Archive for the ‘1966’ Category

‘Theme From A Dream”

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020

A few years ago, when I wrote about an old house I visit in a recurrent dream, I ended the post with a version of Boudleaux Bryant’s haunting “Theme From A Dream” by the Larry Page Orchestra. It’s a tune that I first came across – surprise! – on my first Al Hirt album, Honey In The Horn, released in 1963:

Guitar legend Chet Atkins was the first to record Bryant’s song, releasing it on his 1959 album, Chet Atkins In Hollywood. And the website Second Hand Songs lists only two other artists – beyond Atkins and Hirt – who’ve recorded the tune: Pianist Floyd Cramer has two versions listed, as does Dutch singer Willeke Alberti, who recorded the song as “Jij (Jij Alleen)” on two different occasions. (The Dutch words were written by Dutch producer Pieter Goemans.)

There are other versions of the tune out there, as some wandering through YouTube shows. We might come back to them later. For now, here’s the first of Alberti’s two versions, recorded in 1966 and released as a single.

The Last ‘Time’

Wednesday, June 17th, 2020

Somewhere around the beginning of 1965, my dad subscribed to Time magazine. I seem to recall President Lyndon Johnson on one of the first covers that we saw. And I imagine that I – then eleven years old – poked through each of the magazine’s weekly editions a little bit as they came through the mail slot.

Dad read each week’s edition carefully, a few pages each evening before bedtime. And a lot of what he – and I, when I took advantage – read was something we found nowhere else: coverage that supplemented the St. Cloud and Minneapolis newspapers with a wider variety of national and international news. (That news came, I now know, with a great helping of Timesnark, the right-wing and elite attitudes fostered in the weekly by founder Henry Luce just forty years earlier.)

(Some of that coverage we might have been able to get from any of the evening news shows, but watching television news was not part of our evening routines. The only broadcast news we absorbed on Kilian Boulevard during the 1960s and early 1970s was the CBS News morning report on WCCO radio, generally running in the background as we had breakfast and prepared for school and work.)

As I grew into a news junkie, I read the magazine more and more frequently. Once I started college, I added regular reading of Newsweek at the St. Cloud State library, and a few years later, when I left home for the world of work, that’s the magazine I subscribed to, seeing it as less snarky and slightly more hip to pop culture.

Still, at Kilian Boulevard, Time fell through the mail slot every week. Sometimes Dad would pass them on to me; during my college year in Denmark, he clipped stories he thought would interest me and packaged them weekly with clippings from the daily newspapers and Sports Illustrated to keep me entertained and at least a little up-to-date. (Those thick envelopes, probably about thirty of them, are still with me, tucked away in a box full of other stuff I brought back from my adventure in Denmark.)

And week after week, month after month, year after year, the magazine kept coming to Kilian Boulevard. When Dad died in 2003, I helped Mom change the account into her name. And the magazine would eventually come to her at her Waite Park home, at her Ridgeview Place assisted living apartment, and finally, at Prairie Ridge, the facility’s memory care unit.

Somewhere during the last years of her life, Mom had renewed her subscription to Time into mid-2020, when she would be 98 years old. (I think she got stung by one of those companies that offers to renew a subscription and then charges an additional $50 or so for the renewal.) Anyway, after Mom died, I just switched the subscription into my name, and Time kept coming to the East Side and, most recently, to the North Side.

When Dad first subscribed during the mid-1960s, a news consumer’s options beyond daily newspapers were limited. There was some radio news, three national television broadcasts at dinnertime and the three main newsmagazines, Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report. And Dad read his editions of Time from cover to cover.

Now, in 2020, the information that Time brings me is dated. I have twenty-four-hour news from multiple sources on my TV and my computer. I glance at the first few pages of each edition, but almost always, it gets set aside and sits on my end table until the next weekly edition arrives. There’s nothing wrong with the magazine’s coverage – it quit being snarky (for the most part) years ago – but in general, the magazine offers nothing I can’t get elsewhere for a cheaper price. So I haven’t renewed the subscription.

