Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Hot fun in the summertime



Growing up in the 1960s, we looked forward to the Memorial Day weekend knowing cold weather was officially behind us and those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer were just around the corner.

 

That three-day weekend also signaled school was out, shorts were in, and the radio needed be cranked up high. Really high. Because the tunes blasting from our car and transistor speakers would become soundtrack of our lives from June till September.

 

Over that decade, we were fortunate to have an amazing array of songs to accompany us while having fun in the sun, cruising with friends, dancing, or maybe having a summer fling.


 

The best of those songs stay in our hearts forever and never grow old. I love “I Get Around” as much today as when I first heard it in 1964. They also bring back very vivid memories. I can almost hear the surf and smell the hot dogs sizzling when I listen to “Under the Boardwalk”.

 

Everyone has a cherished summer favorite. Here are a few of mine.  Did I miss one of your classics? Let me know.

 

In the meantime, during this most unusual and worrying summer, please practice social distancing. And don’t forget he Coppertone.

 

My 60s summer picks (in no particular order.)

 

1. “The Twist.”

 

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Chubby Checker’s catchy dance tune (originally recorded by Hank Ballard) was at the top of the charts throughout the summer of 1960. The dance became hugely popular because virtually anyone from kids to seniors could do it. It hit #1 in September and again in the winter of 1961. To my knowledge, it is the only song to hit #1 twice (using the original version).

 


2. “The Locomotion “by Little Eva

When the husband and wife songwriting team of Carole King and Gerry Goffin penned the song, they didn’t originally envision it as being an actual dance. Their baby sitter Eva Boyd recorded the song as a demo and later invented a dance she performed during personal appearances. It hit number one in July of 1962. After the song became a million seller, Little Eva gave up her babysitting job and bought a place of her own.

 

3. “I Get Around” by the Beach Boys

 

A single from the album All Summer Long, “I Get Around” is an irresistible mixture of surf guitars and doo-wop harmonies. The bass was played by a then-unknown studio musician named Glen Campbell. The song hit #1 in July of 1964. 

 

4. “The Letter” by the Boxtops

 

At 1:58, “The Letter” was the last #1 hit to be shorter than two minutes. It was at the top of the charts during the entire summer of 1967 and finally reached the top spot in September. It sold over 4 million copies.

 

 

5. “Hot Fun in the Summertime” by Sly and the Family Stone

 

First of the fall and then she goes back
Bye bye bye bye babe!
Them summer days, those summer days.”

Makes me think about going back to the University of Florida in September, saying goodbye to friends and home. What an exciting time that was for me.

 

 

 

6. “I Can’t Help Myself” (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch) by the Four Tops

 

This Holland-Dozier-Holland smash was the first Top 40 hit in England for the Four Tops. In the US, it hit Number One twice in the summer of 1965. It is one of the most popular Motown songs of the decade and for good reason. Try to listen and not sing along! The bracketed title 'Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch' appears only on certain oldie reissues of the single.

 

7. “Tossin’and Turnin” by Bobby Lewis

 

June 2, 1961 Bobby Lewis performed “Tossin’ and Turnin’” on American Bandstand. Within a few weeks it rose 34 spots on the charts to become #1. It stayed at the top for seven weeks and remained on the on the Billboard Top 100 for half a year. The lyrics talk about hearing the milkman at the door. The milkman may be a thing of the past, but this song never grows old.

 

8. “Summer in the City” by the Lovin Spoonful

 

During the summer of 1966 New York City experienced a brutal heatwave with temperatures that stayed above 90 degrees for more than 34 days. At the same time, the opposition to the Vietnam War was also reaching a boiling point with riots and protests breaking out across the country. “Summer in the City” was the perfect song for that moment in time. You can hear the street noise – car horns and jackhammers. You can almost feel the stifling heat. But New Yorker John Sebastian reassures us that “despite the heat, it will be all right.” The back of your neck may be dirty and gritty by day, but when the sun goes down, it is a different world.

 

9. “Under the Boardwalk” by the Drifters

 

Rolling Stone named it one of the top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. No argument here.

 

10. “Sunny Afternoon” by the Kinks

 

Released in June of 1966, the singer laments getting busted by the taxman and losing his girlfriend (who runs off to her ma and pa in his car). Poor thing can’t sail his yacht so all he has left is an ice cold beer and a sunny afternoon. Not too bad, actually!

 

 

11. “California Sun” by the Rivieras

 

A catchy one hit wonder that is as fun to listen to today as was back in 1964. Three dances of the day are mentioned: the twist, the shimmy and the fly.

 

12. “Theme from A Summer Place”

 

In the film, Sandra's hateful Mom wouldn't let her date Troy!

