Archive for the ‘1973’ Category

Saturday Single No. 692

Saturday, June 13th, 2020

Boy, I was beginning to think that any record I ever wanted to hear was available in a video at YouTube.

Well, not quite. Four months ago, when I wanted to share here a version of “Goldfinger” by easy listening musician Jack LaForge, I had to make a video and upload it. But that was a niche thing, and understandable. And three of the other four videos I’ve created and uploaded in the last two years were niche things that one wouldn’t expect to find. The fourth was a Joe Cocker tune that I put up because I couldn’t find the official version on that particular day. (I’m sure it was there but I got frustrated and made my own video.)

How niche-y were the other three videos? They were two singles – “Never Goin’ Home” by Owen B. and “Summer Sunshine” by Misty Morn – and a repackaging of “Going The Distance” and “The Final Bell,” the soundtrack music by Bill Conti that backs the climactic fight and its aftermath in the original Rocky from 1976.

(And the music from Rocky may not be as niche-y as I once thought; since I put the video of Conti’s music on YouTube a year ago, it’s been viewed three million times, which makes it by far the most popular of the 500 or so videos I’ve put up; second place goes to the video of “Bittersweet” by Big Head Todd & The Monsters, which has been viewed 1.9 million times.)

Otherwise, over the past two years, anything I wanted to share in this space has been available on YouTube. But the website failed me this morning.

Just before I started writing, I opened my iTunes library and clicked around and then posted a link at Facebook to Sweathog’s 1971 cover of “Hallelujah.” And I wondered about versions of the song I might not have heard. Beyond Sweathog’s cover, I have the Clique’s 1970 original and Chi Coltrane’s 1973 version.

So I went to Second Hand Songs and learned about two other covers, one by a group called Lovequake in 1976 and one by Dobie Gray in 1970. The Lovequake one didn’t intrigue me at the moment – we may get back to it – but the thought of Dobie Gray taking on the song? Oh, yeah.

It’s not at YouTube. It’s not at Amazon. It’s not at iTunes. I learned at discogs that “Hallelujah” was the B-side to “Honey, You Can’t Take It Back” on the White Whale label, but so far, the only copies of the single I’ve seen for sale are promos with “Honey, You Can’t Take It Back” on both sides.

I probably won’t dig any further, but damn, it would have been nice to hear Dobie’s take on the song. I’m going to default to Coltrane’s version of the tune, even though I’ve likely shared it before. It was on her 1973 album Let It Ride, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

One Random Shot

Friday, May 22nd, 2020

I’m kind of swamped today: Housework beckons, as does a careful trip to the grocery store. And I’m still getting things squared away on my new desktop.

(I seem to have lost all of my email contacts, which means at least several long sessions of entering data; thankfully, all of the emails in my inbox came through, so I can at least harvest names and email addresses from there.)

Anyway, I have many things to do, and I need to get to them. But I’ve fallen into a Wednesday-Friday-Saturday mode here, and I hate to leave this space blank. So I’m going to play some Games With Numbers. I’ll take today’s date – 5/22 – and turn that into 27, and then I’ll take the year 2020 and use that to drop back to the year I turned twenty, 1973.

There are 2,630 tracks from 1973 in the RealPlayer. (I spent about four hours yesterday afternoon configuring the player and loading the music into it.) I’m going to sort them by running time, set the cursor in the middle of the stack, and click forward on random twenty-seven times, and we’ll see what we get.

And we come across perhaps the most rocking track from Ringo Starr’s self-titled album from that distant year: “Devil Woman.” Ringo wrote the song with Vini Poncia, and the album notes show Ringo and Jim Keltner on drums, Klaus Voorman on bass, Jimmy Calvert on guitar, Tom Hensley on piano, Milt Holland on percussion, and Tom Scott and Chuck Finley on horns.

No. 47, Forty-Seven Years Ago

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020

We’ve not done anything in 1973 since sometime last year, so I thought we’d fire up the Symmetry machine and jump into the middle of April 1973.

