Archive for the ‘Saturday Single’ Category

Saturday Single No. 641

Saturday, May 18th, 2019

I used to collect letter openers. Not in any organized sense, like collecting promotional letter openers or state souvenir letter openers. I just bought or accepted letter openers wherever they caught my eye.

I had a couple nice ones. One was made from some kind of stone and came, I think, from Mexico. I don’t remember where I got it. I only know that I dropped it and it broke. Or maybe it broke the day I moved from Monticello to St. Cloud for the summer of 1987. Some college kids were helping with the move, and one of them made his stack one box too tall.

The box on top was the one with the letter openers, and that might have been when the stone one broke. I know it was when another one broke. That was the letter opener I’d bought for my grandfather in Barcelona in 1974. I got it back after he died in 1981, and on a June day in 1987, it got dropped and broke into three pieces.

I imagine the box with letter openers is in another box somewhere in the garage or maybe somewhere among the clutter on my side of the family room. And I don’t really collect letter openers any more, but I do have five of them in the brass jar on the table less than a foot from me as I write:

One of them celebrates the University of Virginia; I got it from the Other Half in 1987 when she returned from an archeological dig at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Another celebrates Boston; I think that came from my parents in 1999 after they toured New England. A third is hand-made, a green and white plastic artifact crafted in seventh-grade shop class at South Junior High and given to my grandfather for Christmas 1965. Another is made of iron; it’s an eight-inch replica of a Civil War musket that I got at Gettysburg during a 1968 vacation.

opener

The fifth is more ornate: It’s essentially an eleven-inch dagger with a scabbard that my sister bought for me in Barcelona during the summer of 1968. It’s what prompted me to buy a letter opener there for my grandfather six years later (though the one I bought for him was smaller and less ornate).

I rarely use any of them for opening mail. We generally do that upstairs, and there’s a utilitarian silver opener in the coffee mug on the kitchen cart.

I have no tracks on the digital shelves about letter openers, but there are plenty about letters. Here’s one from 1967 I found in the massive Lost Jukebox collection, “Today (I Got A Letter)” by the Fifth Order, a garage rock band that hailed from Columbus, Ohio. It’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 640

Saturday, May 11th, 2019

Here are the top ten albums in the Billboard 200 released fifty years ago yesterday, May 10, 1969:

Hair by the original cast
Blood, Sweat & Tears
Galveston by Glenn Campbell
Nashville Skyline by Bob Dylan
Donovan’s Greatest Hits
Cloud Nine by the Temptations
In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by Iron Butterfly
Bayou Country by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Help Yourself by Tom Jones
Led Zeppelin

Four of those ten, the LP database tells me, never showed up in the vinyl stacks: the records by the Temptations, Iron Butterfly, Tom Jones and Led Zeppelin. I had some other Zep and a Temptations anthology, and I once made the misguided decision to buy Iron Butterfly’s live album. (The live version of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” was even more aimless than was the studio version.) No albums by Tom Jones ever showed up in the vinyl stacks.

A few of those – the BST, the Campbell, the CCR – are great albums. Nashville Skyline is enjoyable, but somehow seems slight; if we’re listening to Dylan from 1970, I prefer New Morning. And the Donovan album is pleasant, but my judgment on his work has been the same since it first came out of the radio speakers in the mid- to late 1960s: It’s for the most part a series of trifles with little substance.

The most interesting of those ten might be Hair. I think the cast album was more a marker of a social moment than a record one listened to (unless one had seen the musical, I suppose), but what I noticed about the music was the number of cover hits it inspired: “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In” went to No. 1 for the 5th Dimension, “Hair” went to No. 2 for the Cowsills, “Good Morning Starshine” went to No. 3 for Oliver, and “Easy To Be Hard” went to No. 4 for Three Dog Night. The Happenings tried to get in on the trend, too, but their medley of “Where Do I Go/Be-In/Hare Krishna” stalled at No. 69. And there may be other covers I’m not aware of.

As to current listening, a fair number of tracks from those albums are among the 3,900-plus tracks on the iPod: a couple from Nashville Skyline, a couple from Galveston, and seven each from Blood, Sweat & Tears and Donovan’s Greatest Hits. (Yes, I said Donovan’s works are basically trifles; that doesn’t mean they’re not fun to listen to.)

