Sunday, November 14, 2021

What ever happened to Paul and Paula?


If you turned on the radio in late 1962 or early 1963, you almost certainly would have heard a young couple singing about their desire to tie the knot.


Hey, hey Paula, I want to marry you
Hey, hey Paula, no one else will ever do
I've waited so long for school to be through
Paula, I can't wait no more for you
My love, my love

Hey Paul, I've been waiting for you
Hey, hey, hey Paul, I want to marry you too
If you love me true, if you love me still
Our love will always be real
My love, my love


“Hey Paula” was a song recorded by the duo Ray Hildebrand and Jill Jackson. Hildebrand was a student at a small college in Texas and Jill was the niece of the owner of the boarding house where Ray lived.


“Hey Paula” sold 2 million records and remained the #1 tune on the Billboard Charts for the entire month of February, 1963. Evidently, Ray and Jill were never an item. But what about the young lovers in the song?


According to statistics, high school sweethearts who marry as teens have a 54% chance of their marriage lasting a decade. Only 19% of those teens ever attend college. So, it’s highly likely Paul and Paula went their separate ways by 1974. 


Still, it is one of those songs that makes you speculate about what may have happened.


For instance, Carol King in “It Might as Well Rain Until September” spends months sitting home writing letters, waiting for her sweetheart to return. But what if the unnamed boyfriend met someone else while away? Would Carol kick herself for frittering away an entire summer? 




In “Meet Me at Midnight Mary”, Mary’s Dad is the boss man who thinks her boyfriend is a total loser. But we learn she has married him anyway despite a potentially bleak future.



Soon as I have some money

For a home and everything
We won't have to keep it a secret
That you've got my wedding ring.


Boy, wait till Daddy finds out! Did her folks have the marriage annulled? Or did the newlywed work hard and become a big man in town?




Then there is Lesley Gore in “Judy’s Turn to Cry.” How long will it take for that fickle creep Johnny to turn his attention to some other cute chick?


We can only guess. So what do you think?


Are Paul and Paula somewhere looking forward to their 60th wedding anniversary? Or was their marriage on the rocks decades ago?


Chuck Berry had a more optimistic take on young love in “You Never Can Tell.”


It was a teenage wedding, and the old folks wished them well
You could see that Pierre did truly love the mademoiselle
And now the young monsieur and madame have rung the chapel bell
"C'est la vie", say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell.


Drop me a note if you get an invite to the P & P anniversary bash.



Monday, March 8, 2021

A second day the "music died. "


Over 60 years ago a tragedy struck the world of rock and roll when three of its brightest stars fell from the sky. It was February 3rd, 1959 when a plane carrying Buddy  Holly, Richie Valens and J.P. “the Big Bopper” Richardson crashed into an icy field in Iowa.


What greatness awaited Buddy Holly?


Valens was 17 and Richardson 28. Buddy Holly was only 22 but had already released three albums with hits including “Peggy Sue” and “That’ll be the Day”. His brief musical career influenced performers from the Beatles and Mick Jagger to Bruce Springsteen.


Small wonder February 3rd is often referred to (with inspiration from Don McLean) as “the day the music died.”


When you think of Buddy Holly, it is easy to wonder what might have been. Where would his unique talents have taken him?


This past February 3rd, I started thinking about another uniquely talented singer who left this earth far too soon: Jim Croce.


Just months after “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” hit the charts, Jim Croce died in a plane crash near Natchitoches, Louisiana. He was 30 years old. His first solo album had been released the year before and included the hits “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim”, “Operator” and “Time in a Bottle”.


Croce and son Adrian James

Croce had been trying to make it as a singer/songwriter since 1966. To make ends meet he often took odd jobs and was in the Army National Guard for a short time. After his son was born in 1971, he paid the bills driving trucks and working construction. During those days he wrote songs about unusual characters he met at bars and truck stops.


In fact, most of Croce’s songs were inspired by observing everyday life. During his stint in the Army he watched soldiers lined up to call home, often receiving “Dear John” news from girlfriends and wives. The result was the song “Operator (That’s Not the Way it Feels).”


Operator, well, could you help me place this call?
See, the number on the matchbook is old and faded
She's living in L. A. with my best old ex-friend Ray
Guy, she said she knew well and sometimes hated

-Jim Croce



The posthumous release of Croce's third album I Got a Name in December 1973 included three hits: "Workin' at the Car Wash Blues," "I'll Have to Say I Love You in a Song" and the title track. The cleverly written “Car Wash Blues” is one of my personal favorites.


Well, I had just got out from the county prison
Doin' ninety days for non-support
Tried to find me an executive position
But no matter how smooth I talked
They wouldn't listen to the fact that I was genius
The man say, "we got all that we can use"

Now I got them steadily depressin', low down mind messin'
Working at the car wash blues

                                                      -Jim Croce


“Time in a Bottle” is one of Croce’s most beloved songs. Interestingly, it was never intended to be a single. However, after his untimely death, the song was re-released and hit #1.


Time in a Bottle (music and lyrics)


As with Buddy Holly, it is easy to wonder what might have been. Thanks to so many of his thoughtful and engaging songs, he is remembered as one of the most superb songwriters and guitarists of his time.


But Croce’s future was about to take a dramatic turn before the plane crash. He found himself becoming increasingly homesick while touring. He wrote to wife Ingrid he had decided to take a break from music to be with the family. He wanted to write short stories and movie scripts for a living. Maybe pursue a master’s degree.


The letter arrived after his death.