I was finishing my second academic year at St. Cloud State, but I recall at most two of the classes I took. I think I repeated the basic history class I’d failed during my first quarter on campus, replacing African history with a look at Nineteenth Century anarchism in Europe. And with more than a hundred other folks, I was taking an orientation to Denmark (once a week, I think), and as we met, I had no clue that most of the people in that room would become friends with whom I would still gather more than forty years later.

(Of course, at nineteen, I couldn’t conceive of things being forty years later. Hell, I trouble trying to figure out what life was going to be like five months later when most of us in that room headed out to Denmark. And I kind of knew that however I envisioned it, it would be different.)

Otherwise, I was hanging around at The Table in the student union, laughing and sipping coffee with about ten other folks, three of whom remain in my life today. And I assume we heard at least some of mid-April’s Billboard Top Ten as we gathered not far from the jukebox:

“The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia” by Vicki Lawrence
“Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be the First To Say Goodbye)” by Gladys Knight & The Pips
“Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree” by Dawn feat. Tony Orlando
“Ain’t No Woman (Like the One I Got)” by the Four Tops
“Sing” by the Carpenters
“The Cisco Kid” by War
“Danny Song” by Anne Murray
“Break Up To Make Up” by the Stylistics
“Killing Me Softly With His Song” by Roberta Flack
“Call Me (Come Back Home)” by Al Green

Well, the records by Gladys Knight, the Four Tops, the Stylistics, Roberta Flack and Al Green save that set of ten, although “Neither One Of Us” is one of Knight’s lesser efforts (and the same might be said of the Four Tops’ record).

Lawrence’s attempt at a southern gothic tale of good ole boys, illicit romance, murder and lynching has always fallen flat to me, with too much pop sheen and too lilting a chorus. Slow it down a fair amount, add some swamp, and have Cher include it on her Muscle Shoals album, and I’d probably like it.

I tuned out “Yellow Ribbon” and “The Cisco Kid” whenever I heard them, and even though I liked some of the Carpenters’ stuff, “Sing” was just too saccharine. As to “Danny’s Song,” I much prefer Loggins & Messina’s 1971 version.

So, how many of those ten have stayed with me for nearly fifty years? Among the 3,900-some tracks in the iPod, I find only the records by Gladys Knight and the Stylistics. I’m surprised by the absence of the records by Al Green and Roberta Flack; those will be added by the end of the day.

And what of our other business today? When we drop to No. 47 in that long-ago Hot 100, what do we find? Well, we find the only Top 40 hit for an R&B group from Harlem, and it’s a record I remember well, one I liked a lot. And it was in fact one of the first tracks I dug out of the LP stacks to rip to an mp3 when I got my digital turntable: “I’m Doin’ Fine Now” by New York City.

Released on the Chelsea label, the record went to No. 17 in the Billboard Hot 100, No. 14 on the magazine’s R&B chart, and No. 8 on the Easy Listening chart.

Full Moon Omens

Friday, September 13th, 2019

All week – perhaps a little longer – my news feed at Facebook and commentary at a few other places have been filled with folks’ anxieties about the confluence today of a full moon and Friday the 13th.

It’s an accepted part of modern folklore – and perhaps there are some studies out there validating that folklore, but I’m not going to go hunting for them this morning – that things get weird out there on the nights of full moons. Some folks swear that even if they didn’t know there was a full moon by the calendar, they’d recognize its existence by either the behavior of others or the workings of their own bodies.

I won’t gainsay those folks, as I don’t know. In my working life – as a reporter/editor and as an educator – I came across plenty of weirdness, but I never cross-checked its timing against the phases of the moon. I guess I just assumed that there was weirdness in the world.

And Friday the 13th has never meant much to me. Its notoriety as a day of bad luck is simply folklore. Here’s the history of it as presented by Wikipedia:

The irrational fear of the number 13 has been given a scientific name: “triskaidekaphobia”; and on [sic] analogy to this the fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskevidekatriaphobia, from the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή, meaning “Friday”), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς, meaning “thirteen”).

