Archive for the ‘Video’ Category

What’s At No. 100? (October 10, 1970)

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

Time for another episode of What’s At No. 100? Today’s date – 10/10 – pretty much begged for that, and a quick look at my files of the Billboard Hot 100 showed that during the years we’re pretty much interested in around here, only twice did a Hot 100 get published on October 10.

The first was in 1964, and the second was in 1970. Now, the former of those two years would be a fun year to go digging around in, but the latter, well, anyone who knows me is aware that 1970 is a rich vein of gold in the mine of my memory. But before we go deep into the Hot 100 published forty-eight years ago today – and can it really be that long ago? – let’s look at that week’s Top Ten:

“Cracklin’ Rosie” by Neil Diamond
“I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5
“Candida” by Dawn
“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross
“All Right Now” by Free
“Julie Do Ya Love Me” by Bobby Sherman
“Lookin’ Out My Back Door/Long As I Can See The Light” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Green-Eyed Lady” by Sugarloaf
“We’ve Only Just Begun” by the Carpenters
“(I Know) I’m Losing You” by Rare Earth

Now there’s a fine forty minutes or so of late-night listening, perhaps after minimal attention to the demands of my senior-year classes or maybe after a football game. There’s nothing there that would make me move the tuner dial or hit the button in the car in search of better sounds. I did like the B-side of the CCR record better than that A-side, which has always seemed just a little bit silly.

And, as often happens, I’m a little startled to see Sugarloaf’s “Green-Eyed Lady” in 1970. The record always sounds to me – nearly a half-century distant from those radio waves – as if it should fall in 1976, where it would be, for some reason, a companion piece to Lighthouse’s “One Fine Morning.” (It works the other way, too: When “One Fine Morning” pops up in my listening routine, I always think it belongs in 1970, next to the Sugarloaf single, or the longer album track.)

A thought occurred to me as I write this: As my late-night listening in the autumn of my senior year of high school came from WLS in distant Chicago, what did that station have as its Top Ten as October 10 passed by? The answer comes from Oldiesloon:

“Cracklin’ Rosie”
“All Right Now”
“I’ll Be There”
“Indiana Wants Me” by R. Dean Taylor
“Candida”
“Do What You Want To Do” by Five Flights Up
“Out In The Country” by Three Dog Night
“Looking Out My Back Door”
“(I Know) I’m Losing You”
“Julie, Do Ya Love Me”

Not all that different. Two of the three listed in the WLS Top Ten and not in the Billboard Top Ten are familiar. The Three Dog Night single is a favorite, but I can live without R. Dean Taylor’s hit (although I kind of liked it back then). I didn’t recognize by its title the record by Five Flights Up, but as soon as I heard the chorus this morning, it came back to me. I never heard it much – not surprising, as it only got to No. 37 in the Hot 100. And a quick glance at Oldiesloon makes me think that the record never reached the surveys of either of the Twin Cities’ Top 40 stations, KDWB or WDGY.

We’ll end the Chicago digression and get back to our business here, which is heading toward the bottom of that Hot 100 from  October 10, 1970, and seeing what’s at No. 100. And we run into a tuneful, tough and clanking instrumental by Brian Auger & The Trinity: “Listen Here.”

Not long ago, as our pal jb was visiting St. Cloud and we were driving near the St. Cloud State campus, a track by Auger with vocals by Julie Driscoll came on the car radio courtesy of WXGY in nearby Sauk Rapids. It was, I think, “Season Of The Witch.” (It could have been “Road To Cairo” or “This Wheel’s On Fire.”) And jb, who hangs his blogging hat at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’, motioned to the speaker and said something like “This stuff is almost forgotten, and I cannot figure out why!”

Nor can I.

“Listen Here” showed up as a nine minute-plus version on Befour, a 1970 album by Auger and his band. I don’t know if the single is an edit, a shortened remix or an entirely different recording, but here it is. It spent two weeks at No. 100, and was the only record Auger ever got into the Hot 100 (although the previously mentioned “This Wheel’s On Fire” – with vocals by Driscoll – Bubbled Under for four weeks and got to No. 106).

