Archive for the ‘Video’ Category

No. 52 Fifty-Two Years Ago

Friday, February 22nd, 2019

As expected, we got about six inches of snow, making this the snowiest recorded February in St. Cloud ever. The streets are slowly being cleared a little better each day, according to the Texas Gal. (Being pretty much housebound yet, I cannot say for myself.) The next time I’ll be out will be next Wednesday, when I see my surgeon for what will be a seven-week check-up.

And it seemed like a good day to check in with one of our recent gimmicks: We’re going to look at the Billboard Hot 100 from fifty-two years ago and check out the No. 52 record.

At the top of that chart, released February 25, 1967, was the Buckinghams’ “Kind Of A Drag,” in its second week at No. 1. I know the record, of course, and I think I likely knew it back then, as I was in eighth grade and the music my peers listened to was all around me.

And the sense is the same when we drop down the chart to No. 52, where we find “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tommy James & The Shondells. Like the Buckinghams’ record, the Tommy James record feels like something I’ve always known, something that was just in the air when I was in eighth grade whether I paid attention or not.

“I Think We’re Alone Now” was on its way up the chart fifty-two years ago this week, and the story of young lovers escaping disapproval – parental and/or societal – eventually peaked at No. 4. I still like the beating hearts.

‘Winter Winds’

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

I looked out the window first thing this morning, and I heard Boz Scaggs’ voice in my head, with the faux Boz changing one word:

“And now the snow begins, and it may never end . . .”

This week’s edition of the snow to end all snows crept into southern and southwestern Minnesota around midnight and is slowly making its way northeast across the state. It’s before eight in the morning as I write, and we’ve gotten a dusting so far, less than an inch, I’d guess.

Before it’s all over sometime this evening, we’re supposed to get anywhere from four to eight inches of new snow. That’s less than they’ll get in the Twin Cities, which is more near the center of the storm track, and unless the storm veers suddenly, I’m guessing our total will be right around six inches.

Still, that will be the largest snowfall of the season, and it will – I believe – make this February the snowiest February ever recorded in St. Cloud.

And we’ve had plenty of warning, what with weather folk on television tracking the major systems across the country for the past week. As we watched television last evening, the lists of school districts closed for the day scrolled past, and the Texas Gal commented on them. Being a Minnesota native, I told her that schools had in the past closed for the following day when a storm was bearing down, adding that announcing the closings the evening before gave working parents time to plan for themselves and their kids.

Of course, the three- to four-day warning of a major storm allowing such planning is a relatively new phenomenon, the product of the late satellite age. That was the case about eight years ago when we had three-day warning of a Christmas-time blizzard that stranded us in our house on the East Side for a couple of days. But this morning I’m thinking back to two of the major winter storms I recall, and there wasn’t nearly as much warning for them.

In October 1991, Minnesotans were still celebrating the baseball Twins’ victory in the World Series on Sunday when the weather indicators showed by mid-week a storm coming in Thursday night or Friday morning. I was new at the Eden Prairie News, located in a second-ring suburb in the southwest corner of the Twin Cities, and as I saw the winds whipping around on Thursday afternoon, October 31, I called over to the high school to see if the volleyball match I’d planned to shoot that evening was still scheduled.

“Yes,” said the activities secretary. Then she asked if I were new to Minnesota, wondering if I’d just moved from some less snowy place.

“No,” I told her. “I was born here, and I just have a sense about this one.”

I shot the volleyball game, and drove home in heavy snow, one of the few cars on the Interstate highway that evening. The snow continued falling through Friday, with most of Minnesota shut down, through Saturday and into Sunday. Wikipedia tells me that the Twin Cities received 28.4 inches of snow, which set a record for a single storm in the Metro area.

I hunkered down in my apartment in the northwestern suburbs, venturing out only on Saturday to walk to the hardware store in the adjacent block to replace my coffee maker, which had helpfully given up the ghost on Friday evening. No one went anywhere on Monday, and on Tuesday traffic crawled through the morning rush hour and life went on.