That’s why the edition of Time that came late last week will be – I think – the last one. (I maybe wrong, and one more may come my way, but no more than that, I’m sure.)

After Mom died in 2017, we sold her things, closed accounts at her bank and elsewhere, disconnected her telephone and took care of other, similar, tasks. I think the subscription to Time is the last bit left of Mom and Dad’s life on Kilian Boulevard. And after more than fifty-five years and about 2,880 weekly editions, that’s ending this month.

Here are the Pozo-Seco Singers and their 1966 track “Time.” (I thought about the Rolling Stones’ “The Last Time,” but I’ve never really liked the record.)

Saturday Single No. 689

Saturday, May 16th, 2020

I worked at a number of things during my professional career: college teacher, corporate researcher, skip-tracer, public relations writer, newspaper editor and reporter. If I am at base any of those things, it is that last. Even more than twenty years after I closed my final notebook, I am a reporter, a newspaperman.

That’s why the story published May 13 in the Minneapolis Star Tribune – headlined “Twin Cities weekly newspapers are shutting down in the face of pandemic” – was distressing. The newspaper business has been in crisis for some time, of course. The rise of the 24-hour news cycle on television and the availability of other news sources on the Internet, along with other factors, have made newspapers more vulnerable, dropping circulation and thus depressing ad revenue.

Then, as the piece notes, add the impact of Covid-19 to society in general and to the business sector particularly, and ad revenues drop even more. The story wasn’t surprising to me; I’ve noticed the Minneapolis paper becoming noticeably slimmer in the past two months, and Time magazine, too, is remarkably more slender when I take it from the mailbox. That revenues have been falling at community newspapers as well is not startling.

Just as distressing as the actual news about weekly papers in the Twin Cities area, however, were the personal connections. I’ve known reporters, editors and publishers at many of the newspapers mentioned in the piece, and one of the newspapers that recently closed was the Eden Prairie News, where I wrote for almost four years in the early 1990s.

In a lot of ways, those were good years for me: I was coming out of my wandering phase – I had moved seven times in a little less than four years, going from Minnesota to North Dakota back to Minnesota to Kansas to Missouri and finally back to Minnesota again – and was looking for a place to stay for a while, perhaps even thrive. Eden Prairie and its newspaper helped me do both. And I was saddened to see that the newspaper is gone and sad, too, to see that the vibrant city I enjoyed getting to know is now without a local paper.

I imagine the day will come when print news is dead instead of just dying, and it may come in my lifetime. Maybe I’m wrong. Actually, I think I am. I see the major national newspapers – the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and others – surviving, and maybe even the newsmagazines like Time will do so, too. But I expect that smaller cities and town will be without local papers, and I think that will include St. Cloud.

There are about 100,000 folks in the St. Cloud metro area, and for years, the St. Cloud Times – owned by the Gannett chain – has been struggling, downsizing office space and shedding staffers in an attempt to stay upright. Someday, I think, the corporation will pull the plug. And the same is going to happen, I think, to newspapers all over the country in a lot of medium-sized cities like St. Cloud. We’ll all be poorer for it.

So I looked on the digital shelves for a track with the word “sad” in the title, to match how I feel as I write this, and I came up with “Sad Wind,” a 1966 instrumental B-side from a group called the Imperial Show Band. It came to me through the massive Lost Jukebox collection, and though it doesn’t sound particularly sorrowful, it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Four At Random

Friday, May 15th, 2020

We’re wandering through iTunes today, landing on four of the 3,900-some tracks I keep there and on my iPod.

First up is “I Want Candy” by the Strangeloves. The Strangeloves were a goof perpetuated in 1965 by Brill Building writers Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gotterher. As Dave Marsh notes in The Heart of Rock ’n’ Soul, they decided in the wake of the British Invasion that “if the public wasn’t interested in domestic acts, they’d reinvent themselves as foreigners.” So they became the Australian brothers Miles, Giles, and Niles Strangelove, claiming to “have taken their rhythmic ideas from aborigines and to have added Masai drums after hearing them while on an African safari. The goof worked, with the Masai drums – actually tympani – helping “I Want Candy” to get to No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100.