Imprinted

Friday, October 5th, 2018

So last evening, as the small music group from our Unitarian-Universalist fellowship got some music ready for Sunday, our conversations wandered all over our musical landscapes. Three of us are about the same age, and we know pretty much the same songs (although the other two have a better grasp on folk while I know more pop and rock). Our occasional old fogeyness is leavened by our fourth member, who is a graduate student in her twenties.

Anyway, we were working on a couple of tunes to accompany a program on a local social justice initiative. We settled on Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” and “The Hammer Song (If I Had A Hammer),” written, of course, by Pete Seeger although we’re performing it more in the style of Peter, Paul & Mary. And we came to a quandary as we worked on the latter.

I was running through the chords on the keyboard, playing from memory and by ear while Jane was following along with guitar, using the chord sheet she’d found in her binder. And at one point, we were playing different chords. So I pulled out my phone to jump onto YouTube to give a listen to Peter, Paul & Mary.

“It’s going to be in a different key,” said Tom, who was working out a bass line for the song.

“I’ll still be able to tell if they’re going to the tonic or to the dominant,” I said. (I’m kind of the music theory geek among the bunch.) And we soon found that the chords on Jane’s sheet were right and my ears (and memory) had been in error. And along the way we ran across Trini Lopez’ 1963 version of the Seeger song, a very rapid live version that went to No. 3 in the Billboard Hot 100.

I laughed, telling the others that I have the 45, which came to me from my sister. She got it in 1963 from one of those grab bags you could get at record stores, something like twelve records for a buck. And I mentioned that I liked the flip side – Lopez’ take on “Unchain My Heart” a little bit better.

Then we went back to work, getting a handle on the two songs for this coming Sunday. We’re still a little shaky on “Stand By Me,” but we’re okay on “If I Had A Hammer.” As we began to pack away guitars and close up the keyboard, our young friend Cassie headed out for home and sleep – a precious commodity for a grad student.

The rest of us chatted for a few minutes. We talked about our early records: children’s 78s, classical 78s and early 45s. Jane recalled having a copy of Sheb Wooley’s “The Purple People Eater” (No. 1 for six weeks in 1958), and Tom recalled David Seville’s “Witch Doctor” (No. 1 for three weeks, also in 1958).

And then we three old fogies found ourselves singing “Ooo eee ooo ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang! Ooo eee ooo ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang!”

And we laughed and marveled at how music imprints itself on us, the marvelous, the mundane, and sometimes, the just plain silly.

Saturday Single No. 610

Saturday, September 29th, 2018

It’s funny how the mind works.

Last evening, just before heading upstairs to take a shower, I watched a few minutes of one sporting event or another. As the camera lingered on the crowd just before I turned the television off, framed in the picture was a pretty young woman with striking red hair.

“Gee,” I thought as I made my way upstairs, “that looked a lot like Anne.” I’ve mentioned her before. Anne was the young woman who was an intern at the Twin Cities television station at the same time I was, the winter of 1975-76. She was in the promotions department and I was in sports.

As I prepared for my shower, I pondered – not for the first time – how completely I’d missed Anne’s signals back then that she wanted to be more than just friends chatting over an occasional cup of coffee in the break room. I should have taken her out for a beer after work and seen where things went from there, I thought.

But no, my train of thought went, that might have been hard to arrange, given that I worked reporter hours several evenings a week and given the not inconsequential distance between the station and her home. And that led me to think of those Saturdays late in my internship when I was responsible for producing the full five-minute sports package for our evening news show, selecting stories, choosing highlights, and all of the other tasks that went into the package.

And I recalled one Saturday when our video highlights included some footage of the hockey game that day in Philadelphia between the National Hockey League’s Flyers and the Soviet Red Army hockey team. The Flyers were then in their Broad Street Bullies phase, and perhaps the most newsworthy moment was when one of the Flyers laid out one of the Red Army players with a massive check, knocking the Russian groggy if not out cold.

