Showing posts with label the honeycombs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the honeycombs. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

My Sixty-Four Year Musical Journey

The problem with only being able to get one's music from AM radio was that once a song became a hit, the disc jockey played it at least once an hour. This is the primary reason why baby boomers hate certain songs with a passion (Take "Ode To Billy Joe", for instance. Plus Bobbie Gentry never once said what was being thrown off the bridge, and it probably wasn't even anything interesting anyway.) Conversely, if there happened to be a song you really liked but wasn't in the top ten, good luck catching it on the airwaves. If I did happen to catch it, I'd be in the backseat of the car and my dad wouldn't stop yapping long enough for me to actually hear it.

Plus I didn't know what most of these artists looked like. There were some fan magazines with tiny black and white photos of the top groups, and sometimes network variety shows would feature a pop act "for all you kids out there". I always felt sorry for the bands who were just looking for a little promotion and had to endure the mocking of the eighty-year-old host who'd made his name in the vaudeville days.

On a Wednesday night in the fall of 1964, however, a wondrous thing happened ~ and that thing was called "Shindig". Suddenly I could see all the artists who had previously only existed in my brain as breathtaking sounds emitting from a tinny speaker and tiny one-by-two-inch black and white promotional snapshots in celebrity mags. Yes, the show was in black and white, too, but why quibble? Sometime during the show's run, I switched music teachers and had accordion lessons (yes) on Wednesday nights. By the skin of my teeth I made it home by 7:00 p.m. each week, but it was incredibly stressful.

Shindig had its go-go dancers in white-fringe mini-skirts doing the jerk and...well, that's the only dance I remember...but it wasn't overly distracting, and far superior to a geriatric comedian chewing on a fat cigar and spouting, "Take my wife....please." Everyone who was anyone appeared on Shindig ~ The Beach Boys, The Beau Brummels, The Lovin' Spoonful, The Sir Douglas Quintet, The Dave Clark Five, The Supremes, Roy Orbison; even The Beatles. However, the act that still resonates with me from Shindig all these years later is The Righteous Brothers.

I'm guessing The Righteous Brothers probably made more appearances on the show than anyone aside from Bobby Sherman (I guess you had to be there.) Watching Shindig, I was in heaven.

I still had my 45's, too; and my brother's. In retrospect, the singles I liked the best had a couple of requirements ~ an awesome beat was a given. Then either a great production (yea, even at age nine I recognized the great ones) or something a little off-kilter.

These are the ones I loved then:

I have no explanation as to why that song grabbed me, but it most certainly did. I really didn't know anything about Motown. I didn't know about The Temptations or Smokey Robinson and The Miracles. I did know The Supremes, but I had no inkling that this was a huge Detroit conglomerate. I just liked the song.

This one is (and always will be) a marvel. It's the intro. How was I to know that the creator of this song was a musical genius? I didn't know who Brian Wilson was. I didn't even know that most of the guys in the group were named Wilson. I did know that they all wore red and white striped shirts. I loved this song so much that I wrote my own version, called "English Boys" (it was the British Invasion era, after all.) Just like with the album "Help!", ripping off someone else's creation is the sincerest form of flattery:

This is a mostly forgotten song that is amazing. I love, love this song. And it meets my requirement of being a little off-kilter. The lead singer's voice is quirky, almost artificial; the beat (laid down by Honey Lantree) is magnificent, and the rest of the group was instructed to stomp on the floor to enhance the rhythm during the recording process. The Honeycombs only had one hit, but oh, what a hit it was:

The British Invasion was rife in the mid-sixties. The Animals, Freddy and The Dreamers, Gerry and The Pacemakers, Herman's Hermits, The Yardbirds, The Kinks, The Hollies, Manfred Mann. People think that The Stones were the natural rivals to The Beatles, but that's not how it went down in '64. Everybody was saying it was this group that offered The Beatles the most competition. Creatively, no; but one must remember the times and the songs The Beatles were releasing. The Dave Clark Five weren't that far off the mark. And I liked them. And Mike Smith (rest his soul) was a cutie.

Some artists are flashes in the pan; some stand the test of time. The Beatles (naturally) stood the test of time. The Beach Boys, too. The Honeycombs ~ not so much.

Then there are the masters. In a time capsule a hundred years from now, somebody smart will include this guy:

I don't take lightly the fact that I was present for the dawn of a new age of music. I'm lucky. Generally I'm not a lucky person, but on this one I hit the jackpot. I'll always have that. 