I don’t think we had even three days of warning in January 1975 (or perhaps I, a college student at the time, was oblivious to the warnings), when the snow – whipped around by wind – began to fall around noon on a Thursday. Wikipedia says the snow began on Friday, but I know darned well that the St. Cloud State campus was closed on Thursday afternoon and that the snow was so heavy by then that my friend Larry, who lived in Elk River – thirty-five miles away – turned around on the edge of St. Cloud and stayed with us until Tuesday.

We got about eighteen inches of snow in that one, but the wind created drifts as high as six feet in the street just north of us and much larger than that out in the country. We stayed in most of the time, though Larry and I did venture out during a lull Saturday, walking through deep snow to the nearby Dew Drop Inn for a pitcher of beer – the owners lived in a house attached to the back of the tavern – and then stopping by Rick’s house, where a few of his school friends had gathered. After a few spirited rounds of the card game Pit, Larry and I trudged back across Kilian Boulevard.

Snow came in again Sunday, and we stayed in, spending three dismal hours of the day watching the Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Minnesota Vikings 16-6 in the Super Bowl. On Monday, I walked the windy mile or so to school to man the circulation desk at the St. Cloud State library. Even with the chilly walk, I got the better of the deal, as Larry ended up helping Dad shovel the walks and paths and clear snow from the roof of the house.

And on Tuesday Larry happily headed home, and once again, life slowly lurched back to normal.

I doubt that this week’s storm will be as disruptive, but if I were one of those who were out on work or errands today, I’d be keeping an eye on the weather and planning to cut short my time away from home. That’s what the Texas Gal is likely to do today: She has some flex hours available, so she’s probably coming home during the midafternoon. And if we’re snowed in tomorrow, well, we’ve got some television shows to binge-watch.(And a quick look out the window tells me that the snow has become appreciably heavier in just the forty minutes it took me to put this post together.)

Here’s the British folk-rock band Fotheringay with a suitable tune for today. The band, Sandy Denny’s project after she left Fairport Convention, released a single self-titled album in 1970. Though brief, the evocative “Winter Winds” is one of my favorites on the album.

Saturday Single No. 629

Saturday, February 16th, 2019

We’re going to head over the Airhead Radio Survey Archives today and play some Games With Numbers. We’re going to find four surveys from widely differing geographic areas, and then we’ll take today’s date – 2/16/19 – and turn that into 37. And we’ll see what’s at No. 37 on those four surveys. One of those four records will be today’s Saturday Single.

Along the way, we’ll check out – as we generally do – the No. 1 record on those surveys. As for the year, I think we’ll go forty-five years back and see what was on the air in February 1974.

We’ll start on the West Coast, checking out the Pop Sound of Southern California, as offered by KOLA of San Bernardino. Sitting at No. 37 forty-five years ago today was “Pepper Box” by the Peppers. The Peppers were, says Joel Whitburn in Top Pop Singles, a “pop instrumental studio duo from Paris,” with Mat Camison on synths and Pierre Dahan on drums.

The record is two-and-a-half minutes of not very inspired wheedling melody backed with a basic rhythm track. It probably seemed revolutionary in 1974. The record was new that week to KOLA’s survey, and in about three weeks it would make its way into the Billboard chart, peaking at No. 76 on the Hot 100. It was the Peppers’ only record to reach the Hot 100. (The title triggered a memory, so I checked the archives: “Pepper Box” was mentioned here about five years ago when I spent some time checking out a survey from March 1974 at KUPK of Garden City, Kansas.)

The No. 1 record forty-five years ago at KOLA was Terry Jacks’ “Seasons In The Sun.”

We’ll head to the mountains for our next stop, digging into the weekly survey at Denver’s KTLK, where the No. 37 rung was taken up by “Jungle Boogie” by Kool & The Gang, which is familiar, I would imagine, to anyone who hangs around this joint. The record had just entered KTLK’s survey that week.

