MORE GOLDEN OLDIES

Last year on SERENDIPITY we gave you a 50th-anniversary look at my favorite songs of 1971. In case you missed it, we bring you another opportunity to sing along.

1971 Edition, part two, by Rich Paschall

We are glad to see you have returned to the “Admiral Halsey” gymnasium and auditorium for this week’s sock hop. “Maggie May” will be selling tickets if you did not get yours in advance, and Uncle Albert will be collecting them at the door. This dance is only for teenagers and adult chaperones so you will have to “Go Away, Little Girl.” “Amos Moses” will be guarding your smelly gym shoes until the last dance.

turntable

The entire Partridge Family will be in charge of concessions and would appreciate it if you all would stop calling them “Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves.” It might be “Just My Imagination” but we think they are “Sweet and Innocent.” You boys remember when you look at your date, “She’s a Lady” so be sure to “Treat Her Like A Lady.” And for you guys in the back, “Where Do I Begin?”

Paul and Linda McCartney

It’s a “Wild World” and “I Just Want To Celebrate.” “If You Could Read My Mind,” you would know we are getting ready for the Top Ten Countdown. “Me and Bobby McGee” are in the DJ booth. When you look at your friendly DJs remember, “You’ve Got A Friend.”  From up here, we see “Smiling Faces Sometimes,””Do You Know What I Mean?”  “I Feel The Earth Move” so we will start the countdown with this “Superstar:”

10. Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey, Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney. This is the first number-one hit for Paul after The Beatles. If the song sounds a bit disjointed, perhaps it is. It is allegedly some song fragments Paul put together as one. Uncle Albert may be an actual uncle of Paul, and Admiral Halsey is reported to be based on the American Admiral “Bull” Halsey.
09. For All We Know, The Carpenters. This is one of three Carpenters tunes that finished the year on the Billboard Year-End Hot 100. The song was written for the movie, Lovers and Other Strangers and performed by Larry Meredith. The Carpenters covered it to great success.
08. Ain’t No Sunshine, Bill Withers. It was the first hit for the singer-songwriter.  The unique feature of the song was repeating “I Know” 26 times in the middle of the song. He meant to write more lyrics for that part. Perhaps it is good that he did not.
07. Riders On The Storm, The Doors. This was reported to be the last song recorded by all four members of The Doors. That was December of 1970. It is believed that the title track of the album LA Woman was not finished until January of 1971, however, due to the difficulty of working with Jim Morrison.
06. Take Me Home, Country Roads, John Denver. This tune is so beloved in West Virginia that it became an official state anthem. It is also a karaoke favorite and I confess to singing it once or twice (or more).

05. It’s Too Late/I Feel The Earth Move, Carole King. Both sides of this record were A-sides. They topped the charts in February of 1971. King wrote the music and lyrics for I Feel The Earth Move while writing only the music for It’s Too Late. Toni Stern wrote the Lyrics. They are both on the critically acclaimed Tapestry album.

04. What’s Going On, Marvin Gaye. The song was written by Al Cleveland and by Renaldo Benson of the Four Tops, who turned it down. Benson gave it to Gaye who worked with it and produced it himself. It is considered one of the best R&B songs of all time.

03. If, Bread. This is basically all singer-songwriter David Gates. He produced the song and his group, Bread recorded it with Gates as the lead singer. It was a popular wedding song for decades.

02. Joy To The World, Three Dog Night. No, it is not the Christmas song. It was written by Hoyt Axton and taken to number 1 by the rock group. You might think the title is “Jeremiah Was A Bull Frog.” Our band did a Christmas Lunch for a Mothers’ Club at some point in the 70s and listed this as the last tune on the program of traditional Christmas music. We were young and we thought it was funny.  This is from Soundstage in 1975:

If you are from the midwest you probably know there is nothing like Chicago in Chicago.

Chicago the band

01. Beginnings / Colour My World, Chicago.  Beginnings was recorded for the band’s first album but failed to chart as a single. When the group found some success it was released again with Colour My World on the backside. It became a two-sided hit for the group. Here I am enjoying the band from my sit on the shore of Lake Michigan at Northerly Island, Chicago:

What is your 1971 number 1 song? To hear any song, click on the title, or to hear all 22 Golden Oldies, click on our playlist here.

See also: “GOLDEN OLDIES“, 1971 Edition, Part one, Serendipity, September 14, 2021.