The superstition surrounding this day may have arisen in the Middle Ages, “originating from the story of Jesus’ last supper and crucifixion” in which there were 13 individuals present in the Upper Room on the 13th of Nisan Maundy Thursday, the night before his death on Good Friday.While there is evidence of both Friday and the number 13 being considered unlucky, there is no record of the two items being referred to as especially unlucky in conjunction before the 19th century.

An early documented reference in English occurs in Henry Sutherland Edwards’ 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini, who died on a Friday 13th:
“He [Rossini] was surrounded to the last by admiring friends; and if it be true that, like so many Italians, he regarded Fridays as an unlucky day and thirteen as an unlucky number, it is remarkable that on Friday 13th of November he passed away.”

It is possible that the publication in 1907 of Thomas W. Lawson’s popular novel Friday, the Thirteenth, contributed to disseminating the superstition. In the novel, an unscrupulous broker takes advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on a Friday the 13th. A suggested origin of the superstition – Friday, 13 October 1307, the date Philip IV of France arrested hundreds of the Knights Templar – may not have been formulated until the 20th century. It is mentioned in the 1955 Maurice Druon historical novel The Iron King (Le Roi de fer), John J. Robinson’s 1989 work Born in Blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry, Dan Brown’s 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code and Steve Berry’s The Templar Legacy (2006).

Interesting stuff, I guess. We need some music to match it, but as I wander through the digital stacks, I come up empty on both sides. A number of tracks have the word “moon” in their titles, but none of them seem to hit the mark today. And a fair number of tracks have the word “Friday” in their titles, but none hit the date or the mood.

So let’s go with the word “superstition.” Here’s Jeff Beck, Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice, recording as Beck, Bogert & Appice, taking on Stevie Wonder’s tune for their self-titled 1973 album.

Another September 4

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

As always, when September 4 rolls around, I’m taken back to 1973 and the evening I got a plane for the first time and began the nearly nine-month adventure in Denmark (and elsewhere in Europe) that became – as I’ve noted before – the single most formative experience of my life.

Even forty-six years later, the images, thoughts and sounds of that time are still vibrant, part of the inner furnishings that define me and much of my life. And it is on days like today that I am grateful for the gift (and occasional curse) of a good memory, as I recall the taste of my first meal in Copenhagen (a stew advertised as a Stroganoff but not quite getting there), my first attempt to find the correct train from Copenhagen back to a suburban hostel (a comedy of errors in two languages), the first time my arm slipped around the waist of a young lady whom I would come to love, and so much more.

Those and all the rest of my adventures have been covered enough here over the years, I am sure. Beyond what I’ve said above, I’ll not add to that word count today.

Nor will there be music here today. The song of love and memory and wonder that would fit how I feel today has never been written, never been sung.

At about half past nine tonight, I’ll tip my glass to the memory of the more than a hundred of us who made our ways onto a Finnair jet during that long-ago evening, the first step of more than a hundred individual journeys. Most of us are still living. Some have left us. But I remember them all, and so much more.

And I always will.

Saturday Single No. 656

Saturday, August 31st, 2019

The end of August hangs in the air this morning, and the first thing that comes to mind is acorns. As readers might recall, our acre-plus lawn on the East Side was blessed with thirty-four oak trees, and every other August or so, the lawn and adjoining street would be covered with acorns. We have none here at the condo; the three trees that guard our southern flank are flowering crab, linden and maple. I kind of miss the acorns.

But there’s more to the end of August than that. I still feel the pull of the school year; the end of the eighth month of the year and the beginning of its ninth still feels to me like a major point, an end and a beginning. That’s laid, no doubt to my long connection with education: one year of Kindergarten followed by twelve years of elementary and secondary education, five years of college, two years of graduate school, five years of college teaching, and about twelve years of newspapering in communities where all things school-related – from board meetings to athletics to the activities of the various clubs – were among the major topics of coverage.