Nationally, “Jungle Boogie” would, of course, be one of Kool & The Gang’s biggest hits, grunting its way to No. 4 in the Hot 100 and to No. 2 on the Billboard R&B chart.

The No. 1 record at KTLK forty-five years ago this week was also “Seasons In The Sun.”

We’ll head a long ways southeast from Denver and check out “South Florida’s Top Selling Music” as compiled by WQAM of Miami. The No. 37 record there forty-five years ago today was “I Love” by country artists Tom T. Hall. The saccharine list of the things that Hall loves – including little fuzzy pups, bourbon in a glass, honest open smiles, tomatoes on the vine “and you” – was in its first week on the WQAM survey.

Nationally, “I Love” went to No. 12 on the Hot 100, No. 2 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart and spent two weeks at No. 1 on the magazine’s country chart.

Then No. 1 record at MQAM forty-five years ago was “Love’s Theme” by the Love Unlimited Orchestra.

We finish our journey with a stop at WCFL in Chicago, where the Super CFL Survey showed Elton John’s “Bennie & The Jets” holding down spot No. 37 in its first week on the survey. The record, of course, went to No. 1 on the Hot 100.

And the No. 1 record at WCFL during that long-ago week was Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were.”

So our choices come down to “I Love,” “Bennie & The Jets,” “Jungle Boogie” or “Pepper Box.” The gods of randomness have disappointed us this time. So we’ll go with rarity. Here’s “Pepper Box” by the Peppers, today’s Saturday Single.

No. 51 Fifty-One Years Ago

Friday, February 15th, 2019

It’s time for another dig into the symmetry of years gone and a record’s ranking in the Billboard Hot 100. This time, we’re going to see which record was poised at No. 51 fifty-one years ago this week. If we don’t hit the exact date, we’ll move ahead to the date when the next chart was released. We’ll also note the Nos. 1 and 2 records as we pass by.

And for today’s brief excursion, we’re looking at the chart released on February 17, 1968. The No. 1 record was “Love Is Blue” by Paul Mauriat & His Orchestra, and right behind it was “Green Tambourine” by the Lemon Pipers, both of which are favorites here.

Let’s hope we’re as lucky with our target. And we are, as today’s record turns out to be “Cab Driver” by the Mills Brothers. It’s a record that’s popped up here once before, eight years ago, and one that I recall fondly from early 1968.

The record, catchy and a little poignant to my fourteen-year-old ears, was one of the last charting records for the Mills Brothers, a black family group from Piqua, Ohio. Between 1931 and 1968, the smooth vocal group placed ninety-three records on the various charts tracked by chart historian Joel Whitburn, eight of them No. 1 hits. “Cab Driver,” which peaked at No. 23, was the last Mills Brothers record to hit the Top 40. Two more settled in the lower portions of the Hot 100 before the end of 1968, closing the Mills Brothers’ career.

As I wrote here a little more than nine years ago, “Cab Driver” also “went to No. 3 on the chart that is now called Adult Contemporary, and that explains why I know the record as well as I do: I’m absolutely certain I heard it more than once from Dad’s bedside transistor radio – tuned as always to St. Cloud’s middle of the road station, KFAM – as we all prepared to retire.”

Here’s “Cab Driver” by the Mills Brothers, the No. 51 record fifty-one years ago today:

What’s At No. 100? (2-13-1965)

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

Here’s the Billboard Top Ten from this date in 1965, fifty-four years ago today:

“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin” by the Righteous Brothers
“Downtown” by Petula Clark
“This Diamond Ring” by Gary Lewis & The Playboys
“The Name Game” by Shirley Ellis
“My Girl” by the Temptations
“Hold What You’ve Got” by Joe Tex
“All Day And All Of The Night” by the Kinks
“Shake” by Sam Cooke
“The Jolly Green Giant” by the Kingsmen
“I Go To Pieces” by Peter & Gordon

That’s a very mixed bag. First of all, I have to admit that the only way I remember ever hearing Sam Cooke’s “Shake” is because of the absurdism of “Shake it like a bowl of soup.” And until that line came through the speaker today, I didn’t recognize the record. To give another measure of how unfamiliar I have been with “Shake,” it’s not among the 77,000-some tracks on the digital shelves here.

