Here’s wishing all of you out there in the Blogiverse the happiest of holidays. I want to take this opportunity to thank all those who stop by to have a read and a listen – you’re the best! I mean that sincerely. So don’t take it personally when I tell you that I’m taking a bit of a vacation from now until New Years. Will I be lounging on some beach? Schussing down a slope? No, and no. I’m planning on spending most of it finishing off the sequel to my first book of music trivia (the book for which this blog is named). I have one more chapter and some proofing left to do, and I just need to buckle down. So until we meet again on January the first, 2009, I’ll leave you with a couple of vintage tidbits.
For Christmas, here is the Singing Cowboy, Gene Autry, with one of my very favorite Christmas songs, “Thirty Two Feet and Eight Little Tails of White.” (date unknown but probably the somewhere in the 50s)
And for New Years, here a clip from Dick Clark’s “New Years Rock’ Eve.” It’s the earliest one I found on YouTube, dating back to 1985. As Dick says, it was already the 13th annual NYRE, which puts the starting date back to (where’s my abacus) 1972! Too bad we don’t have a clip of that one, but you’ll still get a hoot out of all the “big stars” that were part of the entertainment lineup. Ah, where are they now…
Photos from Shutterstock Videos from 1)mummysrus 2) PHILLYmediaWATCH
Ah, the sixties. Nothing like it for sheer style and entertainment. If you don't believe me, just feast your eyes on this little production - a mini-skirted Mitzi Gaynor with a delightful foot-stompin' finger-poppin' version of "We Need a Little Christmas" (from the Broadway show, Mame). Is this not retro-tastic! I'm a big Mitzi Gaynor fan, starting with her film role in South Pacific. Apparently she will be touring a show in 2009 in North America, so we're in for a treat.
This clip is from Mitzi's 1967 TV special, The Mitzi Gaynor Christmas Show.
Video by YT member MissMitziGaynor Photo of my tree!
I was visiting someone's blog this morning, totally unconnected to oldies or music in general, but the blogger did ask visitors to leave the title of their favorite rain song in their comment. That got me thinking about what my favorite rain song might be. I like rain, and I like rain songs. So, here, in no particular order, is my list of top vintage rain songs, plus a video of Ronettes photos accompanying their 1964 hit, "Walking in the Rain." See how many of these songs jog your memory. What favorites would you add that I don't have?
1) Walking in the Rain - The Ronettes 2) Raindrops - Dee Clark 3) Rain on the Roof - The Lovin' Spoonful 4) Riders on the Storm - The Doors 5) Rhapsody in the Rain - Lou Christie 6) Rhythm of the Rain - The Cascades 7) Cryin' in the Rain - The Everly Brothers 8) I Wish It Would Rain - The Temptations 9) Lay Down (Candles in the Rain) - Melanie 10) Who'll Stop The Rain - CCR
Okay, here the girls...
Video by YT member JKRXBACK Photo - my back yard, aka Lake Erie
Now, please don’t get upset with me if you really love this song. I don’t mind if myself. Honest. But if we can’t make fun of the things we love and/or don’t mind once in a while, then what’s the point of even getting out of bed in the morning, right? So, while we’re in the make-fun mode, let’s be brutally honest. Hasn’t this song always reminded you of some of life’s more distressing moments? Moments like: 1) your 10-year high school reunion, which actually took place in the same smelly old scuff-marked gym (who's bright idea was that?) and for which someone hired your best buddy’s "cover band" who (you finally admit it) sucked back in the day, and have only played together twice since graduation 2) all the really ugly bridesmaid dresses you ever danced in at weddings with really bad cover bands 3) taking that sweet, special someone to “Reservoir Dogs” without knowing anything about it first 4) dateless nights spent with a bag of microwave popcorn watching episodes of Ally McBeal with that creepy dancing baby 4) Listerine commercial flashbacks 5) David Hasselhoff flashbacks.
Enough of that.