[We move now in these brackets from memory to information from Wikipedia: The great Valeri Kharlamov was the recipient of the check from Ed Van Impe, and the Russian team withdrew from the game in protest. Eventually, the teams resumed the game, but the Russians were obviously cautious the rest of the game and lost 4-1.]

I wrote a bit of copy about the game, using as my lede something like “It wasn’t quite the Eastern Front, but the Russian Army – at least its hockey team – had a rough day today in Philadelphia.” I’m not sure how that reads now, but for a kid of twenty-two who was learning his craft, I think it wasn’t bad. And with that as one of the leading stories, I handed the sports package off that evening to the night’s on-air talent and went home.

But as I showered last evening, I recalled that the following Monday, my boss/adviser ended a meeting with me by telling me the Saturday sports package had been fine, except for one thing: In the story about the hockey game, I had neglected to include the final score. I was startled, and I’ve used that bit of conversation as a guide for every sports story I’ve written since then: Make sure the score is in the story.

The game between the Flyers and the Red Army was one of several exhibitions that winter between NHL teams and top-level teams from the U.S.S.R., and I pondered that for a moment, and then thought about the 1972 series of games between Team Canada and the Soviets, eight games between what were essentially all-star teams. I don’t remember the entire sequence of eight games, but I remember that the Soviets dominated the four games in Canada, and the Canadians did the same in the U.S.S.R., and when the eighth game came around, the series was tied three games apiece with one tie.

But I did remember the outcome of the eighth game, which Canada won after Paul Henderson of the Toronto Maple Leafs scored the winning goal with something like thirty-four seconds left in the game.

[Hard data intrusion: According to Wikipedia, Henderson scored the winning goal for Canada in the sixth, seventh and eighth games of what was called the Summit Series. I had forgotten that. But the winning goal in game eight was in fact scored with thirty-four seconds left.]

And I started thinking about time zones and another international hockey game, the 1980 Olympic match between the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R., the famous “Miracle On Ice” game. I recalled it starting at an odd mid-afternoon time here in the U.S. because to start it any later would mean the game would have taken place long after midnight in Soviet Union.

“So,” I wondered as I finished toweling myself off after my shower, “if it’s four o’clock here” – thinking about the mid-afternoon start of the Miracle On Ice game – “then is it midnight in Moscow?”

Well, during Daylight Savings Time, it is. In the winter, when the game was played, that would not hold true. But anybody who’s waded to this point through the swamp with me knows what’s coming next.

Here are Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen with “Midnight in Moscow.” It went to No. 2 in 1962, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

‘Gather Up The Brokenness . . .’

Friday, September 28th, 2018

I’m feeling pretty bruised today. Yesterday was a hard day; the events in Washington stirred up a whole lot of stuff that I keep on a back shelf in my emotional closet.

Today is a day for healing.

Here’s “Come Healing” by Leonard Cohen. It’s from his 2012 album Old Ideas.

O gather up the brokenness
Bring it to me now
The fragrance of those promises
You never dared to vow

The splinters that you carry
The cross you left behind
Come healing of the body
Come healing of the mind

And let the heavens hear it
The penitential hymn
Come healing of the spirit
Come healing of the limb

Behold the gates of mercy
In arbitrary space
And none of us deserving
The cruelty or the grace

O solitude of longing
Where love has been confined
Come healing of the body
Come healing of the mind

O see the darkness yielding
That tore the light apart
Come healing of the reason
Come healing of the heart

O troubled dust concealing
An undivided love
The heart beneath is teaching
To the broken heart above

Let the heavens falter
Let the earth proclaim
Come healing of the altar
Come healing of the name

O longing of the branches
To lift the little bud
O longing of the arteries
To purify the blood

And let the heavens hear it
The penitential hymn
Come healing of the spirit
Come healing of the limb

O let the heavens hear it
The penitential hymn
Come healing of the spirit
Come healing of the limb

‘No Knives For You!’