We jump ahead to 2019 and “Moonlight Motel,” the most effective track on Bruce Springsteen’s Western Stars:

There’s a place on a blank stretch of road where
Nobody travels and nobody goes
And the Deskman says these days ’round here
Two young folks could probably up and disappear into
Rustlin’ sheets, a sleepy corner room
Into the musty smell
Of wilted flowers and
Lazy afternoon hours
At the Moonlight Motel . . .

Last night I dreamed of you, my lover
And the wind blew through the window and blew off the covers
Of my lonely bed,
I woke to something you said
That it’s better to have loved, yeah it’s better to have loved
As I drove, there was a chill in the breeze
And leaves tumbled from the sky and fell
Onto a road so black as I backtracked
To the Moonlight Motel

She was boarded up and gone like an old summer song
Nothing but an empty shell
I pulled in and stopped into my old spot

I pulled a bottle of Jack out of a paper bag
Poured one for me and one for you as well
Then it was one more shot poured out onto the parking lot
To the Moonlight Motel

As regulars here know, I love Springsteen’s work, but I have to admit that most of Western Stars left me unaffected, its subdued mood not really grabbing me. It held together thematically, but most of the tracks were just okay. I did, however, think that “Moonlight Motel” worked, and worked well.

Great Speckled Bird was a Canadian county band put together in 1969 by folk performers Ian and Sylvia Tyson. Named after the 1938 recording by Roy Acuff, the group released a self-titled album in 1970, You Were On My Mind in 1972 (billed as Ian & Sylvia & The Great Speckled Bird), and was credited on Ian Tyson’s 1973 album, Ol’ Eon. Wikipedia notes that the band continued to back the duo until their break-up in 1975. What we get this morning is a track from the 1970 album, “Long Long Time To Get Old.” The song is a series of vignettes, most of which end with the advice, “Remember this, children: If the good lord’s willing, live a long, long time to get old.” I guess it sounded profound in 1970.

Our final stop brings us one of those sappy things that I carry close to me and always will: “Somewhere My Love (Lara’s Theme from ‘Dr. Zhivago’)” by Ray Conniff & The Singers. The 1966 single went to No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent four weeks on top of the magazine’s Easy Listening chart. I heard it, no doubt, on WCCO from the Twin Cities and on KFAM from St. Cloud’s south side, and it became one of my favorite records from the mid-1960s. The song itself is also one of my favorites: there are twenty versions of the tune on the digital shelves by performers like Roger Williams, Ramsey Lewis, Ferrante & Teicher, along with – of course – the Conniff version and several versions by Maurice Jarre, who wrote the soundtrack for the film.

Saturday Single No. 636

Saturday, April 6th, 2019

So I wandered around the digital shelves this morning as I waited for my over-the-counter meds to kick in, and I idly searched the 77,000 tracks in the RealPlayer for the word “ache.” (Yeah, I was feeling a bit sorry for myself.) And I got back 230-some results.

As usual with those searches, a lot of stuff had to be trimmed out, including a 1966 album titled I Can’t Grow Peaches On A Cherry Tree by someone called Just Us. Based on the notes attached to the mps3, I scavenged it from a blog called raremp3 about the time I started blogging and never paid much attention to it.

So as I listened to the tune “Listen To The Drummer,” I began to dig. It turns out that Just Us was a duo made up of studio musician Al Gorgoni and Chip Taylor, who is perhaps best known as the writer of “Wild Thing” and “Angel Of The Morning.” (He’s also known, less interestingly to me, for being the brother of actor John Voight and thus the uncle of Angelina Jolie.)

