The River's Badge

Friday, July 8, 2016

More 1984!


I'm old enough to remember a time when we just listened to music. That method had its downside, though. For several years I thought the best Beatles songs were sung by Paul McCartney, because he was the cute Beatle. I was woefully wrong.

Thus, when MTV came along in the eighties, it was manna from heaven. Who needed a radio? And we actually knew what the guys and girls singing the songs looked like! This was a concept, like personal computers, that we didn't even know we needed -- until we discovered we did. Maybe I like eighties music so much because of MTV or maybe the music was just that good. I'm going with "that good".

There are one-hit wonders whose song we like; there are fads that now seem cheesy and what-the-hell-was-I-thinking; and then there is Hall and Oates:

 
Before the nineteen eighties, Tina Turner, to me, was Ike and Tina Turner -- you know, "rollin', rollin', rollin' on the river" and a gaggle of gals in sequined, tasseled dresses doing the frug...or some other sixties dance.

Surprisingly, Tina popped up again just when MTV came along. "What's Love Got To Do With It" put Tina back in the spotlight. Luckily. Because I heard her follow-up single on the radio a few days ago, and damn! It's bad! Here's how it goes (in its entirety):

I'm your private dancer, a dancer for money
I'll do what you want me to do
I'm your private dancer, a dancer for money
And any old music will do


And that's it! As a songwriter, I think that's cheating. You can't just repeat the same four lines over and over!  Yet it worked for Tina, so there's that.


That doesn't take away from her seminal hit. Let's listen (and watch):



I like this one better. I think it must be from a movie, and I'm going to Google that and find out right now. In the meantime, watch John Waite:


Well, according to my research, the song was featured in the movie "Selena" and also in Miami Vice, which I never watched, so I guess I only imagined that it was included in a John Hughes flick. I'm going to go out on a limb and say it should have been.

Whatever happened to Deniece Williams? She had a hit single from one of those movies I never actually saw, Footloose. Which doesn't explain why I know the song so well, except for endless plays on MTV. I saw the non-existent fore-mentioned John Hughes movie featuring John Waite's song more times than I saw Footloose. That doesn't take away from the giddy poppishness that was "Let's Hear It For The Boy":


You know you remember this next track. You probably didn't get it -- it is in German (?) after all -- but that didn't stop you and everyone else from turning it into a hit. Number twenty-eight of the year is the incomprehensible hit by Nena -- I don't know whether that's the girl's name of the name of the band, but what does it matter, really?


Apparently in the eighties there was this band called "Journey" (which is a really cheesy name, when you think about it).  I'm guessing they hit it big right before MTV came into existence, because I had absolutely no knowledge of them. Of course I know about Journey now. But I'm not (too) ashamed to admit that I had no clue who they were in 1984. All I knew was there was this great track by a guy named Steve Perry. I figured he was just a single act; a one-hit wonder. Hell of a singer, though. If someone handed me a list of pop songs and said, pick the best ones, I would pick this. I love this song:


Contrary to what Jack Black's character utters in High Fidelity, this is not the worst song ever recorded. Let's cut Stevie some slack, okay? I like it. I'll admit, though, that line in the movie made me feel supremely uncool. However, I'm okay with uncool. Uncool is the new cool. Number twenty-five!


Remember that list of pop songs someone gave me? Well, here's another one I'd pluck from it. My oldies station cued up this song as I was pulling into the Target parking lot, and I refused to kill the motor until I sat and listened to it all the way through. Elton John is a treasure and this song proves why:




Okay, I know I never saw the movie, Streets of Fire. I had to Google it to even know what it was. Nope, never ever saw it. Rick Moranis? Seriously? He was great on SCTV, and I loved him in Parenthood, but...nah....no clue. Nevertheless, I know this song, which again proves the power of music videos. This is Dan Hartman...who resides somewhere near Deniece Williams, I'm guessing; and they're both living off the royalties of their singular hit songs. I still like this one, though:


Confession:  For years I hated, detested! Billy Joel. I think it was subliminal. I remember as a pre-teen listening to a radio show on KFYR on Sunday nights called Padre's Platters. It was hosted by a real-life priest. Seriously. Well, Padre (I don't remember his actual name) went on a tear one night about how sacrilegious Billy Joel's song, Only The Good Die Young, was. I guess because it blasphemed Catholic girls.  Good Catholic girl that I was, in my subconscious I determined that listening to Billy Joel was akin to committing a mortal sin. That, plus I never liked how he yelled so much in his songs. I've come around a bit since then. I actually like some of Billy's tracks now and I'm ready to confess that I do. This one I really liked, mostly because I really liked the Four Seasons and this is a tribute to them:


Purists will say that Chicago ceased being Chicago when Peter Cetera joined the group. Poppists will say, there was a Chicago before Peter Cetera joined the group? Sorry, but hop off that high horse, guys. There wouldn't even be a nineteen eighties movie industry if it wasn't for Peter Cetera. Peter Cetera will easily duel with Kenny Loggins for the most tracks featured in hit eighties movies. Maybe he's an acquired taste -- I never had that problem. I always liked Peter's voice. Trust me, if it was just Saturday In The Park, I never would have purchased the "Best of Chicago". What screams the eighties more than Peter Cetera and Chicago? I bet the other Chicago guys, much as they disdain Peter, are living pretty high off their royalties.



This might be a good spot to bid adieu to 1984.

All in all, it was an excellent year for music.

I truly miss good years in music.

















Friday, July 1, 2016

Happy...

I don't think about home much anymore, and yet I always do. The pictures are faded, but they show up somehow almost every day, like a flashbulb that snaps, leaving a warm amber glow that lingers, then disappears.

I think about home most of all at this time of the year. It's most likely age, but holidays are just "days" now; time off from work. Those questions people like to ask when they don't know what to ask -- what's your favorite color? Favorite TV show? I don't know; ask me tomorrow and I'll most likely have a different answer.

What's your favorite holiday?

Fourth of July.

The Fourth of July is when I miss Mom and Dad the most. It's not as if our family had some written script we followed on Independence Day, but we had traditions. We would gather the kids and drive to Mom and Dad's place early that morning. Mom would be in the kitchen, slicing boiled potatoes into a big bowl for her potato salad, jangling baking pans from out of the low cupboard, tipping open the oven door to check on her cherry pie; Dad would be in his recliner sipping black coffee, jazzed and waiting for everyone to arrive so we could drive over to Mandan and stake out a prime viewing spot for the parade. Kids of varying sizes would tumble about, antsy for the real fun that would come later -- firing up those punks so they could sizzle off their fountain cones and bottle rockets in the middle of the street. Mom never attended the parade, but the rest of us did -- we locals and whichever far-flung sisters happened to travel home to enjoy the holiday that year.

Our prime spot was the Mandan McDonald's -- my sister-in-law worked there and we'd all pile in and push our way through the throng to buy a ham and cheese biscuit that we didn't really want, but we figured we needed to eat something. All the tables were long occupied, so we hovered and waited, and then sat down for approximately five minutes before heading outdoors to sit on the curb, everyone excited, yet playing it cool, waiting for the parade to start.

Mandan has an absurdly long Main Street, ripe for marching bands and cheesy floats -- a polka band riding by, pumping out a German tune on their accordions and snare drum, their butts parked precariously atop metal folding chairs. The Viet Nam Veterans of America marched past in a ragged formation and we all stood up and silently saluted. A clown whose makeup was melting in the hot sun paced down our side of the street and hefted candy out of a plastic pail, and the little kids darted out and scooped up as much as their hands could hold, while my sister and I tried to herd them back before the horse cavalry clomped them. The Mandan High School marching band with their uniforms of black and white came by, and I stood up and hooted and clapped -- my alma mater after all. The farm implements. Dad would be standing with my brothers behind my sister and me and would invariably say, "I had one of those." It became our running joke. "How about that one, Dad? Did you have one of those, too?" My sister and I snapped pictures of anything that struck our fancy, and of each other.