Even though I’ve been long separated from reporting and from school matters, the end of August feels like a gateway into a new time. Things other than reporting and school signal that: Football season is here for the colleges, and my Minnesota Vikings take the field in a little more than a week. And then, autumn is my favorite season, as I’ve noted before. So there are those things.

I got to thinking about August’s endings in the past, and two a decade apart raised their heads: August 1983 when I was about to begin my two years of graduate study at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism and was concerned about how I’d fit in, and – inevitably – August 1973, when I was just days away from boarding a Finnair jet and heading off for a college year in Denmark, somewhat apprehensive of being away from home for truly the first time.

No such import attaches itself to this August about to end. This has not been an entirely uneventful time: The Texas Gal retired yesterday (though she will return to the same non-governmental organization next week as a part-time employee, armed with the leverage of being able to negotiate her tasks and her hours). Otherwise – and I find this reassuring regarding the tranquility of our current life – the only other news of the month is the welcome installation of a garbage disposal unit in the kitchen.

So how to find a tune? Well, we’re going to play Games With Numbers with today’s date – 8/31/19 – and turn that into 58.Then we’re going to drop into the earlier of those two Augusts that came to mind, 1973, and see what record was at No. 58 as August came to a close. I imagine it will be familiar.

And indeed it is: We fall onto “Ramblin’ Man” by the Allman Brothers Band, a record that was on its way to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 (and to No. 12 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart). And it’s appropriate, in that the first time I ever heard “Ramblin’ Man” was in the lounge of the youth hostel where most of us on our Denmark adventure lived for at least a portion of that school year.

But it’s overly familiar, too, so we’re going to make an adjustment and listen to the flip side of the single. That, too, is a track I first heard in that hostel lounge distant in both time and space, but it’s heard less often than the hit record. With that, here’s “Pony Boy,” today’s Saturday Single:

Saturday Single No. 650

Saturday, July 20th, 2019

I’m here briefly and woozily, following a night of poor sleep and heading into a day of a few unavoidable tasks. So this is a place-holder, just to show people that I was here today.

And since it is July 20, the fiftieth anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s “One small step,” I’m going with a moon song. I could have dressed it up with memories of that remarkable evening half a century ago, but you know, I have no great insights about that evening, at least on this rainy, blurry morning.

We sat in the living room – Mom, Dad, my sister and I – and, like everyone else, watched those ghostly figures move around on the moondust. I knew I was watching a miracle of science and courage, but beyond that, I got nothing this morning.

So here’s a somewhat moon-related tune I’ve been hearing a lot lately, as I listen to my new Jimmie Spheeris CD – it offers his first two albums, 1971’s Isle Of View and 1973’s The Original Tap Dancing Kid – as I wander through my errands. This is “Moon On The Water” from the 1973 album, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

No. 46, Forty-Six Years Ago

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

Having dabbled in 1973 the other day, looking at how I occupied my daytime during the summer of that year and what I likely heard on Chicago’s WLS during my nighttime ponderings, it seemed like a good idea to play our game of Symmetry with the early summer of 1973 and see what sat at No. 46 in the Billboard Hot 100 during that time forty-six years ago.

Two of the top three records in the Hot 100 that came out during this week in 1973 were also atop the WLS survey we looked at two days ago. At WLS, Paul McCartney’s “My Love” and Sylvia’s “Pillow Talk” were Nos. 1 and 2 respectively. On the Hot 100, they were Nos. 1 and 3, separated by Clint Holmes’ “Playground In My Mind.” As I indicated the other day, “Pillow Talk” really made no impression on me then, and I found the Clint Holmes record insipid from the start, and my distaste for it only increased.

