really, it's okay to actually ENJOY music. Seriously.

Music is supposed to be FUN. It's not supposed to be something that depresses you.

Why the heck do you think music was created in the first place? To make us feel bad? Why in the world would that be? That's just stupid.

So, as cool as you think you must be, watch this video. And then all you Madonnas and LL Cool J's, or whatever the hell you are, can sit back and WISH that you were as cool as someone like this:

P.S. Yes. I remember when this song first came out. I was going to the YWCA at the time with my best friend, Cathy, for the dances they held there. I was about 10 or 11 years old. My friend, Cathy, remarked, "Are they saying, 'I went to a dance just the other night; everybody there was "there'"? I thought that probably wasn't the case, but, to this day, I hear it that way: "Well, I went to a dance just the other night; everybody there was "there",