When the parade ended, we'd hike the mile or so over to where Dad's Lincoln was parked (last open spot!) and then wait our requisite half hour behind all the other cars revving up to go home.

Back at Mom and Dad's, Mom was cool as a cucumber in her air-conditioned living room, while the rest of us were dripping sweat and dying for a cool drink. Mom was no fool.

The guys would invariably stretch out on the couch or floor or whatever was available and snooze. Men seem to have some sort of switch that allows them to float into semi-consciousness anytime the mood strikes. We, on the other hand, were busy corralling our kids away from their most recent dangerous bright idea (ours was a family of boys).

Mom's potato salad and macaroni salad and hamburgers freshly sizzled off the grill were excellent, and we went back for seconds and thirds and topped it all off with a slice of cherry lattice pie.

As darkness fell, we settled on the concrete stoop with cups of coffee and watched the kids dart in and out of the street, setting off their booty of fireworks; the grown men unable to resist the lure; bounding out to "supervise".

The air was warm. Sometimes lightning would flash in the west, but it was far away and it only added a light touch of danger to an already electric night.

When all that was left was the soft scent of sulfur in the night air, we'd start to gather our things and linger for a final goodnight. 

On the drive home, the kids fell asleep stretched across the back seat, their breath puffing like sated kittens.

We'd carry them off to their beds and I'd settle outside on the step for one final smoke.

I didn't know that feeling wouldn't last forever. I never gave it one solitary thought.  

Now I do, when July rolls around. Remembering makes my heart hurt; makes me miss them more.

My favorite holiday?

Well, let me tell you...









Saturday, June 11, 2016

Ahhh, 1984

The eighties. Some people love 'em, some hate 'em. I loved them. In music, that is. And life in general was pretty good. We had a good president, a more or less unified country. People were essentially happy.

There are times in music that reflect people's state of consciousness. The late sixties were angry, raucous; and thus was the music. The seventies lulled everyone into a quiet catatonia, which gave rise to artists like John Denver and the Carpenters. Times were bad. People had to wait in line to fill their cars with gas. While Jimmy Carter quietly read his Bible in the White House, everyday folk were clawing to put food on the table for their kids and bemoaning that the world was going to hell. The soft strums of Denver's twelve-string helped to quell the bitter bile that rose in people's throats.

The nineties were a blur. No one stood for anything. The nineties were a static line. Not bad; not necessarily good. They just existed.

I am a firm believer that the mood of the populace at any given time can be gleaned from its music. We are reflections of the life we live.

I hadn't yet turned thirty by 1984, so life was alive with possibilities and new wonders. I had two boys who were turning out quite nicely; I never had much money -- I had a little credit union account at the hospital where I worked, in which I would deposit a little money from each paycheck to save for our summer vacation, which invariably took place in the Black Hills of South Dakota -- camping in a pop-up trailer. Camping beneath the tall pines. Granted, I've always been a creature of habit, but if you find a place you love, why only visit it once? The blacktop on the way there was hot and dusty, our car had air conditioning that worked "sometimes" -- at least until it froze up and then we'd roll down the windows and let the hot breath of July whisk the sweat from our sunburned faces. We played Mad Libs, the boys tried their best to annoy one another; we joked and bantered.

And we had the music.

I expected this song to be the number one hit of 1984, as much as we heard it. I mean, as much as we heard it. Over and over and over again. But surprisingly, it was only number six. I eventually formed a raw hate for the song, but that happens anytime one is forced to listen to something ad nauseum. We didn't have choices; no iPods and certainly no cell phones. What? A phone one can take with you? When our camper blew a tire along Highway 83, we couldn't punch up a highway helper. Instead we limped along to the first town on the map; thumped rubber for eighteen miles 'til we got to a truck stop that, mercifully, had a tire in stock that fit. If Van Halen was playing on the radio somewhere along that eighteen-mile chug, I'm sure I punched a tiny fist-sized dent in the car speaker.


