Friday, December 28, 2007


For those of you who operate on the Gregorian calendar (see my Dec 22nd post for further reference) here's wishing you a very happy New Year 2008! For those of you who use a different calendar than the one old Greg came up with, here's wishing you a very happy...regular day!! Starting on the first on January, we'll be back to our usual rock and roll oldies posts, starting a whole 'nother year of bringing you more about the GMOE (greatest music on earth). Meanwhile, like your mom told you, have a safe celebration, wear your seatbelt, don't drink and drive, or dance with a lampshade on your head.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Wishing a Happy Kwanzaa to all those of African heritage who are celebrating this warm family holiday! Here's a wonderful Xhosa lesson and song from Miriam Makeba - turn your speakers waaay up.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Well, my friends, here we are at the third and final of my special Holiday Posts for this season. In the New Year we'll be back to our regularly scheduled oldies blogging, but for now, it's time to par-tay!! In this post, we're going to acknowledge the spiritual celebrations, customs, and of course, the music from all the major belief systems in our great big ol' world. We have a lot that divides us these days, so my aim here is to find what unites us. Looks like a December whoop-up is pretty standard, no matter where you hail from. Just so you know, I've done my best to find YouTube vids that are directly connected to each festivity, but when that wasn't possible, I kind of faked it with something at least culturally relevant. I sincerely hope no one is offended. That said, here they are, listed in that politically and theologically neutral device: Alphabetical Order.

Atheists/Agnostics: Well, right off the bat, what kind of spiritual tradition are we going to find here? Hmmm. But I dug deep and found this delightful footage of Teegarden and Van Winkle doin' their bit hit, "God Love and Rock and Roll." To all of you out there who are on the A/A list, ya gotta love two outa three!

Buddhists: Dec. 8 is Bodhi Day, the celebration of the day when the Buddha became enlightened. Scroll down and read the comments posted at YouTube for a little enlightenment of your own as to what's going on. Okay, maybe this ain't the wildest celebration on our tour, but hey, after all that crazy dancing you just did to Teegarden and Van Winkle, it's kind of nice to sit this one out.

Christians: Dec 25 is the day most Christians celebrate the birth of the Baby Jesus. Those who are Eastern Orthodox wait til January 7th. It's a calendar thing, don't ask me to explain. When they say "you do the math" they aren't talking to me. Hope you enjoy the lively Christmas carol, performed by one of my favorite groups.

Hindus: Diwali in December? Well, that's another calendar issue, even more complicated that the previous. Plus, I have to admit that I don't think we can stretch this date out any later than Nov. 9th or so. Just think of it as the November pre-party. It's a Festival of Lights, celebrating the victory of Good over Evil. Right on!

Jews: Another Festival of Light, and a miracle at the darkest time of the year. It shifts dates too, but being an 8 day event, it usually catches a number of days in December. This happy number is brought to us by those spiritual party animals, the Barenaked Ladies.

Muslims: Dec 20 or thereabouts. This one shifts dates all throughout the Gregorian calendar year, because of the Islamic lunar reckoning that...where's my calculator?...oh forget it, I can't keep up, just take my word for it, it's in December, but just this year. Anyway, I didn't find any music per se, so let's go with a pretty one from Yusuf Islam, the former Cat Stevens.

Pagans: Dec 21 give or take. This is the Old world celebration of Yule, and the origin of those yummy frosted chocolate logs. It's also given us garlands of holly, bunches of (ahem) mistletoe, and, if I'm not mistaken, hot gin punch. Say, would anyone care for a little more roast boar?

Well, that's it, my friends, we hit all the major faith-based December celebrations, and the not-faith based, too. As you can see, the whole world is having a special time about one thing or another. There's just no reason on earth for us not to all get along, right?

Friday, December 21, 2007


Welcome to the Winter Solstice, the shortest day (sob) and longest night (sigh) of the year. But the good news is, after this we start to get some of that daylight back. Bring- it- on! The word "solstice" comes from two old Latin words: sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), which is exactly what the sun appears to do, briefly, twice a year. It's like that moment when you were a kid and you tossed a ball up in the air, and then (if you could have seen it in slo-mo) the ball stops going up and starts falling back towards your waiting Al Kaline mitt. Anyway, in honor of the occasion, here is one of my favorite songs. And I'm guessing it's a fave of yours too, little darlin'.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Here are a few of my favorite holiday albums. I'll post links for YouTube videos wherever possible, but you can always go to for the audio bites.

Classic Vintage Rock 'n' Roll

"A Christmas Gift for You" - Phil Spector.
Back when he was still the Boy Wonder.