And I won't let it slip through my fingers.

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.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The CMA Awards - 1968

1968 was the first year that the CMA awards were televised; on CBS, I think.

I remember these awards, for their low point in cutting off Bob Wills, as he was starting to make his speech, after being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He got to the stage, opened his mouth to speak, and suddenly we were "joining our regularly scheduled news broadcast, already in progress."

Even at my young age, I knew that was just rude. And disrespectful.

I don't care who you are or how young you may be. If you like George Strait, even a little bit (?), you need to know about Bob Wills. Watch this:

So, Bob Wills was disrespected in 1968. Hold on. It gets worse.


Honey - recorded by Bobby Goldsboro, written by Bobby Russell

Okay, it's a difficult choice, but I would have to say that this is my MOST HATED SONG OF ALL TIME.

Shall we count the ways in which this song is PUTRID? Sappy, yes. But more than that. Words really cannot describe. Suffice it to say that I was SO GLAD that Honey hit that tree with her car. Had she not, I would have had to take matters into my own hands. Honey was a bimbo. She deserved to die. I mean, if you can't even drive your car to the market without ramming into a tree, then your existence is some stupid freak of nature, and yet, some clueless poor sap is now SINGING about you and eulogizing your rank stupidity, and we all have to suffer the consequences.

But knowing Bobby Goldsboro, he also loved his bowl of Rice Krispies (remember the story told, ad nauseum, about how he stepped on a Rice Krispie kernel, and hurt his foot? I think he told Merv, Johnny, Joey, and any local-cable access guy who would listen about his stupid Rice Krispie incident, and it didn't even have a punch line!)

So now, Bobby's mourning the loss of his Rice Krispies, which, sadly had more intelligence in their individual kernels than HONEY had in her vast wasteland of a brain pan.

Moving on (while monitoring my blood pressure), let's look at the:


Harper Valley PTA - Jeannie C. Riley

This song was written by Tom T. Hall, so basically any connection to this song has to be limited to someone with a middle initial prominently displayed.

I don't have any quibbles with this song, except for the fact that it was played over and over and over....and over.

This style of song would never make it nowadays. It really is all verses. There's no chorus. Certainly there's no bridge. Tom was lucky that he was writing at a time when one didn't need to conform to a standard pattern of songwriting. He would just be poor and working at a 7-11, moaning about the fact that nobody will listen to his songs. Join the club, Tom.


Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison - Johnny Cash

Again, not to come off as being a chronic bitcher, but how many damn times do we need to hear this song? Yea, I know. Key of E. I played it, too. Didn't you? Didn't everyone?

Again, do you think in your wildest dreams that a song like this would make it nowadays? Ha! (as Johnny would say). You'd be patted on the head and sent off on your way back to your factory job, shame nipping at your heels. You'd join old Tom T. Hall, working at the 7-11 and bitching about how A&R guys have no taste; no taste at all, in music.


Tammy Wynette

Whew! Something I can get behind, finally! What can I say about Tammy Wynette? I am just in awe of her talent. I miss Tammy. We'll not see the likes of Tammy again, well, probably never. Like Patsy, someone like Tammy comes along once in, what, 50 years?

Here's the song that probably won her the award in 1968:


Glen Campbell

This single was released in 1967, so it probably played a major role in Glen winning the male vocalist award in 1968. It was written by John Hartford.

I like this one. I know that Glen tended to record Jimmy Webb songs, and I like some of those. But this is just a nice, folky kind of song (that has a lot of verses, if you study it) and it has a banjo! And didn't Glen use this as his theme song for his show on CBS? So, I guess he liked it, too.


Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton

Okay, I wouldn't technically call Porter and Dolly a "group", but there wasn't a "duo" category back then, so there you go.

Porter and Dolly went on to win this award countless times, deservedly so. Their major competition, at least for awhile, was Conway and Loretta, so I think there might have been some knock-down, drag-out fights in the alley of the Ryman Auditorium, over who was the better duo. But alas, Conway didn't want to muss up his oily slicked-back "coiff", so Porter won.

Here's a 1967 song, that probably garnered this duo their first (of many) awards:


Ben Colder

Okay, it's maybe an acquired taste. Maybe you had to be there. But I frankly find Ben Colder (Sheb Wooley) funny. "Ben Colder here". She said, "It ain't been no colder here than anyplace else".