The same holds true for some others in that Top Ten, too. I never liked “The Name Game,” so it’s not here. I’m not sure why “I Fall To Pieces” is absent, as I’ve generally liked the work of Peter & Gordon, and it’s a decent folk-rock single. And I guess I’ve just ignored the silliness of the Kingsmen, even though Minnesota is the home of the Jolly Green Giant. (A fifty-five foot tall statue of the giant stands along U.S. Highway 169 in the city of Blue Earth, Minnesota.)

That’s four records from that Top Ten that are absent from the digital shelves here. That seems like a lot. I’m not going to take the time to find out, but I wonder how many other Top Ten records from the years 1964-1975 are absent from my shelves. I know of one for certain: Chuck Berry’s “My Ding-A-Ling.” But it’s purposely absent – like “The Name Game” – for reasons of taste, not of lack of thought.

So, will I go find the records by Cooke, Peter & Gordon and the Kingsmen? Probably, but they’re not high priority.

What about the other six in that long-ago Top Ten? Well, I like four of them very much. One has a specific memory: “Downtown” takes me across the street to Rick’s house, hanging around on what was likely a Saturday as his older sister and her friends down the hall played the record over and over. And then, the records by the Righteous Brothers, the Temptations and Gary Lewis & The Playboys are just good records.

What about the records by the Kinks and Joe Tex? Those I can take or leave.

That’s pretty well summed up by what’s in the iPod these days. “Downtown,” “This Diamond Ring,” and “My Girl” are among the 3,900 tracks there. I’ll maybe add “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” one of these days.

Having finished with the Top Ten from fifty-four years ago, we can drop to the bottom of the Hot 100 and see what lies there. And we find “Did You Ever,” one of two records by the Hullaballoos to make the Hot 100.

The Hullaballoos, says Wikipedia, “were created in August 1964, but had been working in the UK for over three years under the name of Ricky Knight and The Crusaders.” They were named, according to Wikipedia, for the English city of Hull, not for the American television program. (At least one of the four members of the group was born in Kingston Upon Hull, a port city whose name is generally shortened to Hull.)

Their rechristening as the Hullaballoos was, it seems, a cynical move. Here’s what Richie Unterberger of AllMusic had to say about the group:

[T]he Hullaballoos were arguably the most exploitative act of the first wave of the British Invasion. With their wig-like helmets of bleach-blond hair that vied with the Pretty Things and the Stones in length, they had an immediately striking visual presence. Musically it was another matter, for the Hullaballoos were actually not even stars in their homeland, but packaged for U.S. consumption by Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore, notorious vice presidents and A&R directors of Roulette Records. Most of their music was written by hack Brill Building songwriters, who were apparently intent on making the band sound as much like Buddy Holly as possible. Indeed, one of their small U.S. hits was a cover of Holly’s “I’m Gonna Love You Too” (the other, “Did You Ever,” was Holly-esque down to the hiccuping vocal). New York hacks may have devised their Buddy Holly-cum-Merseybeat sound – dominated by driving simple guitar chords and drums – in a superficial manner, but it’s catchy and considerably forceful. The Hullaballoos faded almost immediately after a tiny splash in 1965, but that was probably built into the plan from the beginning.

“I’m Gonna Love You Too” had peaked at No. 56 in early January of 1965, and “Did You Ever” stalled at No. 74 in mid-March. The group had one more single show up in Billboard: “Learning the Game” bubbled under for two weeks in May, peaking at No. 121.