"Christmas With The Beach Boys"

"The Jethro Tull Christmas Album"
(not really a cut from the album, but who doesn't get a charge out of watching Ian Anderson!)

Country and/or Bluegrass

"Christmas" Chris Isaak
(is he not one of the best musicians and funniest cut-ups on the planet??)

"Bluegrass and White Snow" Patty Loveless

"Light of the Stable" Emmylou Harris
No videos from this album posted, but I'll throw in one of Emmylou buckdancing, just to keep you in your happy place...


"A Winter Garden" and "To Drive the Cold Winter Away" Loreena McKennitt

Happy Listening to all!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

FEATURED ARTIST/RECORD: "Angel Baby" by Rosie & The Originals

After mentioning this song in my previous post, I decided to put the spotlight on this classic oldie, and the artist who sang it for us. "Angel Baby" may have been a one-hit-wonder, but it nevertheless put Rosie in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (she was the first Latina to have that honor) and left a little winged tattoo on the hearts of a lot of baby boomers, judging by the comments on various websites I've seen. The
"Readers Digest" condensed story goes like this: Coming from a musical family, Rosie had been performing since the tender age of 13 (back in the late 50s) when she lied about her age, dipped into her mom's makeup, and got herself a gig (when she was supposed to be babysitting) singing with some musicians. Later they went on to become Rosie and The Originals. Rosie wrote the lyrics to "Angel Baby" as a poem to a boy she was crushing on when she was a mere 14. Not long after that, Rosie and the group recorded "Angel Baby" in an old airplane hanger that happened to have some recording equipment in the corner (don't they all?). There they were: Rosie (check) the piano (check) guitar (check) drums (check) bass (check) and sax (ch...wait...where's Alfred??). Well, it seems that young Alfred's very strict mom wouldn't let him go until he finished his chores. But everybody else was there and all set to go. So, the guitarist just happened to know a teensy bit of sax (don't they all?) and gave a quick crash course to the bass player, and told him it was up to him to save the day. Gee, I wonder if he felt any pressure... Anyway, the resulting efforts on everyone's part sent "Angel Baby" to #5 in 1960. Recently I came across a quote from Rosie where she admitted that the sax playing wasn't the best in the world, and it really stunned me. I mean, that solo has always been one of my favorite musical moments ever. To me it would be like stumbling upon an old quote from Leonardo, saying "Oh that dumb Mona Lisa; I never did like the way that painting turned out!" Okay, maybe even to me (who is not, by any stretch of the imagination, musical) the sax did sound a bit wonky in places, but isn't that the complete and utter charm of it? I mean, wouldn't fancy studio production have taken away it's most endearing qualities? Personally, I love the whole heartfelt thing just the way it is. And, in case you didn't already know this, John Lennon agreed. He even recorded a cover of "Angel Baby" back in 1973, although I have to admit that, much as I like John Lennon, and really wanted to like his cover of "Angel Baby, " it just didn't do it for me. One other place you can find a cover is in a cameo by Jeanette Jurado, playing Rosie, in the 1996 movie "Mi Familia," and Rosie re-did the song herself with some nice Spanish lyrics, too. So there you have it - a salute to a great song, a terrific singer, and one very fearless sax player.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Last weekend, veteran heartthrob Lou Christie ("Lightning Strikes," "The Gypsy Cried" etcetc) was in concert in The D (aka Detroit) along with other vintage era greats. I happened to catch him interviewed just prior to the show, on my fave oldies radio station, WPON.* He talked with the DJ about the upcoming show and reminisced about the good old days. When they got to the topic of his big hits, Lou (who is one of the '60s falsetto kings) rather proudly (and why not!) mentioned that he can still sing those songs in the original key he recorded them in. Ho-lee!

Have you noticed, all you boomers out there, that your voices have changed? The men, it would seem, have gone through this once before in their lives, when they hit puberty and their voices "cracked." Now, it's happening to us all. For quite some time now I've noticed (in my car karaoke sessions) that I can't quite sing along with Cathy Jean on "Please Love Me forever" or with Rosie on "Angel Baby." Heck, I can barely keep up with Frankie Valli and Brian Wilson! Seems like these days I'm much more comfortable growling along with Jack Scott... All this reminds me of another interview I heard a few years ago, with Joni Mitchell ("Big Yellow Taxi"). She was lamenting the fact that people who attend her concerts still expect to hear her do all her early hits every time. She said it's not so much that she's tired of singing them (although she kinda is) but she said she can't reach those heights anymore. And I said to the radio, "Amen, sister!"