The instrumental by Percy Faith was part of the score for the movie A Summer Place starring Troy Donahue and Sandra Dee. It was the top selling single of 1960 (stayed at #1 for 9 weeks) and became the top instrumental for the entire decade of the 60s. It was also the first movie theme to win a Grammy for Record of the Year.

 




13.“Turn Down Day” by the Cyrkle

 

In my mind, it is perfect song about enjoying the summer even though problems and worries may be around the corner. The song was released in 1966 when Vietnam was on the minds of many. The lyrics tell us “things that are waiting to mess my mind will just have to wait till tomorrow.” So enjoy the moment while you can, then face what you have to when you have to.

 

 

14. “Palisades Park” by Freddy Cannon

 

Written by Chuck Barris (of Gong Show fame) the song featured some fun amusement park sound effects, screaming riders and a distinctive organ. It peaked at #3 in June 1962.

 

 

15. “Summer Breeze” by Seals and Crofts

 

Okay, so it is a 70s song, but it’s my blog and I’ll choose it if I want to! It’s a great feel good song describing peaceful contentment as a man comes home from work to find his love waiting for him with “not a care in the world.” I love that the jasmine is in bloom and “July is dressed up and playing her tune.” A perfect snapshot of a summer’s day.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Saturday, February 8, 2020

A Valentine from me and Motown


Sending all you oldies lovers a Valentine. Here is the article from Variety naming the top 60 Motown songs of all time. There were some great ones! I think my fave is "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" by David Ruffin. What is yours?

Sadly this survey kind of loses me in 1993. Just not the same as the old days. But then again I am a Golden Oldie myself.

Just click on this link and Enjoy!


Friday, November 1, 2019

Laugh, laugh some more!

Not a lot has changed in the world since I wrote Laugh, Laugh I Thought I'd Die last year. 

You can still turn on the news or open a paper and there isn't much to laugh about. If anything, things could be worse. Frankly, I'm so tired of depressing news my head wants to explode. 

So I did what I usually do when I need a break from stress and unpleasantness: I turn to music.

Over the years I've posted some music-related cartoons and jokes that have made me smile. Could you use a few more smiles just about now? 

I thought so. 

So here are some of my faves. 

                 Leave it to Mr. Spock to have the lyrics right!






                   Here are some others that tickled my funny bone.












The perfect cartoon for a former advertising copywriter!









                                      A few more funnies!












For all you "Sound of Music" fans.



Finally, I still laugh out loud every time I see this spoof on "Rikki, Don't Lose That Number." Ricky Ricardo had it all the time!!




                   Now, don't you feel better?? I thought you would.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Meeting the Beatles (55 years later)



On February 13, 1964, I was fortunate enough to snag a brief interview with the Beatles when they arrived at Miami International Airport to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show. I was 13 and star reporter for my junior high newspaper.


55 years later it is still a thrill to remember that amazing day. My school friends from way back when still talk about it. If you’d like to read the story, just click on this link to find the posting “I meet the Moptops.”


Who could have predicted what the Beatles would go on to accomplish? And how decades later, we would still adore the Fab Four.

Today there is even a Beatles Channel on Sirius XM radio. I recently listened to Peter Asher hosting a show where he played the Top 100 Beatle songs as voted by listeners in a survey. The stories he told about many of the songs were really cool. I wish I’d taken notes.

So, I decided to mark my interview anniversary by compiling a few interesting tidbits about the Beatles and their songs. I hope you enjoy them.


* The Beatles received $10,000 for performing three times on the Ed Sullivan Show. 


* Elvis Presley sent a congratulatory telegram to the Beatles before their first Sullivan appearance.

* A front-row ticket to the Beatles first American concert cost $4.

* Paul wrote “When I’m Sixty-Four” on his Dad’s piano when he was 16.

* John and Paul used to hang out in Woolton Cemetery in Liverpool. It adjoins St. Peter’s Church where the two first met. There were two headstones of note in the cemetery. One had the inscription Eleanor Rigby. A few yards to the right was a headstone for someone named McKenzie. According to Paul, the title character in the song “Eleanor Rigby” was originally going to be Daisey Hawkins. (Just doesn’t sound right, does it? “Daisey Hawkins picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been...”)
A Tommy Steele statue dedicated to Eleanor and "all the lonely people"

* Paul played the very inspiring piano opening on George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Eric Clapton played the guitar. George paid Eric back by co-writing the Cream hit “BADGE” under a pseudonym. 

* Mae West initially refused to have her image on the cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but changed her mind after receiving a personal letter from the band. Other famous women on the cover include Marilyn Monroe and Shirley Temple.  Elvis and Gandhi did not make the final cut. 