GOLDEN OLDIES

Last year on SERENDIPITY we brought you a golden anniversary of 1971 Golden Oldies. It is time to give them another listen. Sing along!

1971 Edition, part one, by Rich Paschall

In 1971 you may have been reading The Pentagon Papers. You would have learned the government was actually lying to us. Richard Nixon, a Republican, was President. It made an unpopular war even more unpopular.

You may have visited the new Walt Disney World in Florida. Walt had been secretly buying up land since 1965. He died before the place was finished. Roy Disney, Walt’s older brother, took charge of the project. He died shortly after the theme park opened. Mickey Mouse lives on, along with a variety of Walt’s creations.

More likely you were at home watching Archie Bunker insult everyone on All In The Family on CBS. Flip Wilson put NBC into the number two spot while Marcus Welby, MD was making house calls on ABC. Matt Dillon was still seeing Gunsmoke on CBS and the Cartwrights were ruling the Ponderosa on Bonanza.

Gunsmoke

The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Here’s Lucy were tied for 10th place in the ratings, both for CBS. Lucille Ball was starring in her third consecutive hit series.  If it was comedy you wanted there was also Sanford and Son, The Partridge Family, and the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour.

Mannix, Cannon, Ironside, and The Mod Squad were solving crimes. The FBI, Adam-12, and Hawai Five-0 (the original starring Jack Lord) were out there keeping us safe. The NBC Mystery Movie also brought us some crime fighters.

Oldies

It was certainly a good year for music. When I finished my shortlist to bring you a Top Ten, I found I had a rather long list and could have made like Casey Kasem and brought you America’s Top 40. Musical acts could find their way onto one of several television Variety shows. Some popular television hosts of the 1960s carried on with annual specials. Perry Como had a regular television series from 1948 to 1967. From that point on he had one or more specials per year until 1986. In 1971, you could have heard him do this one:

20. It’s Impossible, Perry Como. Recorded and released in late 1970, it became Como’s first Top Ten hit in 12 years in February of 1971. He had many hits in his long career, but this would be his signature tune in the later years. It is the English adaptation of the Latin hit, Somos Novios.
19. Love Her Madly, The Doors. Lead singer Jim Morrison could not be any more different than Perry Como. The Doors rocked the charts a number of times in 1971. This was the first hit off the album L.A. Woman.
18. Proud Mary, Ike, and Tina Turner. The cover version of the Credence Clearwater Revival tune did almost as well. Tina Turner would continue to perform the song for decades to follow.
17. If You Really Love Me, Stevie Wonder. Singer and songwriter Stevie Wonder wrote the tune with his wife of the time, Syreeta Wright. Wonder played multiple instruments on the recording and Wright provided backup vocals.
16. Rainy Days and Mondays, The Carpenters. Admit it, you like The Carpenters. This one climbed to number 2 but could not overtake a Carole King hit. The Official Vevo music video has almost 44 million views.

15. Don’t Pull Your Love, Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds. OK, I thought the group’s name was based on newscasters of the day Joe Hamilton and Frank Reynolds. Maybe they thought of it, or maybe not but they are Dan Hamilton, Joe Frank Carollo, and Tommy Reynolds. Who knew?


14. It Don’t Come Easy, Ringo Starr.  George Harrison produced and played guitar on Ringo’s first hit after the Beatles. Richard Starkey is credited with songwriting. He may have gotten a little help from his friends.

13. That’s The Way I Always Heard It Should Be, Carly Simon. Jacob Brackman wrote the complex and emotional lyrics and Simon wrote the music. It was the first hit single from her debut album.

12. Never Can Say Goodbye, The Jackson 5. Yes, 12-year-old Michael is singing about love. This was a big hit for the group. In 1974 Gloria Gaynor would have a disco-style hit with the tune.

11. Superstar, The Carpenters.  The 1969 Delaney and Bonnie tune was reimagined by Richard Carpenter. His work received a Grammy nomination for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist. This one also went to number 2.

After that slow tune where you played snuggle bunny with a close friend, Marilyn is turning up the lights. That means the sock hop is over for this week. Garry has been guarding your shoes against the east wall. Don’t forget to take only yours on the way out. We will continue the countdown next time.

To hear any tune just click on the title. For the complete playlist of 1971 Golden Oldies, click here.

COVERING R&B MUSIC

The following thoughts appeared last year on SERENDIPITY.