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

I came into the EITW studios this morning and found Odd and Pop, my imaginary tuneheads, playing mumblety-peg on the carpet with a letter opener. It wasn’t going well.

“Did too!”

“Did not!”

After a few more rounds of that – I didn’t bother to find out what issue was under debate – I confiscated the letter opener, an ornate steel and brass Spanish weapon my sister got for me in Barcelona in 1968. Replacing it in its sheath, I told the two tuneheads that mumblety-peg was a game for outdoors.

They were aghast. “In the dirt?”

Yep, I told them. Outside in the dirt. Not in the carpet.

Both of them wrinkled up their noses and muttered “Ew!” (I didn’t tell them that with that exclamation, they’d successfully used one of the new words that the Hasbro company has authorized for Scrabble.)

Anyway, I said, a letter opener is not a knife. And I reminded them that they were not allowed to play with sharp objects. “No knives for you!”

“Well,” said Pop, “can we play a song about a knife?”

“And I bet I know which one you have in mind,” said Odd, with a sour face.

Pop nodded. “Mack the Knife,” he said.

Odd heaved a major sigh and shook his head wearily. “Go ahead. Tell me,” he said to Pop.

Pop nodded and began reciting: “First of all, Bobby Darin’s version was the top pop record for all of 1959, spending twenty-six weeks in the Billboard Hot 100, nine of them at No. 1, and it also went to No. 6 on the magazine’s R&B chart.”

Pop took a breath and then continued. “Seven other versions have reached the Hot 100.”

Odd shook his head wearily, and then said, “All right. List ’em.”

From somewhere, Pop materialized his perpetual legal pad and its accompanying marker and then wrote for a few minutes. He then handed the list to Odd:

Dick Hyman Trio, No. 8 in 1956
Richard Hayman & Jan August, No. 11 in 1956
Lawrence Welk, No. 17 in 1956
Louis Armstrong, No. 20 in 1956
Billy Vaughn, No. 37 in 1956
Les Paul, No. 49 in 1956
Ella Fitzgerald, No. 27 in 1960 (and No. 6 on the R&B chart)

Odd scanned the list and look at his pal. (They do get along, most of the time. They just have differing tastes in music – and pasta, for that matter.)

“There’s more, I assume,” Odd said.

Pop nodded and told us that the original version of “Mack the Knife” was actually “Moritat von Mackie Messer” from Die Dreigroschenoper (The Three Penny Opera) by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. It was originally performed – according to Second Hand Songs – by Kurt Gerron in 1928. Pop added helpfully that many sources erroneously claim that Lotte Lenya sang the song in her role as Jenny, “but that’s likely because she recorded the song as ‘Moritat’ for her 1955 German album Lotte Lenya singt Kurt Weill.”

“Okay, okay,” said Odd. “So how many recorded versions are there?”

“Well,” Pop said, “at least three hundred and twenty-five. That’s how many Second Hand Songs lists. Lots of them in German, many in English, lots of instrumentals. And some in other languages, too: Croatian, Czech, Dutch, Finnish, French, Greek, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish and Welsh.”

Odd was beginning to smile. “You had me at ‘Croatian’,” he told his pal. And he turned to me. “Have we ever posted a song in Croatian?”

“Well, no,” I said, “but I guess we could.”

Odd beamed. Pop pouted a little, but I reminded him that a huge proportion of what we listen to here is on one chart or another. He nodded, a little grudgingly, then looked at Odd and shrugged his shoulders.

And we turned our attention to the speakers to listen to the vocal group Optimisti, which – according to Second Hand Songs – was based in the city of Ljubljana. During the group’s recording years (1958 to 1963), the city was in Yugoslavia; it is now the capital of Slovenia. The group Optimisti, says the website, sometimes performed and recorded as a quartet and sometimes as a quintet.