What Ben (Sheb) did was take-off's on popular songs, in a drunken, debauched kind of way. So here's "Almost Persuaded # 2 1/2":

The INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR and INSTRUMENTAL GROUP OF THE YEAR repeated from 1967: Chet Atkins and The Buckaroos. Take a look back at my previous post to see a sampling of their wonderful performances.


Glen Campbell

Yes, Glen was at his peak in 1968. I like Glen better now than I did back then. It was, to be honest, a stretch to call what he was doing "country". Jimmy Webb is a wildly successful songwriter, and I love his song, "Galveston". I just don't really like this one. But it put Glen in the catbird seat, and made him entertainer of the year for 1968.

Are we having fun yet? I am. I like this retrospective of the CMA awards, year by year.

And if 1968 sucked, and you know it did, just hold on. It starts to get better, as the years go by.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The British Invasion - Some Great Music Videos

Theoretically, this has no connection to country music, per se.

However, as I was looking for more music videos for my "Pioneers Of Country Music" series, I digressed into looking up some of the pioneers of rock, and I thought of the old TV show, Shindig, and wondered if there might be some Shindig videos on YouTube.

Well, one thing led to another, and after I found some British Invasion bands featured on the Shindig videos, I started looking for more British Invasion clips.

You see how my mind wanders?

I have found SO MANY great videos from the British Invasion, I thought, why not include a bunch here?

So, yes, this is a (brief) diversion from country music, but it's really a lot of fun.


A couple of notes ~~ first of all, I love this song. I don't care if it's cheesy. Also, the lead singer's voice sounds a bit odd (and no, that is not a flaw in the audio - that's how his voice really sounds; kind of speeded up in a cartoony kind of way.) The other two things worth mentioning ~~ gotta love the "ampless guitars" - quite a trick! And also, how much do you wanna bet the drummer is the sister of one of the guys in the band?


The first thing that needs to be mentioned ~~ The Dave Clark Five is FINALLY being inducted into the R&R Hall Of Fame this year! Nextly (I just made up that word), isn't Mike Smith CUTE? I also note that, again, no amps for the guitars...hmmmm. Also, a fashion note ~~ white pants and black boots? I think not.


Awww - isn't Peter cute, in an Opie Taylor-ish sort of way? What was he here? About 17? A couple of things in this video that were hard to ignore ~~ That was some VERY complicated choreography by the background "dancers". Clap left, clap right, hips to the left, hips to the right ~~ and they still couldn't master it! Finally, they just gave up and left. And what was with the confetti? I'm thinking a bunch of drunken teenagers. I bet that's what it was, you think?


Well, where do I begin? First of all, obviously (duh), the audio and video were out of synch. That happens. What I DON'T understand is why they chopped off part of the song. What, is the video guy's attention span only two minutes long? "Oops, gotta run!" Aside from those obvious problems, kudos for the "picket fence" set design (?) Also, you don't see a lead singer playing the maracas much anymore. Kind of a lost art. But I must say, it was great to see Maynard G. Krebs again, on the piano.


It's great to see Tom Petty again ~~ oh wait, that's not Tom Petty; that's Keith Relf, apparently the LEAST famous Yardbird. Unfortunately, with this clip, there is no Page; there is no Clapton. There is, however, Jeff Beck on acoustic guitar. And what's the deal with Clapton, by the way? Has he been around forever? I bet he's about 90 years old, right? Anyway, the Yardbirds was the first album I ever had. My brother bought it for me for my birthday. It wasn't really my taste at the time. I was more into the Monkees....


You know, my friend and I were talking about the Beatles yesterday at work. We actually looked up the lyrics to Penny Lane on the net. I had no idea he was saying "a four of fish and finger pie". I thought he said, "FOR a fish and finger pie." Not that either of those makes any sense to me, so I guess it's a moot point. That's still not as bad as my friend thinking that the pretty nurse was selling PUPPIES from a tray. Which leads me to that other famous mis-heard Beatles lyric: "The girl with colitis goes by".

But to the video at hand....It's lovely to see Paul with his usual happy, happy head-toss. I also liked when the host (I can't remember his name, so I'll just call him Wink McHosty) said, "They even wrote it themselves (isn't that cute?)" Gee, I wonder if they ever wrote any other songs. This video also marks the only time the rest of the group let Ringo sing. But at least they were good sports about it. Oh, and I also enjoyed the "Fred Astaire kick" at the end by John.