I loved Huey Lewis & The News. Huey always seemed to me like the accountant who got pulled onto the stage on karaoke night and was mortified, but decided to just go with it. And he knocked everybody out and found himself the talk of the office come Monday morning. "Who knew?" Good old Hugh from down the hall. The guy with the pocket protector!"

I don't get it, but this song was only number forty-four:




When I first saw this next video, I thought, "what a quirky girl!". Cyndi Lauper was definitely different. She wasn't Madonna (that's a good thing). She was her own self, and nobody was complaining (#15 on the year). Totally the vibe of the eighties:


Culture Club was certainly different, but that was a-okay. Boy George was a pretty girl; soft, feminine. It didn't even cross my mind to make any judgments. I liked their music. This song was number ten for the year:


Confession:  I never saw this movie. I may have seen a part of this movie, but never the whole thing. And that's just not like me. I'm all about guys dancing -- from Saturday Night Fever to Dirty Dancing to Grease. Men won't understand this, but women love to see a guy dancing. It's sexy, maybe because it's so rare. It takes an elegant confidence for a man to get out there and do it. John Travolta did it (twice), Patrick Swayze did it with awesomeness. And Kenny Loggins also did it (in the guise of Kevin Bacon):


And then there is this:


An aside -- practically every movie soundtrack from the eighties featured Kenny Loggins. It was decreed.

Ghostbusters:  Had to buy the t-shirts; my kids demanded them. The red circle crossing out the ghost in the middle. Ghostbusters was a touchstone of the eighties. I didn't get it then; later I watched the movie and still didn't get it. I love Bill Murray, but this movie is essentially lame. It has...count 'em...two laughs in its entirety. It was an eighties thing, which requires no explanation. It just was:


There are two artists who essentially dominated the eighties. Like 'em or loathe them; it's how it was. There are tons of hits from 1984 and I'm just scratching the surface, but let's give credit where it's due. And it's due here:


Courtney Cox was just some girl in a music video who was pulled onstage by Bruce Springsteen. Who knew she would later become mega-rich and would live on in reruns forever. Nevertheless, this video is about Bruce, not Courtney. And Bruce was, only after Lionel (sorry) almost the biggest name of the eighties:


Yep, somebody's sorely missing. Trouble is, he was pathologically private about sharing his music online. Sad for many reasons, but primarily because he had the biggest hit of 1984. I'll try next time around to find something of his to post. Or, failing that, maybe I'll just post his picture.

Nineteen eighty-four:  happiness.

It's gonna be a hard year to beat.













Friday, June 10, 2016

Hello!

Well, hello spammers! I'm curious -- do you get paid to spam blogs with comments? Or are you doing it for free? If you're not making some moolah for doing it, then shoot, that's just sad. Or are you not even a real live person?

I love comments, but I don't write in the hope that somebody's going to even read my posts, much less remark upon them. I honestly write for me. I used to get comments now and then, but Google has changed something -- in some mysterious way. Now the only comments I receive are from "Christy Blndrmoux" or someone with another made-up name; telling me how her cousin, twice-removed, made ten bazillion dollars by posting nonsensical comments on the net.

Or comments like:

"Entity, look within and empower yourself. How should you navigate this heroic grid? The quantum cycle is calling to you via molecular structures. Can you hear it?"

Well...thanks?

I'm guessing these "people" don't claim English as their first language. Or else they're Scientologists. I could go either way on that.

You robots or other-type aliens obviously don't care that you're pissing people off, who at first glance think, "Hey, I have a comment!" and then read it and realize it's someone who thinks they know English but who, for obvious reasons, got a failing grade in class. And then we have to go to the bother of marking it as spam and wistfully wishing a real live person would write something once that actually made sense.