Now, I realize there's a perfectly natural physiological explanation for why this is happening. I mean, we're all "getting on" in life, and everything else is heading south, so why not the vocal cords, too? But still, it's unfair. Couldn't we be spared just this one thing? And while we're on the subject, couldn't just one little thing be getting better? And please don't write me that it's all compensated by the gaining of wisdom. Whoever thinks wisdom makes up for it has never tried to change a ceiling light bulb in tri-focals. Well, never mind, at least I still have my hearing, and my radio. And Lou... good on ya!

*WPON - a terrific oldies station at 1460 AM in the Detroit area, and live on the Internet at You should be listening!

Monday, December 10, 2007


Woo-hoo, Frat Rock. It's one of those music categories that is, one the one hand, just soooo accurate, while, on the other, it can be frustratingly broad. You can find the same bands and even the same songs listed in several different rock and pop genres; I guess it all depends on who's making the list. But generally, most people agree that Frat Rock is fast and furious, raw and raunchy, the forerunner of garage and punk, and the original you ain't makin' it to class in the morning rock and roll. As you might expect, Frat Rock takes its name from the party bands that played at '60s fraternity parties. At this point I have to tell you that I went to my share of frat parties back in my day, and while you wouldn't have called them conservative or sedate, there never was any live music. But there was always a good selection of records, so everyone managed very nicely. The following is my list (in no particular order) of standout Frat Rock numbers that I partied to.

"Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'" Crazy Elephant

"Let It All Hang Out" The Hombres

"Dirty Water" The Standells

"96 Tears" ? and The Mysterians

"Keep On Dancing" The Gentrys

"Hey Little Girl" The Syndicate of Sound

"Open Up Your Door" Richard and the Young Lions

"Farmer John" The Premiers

"Nobody But Me" The Human Beinz

"Time Won't Let Me" The Outsiders

"Louie Louie" The Kingsmen

"Hang On Sloopy" The McCoys

"Little Bit o' Soul" Music Explosion

And of course, just about anything by Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels

Thursday, December 6, 2007

FEATURE RECORD: ""Gone" - Joey Heatherton

Older baby boomers, no doubt especially the guys, will surely remember Joey Heatherton. Kind of a cross between Bardot and Ann-Margaret, her pouty babydoll face and to-die-for legs made her made her natural grist for the entertainment mill. As a dancer/singer, movie starlet, and frequent variety show guest, Joey was pretty much a house hold name from the late 50s through the 60s and 70s. Then, true to the industry's pattern of burn 'em and turn 'em - plus, I suppose, the rise of feminism and a shifting definition of female celebrity - she began to lose favor, and work, on the coast (but she still performed in Vegas and sporadically on the small screen). By the late 70s to early 80s she was already being parodied, on SCTV. Honestly, I'd forgotten all about her long before then.

"Gone" is one of those songs. Every once in a while I'd catch a bit of it on the airwaves, but somehow always managed to miss hearing who the artist was. Maybe I didn't recognize the voice, but I know a powerhouse performance when I hear one. Imagine my surprise when I finally heard it, start to finish, including the DJ's introduction. Joey Heatherton! Hey I remember her! I kind of felt the same was as I did when Meryl Streep knocked it out of the park at the end of "Postcards From the Edge." Who knew! (obviously not me). I checked with YouTube, and no one yet has posted a music vid of "Gone." There's a couple others of Joey singing and dancing, plus her Serta mattress commercials, but in my opinion in those she's "singing down," beneath her talent. And just for the record, I'd take "Gone" over "My Heart Will Go On" any day of the week.

Monday, December 3, 2007


Since my book "Papa Do Run" has gone out into the world on it's own, a couple of people have commented on the lack of anything much about the British Invasion, in particular, The Beatles. That's quite true. Other than a short song list in Chapter 1, there really isn't much. It's not that I don't care for the Fab Four and all the other Brit artists who became so wildly popular four decades ago. Or that I don't appreciate the huge influence they had on rock and pop music. I've got quite a few of them represented on my shelf - lots of Beatles, Stones, Kinks (big Kinks fan here) Manfred Mann, The Searchers, Herman Hermits, The Who, a compilation or two. It's just that originally, I was going to make the Brit Invasion the cut-off point for the material I wanted to cover. I defined the era I called "vintage" rock and roll as roughly the late 50s to the mid-60s. but I quickly realized I'd have to exclude way too much juicy homegrown music. So I started extending my self-imposed upper and lower limit, song by song, until before I knew it, I had a manuscript that was starting to look like the sequel to War and Peace, even without the Beatles et al. Thus, I afraid the Brits got left on the cutting-room floor, so to speak. Now, if I was writing a serious academic historical study of these years, where such weighty tomes are standard procedure, such an omission would be unthinkable. But I figured, Hey, who wants a light-hearted read-on-the-fly type book that they have to drag around in a grocery buggy! Anyway, now that I have this blog, it's the perfect place to pay some tribute to great British musical talent. The following is a list of some of my faves (in addition to the big guns mentioned above). And, as is my usual, some of them tend towards the slightly more rare, obscure, and lesser-known. What can I say, I always root for the underdog. Ready luv?