Here’s Optimisti’s version in Croatian of “Mornar Mackie,” released in 1962 on the EP Chanson d’amour. The vocal group is backed by the Ljubljanski Jazz Ansambel.

Saturday Single No. 609

Saturday, September 22nd, 2018

I am, as I wrote the other week, an autumnal man.

I have always been so, even when I was much younger than I am now. Perhaps that is why, as I live in what is clearly the autumn of my time here, I have finally found peace of mind, comfort of soul, and a degree of happiness that just two decades ago I would have assessed as extraordinarily unlikely, if not actually impossible.

Perhaps the seasonal leavening brought to my life by the springtime outlook of the Texas Gal has brought the balance I’ve seemingly always needed. In any case, her presence in my life these past eighteen-plus years is a major part of the reason my life so satisfies me now. (And I know, with an awareness that warms me, that my presence in her life grants her similar satisfaction.)

I shan’t – to use a word my mom’s mother employed often – go beyond those thoughts today; I’ve dabbled in autumnal musings both in the piece I wrote the other week and in a fair number of pieces here over the years. But, moving from soul searching to reporting, I wanted to note that here in the midsection of the U.S., this year’s autumnal equinox takes place at 8:54 p.m. this evening. The southward bound sun will cross the equator at that moment, and for the next three or so months, each day’s hours of daylight will diminish and the hours of darkness will increase.

Around our place, many of the changes that accompany the season are underway: A very few of the leaves on the flowering crab have turned yellow and fallen. Some of the leaves on the adjacent linden are doing the same. Next to the linden, however, the maple tree has given no indication if its leaves will mirror the yellow of the other two or complement them with red or orange. We will know soon which it will be.

The grass beneath them is still green, awaiting the first overnight frost, which cannot be many nights away.

I observe these changes both through the window of my study and via my forays outside for errands or tasks. And, despite the chronic ails brought about by my leg and back problems and despite the – one hopes – more temporary ails of a late summer sinus infection, I observe those changes happily.

And this evening, autumn will arrive.

This calls for an autumnal tune. Here’s one of my favorites: “King Harvest (Has Surely Come)” by The Band. It’s from the group’s self-titled 1969 album, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

2,397,000

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

That’s a hefty number, 2,397,000 is. Where’d it come from?

Well this morning, I looked at the number of pages in the Word file for this blog. Since sometime early this year, I’d been stacking new posts on the top of the file, letting it get longer and longer until editing within it started to get a little unweidly.

The file was sitting at 139 pages with a word count of 58,575. It was time to start a new file. Back in the early days of this blog, I was zipping condensed files of albums to share here and at a couple of boards, so when I began writing blog posts, I called the first file “Zipped & Shared No. 1.”

(The zipping and sharing of files ended early in 2010, when WordPress escorted me from its premises for violations of its policies, just as Blogger had done some time earlier. Being out in the cold of Blogworld, as it were, spurred me to open my own domain, as well as to change the way I offered music: embedding or linking to YouTube videos, some of them my own creation. But I continued to title the Word files I used “Zipped & Shared No. XX.”)

Today, I opened a new file, one titled “Zipped & Shared No. 52.” And I wandered back into the folders that hold the first fifty-one similarly named files, wondering if the lengths of each individual file were about the same. They were, averaging something more than 47,000 words each. The vast majority of those counted words were, in fact, text for this blog, but there were some things counted as words that were detritus, stuff that shouldn’t count toward a blog’s word count.

That detritus included notes to myself about this post or that, lists of links to include in posts and the coding for the embedding of videos. So, in a ham-handed bit of statistical division – my statistics instructor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism would have winced – I took that average of 47,000-plus and sliced it down to 47,000.

Then I multiplied 47,000 times 51 – the number of filled Word files – and came up with 2,397,000. And that’s approximately the number of words I’ve written for this blog since early 2007.