Black artists and white singers, Rich Paschall

At the dawn of Rock and Roll in the 1950s and even into the early 1960s, it was not uncommon for white singers to cover African-American singers. Black artists did not get radio play on white radio stations. That shut them out of a lot of markets and kept much of America from hearing their songs. This opened the door wide for white singers to record songs heard only on black R&B stations, leaving the impression in many areas that they were the original artists.

DOT, a Memphis area record label founded in 1950, became big by hiring white singers to cover black songs. In fact, they made stars out of some of these singers. Among the biggest was Pat Boone, who you might see selling walk-in bathtubs these days. The crooner recorded Fats Domino’s 1955 song “Ain’t That a Shame,” which became a big hit. It had been suggested that Boone change the lyric to “Isn’t That A Shame,” perhaps to sound more “white.”  Fortunately, they resisted that bad idea. Boone followed with a number of covers that made him a household name. His next success was the Little Richard song, “Tutti Fruitti,” which Boone did not want to record. To Boone “it didn’t make sense” but he was talked into it and it went to number 12.  A song that went all the way to the top was “I Almost Lost My Mind,” originally by Ivory Joe Hunter. Nat King Cole even covered the song, but Boone had the hit. The main reason was that Boone got a lot of radio play. The others did not.

DOT made a star of Gale Storm when she covered the Smiley Lewis R&B hit, “I Hear You Knockin’.”  She also recorded “Why Do Fools Fall In Love?” Snooky Lanson and The Fontane Sisters benefited from the practice of covering other artists as well. Eventually, DOT cashed in off admitting to the practice with an album of 30 of these songs. “Cover to Cover,” includes 7 recordings by Pat Boone alone. It also includes a mediocre version of Chuck Berry’s Rock Classic, “Maybelline,” by Jim Lowe.

The white versions were generally slower and toned down in comparison to the R&B versions. They were playing to a different audience so they produced versions they thought would be more appealing to that audience. It was a sign of racially segregated times and something that would not happen now. Of course, there are still many covers, but for various other reasons.

When Elvis Presley hit the scene, he also brought with him his cover versions of older songs. His 1956 hit “Hound Dog,” was originally by Big Mama Thornton, but Elvis may have been influenced by the 1953 novelty version by Jack Granger and his Granger County Gang, aka Homer and Jethro. The 1954 hit, “That’s All Right,” belonged to Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup and was originally called “That’s All Right, Mama.”

One of the consequences of all these cover songs was they helped pave the way toward acceptance of this genre of music and eventually of some of the black artists who originated the songs.  Little Richard is said to have claimed that while teenagers and young music lovers may have had Pat Boone on top of their dressers, but they had “me in the drawer ’cause they liked my version better.” 

By the late 1950s, with the segregation of music dying out, the Doo-Wop group Little Anthony and the Imperials came along and started to hit the big time. While many of their early songs found great success for other artists, they found wider radio and television play than earlier Black R&B stars.

For a look at the Linda Ronstadt version of this song, see this past article.

IF THIS IS GOODBYE

Chicago and Brian Wilson have concluded their tour together for this summer. Chicago will be on tour again shortly with what will likely be a longer set. The following review of their 2022 stop in Chicago previously appeared on SERENDIPITY.

Brian Wilson and Chicago in concert, by Rich Paschall

Two headlining groups hit the road for a 25-city tour this summer. Since one of the headliners was Chicago, they of course came to Chicago. The other was Beach Boys’ founder Brian Wilson’s band featuring Al Jardine, another founding member, and Blondie Chaplin, a touring member of the Beach Boys in the 1970s. Matt Jardine, Al’s son, is also in the group and sang some of the songs the old timers would be hard pressed to sing. Someone has to do the high parts.

The 12-piece group included some musicians that have been touring with Wilson for quite some time. Musically they are quite tight. They provide the studio-quality sound Wilson prefers. Their set list is mostly a collection of Beach Boys hits, many written by Wilson himself.

While they have played together many times in recent years, this group did not exhibit the polish they have shown in the past. This could be due to Brian’s lack of involvement and the need to redistribute some of the singing assignments. The musicians are great, but there was certainly an inconsistency in the vocal quality of a few songs.

Brian Wilson has been to Chicago before. I saw him on the Beach Boys’ 50th Anniversary tour and a few times after that with his own band. Mike Love owns the name the Beach Boys and thus Brian and the other surviving Beach Boys can not use it.