Here’s “Did You Ever,” Hollyesque hiccup and all (including little riffs from what sounds like a recorder or an ocarina):

Saturday Single No. 628

Saturday, February 9th, 2019

Since we’ve been in a Games With Numbers groove lately, I thought we’d continue that and do a random thing with a Billboard Hot 100 that was released on a February 9. The first one we came across in our folder here was from 1959, sixty years ago today.

The No. 1 record from that chart was Lloyd Price’s “Stagger Lee,” a good one without a doubt. But in keeping with the games we’ve been playing lately, we’re going to see what was at No. 60 sixty years ago today.

And we find, as we did a few weeks ago, Conway Twitty, this time with “The Story Of My Love.” The record, the third that Twitty would place in the Hot 100, was on its way up and would eventually peak at No. 28. As we noted in our post a few weeks ago, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Twitty was a regular presence on the pop charts and shifted to a focus on country music around 1962 (although he had a few records cross over after that date).

The record’s all right, but not much more than that. I don’t care for the introduction, and after that it’s just kind of okay. But for good or ill, “The Story Of My Love” by Conway Twitty is today’s Saturday Single.

No. 49 Forty-Nine Years Ago

Thursday, February 7th, 2019

Having found another way to dig into old charts the other day, I thought I’d take the same idea and move it forward a year, taking a look at whatever was sitting at No. 49 in the Billboard Hot 100 forty-nine years ago today. (And we’ll no doubt keep moving forward a place and a year at a time at least through the early Eighties and perhaps backward through the Sixties into the late Fifties.)

Today we come across one of the heavyweights of my junior year of high school (actually one of the heavyweights of all time), a record that doesn’t need a whole lot said about it: “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel.

I will note that this was the record’s first week on the chart, and it took only another three weeks for “Bridge . . .” to get to No. 1, a spot that it occupied for six weeks. Here it is:

‘Sometimes In Winter’

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

Here’s a piece from the past that came to mind this morning. It ran here in a slightly different form almost ten years ago, in late February 2009.

I spent eight winters living in Minneapolis, three of them working downtown amid the unsurprising mix of a few modern skyscrapers, some other glass and steel buildings, and the older brick and stone edifices that had to that point survived the city’s occasional efforts at urban renewal.

While the canyons of downtown Minneapolis are slight shadows of those in the major cities – I think of Chicago and New York, obviously – there still was a wintertime melancholy there that one doesn’t find in smaller cities. Even away from downtown – maybe in the blocks around the trendy Uptown area not far away, or in the far southern reaches of the city, where I lived during my last urban seasons – the city can be a dreary place in the later afternoon of a winter day.

It was downtown Minneapolis on a wet winter day that popped into my head this morning. The RealPlayer was on random as I read the newspaper. One song ended and the next began: a familiar woodwind riff over a bed of muted brass and then some subdued percussion. It was Steve Katz’ evocative song, “Sometimes In Winter,” from Blood, Sweat & Tears’ second, self-titled album. And I sang along softly:

Sometimes in winter,
I gaze into the streets
And walk through snow and city sleet
Behind your room.

Sometimes in winter,
Forgotten memories
Remember you behind the trees
With leaves that cried.

By the window once I waited for you;
Laughing slightly you would run.
Trees alone would shield us in the meadow,
Makin’ love in the evening sun.

Now you’re gone, girl,
And the lamp posts call your name.
I can hear them
In the spring of frozen rain.

Now you’re gone, girl,
And the time’s slowed down till dawn.
It’s a cold room, and the walls ask
Where you’ve gone.

Sometimes in winter,
I love you when the good times
Seem like mem’ries in the spring
That never came.

Sometimes in winter,
I wish the empty streets
Would fill with laughter from the tears
That ease my pain.

As I sang, I could see the cold afternoon streets, the lights of the stores and the bars reflecting off the damp pavement. I could see the downtown workers huddled and hunched against the wind and snow, seeking the shelter of those stores and bars or maybe the havens of busses to take them home, away from the gray. And some of those who fled, just like some of those who stayed behind, would know well about Katz’ cold room with its questioning walls.