I'm good with no comments....really. However, if you (and by "you", I mean a breathing human being) would like to say something, I'm on board! But if you're a badly-programmed automaton, can you please go bother someone else? Cuz I'm old and I am easily aggravated.

Thank you.




Saturday, June 4, 2016

1966 ~ Yes, There's More

I'm really not obsessed with the year 1966. Really. If I was asked which years in rock music were the best, nineteen sixty-six wouldn't be my first choice, or my third. As I mentioned at the beginning of these (now four!) posts, this whole thing was an experiment to prove my husband wrong, who opined that 1966 was the best year in music. I'm sure I mentioned that '66 wasn't a primo year in my life. If one was to choose an ideal time to be ripped away from everything familiar and thrust into a new town, new state, new school, the awkward adolescent years are probably not going to be anyone's first choice.

Maybe that's why I remember that year so well. It was a dichotomy ~ part of the year was sunshine; the other part was the ravages of hell. I eventually settled in, but I thank God for my transistor radio.

I probably mentioned that I relied upon my big brother for musical guidance. He had every album worth having, while little me had a pittance of 45's, which mostly consisted of the Beatles. And he guided me along; talked to me about music. Explained things. I never was a big question-asker,  because I didn't want to give myself away as a rube, but I wondered about things. Things like, can a group really name themselves after a punctuation mark?

Apparently so. Here is ? and the Mysterians:


My best friend and I used to comb the streets of our town, looking for eleven-year-old action.  The only "action" we could find was the local disc jockey doing a remote broadcast from a men's apparel store. But to us it was exciting, even though there were approximately three people inside the store. Plus the guy gave out free 45's. "Daydream" had been the perfect summer song for me. Lazy, like me. Lemonade and creme cookies on the front porch. But the Spoonful's next song was different; dissonant. (And of course there was Zal.) Cathy liked the track better than I did, but I eventually came around:


I don't exactly know how I missed the Rascals. Later, of course, when they were "Groovin," they could not be ignored. Hot sun on concrete, sunbathing by the pool, white-framed sunglasses shading my eyes. But that was '67. Thank goodness for retrospectives. And, no, it wasn't the Dr. Pepper commercial that turned me on to them:


I never actually liked Paul Revere & The Raiders for their music. I liked them for the posters I hung on my bedroom wall.  If you'd asked me what my favorite PR&TR song was, I would be struck dumb. I was an eleven-year-old fraud. Nevertheless, this was one I sort of knew:


You youngsters out there (as Ed Sullivan would say) probably think this song was a huge deal in 1966, seeing as how it's been used in the soundtrack of every teen movie since the eighties. But it actually wasn't.  It certainly was no "Born To Be Wild". I wonder whatever happened to the Troggs, but I don't wonder too much.


One of the actual documented incidences of someone from the sixties using the word "groovy" is contained herein. Contrary to popular myth, people didn't go around using the term "groovy". I, in fact, don't think I ever uttered it, and I grew up during that time. Regardless, who can forget Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders?


I'm sure there is a reason I remember the Hollies, I think it may be because of "The Air That I Breathe" or I'm guessing "Carrie Anne".  I liked both those songs a lot.  This one was okay, but it's their most remembered song, so who am I to judge (apparently)?



Tommy Roe. I wanted to say he's a product of the sixties, but then I realized I'm talking about the sixties.  Tommy Roe is sort of Lou Christie without the falsetto, so that gives him a leg up automatically. Let me just say that in 1973 Tommy had a song called, "Working Class Hero" that was completely different...and good! Really good.


One day I grew up. No, I wasn't necessarily hopeless about good music. "Eyes of a New York Woman" in 1968 was, and still is, pretty much untouchable. I didn't know much about Hank Williams except for Jambalaya. (I know much more now.) And I guess I didn't know that this was a Hank Williams song:


I'm going to close out 1966 (really) with the song that my husband feels is the best of the year. This song was written by Paul Simon. The track wouldn't have even been an ink blot on the folds of my memory, but since my husband started this whole thing, I think it's fitting that I finish it with his song. This is The Cyrkle:


Adieu, 1966. 