Brian Wilson with Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin

In the past, Brian seemed quite engaged in the performances. At 80, Brian is clearly struggling. Reviewers along the tour seem to agree that you do not know from night to night how engaged Wilson will be. Wilson comes out on stage with the help of a walker and is assisted by two crew members. We could not see from our location if Brian was actually playing the white baby grand piano you see at his shows. Long-time Wilson assistant, singer, and keyboard player Darian Sahanaja had a clear view from Wilson’s right and could jump in as needed, as could Matt Jardine on vocals. Wilson only sang on a few songs. Despite the weak sound of his voice on his most praised song, God Only Knows, the audience rose to its feet following the tune. The quality was not important to the adoring fans. The fact that Wilson was there and performed his most revered hit was enough.

If Wilson is to continue after this summer’s tour, it is clear his health and focus will need to improve. If he has to say goodbye to Live concert performances, we can be grateful that he has given us so many hits to enjoy. Rather than anything from the current tour, I have chosen the nostalgic piece written by Wilson, Joe Thomas, and Jon Bon Jovi from 10 years ago:

The forever touring Chicago came through town again. I really can not say how many times I have seen them over the decades, but I can say they never disappoint. After Brian Wilson’s group played for an hour and a half and there was a half-hour intermission, Chicago went on to play a set that lasted almost two hours. We had no idea we were in for a four-hour concert experience. Both groups are headliners and gave us lengthy set lists. Wilson was to play 18 songs, while Chicago had 25 on their list with a couple of encore songs.

In recent years Chicago has undergone a number of lineup changes. Keith Howland broke his arm prior to the tour and decide to call it a day. Lou Pardini bowed out and thanked the group for “a great and wild ride.” Pardini is 70. As long as they can surround those great horn players with excellent musicians and singers, the group is likely to go on for a while.

Chicago, the band

Founding members James Pankow and Lee Loughnane on trombone and trumpet do not seem to have lost any of their energy as they played through a warm summer night. I did notice Pankow made a shirt change at one point in the evening. It had to be warm on stage. Sax and flute player Ray Herrmann rounds out that horn trio and the sound we have loved for decades.


The above was from my vantage point. It does not seem as easy to hold the camera steady as it used to.

Chicago played all the songs we would expect from the group. They also gave us one that appears on their new album. Yes, Chicago, Born For This Moment, aka Chicago 38, is their first studio album of all new material in 8 years. Why stop now? The 14-track, double LP will be out in October, but most of the songs are already posted by the band. You don’t have a turntable anymore? That’s OK, there is a CD, or you can stream it or just listen on YouTube. They are currently promoting the single, “If This Is Goodbye.”

James Pankow told us this was NOT goodbye and they would be through again next year. If you can keep writing great songs and delivering quality on stage, why say goodbye just yet?

DO YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?

Last year I posted my top ten songs of 1971 on SERENDIPITY. Here they are again in case you need another walk down memory lane.

One Hit Wonders, 1971 edition, by Rich Paschall

It’s another Golden Anniversary and we are here at the SERENDIPITY dance hall and tea room to bring you another top ten list of songs you may have forgotten, or perhaps never knew at all. Come on over in your Hot Rod Lincoln and Get It On. Mr. Big Stuff will be here and claims, “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing.” So have a piece of American Pie as we wait for Layla to show up.

Some lists will show you American Pie as the greatest One Hit Wonder of all time. The song certainly gave Don McLean a long career. I don’t consider it a one-hit-wonder because McLean also scored with Vincent (Starry, Starry Nights), even though it did not crack the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100. It did make number 1 in the UK.

You can also find “Layla” by Derek and the Dominos on the list. Let’s face it, the band was Eric Clapton and friends. Clapton was performing under another name for personal reasons, “We were a make-believe band. We were all hiding inside it.”  It didn’t last long and Clapton certainly had more hits, including a slower version of Layla.

record player

Two groups actually scored with “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony).” The Hillside Singers were the ones who appeared in the Coca-Cola commercial singing, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” instead.  It’s the real thing! The tune was so popular they released a version without the reference to Coke which became their one-hit-wonder. The New Seekers also released a version of the song.  Between the commercials and the radio play, you could not escape this song in 1971.

Now grab a twelve-ounce bottle of your favorite beverage and the countdown will begin.