The album’s an assortment of mid-1960s close-harmony folk with a few familiar covers (and generally spare instrumentation). It’s a little bit bland at times but decent. It threw off one minor hit on the Colpix label, as the title track went to No. 34 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 3 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart in the spring of 1966. Discogs tells me that Kapp Records, which released the album, sent out three more singles in the next year or so, two of them pulled from the Cherry Tree album and another with A and B sides pulled from a 1967 EP titled What Are We Gonna Do. None charted.

Just Us was the second group to record “I Can’t Grow Peaches on a Cherry Tree,” which was written by Camille Monte and Estelle Levitt. Second Hand Songs says that The Browns (with the addendum, “Featuring Jim Edward Brown”) were the first in June 1965. Their version bubbled under at No. 120. Just Us recorded the tune in December of 1965, followed by Nancy Sinatra in August 1966, a group called the Defenders in December 1966, and Teddy Bear & The Playboys sometime in 1967. Second Hand Songs also lists one instrumental version by Art Blakey in September 1966 and a version in Portuguese by Jerry Adriani in October 1965.

And that’s likely more than we need to know about “I Can’t Grow Peaches on a Cherry Tree.” I’ll likely check out Nancy Sinatra’s version, but probably not any of the others. For today, we’ll go with the hit. So here’s “I Can’t Grow Peaches on a Cherry Tree” by Just Us, today’s Saturday Single.

No. 53, Fifty-Three Years Ago

Thursday, March 21st, 2019

With my time self-limited this morning – I have two or three errands that I want to complete before watching the University of Minnesota men’s basketball team take on Louisville in the NCAA tournament – I’m jumping into another game of Symmetry this morning, this time taking a look at the Billboard Hot 100 from fifty-three years ago.

During the third week of March 1966 – as represented by the Hot 100 released on March 19 – the top three records in the Hot 100 were “The Ballad Of The Green Berets” by S/Sgt. Barry Sadler, “19th Nervous Breakdown” by the Rolling Stones, and “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’” by Nancy Sinatra.

I heard all three regularly, somewhere. (Most likely, as I think about it, in Mrs. Villalta’s art classroom, where she allowed us to play the radio at low volume while we drew or inked or clayed.) And I was pretty much okay with all of them, as I am with two of them these days: Both the Stones’ record and “Boots” are among the 3,900-some tracks in the iPod.

About Sadler’s record: As awful as the war in Vietnam was, thoughtfulness about it had not yet percolated to the level of seventh grade; that – along with opposition to the war – would take a couple more years, so Sadler’s record, which was No. 1 for five weeks, did not bother me or my peers. We thought the Green Berets were heroes. But when it popped up on one of the Sixties radio channels maybe a month or so ago, I winced.

And now, we’ll drop a few slots past the mid-point of the Hot 100 and check out No. 53 from fifty-three years ago this week. There we find one of Edwin Starr’s first hits: Stop Her On Sight (S.O.S.),” which would peak at No. 48 a week later (and would go to No. 9 on the Billboard R&B chart).

The record was on the Ric-Tic label, but in his 1989 book The Heart Of Rock & Soul, Dave Marsh notes that Starr’s first hits “may have been released on this minor-league Motor City label, but their every inflection established that Motown was embedded in the grooves of his destiny,” adding that the record was “one of the greatest non-Motown Motown discs ever cut, with the same booting backbeat, the same thunderous baritone sax riffs and a vocal as tough and assured as any of the early Marvin Gaye’s.” (Marsh ranks the single at No. 210.)

‘I’ll Try To Carry On . . .’

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

As the Texas Gal and I were waiting for something to start on television the other week, we wandered up and down the music channels our cable provider offers, roaming from current hits to blues classics with a lot of stops in between. During one of our trips through the offerings, we chanced upon the channel devoted to Top 40 from the Sixties, which was playing “Rag Doll” by the 4 Seasons.

“That was one of my favorites when I was a little girl,” she said. “I loved to sing along with it.” The record, the fourth of five eventual No. 1 hits for the group from Jersey, hit the charts in 1964, when the Texas Gal was less than ten years old, but with sisters five and ten years older than she, the music of the early 1960s has always been familiar to her.