The Rockin' Berries - A very under-appreciated (in N. America at least) group (who incidentally took their name as a tribute to Chuck Berry) with a great lead falsetto. While a lots of artists over here began imitating the British sounds (like the Beau Brummels), the Berries were doing their own kind of Four Seasons blends. Their biggest US hits were covers of "He's in Town" and "Poor Man's Son." I like 'em!

The Zombies - Much more well-known, Zombies stylings often leaned a little more towards jazz, which made them stand out. But for all their great tunes, it's mainly the same three songs you still hear today, "Tell Her No," "She's Not There," and "Time of the Season."

The Swinging Blue Jeans - While the name of this band aways made me picture a laundry line, I sure liked dancing to their music. I think "Hippy Hippy Shake" was the first Brit Invasion 45 I ever bought. And we can't forget their Merseybeat cover of "Good Golly Miss Molly."

The Ivy League - For a long time I thought these guys were American. I mean, Ivy League? But they're not; they're from the good old UK, just like that other famous British band, The Nashville Teens. Go figure. The League's two big hits you still hear today are "Funny How Love Can Be" and "Tossing and Turning" (not a Bobby Lewis cover, but a totally different song).

The Nashville Teens - I have one word to say about them: Tobacco Road. Okay, so it's two words. This is a really terrific band, and even if "Tobacco Road" was all they did, it would be enough to place them very high in the pop pantheon.

The Honeycombs - These guys, um, guys and a girl (the drummer) were way up there back in the day, with hits all over the globe. Today they are remembered solely for their #5 US hit, "Have I the Right."

The Yardbirds - This band is famous not only for great R&B/psych music, but for launching the careers of Clapton, Beck and Page. Back in the 60s, The Yardbirds kind of had a rep for being the thinking man's rockers. Big hits were "Shapes of Things," "For Your Love," "Heart Full of Soul," and "Over Under Sideways Down."

Cilla Black - All that testosterone in those groups! It's time to mention one of my fave numbers by Cilla Black, "You're My World." She pretty much got beat out by Dionne Warwick over here, but at one time Cilla was the number two act in the UK, behind the Beatles.

Sandie Shaw - A lot of singers have covered "Always Something There to Remind Me" but for my nickel, Sandie Shaw's version is THE ONE. Her rendition of "Girl Don't Come" is very fine, too.

So there you go, all you birds and blokes, that's my Brit-Hit Parade. Hope it brought back some groovy memories for you. Say, whatever happened to that Union Jack T-shirt you used to have...?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

THE LINE - What is it' Where is it" How can we get one?

Okay, you've probably all heard the statistic about single women over a certain age, how we have a greater chance of being killed by terrorists - or was it being struck by lightning twice? - than we do of finding a boyfriend/getting married. Well, I can't speak for all the single boomer ladies out there, but in my later and unattached years, I have taken some comfort from that statistic. So when they announced that new research has shown that statistic isn't true after all, I kind of felt like it was the good news/bad news. I mean, now there may be a glimmer of hope, but it's not like guys suddenly have been lining up at the door. Hmmm. Lining up - that seemed to be the operative phrase, so I went in search of some answers, some advice, a solution. And of course the first place I went was to vintage Rock and Roll. If you can't find it there, then honey, it ain't been invented.

A quick check of my memory bank and I recalled that there may in fact be places where guys do line up. This is just the beginning of the list; I'm quite sure I will add to it after I've had my coffee.

The Drifters - "There Goes My Baby"
There goes my baby, movin' on down the line...
His girl has left him, and is off in search of someone new. Not far to go.

Bobby Vee - "Come Back When You Grow Up Girl"
I'd rather you get your very first heartache somewhere else along the line
Girl is too immature, and he's being very noble about it, keep moving...

The Orlons - "Crossfire"
...and I lost him in that big boss line.
Obviously, there's so many guys lined up here that the girl in the song has lost the one she came with!

Candy and The Kisses - "The 81" a big boss line...
It's starting to look like boss lines are our best bet...

So, single boomer gals everywhere, even from these few examples, I think it's clear that we need to find ourselves a Line. Maybe even a Boss one. The ball is totally in our court; the line has been drawn. We are in charge of our own destinies! Rock On!

Update: "Boss line" is also mentioned in Dee Dee Sharp's "Mashed Potato Time."
Update: Another line, this time in Fleetwood Mac's "Monday Morning"