10. One Toke Over The Line, Brewer and Shipley.  If it is 1971, we don’t have to explain this one to you. Apparently, no one explained it to the conservative Lawrence Welk when his group did it. Yes, there is a video that you can find HERE.
09. Help Me Make It Through The Night, Sammi Smith. The song was written and recorded in 1970 by Kris Kristofferson. At the end of the year, Smith released her version which climbed the charts in early 1971.
08. Do You Know What I Mean, Lee Michaels. When you see your girl stepping out with your best friend, it can hurt. Do you know what I mean? The song made it to number 6 on the Hot 100.
07. Funky Nassau, The Beginning of the End. The R&B hit has been recorded by a number of artists over the years and appeared in the 1998 Blues Brothers film.
06. Theme from Summer of 42, Peter Nero. The song was a hit, and so was the movie. The score was mostly composed by Michel Legrand, including the hit theme.

And now a word from the sponsor (not our sponsor, just a sponsor):

05. Theme from Love Story, Francis Lai. The movie was a three-hanky weeper and the theme song was a hit. Paramount felt the theme song needed lyrics and many recorded “Where Do I Begin.” Henry Mancini had a bigger hit with the instrumental theme, but we give you the original.

04. Sweet City Woman, The Stampeders. The Canadian rockers topped out at number 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100 but were number one in Canada.

03. Smiling Faces Sometimes, The Undisputed Truth. It may have sounded like a Temptations song to you.  In fact, the Temptations released another version earlier in 1971. This version made it to number 3.

Signs

02. Signs, Five Man Electric Band. Another Canadian rock group makes the list. This was a big hit in Canada, the US, and Australia. It was originally the B side of another song that did not do as well. Re-released as an A-side, it climbed the charts.

01. I’ve Found Someone Of My Own, The Free Movement.  This R&B hit could have made our Breaking Up playlist recently. We will finish with a slow dance, but you may not want to pick your “ex” for a partner.

To hear any of the one-hit wonders, click on the title. To hear the entire playlist, click HERE.

HURT SO BAD

Last summer on the SERENDIPITY website, we took the opportunity to update a short profile of a great American singer, Linda Ronstadt.

No silencing Linda Ronstadt

All through the 1970s, you could not leave your transistor radio on for long without hearing the distinctive voice of Linda Ronstadt.  She emerged from her early time with The Stone Poneys in the mid-’60s as broke, from paying for much of their third and final album, but with a solo career emerging.  Her cover of Mike Nesmith’s “Different Drum” became a hit and she was on her way.

After assembling a strong group of musicians and friends, she went ahead with both covers of songs from the 50s and ’60s as well as some new songs.  The combination brought her hit after hit and made her one of the best-selling female artists of all time.  She posted 10 top ten songs and one of her hottest was a cover of the Little Anthony and the Imperials’ song, Hurt So Bad,” which peaked in 1980.

In a career that lasted until 2011, Ronstadt sold over 100 million records and her voice can be heard on an astounding 120 albums.  She has an impressive collection of awards, including 12 Grammys.  She remained popular until her retirement in 2011 when she declared herself “100 percent retired.”  While some walk away from their careers as they get older, it is always somewhat of a surprise when a famous person retires.  You really expect them to come back at some point.  That was never going to happen for Ronstadt, at least not as a singer

The problem was she could no longer sing.  She was physically unable.  In 2012 she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and in August 2013 the news was stated publically.  Her induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame came too late in her career. In April 2014, the disease progressed to the point where she could not perform at her induction, or even attend.  Her friends took her place on stage, singing out her biggest hits in tribute.

In July 2014, President Obama handed out twelve 2013 National Medals of Arts and Humanities, including one for Linda Ronstadt.  This honor was not to be denied to her.  She was brought to Washington and wheeled into the East Room by a military aide, but she stood and walked up to the President of the United States to receive her award “for her one-of-a-kind voice and her decades of remarkable music.”  After the ceremony, President Obama admitted to the crowd,  “I told Linda Ronstadt I had a crush on her back in the day.”  It’s OK to admit that.  Millions of other boys did too.

In 2019 she received the Kennedy Center Honors and again made the trip to receive the award. Stars paid tribute.

As she has done a few times in recent years, Linda sat down at the Kennedy Center for an interview about her long and illustrious career. It was cut short by disease but she has expressed peace with all that she accomplished.