Remember the detritus that includes notes to myself? There’s a little bit of that right at the top of each of the last twenty or so Word files. There’s a note reminding me that the width I use when I embed YouTube videos on the blog is 455 whatevers. That’s also where I keep examples of the three characters in the Danish alphabet that we do not have in the English alphabet – ø, æ, and å – in both lower and upper case. I also keep the entire Danish exclamation “Skål!” so I can post it on Facebook after the Minnesota Vikings win.

And there are four notes about blog posts. One of them reminds me that this year, I am rerunning the 2008 series First Friday – looking at the mad year of 1968 – only this time, it’s as First Wednesday. Another note reminds me that I should consider doing a blog post about the musical (and romantic) duo of Cymbal & Clinger. A third offers the Derek & The Dominos track “Keep On Growing” as a subject for one of my covers posts. And a fourth suggests the song “Guantanamera” as a topic for a similar post.

But I keep looking back at that number: 2,397,000. That’s a lot of words, sentences, paragraphs and posts, many of which were not nearly as good as I’d hoped they’d be.

So where do we go with that? There are about a hundred tracks in the RealPlayer with the word “words” in their titles. And after a quick scan of the titles possible for a tune, I’ve settled on “Encouraging Words” by Billy Preston, the title track from his 1970 album.

Everywhere & Nowhere

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

If I were asked to name my ten favorite pieces from more than eleven years of blogging, this would be one of them. It was originally published on July 7, 2007, and it’s crossed my mind recently, so here it is.

It’s the roadhouse of dreams.

Where is it? It’s nowhere and it’s everywhere, depending on the season and the memories and hopes of those sitting inside.

If you look out the window during the baking summer, you might see the flat fields and arrow-straight roads of the Delta, the humid air vibrating like a steel guitar string. The melancholy of autumn might find you near a lake in the North Woods, with the maniac cry of the loon joined by the honks of the geese leaving you behind as they head home. In winter, the roadhouse – probably named Times Gone, but we’ll see – welcomes you in from the gloom and grit of some city’s aging industrial neighborhood. Maybe it’s Gary, Indiana, or someplace on Ohio’s Lake Erie shore. The spring? Well, I think we’re in the mountains of Wyoming, or at least a place where spring comes late, making its days all the more precious and the roadhouse itself brighter inside than the windows and the lights can account for.

This is no slick place with light-colored wood finished to the texture of silk. The wood here is dark – except in those places where the varnish has been worn away – and you can feel the grain through the stain. It’s honest wood with rough-edged comfort. You know that when you slide into one of the booths on the far side of the room. And you know it even more when you lay your hands on the bar, nodding as your fingers read the nicks and dents in the bar top like a blind man reads a good story.

The bar stools are just that: bar stools, not chairs on long legs. They’ve all been reupholstered at one time or another, but always with the same red leather and brass nails. Hook your feet on the timeworn rungs if you have to anchor yourself, and don’t lean back because all you’ll find is empty air. That’s okay, though. It’s always better to lean forward, elbows on the bar, especially if you’re lost in thought, lost in memories or just lost.

In the center of the place is a dance floor, not large but big enough, with a stage off to the left end. We’ll come back there later.

On the right end of the dance floor, as you step inside the place – it seems that Times Gone is the right name for the place – is a pool table under a shaded light fixture, and on the wall, two pinball machines set back-to-back. These are pinball machines, not computers on legs. They’re old, but they still work, and they still give out that satisfying, solid “thwack!” when you win a free game. Some days – or nights, for that matter – there aren’t a lot of sounds better than that one.

Just the other side of the pinball machines is a jukebox, a real mechanical jukebox with records in it. It’s packed with songs from before 1980 – a few after that time, but just a few. There’s lots of R&B from the Fifties and the Sixties, and one or two Al Green songs for the slow dances. You’ll find some rock, mostly the blues-based stuff. There are a few country records, some to dance to and some to cry along with. There’s also a little bit of pop, mostly because it brings smiles to the folks in the crowd, some for the memory and some for the irony.