I first heard the song in 1969, when Blood, Sweat & Tears was the first cassette I got for my new tape player, and the song’s gentle grief has always felt right to me. For years, I envisioned Katz or his alter ego wandering the chill streets of Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. Today’s vision of Minneapolis doesn’t negate that; it adds to it. For I think all of us – even those in warmer climes – carry our own winter cities with us.

Saturday Single No. 627

Saturday, February 2nd, 2019

It was twelve years ago tomorrow, a Saturday, when I wrote:

As I was wandering through my music files, I came upon a single that was – for a few weeks, at least – omnipresent in Denmark during the nine months I spent there many years ago. No matter where my girlfriend of the time and I went that autumn, we heard – sometimes just off in the distance – Lecia & Lucienne singing “Rør Ved Mig” (which translates roughly, I think, into “Stay With Me”).

I now think it’s more likely that “Rør Ved Mig” means “Touch Me” or possibly “Make Love To Me.”

When I got back to the U.S. in the spring of 1974, I was startled to hear coming from my radio the same tune and nearly the same arrangement, but this time with the words in Spanish. I’ve never been able to determine whether Mocedades’ “Eres Tu,” was the original song and “Rør Ved Mig” was the second-language copycat, or the other way around. And it could be, I suppose, that there are other versions of the song out there in other languages, although in the more-than-thirty-years since I spent my time in Denmark, I’ve heard none.

In the eleven years since I wrote that, I’ve come across versions in English, Swedish and Norwegian, and the website Second Hand Songs tells me that there are also versions in Finnish, Dutch and Czech. As to which came first, the website shows it was Mocedades’ Spanish version.

A couple years after I came back to the U.S., my Danish brother visited, and during his visit, I mentioned “Rør Ved Mig” to him. After he got home, he mailed me a copy of the single. I don’t suppose I’ve played it often, but I did every once in a while. And then I got online about seven years ago and found an mp3 of the tune on the web. (When I got my USB turntable, I made a file from my own copy.) It pops up on the RealPlayer now and then.

And whenever I hear “Rør Ved Mig,” it has the same effect: For just a few moments, it is the fall of 1973, and I am walking somewhere inside the old portion of the city of Fredericia, maybe heading to have a beer with a buddy, maybe walking with that long-ago girlfriend, or maybe just walking. It’s a golden day in October, and somewhere, not too far away, Lecia & Lucienne are singing “Rør ved mig. Så jeg føler at jeg lever . . .”

And with that Saturday post in 2007 – after a month or so of false starts – I figured out what I wanted to do with this blog: Share the music that has shaped my life and share the tales that brought that music to me. I didn’t title the post “Saturday Single No. 1” – that came a week later – but I should have. In the years since, I’ve shared Lecia & Lucienne’s “Rør Ved Mig” numerous times. This time, as it marks the twelfth anniversary of Echoes In The Wind, it’s today’s Saturday Single.

No. 50 Fifty Years Ago

Friday, February 1st, 2019

I’m moving slowly today, just an achy sense of general unwellness. But at least I’m moving.

I thought I’d at least show up here and take a look at whatever was sitting at No. 50 in the Billboard Hot 100 fifty years ago today. And it’s a decent tune, “Things I’d Like To Say” by the New Colony Six.

The record, which would peak at No. 16 in mid-March, was one of two the Chicago band got into the Top 40; the other, “I Will Always Think About You,” had peaked at No. 22 in the spring of 1968.

I don’t remember hearing either of the two records, but then I wasn’t really listening at the time. I do recall a college friend from the Chicago area touting the group during our time in Denmark, something I recalled during the first few years of my online life. I checked the two records out and kind of shrugged. They were okay.

But maybe “Things I’d Like To Say” would be more than just okay if I’d heard it while dealing with an unrequited love . . .

Anyway, here’s “Things I’d Like To Say.”