“My Love,” though, I liked and still like. For some reason, it’s one of the two records that puts me in St. Cloud’s East Side Dairy Queen sometime during the summer of 1973, waiting in line with Rick and our pal Gary for some frozen treat. Even having heard the song live during a McCartney concert in 2002, it still pulls me back to soft-serve.

But let’s get to our game. What was it that sat at No. 46 in the Hot 100 forty-six years ago this week? Well, it’s a record that will please one of my long-time readers,assuming this blog is still on that person’s reading list: “Back When My Hair Was Short” by Gunhill Road.

The record – the band’s only Hot 100 hit – was in its twelfth week on the chart, heading back down after peaking at No. 40. I recall it only vaguely. I can’t find a survey from the Twin Cities’ KDWB for the time, but a WDGY survey from late May of 1973 I found at Oldiesloon shows “Back When My Hair Was Short” sitting at No. 10. So I likely heard the admittedly catchy record back then but paid little attention. My loss, I guess.

Gazing Out My Window

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

I got to thinking this morning about June 1973, recalling that by the time the month’s second week rolled around, I’d likely settled into my summer routine on the campus of St. Cloud State:

In the mornings, I’d spend four hours wandering around campus with about three other fellows employed by the Learning Resources Center (the library, in the vernacular), lugging cases filled with cleaning supplies and projection lamps. We’d spend about a week in each classroom building, moving from room to room and doing maintenance on projectors, noting as well which pieces of equipment needed more care than we could provide.

In the afternoons, I’d head to the Education Building and be a janitor for four hours, vacuuming, sweeping, washing blackboards and whiteboards, emptying trash and doing all the other things that janitors do.

The two half-time jobs were increasing the balance of my savings account nicely, so that in September I could add my funds to the vastly larger sum my parents were contributing to my college year in Denmark. In June, that September departure still felt a little distant, though I increasingly found myself gazing out my bedroom window during the nighttime hours, wondering what I would find in Denmark and how it would all feel. As it turned out, very little of my nocturnal imaginings came close to the Danish reality.

As I sat at the window during those nighttime reveries, I’d have my clock radio playing low, probably tuned to WLS out of Chicago. As it happens, the collection at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive has a copy of the station’s Solid Rock Music survey released on June 11, 1973, forty-six years ago today. Here’s the top ten there:

“My Love” by Paul McCartney
“Pillow Talk” by Sylvia
“Daniel” by Elton John
“Frankenstein” by the Edgar Winter Group
“I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby” by Barry White
“Hocus Pocus” by Focus
“Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)” by George Harrison
“Playground In My Mind” by Clint Holmes
“One Of A Kind (Love Affair)” by the Spinners
“Right Place, Wrong Time” by Dr. John

The only one of those I don’t recall hearing as frequently as its position might indicate is the record by Sylvia. And the only one of those I would never want to hear again is the record by Clint Holmes. (I disliked “Playground In My Mind” from the moment I heard it, and I disliked it even more after there had been a self-made disaster in my life involving a girl named Cindy.)

The other eight, I liked, although the yodeling in “Hocus Pocus” had a short shelf life.

I should note the presence of “Right Place, Wrong Time” by the recently departed Dr. John. I loved the record, just as I came to love the bulk of the good doctor’s work through the years. (There were a few albums and tracks over the years that left me wanting, but only a few.) And I was lucky enough to see Dr. John in 1989 as a member of the first iteration of Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band. So the news of his passing last week was another grief-bearing reminder that time is getting short – short for my generation, yes, but even more so for the generation that preceded us and brought us our music. I won’t write much about him after this, as I’ve read too many tributes in the past few days to separate my thoughts from the things I’ve read, but I’m doing the second-best thing a music lover and writer can do: I’ve put Mac Rebennack’s work on heavy rotation here this week.

Back to WLS’ Solid Rock Music from forty-six years ago today and a few other favorite singles from the time:

No. 16: “I’m Doin’ Fine Now” by New York City
No. 18: “Shambala” by Three Dog Night
No. 27: “Diamond Girl” by Seals & Crofts
No. 31: “Natural High” by Bloodstone

And we’ll close with the record that was at No. 13 on WLS that long-ago week, a record by another now-departed performer who was also on stage with Ringo Starr in 1989. Here’s “Will It Go Round In Circles” by Billy Preston.