As it was to me, four-and-a-half years older and a thousand miles away. I didn’t always pay attention, but – as I’ve noted before – the music that my sister, my peers and their siblings listened to was always around me, even when I was more content listening to Al Hirt and John Barry. So when I gathered in a 4 Seasons collection on vinyl in the early 1990s, the music was familiar from years of radio play.

But I’ve not written much about the group or its music or about the music released by group leader Frankie Valli as a solo artist. The bulk of that music goes into a file of “stuff I heard when I was a kid but I learned about and appreciated later,” like “Rag Doll,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like A Man” and quite a few more. But the stuff from the comeback years in the 1970s – the 4 Seasons’ “Who Loves You” and “December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night)” and Valli’s solo hits “Swearin’ To God” and “My Eyes Adored You” – is all vivid from my Atwood Center hours at St. Cloud State.

One of those later hits, “December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night),” was one of the two-hundred-some records I selected for my Ultimate Jukebox nine years ago. I wrote at the time:

I was sitting at The Table at St. Cloud State’s Atwood Center in early 1976 when the 4 Seasons’ “December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night)” came on the jukebox. My friend Stu shook his head. “Man,” he said, “what a great bass line. One of the best ever.” I took that judgment under advisement, and over the years, I’ve polished it to the point where I credit the 4 Seasons’ hit – it was No. 1 for three weeks – with having the best pop music bass line ever. And it is the bass line that moves the song along as it tells its tale of a one-night stand.

And beyond a brief comment about the Jersey boys’ cover of Bob Dylan’s “Tambourine Man,” that’s about all I ever said about the group, except to note that in Billboard, the group “had thirty Top 40 hits between 1962 and 1976 (with a dance remix of “December 1963 (Oh, What A Night)” going to No. 14 in 1994 for a thirty-first hit).”

I’m not going to take off on a major tour of the group’s hit presence here (except to note that along with the Top 40 charting, some of their 1960s work reached the magazine’s R&B Top 40 and some of the 1970s records did well on the Adult Contemporary Top 40).

But Valli and the 4 Seasons have been getting some play here recently. As I did some simple work to get the Texas Gal a copy of “Rag Doll,” I dug more deeply than before into the Valli and 4 Seasons catalogs from both the 1960s and 1970s. The Seventies stuff remains favored because those tunes were part of the soundtrack of my college days. But there’s plenty, of course, to enjoy from the 1960s records. And the one I recall most vividly hearing and generally liking, no doubt at friends’ homes and quite possibly during an eighth grade dance at South Junior High is “Opus 17 (Don’t You Worry ’Bout Me).”

Did I dance to it back in 1966? Very unlikely, as I was mostly a wallflower in those days. But, as I said, I would have heard it around me as it went to No. 13. And its story of noble acceptance of a lover’s departure is still worth a listen today:

Saturday Single No. 625

Saturday, January 19th, 2019

Tired, weary, fatigued . . .

I had more energy, I’d go get my thesaurus and look up some more synonyms.

Here’s Jim and Jean’s version of Bob Dylan’s “Lay Down Your Weary Tune.” It was first released on their 1966 album Changes, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Love, Murder & Regret

Friday, October 26th, 2018

One of my regular stops for tunes new to me or for new perspectives on tunes familiar is the fine blog Any Major Dude With Half A Heart. From imaginatively themed mixes to the multi-part history of country music, I’ve gotten more tunes from the Halfhearted Dude than I can easily digest, all offered with trenchant commentary.

We don’t agree on everything. There are tunes and genres he likes that leave me wanting, and I know there are tunes and genres dear to me that likely draw from the Dude eye-rolls worthy of a teen. As an example, I wasn’t crazy about everything he offered this week in his “Any Major Murder Songs Vol. 1,” which was nevertheless a fun mix. And one of the tracks in the mix pulled me back to one of my own explorations here: Olivia Newton-John’s 1971 cover of “Banks Of The Ohio,” a song of love, murder and regret.