I have no funny quips about this video. All I can say is, Colin Blunstone is a REALLY GOOD singer.


The Hollies were a very popular British band from the '60's. The single, "Carrie Anne" was released in 1967, and, as I said, it was very POPular. The most well-known member of the Hollies is Graham Nash, who left the Hollies, because he wanted a band with HIS name in the title, so he formed Crosby, Stills, and NASH, later to be known as Crosby, Stills, NASH, and Young. And there you have it; the history of Graham NASH in a nutshell. (Can you tell I can't think of anything to say, so I just keep typing "NASH"?)


Well. Ray Davies was quite the handsome young man, wasn't he? Unfortunately, immediately following this performance, Ray and his brother Dave got into a fistfight over "who Mom liked best", and they never spoke to each other again.


I don't know a heck of a lot about this band, but I did like this song. It's the only song I know by the group. Undoubtedly, they had others (right?) Anyway, he looks like a sweet, innocent young man (with a tambourine, as opposed to maracas), but apparently, in later life he had some "issues". Something about pouring gasoline on a cop, and things just went downhill from there. It's a sad and cautionary tale. A tale of a boy and his tambourine.


Important trivia regarding Peter Asher ~~ Well, first of all, he was the brother of Lady Jane Asher, who was Paul McCartney's girlfriend in the '60's. But aside from that notoriety, he actually accomplished a lot. He was the head of A&R at Apple Records; he discovered James Taylor. He also went on to produce albums by Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, and others. I don't know about Gordon ~~ sorry.


Here we have Eric Burden, with his Howdy Doody hairstyle, who is a remarkably good singer, in spite of the haircut. The pertinent aspects of this video are that the organ player is apparently a huge Ray Charles fan, and the bass player is ASLEEP.


We have some kind of subtitles on this...Japanese maybe? As the song begins, ENGLISH subtitles would have come in handy. But, as the song progresses, we come to understand what Steve Winwood is singing. I do like this song. And the lumberjack drummer is prominently featured, so all is good. I'm probably way off base here, but it looks like Sonny Bono and John Oates are singing backup. But, seeing as how they come from completely different eras, I'm thinking that's most likely not the case.


This is a nice performance. I have no quibbles. I like the song. I would just like to point out that we could have done without the "Night Of The Living Dead" extras, who were so prominently featured in this clip.


I'll admit, I was not a Rolling Stones fan back in the day. It was a weird thing, but there was some sort of manufactured competition at that time....either you were a Beatles fan or a Rolling Stones fan. You had to choose. Well, I chose the Beatles. I don't know what that was all about. But I've since become a Stones fan, and this song is one of my favorites from their early years, and it doesn't even show a close-up of Keith Richards (who is my favorite Stone). But, if you watch this video, you can see why the Stones have become such icons. Watch Jagger's interaction with the audience. He has that "something". A lot of singers don't have it, but he does.


Yes, they were odd. Especially Freddie. But memorable, I guess, in their own way. Believe it or not, at one time, Freddie & The Dreamers was a huge act. "Act" being the keyword. I wonder how he talked the rest of the gang into doing that weird choreography. What the heck; it worked. I just threw this one in to show that, even back in the '60's, we had our weirdos. American Idol didn't invent the concept.

Let's not forget the ladies.....


I really like her. I think she was a great singer. And doesn't she look just like a Barbie doll in this video? I had a Barbie doll who was a dead ringer for Dusty in 1959. I've read that she was very shy. Maybe that's why these performances show very few close-ups. I just think she was great.


I saw the movie ~~ To Sir With Love. In a nutshell, it was about a bunch of unruly teenagers, who were wreaking havoc on everyone, until a new teacher, played by Sidney Poitier, showed up. He said to them, "They call me MISTER Tibbs". Okay, I think I may be getting my movies mixed up here. Anyway, blah blah blah, for about two hours, and then, in the end, they all went on to live productive lives as maids and butlers. The End. I still like this song, though.

Yes, I have left some artists out. There were some for whom I could not find videos. Others had videos, but did not allow embedding.

Other than that, I just forgot some, I'm sure. Let me know who I have left out (and, yes, I know I left out The Who ~ I'm not perfect.)