Who's who on the Sgt. Pepper cover (thank you whoever did this!)




* “Back in the USSR” caused a slight anti-Beatle backlash. The John Birch Society claimed it “encouraged communism.” Mike Love of the Beach Boys suggested Paul talk about girls around Russia like they had sung about girls across America in “California Girls.” It was Side 1, Track 1 on "The White Album." (Which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.)

* John was on acid when he wrote “I am the Walrus.” (Duh.)

* All four Beatles had to like a proposed song for it to be included in an album. If one didn’t fancy the tune, it could be vetoed.

* “Good Day Sunshine” was inspired by “Daydream” by the Lovin’ Spoonful. John and Paul were huge John Sebastian fans.


* “Here Comes the Sun” was written by George Harrison in Eric Clapton’s garden. George said it expressed his relief to be away from Beatle turmoil if only for a day.

* Paul McCartney’s “Blackbird” was inspired by Bach’s ‘Bourree in E Minor’. He recorded 32 takes and the final one was the keeper.


        * “The End” was the final song on the Beatles last recorded
album. Paul wrote these final words with Shakespeare in   mind. “I wanted it to end with a little meaningful couplet, so I followed the Bard and wrote a couplet.
              “And in the end the love you take
Is equal to the love you make.”
Thank you John, Paul, George and Ringo for a brief eight years (1962-1970) of amazing music. And a special thanks from a certain junior high reporter who took a risk and got the story of a lifetime.

I discovered a Beatles photo exhibit in Australia in 2011.

You can be sure I’ll be back to celebrate the 60th anniversary February 13, 2024. Mark your calendars and join me.

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.


P.S. On a different topic, I am really annoyed by the song writers/owners/whoever who sold out some great tunes to drug advertising like “Oh, Oh, Oh it’s Magic” performed by Pilot. And Michael Jackson’s “ABC.” They almost certainly be condemned to hang along with the “Ring Around the Collar” copy writer.






Saturday, November 24, 2018

Joy to the World (and I don't mean the Three Dog Night version)





Friends, I thought I'd share this posting again from two years ago. Enjoy and Merry Christmas to all!!


Not long ago I received a message from Facebook reminding me of a “memory”, a posting I’d written back in 2011.

In that posting I talked about a holiday special that was coming up – “ A Very Gaga Thanksgiving".  

Here was my comment from 2011: I guess I'm showing my age but I fondly recall the Perry Como specials. It wasn't Thanksgiving without Mr. C singing “Bless this House”.

For those of you who loved those programs as well, here's Perry's version of “O Holy Night”. With all due respect to Lady Gaga (and I do like many of her songs) I can’t imagine her doing justice to “There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays”.


Five years later I still love the traditional tunes from “Up on the Housetop” and “We Need a Little Christmas” to  “God Bless Ye Merry Gentlemen”. We used to sing these songs in school (again, I’m showing my age.)

But I also have come to love some of the new takes on old treasures. Who could resist Kermit the Frog belting out “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”?



Some newer songs and performers have joined my holiday playlist. I was blown away by Jordan Smith’s rendition of “Mary Did You Know” on The Voice last year. It literally gave me chills. Small wonder Jordan won the entire competition.


Perhaps my favorite of all time is a little known tune by Peter, Paul and Mary called “A ‘Soulin”. There’s just something about it that strikes a chord with me. Sorry for the poor video quality – simply close your eyes and listen.


You can find some lovely lyrics in holiday songs.  “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.” “Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow.”  “Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.”

And some dumb ones, like this line from “Little Saint Nick”: “Christmas comes this time each year.”


No matter what your musical tastes, we all have a favorite we long to hear every year.  What is your special song? Listen and enjoy because the season is short.


Have yourself a merry little Christmas.
 


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Laugh Laugh, I Thought I'd Die


Turn on the news or open a paper these days and there isn't much to laugh about. Frankly, I'm so tired of the bickering and lack of civility my head wants to explode. 

So I did what I usually do when I need a break from stress and unpleasantness: I turn to music.

Over the years I've posted some music-related cartoons and jokes that have made me smile. Could you use a smile just about now? 

I thought so. 

So here are a few of my faves beginning with an original Rick Kollinger cartoon he created for my piece about "MacArthur Park".  If you'd like to read the posting, here you go: http://www.wisdomoftheoldies.com/2015/01/




 Later, I spotted this lost and found ad:


Here are a few others that tickled my funny bone.


















And this just goes to show that what goes around, comes around.


Finally, I laughed out loud when I saw this spoof on "Rikki, Don't Lose That Number." Ricky Ricardo had it all the time!!



Now, don't you feel better?? I thought you would.