It was nice, yet scary and forbidding, to remember you.




















Wednesday, June 1, 2016

1966 In Music ~ The Quirky


The years 1966/1967 were transitional ones in the music industry. By 1968 one would never hear a song on the radio that wasn't "sanctioned" by the keepers of the groovy rock and roll flame. In 1966, still though, one could hear songs that didn't exactly fit the mold. That's probably why people of my generation have more eclectic musical tastes, whereas the current generation of radio listeners don't stray from their worthless pile of crap (oh sorry, editorializing again). It's why I can appreciate Frank Sinatra and the Glenn Miller Orchestra, in addition to Dwight Yoakam and the Beau Brummels (look it up).

So, while a wide swath of the year-end chart was filled with rock (or more correctly, pop) songs, a few strays managed to wander in.

And here they are:

This instrumental was recorded by a group called the T-Bones. Instrumentals were also a dying breed by this time. The last big instrumental hit I remember was in 1968, when the Ventures recorded the theme song for Hawaii Five-O.  Nevertheless, this is called "No Matter What Shape":


The main reason this track sticks with me is because it was also used in an Alka-Seltzer commercial. Yes, TV to a child of the sixties was like God speaking from heaven (sadly but truly).

Watch it here:


Remember Andy Williams? Yea, I don't much, either. He did a lot of Christmas specials and he introduced the Osmonds to a national viewing audience, but I never watched his show. Sorry, I did have to draw the line somewhere. I did like "Moon River", though. My main beef with Andy is that he recorded possibly the worst Christmas song of all time. Christmas songs are supposed to be pretty. This one was jazzy, and not in a good way. The sound system at my previous workplace used to play it at least five times a day, and I had to be restrained from smashing multiple computers. I deigned to never learn the name of the song and I hope I never have to hear it again.

Be that as it may, Andy had a hit with this next song in 1966. I'm tempted to say my seventh grade choir had to learn it - I could be wrong. We learned a lot of really bad, bad songs.


I always loved Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. So sue me. Herb had a great gig going for a few years, playing with his brass-mates. I bet he rolled in zillions (maybe not quite that many) dollars playing his trumpet. Later, unfortunately, someone convinced him he could sing, and he did "This Guy's In Love With You". Really painful. He redeemed himself, however, by forming A&M records with some guy whose name started with an "M"...Hold on....Jerry Moss. A&M Records is most famous for recording the Carpenters, and sadly, the Captain and Tennille. But let's get back to the Brass:

(Sorry, the only video I could find that wasn't a static picture was horrendous, so I went with the static picture).




How can that song not make you want to get up and do a mean syrtos, kalamatianos, pyrrhichios, hasapiko or sirtaki? (No clue, really, but thanks, Wikipedia!)

This next song isn't "quirky", but rather, "good". It was more of a surprise, because Bobby Darin was that finger-snapping guy who did "Mack The Knife". Yet here was a new Bobby Darin. Sadly, Bobby died young. But he left us with this:


Shockingly, a country song also made the Hot 100 in 1966. I would embed it here, but the only performance video is unembeddable (please tell me why).  Suffice it to say that "Almost Persuaded" by David Houston was apparently huge in not only country corners but on the mainstream charts as well. I attribute that to the piano riff, which will live in the memories of old folks like me forever. If you are interested in learning about David Houston (who also, like Bobby Darin, died far too young) and why this song was a hit, click here.

Nancy Sinatra tried hard to be a singer. She recorded a bunch of songs with Lee Hazlewood; songs that weren't bad. She wasn't a natural singer, but how many of us really are? Not me! And she managed to score a hit that will linger forever in campy history. I think I did a karaoke version of this once. I'm sure I was drinking....