That same year she contributed comments to the documentary “Linda Ronstadt: The Sound Of My Voice.” She won another Grammy for Best Music Film. It was awarded at the 63rd Grammys in 2021. The presentation had been delayed by the Coronavirus.  In 2020 she worked on another documentary. “Linda and the Mockingbirds,” a road trip to Linda’s musical roots in Mexico. This month Linda Ronstadt turned 75.

IT’S HARD TO DO

This Breaking Up Top Ten appeared last year on SERENDIPITY.

Breaking Up

Nothing lasts forever. That includes relationships. Some may start out as a dream and end up as a nightmare. It may be easy to walk away from some, while in other cases it could be difficult and expensive. Here at the SERENDIPITY clinic and spa, we feel that music therapy can help you through a troublesome period. Therefore, we have come to you with another Top Ten list for the occasion. If clouds are forming on the horizon, we are here to help.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

We begin with an honorable mention. Few people have had hits with different versions of the same song. Our favorite octogenarian did that long ago with Breaking Up Is Hard To Do. Thirteen years after his chart-topping rock and roll version, he had another top ten hit with this song in 1975. Sedaka originally prepared the slower version for Lenny Welch in 1970.

When you are “Dreaming With A Broken Heart” (John Mayer) you may be asking “What About Us?” (Pink). “Someone Like You” (Adele) may just have to admit “I Can’t Make You Love Me” (Bonnie Raitt) if you don’t. It may seem like there “Ain’t No Sunshine” (Bill Withers) but you will be a “Survivor” (Destiny’s Child). Just “Let Her Go” (Passenger) and “Don’t Think Twice” (Bob Dylan). Our top ten list will be the “Best Thing” (Beyonce) to “Fix You” (Coldplay).

10. Hit The Road, Jack – Ray Charles. “I guess if you said so, I’ll have to pack my things and go.” The 1962 song picked up the Grammy for Best R&B Performance.
09. Cry Me A River – Justin Timberlake. No, it’s not the American standard many of us know, but it is the same sentiment.  “You must have me confused with some other guy, The bridges were burned, Now it’s your turn, to cry.”
08. Apologize –  One Republic. Sometimes it is “Too late to apologize” as the pop band pointed out in this 2007 hit song. “You tell me that you’re sorry, Didn’t think I’d turn around and say, That it’s too late to apologize, it’s too late.
07. Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac. The soap opera that is the long-time rock band has produced a lot of hit songs about their various relationships. This one is allegedly Lindsey Buckingham’s break-up song aimed at Stevie Nicks. The Top ten hit had Nicks on backup vocals.
06. Love Yourself – Justin Beiber.  Yes, the pop star keeps turning up on our lists. If you substitute the word “love” in the title with another four-letter word, you can probably get the gist of the true meaning of this 2015 hit song. “You think you broke my heart, oh girl for goodness sake, You think I’m crying on my own, well I ain’t.”

05. F Your Love – Darin. Sometimes you just have to say it.  Things do not always end well and you may feel like adding “Wish I could go back in time, And wipe all your kisses off.” The song was originally released in 2013. The official video was released in 2016. No, he doesn’t use the word you are thinking of, the video is strictly PG-13.

04. I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor. This 1978 disco mega-hit is not just a favorite dance tune, it is also one of the ultimate breakup songs. “I should have changed that stupid lock, I should have made you leave your key, If I’d known for just one second you’d be back to bother me.”

03. Cry Me A River – Julie London. The song was originally written with Ella Fitzgerald in mind, but London had a hit with it first in 1955. The popular tune has been recorded by a wide variety of singers, including Fitzgerald.

02. I Wanna Be Around – Tony Bennett. Sometimes what goes around, comes around. If you wait long enough karma might strike and give that certain someone what is due:
And that’s when I’ll discover that revenge is sweet
As I sit there applauding from a front-row seat
When somebody breaks your heart
Like you, like you broke mine

Neil Sedaka

01. Breaking Up Is Hard To Do – Neil Sedaka.  “Down dooby doo down down” OK, it did not have to make sense, it was early rock and roll. We could not leave you with slow or sad music, so we are bringing Neil back for an encore with the original version of the song. Sing along.  It will make you feel better.

To hear any song on YouTube, click on the title, or listen to the entire “Breaking Up” playlist here.