I guess you could say that this song is deeply embedded in popular culture. It was initially recorded in 1969 by B.J. Thomas (accompanied by that funky electric sitar) but it’s the cover by the group Blue Swede (from Sweden, surprise!) with that opening chorus of (spellings vary) “ooga chukka, ooga chukka” that cemented this song’s (along with our own) fate. Below are two videos of "Hooked on a Feeling" for your nostalgic listening pleasure/pain. One is a kind of trippy visual tour of a jukebox that Quentin Tarantino would no doubt appreciate. The second, which is mercifully very short, is of the dancing baby. Where will this song turn up next?
Videos by YT members pigmygoatzdotcom (jukebox) and bwair (baby) Photo at www.maurine.com//baby.htm (in case you are a total retro addict and just have to have this as your screensaver)
It looks like Dee-troit, the Motor City, my beloved home town, is one baby step closer to getting some cash. So, I figured, whatever your politics may be, what better segway is there for listening to one of the truly great car songs of the vintage era - "Little Duece Coupe" by The Beach Boys. And, if you'll permit me to brag just a teensy-weensy little bit, I can sing along with this song without missing a word, I am so completely down with the lyrics. If you happened to have read the book for which this blog is named (hey, a little self-promotion never hurt anybody) then you may recall the section on car songs, and "hot rod porn" in particular. The Beach Boys were responsible for a good deal of it, but not all. But... "porn" you say? Oh yeah. Some of those cars songs from the '60s had really technical automobile parts lyrics - songs that lovingly mentioning all the tricked-out features of the singer's car, designed to make teen guys' hearts beat fast just hearing those sexy words. You still think I'm exaggerating? Check out these lines from "409"...
To get the traction I'm ridin' the clutch My pressure plate's burnin' my machine's too much
He's hot with ram induction but it's understood I got a fuel injected engine sittin' under my hood
Oh baby! Okay, let's cool off and take a trip back to yesteryear, and listen to "Little Deuce Coupe." As you know, I often look for vintage performances when searching YouTube, but this one caught my eye. It's "Little Deuce Coupe" set to scenes from the modern classic movie (and another big fave of mine) Men In Black.
Video by YT member DoctorDeath88 Photo is of my baby, nicknamed The O.C. (for Orange Crush). It's a '65.
Dennis Yost, the gentle-voiced lead singer of the Classics IV (and a Detroit native) has died at the age of 65. The Classics IV had a number of 1960s hits, famously including "Spooky," "Stormy" and the sweetly sad "Traces." Who didn't recall a face or two listening to that one? Thanks for the music, Dennis.
Recently, I was watching an episode of the new show, Crash (spin-off of sorts of the movie by the same name. Not the one by Cronenberg. I mean the Crash that got best picture in ’05. At the end they played a song that had me jotting down lyrics as quickly as possible so I might have a chance of finding out what it was. After a short search, I lucked out and arrived on the musical doorstep of a Detroit group called The Go. Who knew? Well, since they already have a good rep across the States, and have at least three albums out, the answer to that question is, "Not me!"
Part of the reason for this lapse is that these days I’ve pretty much given up on contemporary pop music. If I’m not listening to my vintage oldies, I’m sticking pretty close to the alt folk and/or alt country scene – Neko Case, Cat Power, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, the Be Good Tanyas – and pop like Coldplay and Five for Fighting. No pop princesses, no Fitty, no Diddy. I don’t look down on those who like it; it’s just not for me. So imagine my surprise when I heard The Go. I felt like everything was going to be all right again.
The Go have been compared to many 60s and 70s classic bands. I hear hints from the Stones, Hendrix, some early 60s rock and even early Beatles. Oh, and throw in a little T-Rex while we’re at it. The list goes on; everybody hears something of his or her personal favorites, too. But The Go’s music can’t be dismissed as simply derivative. Their not just retreads of the golden oldies. This stuff manages to kick out the jams 21st Century style while still sounding like an album you could have, would have, bought and worn out on your record player decades ago. The song that I heard on Crash is called “So Long Johnny” from the album Howl On The Haunted Beat You Ride. Hmmm, I wish they would’ve consulted me before they went with that title… Oh well, anyway, a video of the song “So Long Johnny” is on YouTube twice, but they are both such shakey recordings, musically and visually, I don’t feel right about posting them here as an example for you, my valued readers. Obviously you can check it out for yourselves if so inclined. I will put in a URL to Amazon.com so you can hear clips of each song on the album.