Are ya ready, boots? Start walkin'! 


If a little kid can be jaded, I was soooo jaded about a Petula Clark song in 1964. I remember shopping with my mom ~ there weren't shopping malls then ~ you had to trundle out into the snow and enter the department store through a frosty glass door ~ and every display shelf where I lingered, I heard, When you're alone and life is making you lonely, you can always go..............downtown.

Okay! Dang! I got it! Geez, I just want to go home! Stop torturing me!

So, I may have a bit of a misplaced dislike for Petula. But she was actually a really good singer and it's time to get over it. So here's Petula's hit from 1966:


I admit, I always found Lou Christie to be..okay, creepy. A good falsetto I can appreciate. Heck, Frankie Valli made a living from it. Maybe it was the songs. The weird thing is, he recorded a song that I love love love, that I only found by watching the movie, "Rain Man". I've probably already featured "Beyond The Blue Horizon" once or twice or more in this blog. I don't get why Lou didn't do more songs like that. But let's go with the 1966 hit that I guess made him some good dough:


 Sam the Sham was a good moniker for someone whose real name was Domingo Samudio. Again, I was a kid, so I didn't know that sham meant "phony". He wore a turban, so I thought "sham" was some kind of royal title. Every frat house movie ever made puts more jingle into Domingo's pocket, because "Woolly Bully" is the ultimate party song. But that hit came before 1966. I bought this next single and I don't even know why, because I don't really care for it. Again, I apologize for the bad, out of sync video, but it's all I can find:


Okay, this (this!) was the number one song of 1966. I'm very patriotic but I'm also a music lover. It's a delicate balance. If you grew up around my time, all you heard was Viet Nam, Viet Nam. My big brother enlisted in the National Guard so he wouldn't have to go to Viet Nam. 

Da Nang, Saigon. The Ho Chi Minh Trail. It wasn't a Robin Williams movie. It was all a mistake, a blunder. Thousands of our finest men got killed for nothing. Nothing. And it was a reality that thundered in our ears, day by day by day. 

I became pen pals through one of those back-of-the-magazine ads, with a soldier who was deployed to Viet Nam. I was barely a teenager, and had no right to even pretend to understand what those guys were enduring. I hope he came home okay.

Sergeant Barry Sadler, who I don't know anything about but would like to learn, somehow, perhaps through serendipity, recorded this song. In 1966 everybody hated everybody ~ the hippies hated the old-timers and John Wayne sure as hell hated Jane Fonda. Everybody basically did.

As a music lover, I cringe at this song. As a patriot, I'm going to cut it some slack:


I didn't mean to get all heavy on a topic that was supposed to be fun. 1966 is a snapshot. It was what it was and we can nestle in its bubble and listen to the Monkees, or we can appreciate it for its jagged existence.

On the happy side, I appear to have missed some fine hits from 1966, so I just might do an addendum.  

Just to get out of this funk.

 






















Tuesday, May 31, 2016

1966 ~ Even More Music!


I was going to make this post about the bad hits of 1966. Well, not "bad", per se, but let's say "quirky" hits. Hits that don't really jibe with the 1966 vibe. The trouble is, I'm not done with the best ones yet; there are just too many. Maybe 1966 was better than my cloudy mind remembered.

I had one birthday party in my whole life. Yes, that's right. Kids were deprived back then. I invited every kid in my class, plus my cousins and of course my best friend, who didn't go to the same school as I. This next song created a bit of a tiff between my best friend and another friend from school (I really only had one "true" friend, but this was, I guess a friend-in-waiting, in case the main friend was unable to fulfill her duties.) Anyway, I had asked for a couple of 45's and when I opened this one from friend-in-waiting, I exclaimed, "Just what I wanted!" Well, this did not go over well with best friend, who complained, "I thought you wanted....". Despite hard feelings, I still love this song:


(Yes, Bill Medley had a career even before "Dirty Dancing".)