And there’s the blues. From Chicago and the Delta. From Texas, Los Angeles and the Piedmont. You come into Times Gone with the blues, and we can find the right song for you. In fact, the day always starts with the blues, a fact we hope isn’t matched by life. Every morning at eleven, as Times Gone opens its door, the jukebox plays Muddy Water’s 1948 single “I Can’t Be Satisfied.” That’s not a comment on life; we just like the song.

There are a couple other songs you’ll hear every day. At five in the afternoon, the jukebox plays “Roadhouse Blues” by the Doors. And just before we close the doors sometime in the early morning, Ringo Starr and his three friends bid us “Goodnight.”

We don’t rely entirely on the jukebox, as well stocked as it is. Remember the dance floor and the stage? Weekend nights, we’ve got live music. I suppose that Muddy and his old rival, Howlin’ Wolf, stop by now and then, since this is the roadhouse of dreams. And Brother Ray and Aretha must come by here too, every once in a while. But a lot of the time, the stage belongs to Delbert McClinton, a roadhouse singer if ever there was one. He’s got some records in the jukebox, to be sure, but there’s nothing like hearing him in person. The way he takes over the stage and holds the attention of the crowd on the floor, he could own the place.

It sure would be nice if somebody, somewhere, did.

Here’s a taste of Delbert McClinton on stage. “Going Back To Louisiana” is a track from the 2006 album Live From Austin TX, a release that offers McClinton’s 1982 performance on the Austin City Limits television show.

Edited slightly on reposting.

‘Do I Still Figure . . .’

Friday, September 14th, 2018

So, following up on last Saturday’s post, we’ve been checking out various versions of the tune we know now as “Do I Still Figure In Your Life.” We start with the original by the Honeybus, titled at the time “(Do I Figure) In Your Life.” Written by Pete Dello of the Honeybus, the tune was released on Deram in 1967:

I notice a couple of things right off the top: The strings – both in the introduction and behind the vocals – remind me strongly of the Left Banke’s “Walk Away Renee” and of some of the things that George Martin was doing with the Beatles. And the diction carries a hint of Bob Dylan. Still, the record sounds very much of its time and is a pleasant listen. And according to the author of a website about the band “(Do I Figure) In Your Life” deserved better than it got in 1967 Britain and “should have been a huge hit but inexplicably missed the charts despite heavy airplay and good reviews.”

(Given that the preceding assessment comes from a fan page, some skepticism is likely in order. But it is a pretty good record and would not have sounded out of place on a U.S. station in, say, October 1967.)

The first to cover the tune, as we learned last Saturday, was British pop singer Dave Berry, whose version, as I noted last week, “was released in 1968 on Decca in the U.K. and on a London promo in the U.S., according to Discogs.” Taking the slightly baroque approach of the Honeybus a little further, Berry started his take on “Do I Still Figure In Your Life” with a harpsichord solo and returned to the instrument in between verses. It’s a sweet version of the tune but – beyond the harpsichord – unremarkable.

Then, as noted last Saturday, came Joe Cocker, whose version was no doubt the first I ever heard of the song. (I was digging into memories in the past few days, and I think I heard Cocker’s version in a dorm room at St. Cloud State sometime during the autumn of 1971, a couple of years after the track came out on Cocker’s 1969 album, With A Little Help From My Friends.)

Picking around in the listing at Second Hand Songs, we’ll dig into the shambling version released by an artist who styled himself Creepy John Thomas. An Aussie, he also called himself Johnny Driver and played with the Edgar Broughton Band, according to Discogs. His take on Pete Dello’s song reverted to the original title, “(Do I Figure) In Your Life” and was included on his 1969 album, Creepy John Thomas:

Then came – as noted last Saturday – Kate Taylor, followed by the occasional revisiting of the song over the years, more frequently in the 1970s and sporadically since then. I ran across a few versions at YouTube that weren’t listed at Second Hand Songs, including a bland version from Paul Carrack (Ace, Squeeze, Mike & The Mechanics) and a sterile version from Norwegian singer Karoline Krüger.