I included Newton-John’s live performance of the song five years ago when I looked a little bit at the song’s long history. As I wrote then, it was startling “to see earlier this week in the Billboard Hot 100 from October 30, 1971, that Olivia Newton-John had a hit with a gender-flipped version of ‘Banks Of The Ohio.’ The single went only to No. 94 here in the U.S. (No. 34 on the Adult Contemporary chart), but it was No. 1 for five weeks in Australia.”

Here’s the studio version:

The Halfhearted Dude called the track “the weirdest” of the twenty-four he included in his murder collection. I left a note at his blog suggesting that if he truly wanted weird, he should listen to Glenn Yarbrough’s take on the tune, found on his 1957 album Come Sit By My Side. The video I linked to five years ago was layered with surface noise; in this video, the purposeful and disquieting dissonance conjured up by Yarbrough and his producer, whoever he was, is much more audible, as is Yarbrough’s odd and jarring diction. I called the whole thing “creepy” five years ago, and I have not changed my mind.

And when I shared Yarbrough’s “Banks Of The Ohio” five years ago, frequent visitor, commenter and pal Yah Shure agreed with my assessment: “Creepy is right! Must thoroughly cleanse musical palate now.”

He went on to compare Yarbrough’s take on the old folk song to a record a local band recorded during his youth:

Some fellow students from my high school were in a band called the Poore Boyes, whose “Give” – a 1966 single on the local Summer label – was a reverb-drenched love-’er and stab-’er affair that I’m guessing didn’t generate boatloads of requests at their high school prom gigs, in spite of some airplay on KDWB. It had that minor key/echo/surf Kay Bank Recording Studio sound (think “Liar, Liar” with knives and blood.)

Here’s the Poore Boyes “Give” on the Summer label (along with the B-side “It’s Love”):

There was a second version of “Give” by the Poore Boyes, Yah Shure said:

The group re-cut . . . er, re-recorded “Give” in a much drier version for Capitol’s perennially-hitless Uptown subsidiary, but the lyrics sounded even creepier – more premeditated, even – when uncloaked from the murky, damp darkness of the earlier echo-fest.

Here’s that second version:

I’ll let Yah Shure have the final word on “Give,” from his comments five years ago: “Maybe Olivia should’ve covered it.”

Getting My Kicks

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018

I’ve been bingeing the past few weeks on soccer, the game that the rest of the world calls football, as the World Cup competition plays out in Russia.

I’m by no means an expert on the game, but I’m beginning to understand some of the more complex commentary put forth by the announcers on the Fox networks, and that’s helped with my enjoyment of the game. So, too, has the quality of some of the games, particularly yesterday’s 3-2 victory by Belgium in the round of sixteen (which has a place – though I’m not sure of its rank – in my informal list of the most exciting sports competitions I’ve ever seen).

Given my lineage and my personal history, I tend to root for Scandinavian teams. Two of the three that qualified for the thirty-two team event in Russia – Denmark and Iceland – have been eliminated, leaving Sweden playing today for a spot in the quarterfinals. The Swedes are okay to watch, but I’ve had the most fun watching Belgium, whose fast attacking style seems at odds with everything I’ve known about the game for years.

Those who know me personally might know that my ancestry – according to the genealogy – is half-Swedish, three-eighths German and one-eighth something from the Nineteenth Century Austro-Hungarian Empire. (One of my great-grandmothers was born in a small town in what is now Hungary that sits about fifty miles from Vienna, Austria. If there were one person on my family tree to whom I’d love to give a DNA test, it would be she.) Given my Germanic roots, then, one would assume that I might root for the German soccer team. But I can’t, for historical and personal reasons. In fact, I was actually pretty pleased that the Germans were eliminated in the group round of play.

And today’s first game is set to start in just a few minutes, so I’ll leave you with the entirely unrelated 1966 classic by Paul Revere & The Raiders, “Kicks.”