Another major milestone in my life was the appearance (on NBC) of this phenomenon. By then my family had moved to a new town and I was lonely. So these four became my confidants, unbeknownst to them. My husband and I watched an episode of their show recently and let me tell, you, it was truly awful. In 1966 I didn't care, though. I really only watched it for the music:




I wasn't cool back then. Part of it was because I was a kid. Partially it was because I didn't have enough money to be cool. I had a paltry record collection -- and by "record collection", I mean 45's. My brother had LP's; I only had about two LP's and that was because he bought them for me as gifts. So I didn't have the opportunity to become a sophisticated music connoisuer. One of the LP's my brother bought me, though, had this song on it, and it was sophisticated...well, more so than the Monkees:


The Mamas & The Papas boasted two things that no other group of that time can claim:  two of the best pop singers ever ~ Denny Doherty and Cass Elliot. (The third thing they probably wouldn't "boast" about is that -- I suspect -- Michelle Phillips' mic was always on the "off position.) Oh, and duh, John Phillips wrote the songs (hello!)

I always liked this next song when it came on our kitchen radio. I had absolutely no idea what it meant -- I didn't know why somebody had to stone somebody else. It seemed mean. But I guess that's what packed a punch for me; that and the sort of old-time raggedy piano.


My husband worships Bob Dylan like I worship Merle Haggard. But at least Merle had more than two hit songs. I know, intellectually, that Dylan is a great writer. We were watching a PBS special on the history of Duluth, Minnesota, and the narrator quoted some words about the city. I thought, wow, that says it so poetically. Then she said, "words written by Bob Dylan". So, yea, he can say things better than almost anybody. I give him that.

You know those groups that were always around but never got any respect? Well, here's one now. I think it's because their songs were so....rudimentary? But in 1966 - 1967 hardly anyone was bigger than Tommy James & The Shondells. Ever go to a bar with a juke box or to a wedding dance and not hear "Mony Mony"? I thought not. How about, "crimson and clover over and over"? Yea, so see? Tommy James was the master of repeating the same three or four words over and over and making them a hit. Thus:


Another artist my husband worships is another that I can take or leave. Sure, in 1965 this band had a huge hit song that was famous for its opening guitar riff. But I can count on one hand and have fingers left over, the number of Rolling Stones tracks I truly like. Sorry; that's just how it is. I like Ruby Tuesday and As Tears Go By. This one is...okay:


There's a reason I'm not including a live performance of this next song. There's just something about a seventy-year-old guy singing, "Devil With The Blue Dress". No offense to old dudes; I, too, am old. But you don't mess with my memories. Trust me on this: one could really do the jerk to this song, especially in front of the mirror. Here's Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels:


 I defy anyone to say this is not a great song. I have no idea who comprised the Left Banke; I really should research that one day. This is probably the worst quality video I've ever featured, and it cuts off before the end, but I work with what I've got. "Walk Away Renee":



Some 45's had special sleeves -- not the ones with the cutout in the middle, but ones with real technicolor photographs. I had one of those. It was for "Back In My Arms Again" and it featured three women in elegant long gowns. Kind of like this:


The Supremes had a relatively short shelf-life, but they were huge in their time. This song certainly wasn't my favorite of theirs, but 1966 is what 1966 is. 1964 to 1966 was The Supremes' two-year reign. After that, it all looked kind of irrelevant, like they were trying too hard.

The Turtles hadn't quite hit their stride yet in 1966. That would come a year later with a song that will live forever in the minds of Ferris Bueller fans and in the minds of people like me. I could never quite get a handle on the Turtles. They were like the IT guys in your company; the guys you call when something isn't functioning right, and they pick up the phone if they're not too engrossed in their video game. Then, at the Christmas party, they blow you away with their previously undisclosed awesomeness. That, in essence, is the Turtles.


I think (think!) I have exhausted the best of the best of 1966.

Next time, the quirky.