THE TIME IT IS TODAY

The following appeared last summer on SERENDIPITY:

For all of the 21st century so far, I have been looking for music with social relevance. Yes, there have been a few songs, but not much from my point of view. And who are the young writers contributing songs with meaning this century?  Neil Young, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, U2?  

Those guys are still at it, but in this era of social unrest, global pandemic, and political divide you might expect more young voices to be heard. Consider the list below. Will anyone give us such a list of songs today?

simon-garfunkle-greatest-hits-album-cover

Enter The Young, When Songs Had Meaning

1967-1971 protests at Columbia University in NYC

There was a time I will describe as late Beatles up to pre-disco when many songs had a deeper meaning, that is to say, a “social commentary”.  The air was filled with thoughtful and thought-provoking lyrics.  Some will argue that these songs helped to sway a nation toward greater equality and away from a war of questionable merits.  For a while, many songwriters abandoned “Ooh baby, baby,” to write about war, race, poverty, inhumanity, and life in the ghetto rather than life on the “easy street”.  This was the era in songwriting where the words were as important as the notes being played.

Here they come, yeah
Some are walking, some are riding
Here they come, yeah
And some are flying, some just gliding
Released after years of being kept in hiding
They’re climbing up the ladder rung by rung

Bob Dylan had been speaking to us for years, but suddenly so was McCartney and Lennon, then John Lennon on his own.  Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Carol King, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Curtis Mayfield, Lou Reed, and Marvin Gaye can all be added to the list and on and on.  There were many more with just a few hits but a big social impact.

Enter the young, yeah
Yeah, they’ve learned how to think
Enter the young, yeah
More than you think they think
Not only learned to think but to care
Not only learned to think but to dare

My absolute favorite among the thoughtful lyrics were those done by a group called The Association.  They are probably best known for their hit songs “Cherish,” “Windy” and “Along Comes Mary.”  These songs are filled with clever rhymes and many unique “plays on words.”  “Cherish” taught me I could rhyme that word with “perish” and I used it for a wedding lyric years later.

Yeah, here they come
Some with questions, some decisions
Here they come
And some with facts and some with visions

Of a place to multiply without the use of divisions
To win a prize that no one’s ever won

They also commented on society in songs like “The Time It Is Today,” “Enter the Young,” and the biting and rather haunting sounds of “Requiem For The Masses.”   It was filled with the symbolism of those that died for the red, white, and blue as well as dealing with the issues of race (“Black and white were the questions that so bothered him, he never asked, he was taught not to ask, but was on his lips as they buried him.) The hard-hitting song was the B-side of the pop hit, “Never My love.”

Here they come, yeah
Some are laughing, some are crying
Here they come
And some are doing, some are trying
Some are selling, some are buying
Some are living, some are dying
But demanding recognition one by one

They did get recognition, along with many other such groups, if only for a moment in musical history.  Where are the meaningful song lyrics of today?  I wonder.

Not only learned to think but to care
Not only learned to think but to dare

I wore out this album as I found every song to be worthy of constant replay.  I was a teenager, and I thought it was great.  All these years later, I still do.  I chose the video above as I could find no performance of this song except a weak cover version and this one rendered the best sound. Enter The Young by Terry Kirkman 1966 Beachwood Music Corp.

A VAST WASTELAND

Newton Minnow is still around and still has opinions on the value of television. The following ran last year on SERENDIPITY.

The State of Television, by Rich Paschall

When the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission spoke to the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington, DC, he began his speech as one might expect. He offered praise for the “noble profession” of broadcasting. He told the group, “When television is good, nothing — not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers — nothing is better.” It was a good beginning for the new Chairman giving his first speech. Then he added: “But when television is bad, nothing is worse.”

He challenged the group to watch their own channel, “and stay there, for a day, without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you.”  Then the Chairman offered his brutally honest opinion. “I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.” It is a line that has echoed through the FCC ever since.

In 1961 we had a 19-inch “portable” black and white television set. They called it portable because it had a handle on top so you could pick it up and carry it. It had a cathode ray picture tube along with a number of smaller tubes inside. It was really heavy. Putting a handle on top did not make it portable. We kept it on a TV stand with wheels. That’s what made it portable.