And maybe it’s because it was the first version I ever heard, but I come to the conclusion – having listened to about twenty takes on the song in the last week – that no one does it like Joe Cocker:

‘Love Just Comes And It Goes . . .’

Wednesday, September 12th, 2018

Having had some fun last week digging into the bottom portions of a late 1970 summer survey from the Twin Cities’ KDWB, I thought I’d move a year further back this week and do the same with a survey from WDGY, the other Twin Cities Top 40 station (which, as I’ve noted, I could not hear in St. Cloud.)

The top five records in the WDGY Star Survey forty-nine years ago today were:

“Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies
“Lay Lady Lay” by Bob Dylan
“Commotion/Green River” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Get Together” by the Youngbloods
“Hurt So Bad” by the Lettermen

That’s a great six records (although the easy listening vibe of “Hurts So Bad” might have put off folks who tuned to WDGY for rock). I’m still, after almost fifty years, not as familiar with “Commotion” as I am with “Green River,” and I doubt I’m the only one.

So what do we find at the bottom of the Star Survey?

“I’d Wait A Million Years” by the Grass Roots
“When I Die” by Mother lode
“That’s The Way Love Is” by Marvin Gaye
“I’m Gonna Make You Mine” by Lou Christie
“Oh What A Night” by the Dells

The notes at Oldiesloon helpfully tell us that the Dells’ record is a remake of the group’s 1956 hit, so that pulls that record from the list of any we might want to examine this morning. And we’ve spent what might be considered an inordinate amount of time over the years examining the pleasant memories and nostalgic pangs brought to the surface by “I’m Gonna Make You Mine.” I also loved the Grass Roots’ single, as their promise to wait to the end of time resonated with my circumstances as my junior year of high school began to take shape.

As to “When I Die” by Motherlode, I truly doubt that I’d ever heard it until sometime after I began to write this blog in early 2007.

I know I heard the Marvin Gaye version earlier than that, but only by about fifteen years. I was driving home late one night during the early 1990s and found myself at a convenience store, pumping gas into my Toyota at about eleven o’clock at night. I was on a main thoroughfare, but one wouldn’t have to venture too far to the north to find a neighborhood of questionable safety, so I was a bit nervous as the gasoline flowed into the tank and the numbers whirled on the pump.

When the pump clicked off, I finished my business and got into the car as quickly as I could. And as as I headed out of the convenience store’s lot and west on Thirty-Fifth Street, I heard a slinky intro of electric piano, bass and muffled drums coming from the car radio, tuned – as was almost always the case – to KTCZ-FM, Cities 97.

Then came a rattlesnake tambourine and finally the vocal: “Ahhhhhhhhh, baby! As the bitter tears fall from your eyes . . .”

“That’s Marvin,” I thought. “But this is nothing I’ve ever heard!”

Three blocks later, I pulled my Toyota into its parking space behind my apartment building and sat in the car, waiting for the end of the record. When it finished, I went inside and took down my copy of Joel Whitburn’s Top 40 Singles from the shelf and verified that Gaye had recorded a song titled “That’s The Way Love Is.” I also learned that it had reached No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. (A later acquisition tells me that the record spent five weeks at No. 2 on the magazine’s R&B chart.)

I was nearly satisfied. So I picked up the phone and called the late-night deejay at Cities 97, something I’d done a few times when I had a similar question. He answered, and I asked “That was Marvin a few minutes ago, right?”

“Oh, yeah” came the answer.

I have no idea how I missed the record back then, but the surveys collected at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive and at Oldiesloon tell me that the record peaked on WDGY at No. 24 during the last week of September. From what I can tell, the collected KDWB surveys at ARSA are missing the final two weeks of September, but none of the surveys before or after that gap list the record, so if “That’s The Way Love Is” showed up in the KDWB survey, it was for two weeks at most.

So it’s not surprising that I hadn’t heard it back then.