The other day when I was listening to the oldies station on my dish, they played Jackie Wilson’s hit, “Reet Petite.” Great song! It reminded me of when I was researching one of the chapters in my soon-to-be-published (fall of ’09) second book of music trivia, and was looking up the term “reet.” Reet, it turns out, is just a slangy jazz-era way of saying “right.” So, when Jackie sings, “She’s all right” and “reet petite” he’s really saying pretty much the same thing. But the ladies aren’t the only gender that employs the word reet. Reet is also applied to the special pleats in men’s zoot suit pants in the same jazz era. Ah, those were the days. Of course, in African-American culture, zoot suits and reet pleats are making a comeback, if they ever really went that far away. So look for males to be once again bedecked in the glory that is, to quote the lyrics from the musical Hair (see video below) the birthright of their sex. In other species males have the grandest plumage, the manes, the antlers etc. It’s only we humans where the males stick to those gray 6-piece suits all the time. But I digress. I think we should not only bring back the fashion of the era, but the slang as well.
So, I want to start hearing some reets out there. You can rhyme it up the way Jackie does. Like, “That is one reet sweet new pair of hip-waders you got there Bob” “Thanks, Phil. My Gladys got ‘em for me; I tell you that woman is reet petite and out of seet”
Okay, just don’t get too carried away.
Here he is, Mr. Entertainment, Jackie Wilson.
And here also, for your interest, is "My Conviction” from the 1960s musical Hair.
Photo from http://images.buycostumes.com Jackie Wilson video by YT member oldies55 Hair video by YT member ObsessiveBeatles
Another great voice of our times, often referred to as the "Voice of the Civil Rights Movement" is stilled with the passing of the legendary Odetta. Older baby boomers will remember her for her stirring folk songs that influenced all the early balladeers like Dylan and Baez, and for giving voice to black American folk, blues, and spirituals. In her later career, she broadened her repertoire to include jazz stylings, and some acting.
Photo from WIkimedia Commons Video by YT member shariksharik
In my travels around the www I recently discovered a tiny little news item; it would have been easy to miss, but... Cincinnati station WBQC-TV (Channel 38) has officially changed it’s call letters to WKRP, to celebrate going digital. As someone who never missed an episode of the original show, I think that’s very newsworthy. Unfortunately for the newly-renamed station, reruns of the original show (which ran from 1978-1982 plus a brief rehash from 1991-93) are only available for cable, so that means the WKRP-TV in Cincinnati won’t actually be showing episodes of WKRP in Cincinnati on TV. Plus, it is apparently a very low-power station, so I doubt it would make it all the way across the lake to me anyway. That’s doubly too bad.
I remember the original WKRP fondly, with its list of supremely wacky characters. And you won’t be surprised to learn that my favorite was Dr. Johnny Fever, the brunt-out acid-flashbacking disco-hating ‘60s DJ, who addressed his listeners as “my fellow babies” – played to perfection by Howard Hesseman. And I loved that we’d hear snippets of my favorite oldies during the show. Now that I think of it, I have a couple of channels on my dish that recycle old shows (Beaver, Andy Griffith, Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley) so I’m going to have to look for WKRP. Meanwhile, the opening credits ought to take you back...
Video by YT member vhsrobot Photo at http://blueopossum.homestead.com
I'm a baby boomer who grew up dancing in the streets of Detroit during the classic Motown years, lived beside the Rocky Mountains for many years, now retired and living (and writing full time) in S. Ontario. I have one blog for rock 'n' roll oldies, and one for nature, poetry and life along the Lake.