Our television received the three major networks via channels 2, 5, and 7. The local independent television station WGN-TV was on channel 9. It was particularly popular with us for covering Chicago Cubs and White Sox baseball home games. It also carried our favorite kids’ programs. There was Educational Television on Channel 11, a member station of National Education Television (NET). Channel 11 (WTTW) had limited broadcast hours. That was it. There were just 5 VHF channels, no cable, no satellite, and no internet.

The stations did not always come in clearly. This meant I had to get up and adjust the television antenna. After I got the picture to come in as good as possible, I would start to walk away from the TV, only to reverse course and adjust the “rabbit ears” some more.

Martin, Tennessee 1960s. The pole on the upper left is the antenna.

When my grandparents moved to Martin, Tennessee, they had to have a tall antenna to bring in stations from Paduch, Kentucky, and Cape Girardeau, Missouri. As long as CBS was clear, they were satisfied. My grandmother watched one soap opera in the afternoon and my grandfather watched Walter Cronkite in the evening. There was not much else to see in the “vast wasteland” of television as far as they were concerned.  Of course, in 1961 in the south, and for many years after, you could see The Porter Wagoner Show. I recall pretending to watch that a number of times, but I digress.

Newton Minow was a young lawyer and chair of the local NET station in Chicago when President John F. Kennedy appointed him to the Federal Communications Commission.  They felt strongly that television needed to be better, especially in the Cold War era. They also felt children’s programming needed to improve as well.

It was sixty years ago this month that Minow surprised the FCC with his honest assessments of the television industry. The “vast wasteland” speech generated a lot of publicity and some would say it changed television.  Well, it startled some executives, anyway.

Minow pushed the All-Stations Receivers Act in 1961 requiring all televisions sold in the US to receive UHF as well as VHF channels. This led to more stations. He also helped start non-profit educational television, which we know today as PBS. Minow thought his most important accomplishment was legislation that would pave the way for telecommunication satellites.  He told President Kennedy, “communications satellites will be much more important than sending man into space because they will send ideas into space.”

While Minow was exerting great influence over television, not everyone was fond of him as chairman. Years later it was noted that the creator of Gilligan’s Island named the shipwrecked boat the SS Minnow as a jab at Minow’s tenure.

So what does the telecommunications lawyer think of television today? He believes that because television is vaster it is less of a wasteland.  Nonetheless, there are problems today. “We’ve enlarged choice, and at the same time I think we have a serious problem in our news reporting where facts and opinion are mixed up together, where we no longer have agreement on what is a fact.” There is no such thing as “alternative” facts.

Minow believes the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated, requiring broadcasters to present both sides of an issue. “If you don’t agree on facts I don’t see how you can have a civilized discussion,” Minow said. Recent history will bear out the veracity of that statement.

Source: “The Scathing Speech That Made Television History,” by Lily Rothman, time.com, May 9, 2016.
Still a ‘Vast Wasteland’? Newton Minow Reflects on the State of Television,” by Marissa Nelson, news.wttw.com, May 10, 2021.

I’LL BE ALL IN CLOVER

The following appeared last Easter on SERENDIPITY.

It seems that it was good to be “all in clover” a century ago. It meant that you were doing quite well. Your cows were likely in a field of clover, not just some lousy grass or hay. They were eating well, and so were you, apparently. While I am “dressed to the nines” (another phrase that has gone out of use), you will be the grandest lady in the Easter Parade.  Don’t forget to wear your bonnet. You do have an Easter bonnet, don’t you?

Where’s the clover?

America’s grandest songwriter, Irving Berlin, had a song for every occasion. He made the most of quite a number of songs by recycling them through plays and movies. Easter Parade was no exception. In fact, the melody started out as another song. In 1917 Irving Berlin wrote “Smile and Show Your Dimple” to cheer up a girl whose man has gone off to war. That would be World War I. Click on the title if you really want to hear the song and corny lyrics.

In 1933 a reworked tune and new lyrics became “Easter Parade” for Marilyn Miller and Clifton Webb in the Broadway musical “As Thousands Cheer.”  It got its first movie home in 1938’s Alexander’s Ragtime Band, with Don Ameche singing and Tyrone Power pretending to lead the orchestra:

It famously came back around in the movie “Holiday Inn” in 1942. That film featured a song for every holiday. This time Bing Crosby did the honors.

Like other Berlin songs, this one was so popular it needed a whole movie built around it. “Easter Parade” stars Fred Astaire, and Judy Garland wears the Easter bonnet.

Others had a go at it too. Which one is best?