Saturday Single No. 630

Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

Proving two things, the Faces’ “Ooh La La” – the title track to their 1973 studio album – has shown up over the last couple of months wherever there are televisions. It’s the aural centerpiece of a commercial for the Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker and its virtual assistant, Alexa, a spot titled “Dad’s Favorite Song.”

In the commercial, we get a montage of a girl growing up from tea parties with Dad to the moment she’s left alone in her college dorm room for the first time. Backing the montage at points is “Ooh La La,” Dad’s favorite tune with its chorus line, “I wish that I knew then what I know now, when I was younger.”

(The commercial seems to get a couple of vital points right the first time Dad play her the tune: The label of the LP seems to be the green Warner Brothers label from 1973, and it appears as if Dad lifts and then drops the needle of the record player close enough to the label to be playing the final track on the LP, which is where one would find “Ooh La La.”)

And at the end of the spot, the young woman lies on her dorm bed, in her first moments alone at college and tells Alexa to play Dad’s playlist: First up is “Ooh La La.”

It’s an effective commercial. I’ve never sent a child to college, much less to camp or kindergarten. But I remember how it felt to be sent to camp or off to a college year overseas. I recall how in those first moments alone there might easily have been an impulse to hold on for a moment to whatever anchor there might be before letting oneself go into one’s new world.* So, yeah, the brief film works. Viewers’ eyes around the target universe no doubt get a little misty (the two eyes here included).

That proves the first thing: Damn near anything can be commercialized. No surprise there. And as much as I might bemoan using music dear to millions to market another gadget, I can’t get too uptight about it. It’s the way of the world and has been for years. At least it’s done well.

And then to proof two: Earworms are insidious. In the weeks since the spot began to air, “Ooh La La” – especially its chorus – has become an earworm of massive proportion for me and for the Texas Gal. I have to admit that I did not recognize it when I first began seeing the commercial, at least not entirely. I knew I had heard the track but not when or where. It actually sounded like something that might have come out in the early 1990s, when a dad of today about to send his daughter off to college could easily have been in his early teens.

So yes, that means I did not recognize the Faces. Maybe I should have, but ever since I tipped to the Beatles in the late summer and early autumn of 1969, I’ve know that there has always been way too much music out there for me to know about all of it. There’s a lot I know. There’s a lot I am unfamiliar with.

I’ve known a few things by the Faces: The vinyl stacks used to hold Long Player, the Snakes & Ladders anthology and – from their days as the Small Faces – Ogden Nut’s Gone Flake, all picked up between 1997 and 2000 when I was bringing home more vinyl than I could listen too, much less absorb. I know “Ooh La La” was on Snakes & Ladders, so I know I’d heard it before the commercial came along. I didn’t recognize it.

But, as sometimes happens, the song would not leave me alone. “I wish that I knew then what I know now . . .” would flip through my head at odd times. The same thing happened to the Texas Gal, and at her urging late last evening, I dug into the tune finding – yes, to my chagrin – that it came from an album released during 1973, a year that’s smack in the middle of my sweet spot.

I knew a little about the album, if only because of the presence of the track “Cindy Incidentally,” a tune that showed up in one of my music books not long after an intense relationship with a girl named Cindy.

Well. We’ll harvest “Ooh La La” from somewhere – I may try to get past Uff Da Records on an errand outing today, but if not, there’s always Amazon – and add it to the stacks. I’ll likely listen to the rest of the Faces’ work (and their earlier work as Small Faces). After all, I wish I knew then what I know now.

And here’s “Ooh La La,” today’s Saturday Single.

*Musically for me, it was Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4,” which was playing on my tape recorder moments after I got up on September 5, 1973, our first full day in Denmark.