As it happens, I drove to the train station in Big Lake the other day to head to a Twins game with Rob, and I let the Blood, Sweat & Tears album keep me company. Even with David Clayton-Thomas’ tendency to over-sing, the album is pretty high on my list. (How high? In my top fifty, maybe.) I had kind of forgotten how jazzy things get during the instrumental breaks.

And I was also reminded as I listened that Blood, Sweat & Tears was the first album I got after I got my tape player during the summer of 1969. I’ve long since added it on vinyl and CD, which puts it pretty close to the front of the line in terms of music I’ve listened to the longest.

So here’s “Smiling Phases” from Blood, Sweat & Tears’ 1969 self-titled album. It’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 639

Saturday, April 27th, 2019

As a follow-up to Tuesday’s post, which dug into the “Now 30” survey put out by WHBQ in Memphis fifty years ago – in April 1969 – I thought I’d sort the 77,000-some tracks in the RealPlayer and see how many tracks from that year reside on our digital shelves here.

It turns out to be around 3,800. (It’s hard to get an accurate count because many of the tracks on the shelves are tagged with two dates, a recording date and a release date, which confuses things. So I estimate.) Those 3,800-some range alphabetically by artist from a single – “Catwoman/Life & Death In G. & A.” – by a group called Abaco to the self-titled album by the group Zephyr.

By title, the tracks go from “(Come On Little Child) Talk To Me” – parentheses always show up first – by a group called 49th Parallel to “Zig Zag Man” by the group Dangerfield. If we ignore parentheses and numerals, the track topping the stack is “Abalony” by the group Love. (In my stacks, the words “A” and “The” at the beginning of a title are appended to the end of the title, just like in the library.)

Running time? The briefest, at nine seconds, is Mississippi Fred McDowell’s statement “My name is Fred McDowell. They call me Mississippi Fred McDowell . . . And I do not play no rock ’n’ roll, y’all. I just play the straight, natch’l blues . . .” The briefest musical entry is “Willie’s Concern,” found on the collection of Robert Cobert’s soundtrack work for the late-1960s soap opera Dark Shadows. The longest is “Bitches Brew,” the twenty-seven minute piece that was the title track to Miles Davis’ acclaimed album.

And to find a tune for Saturday morning, I’m going to put the cursor in about the middle of the stack, among the tracks that run 3:09, and click five times. And barring complications (being overly familiar is considered one of those, as is not finding the tune at YouTube), our fifth click will give us a tune.

And that’s how “Polar Bear Rug” by Ten Wheel Drive with Genya Ravan – from the album Construction #1 – came to be today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 638

Saturday, April 20th, 2019

As I’ve mentioned before, my sister and I have many boxes of stuff taken from the house at Kilian Boulevard to sort through. Most of those are at my sister’s home: In the months after Dad died and before she moved out to a patio home in Waite Park, Mom would send box after box with my sister to the Twin Cities’ suburb of Maple Grove to sort through someday.

Once the Texas Gal and I were living in the house on the East Side and Mom was in assisted living, she and I would go out to her storage units and she’d send boxes with me. By the time Mom was gone there was a pile of about fifteen boxes – mostly full of photos and genealogical materials – in my storage spaces, as well.

For numerous reasons, my sister and I hadn’t done much sorting over the winter. But the other day, she came up from Maple Grove, and we went through a couple of boxes. We found lots of photos, some shot by my dad, and others mailed over the years to Mom and Dad. We kept those of people we know, and I’m scanning them, with plans to make CD’s for our cousins.

We found some interesting things that might matter to the right audience. For instance, we found a high school annual-sized book detailing the history of the small town of Lamberton, Minnesota, where my grandparents lived – first on a farm and then in town – for forty years. I made a call this week to the Redwood County Historical Society, and the fellow I talked to said he knows about the book, but the only copy the group has is kind of beaten up. I told him I had a near-mint copy for him. He said that when I send it, I should include a page or two detailing my connection to the book and to Lamberton and include as detailed a list of ancestors as I can.

And then there was Dad’s stuff related to his college career, both as a student and a faculty member: his diplomas for his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, several of his annual contracts, magazines with pieces he’d written about audio-visual education. I took it over to St. Cloud State’s archivist and spent most of an hour going through it. A lot of it will go into the file they keep there for Dad; some of it will go elsewhere in the archives as appropriate, and some, he said, they might not need.

And come Monday, after a week that didn’t quite go as expected. I’ll get back to sorting and scanning photos and then tying those photos to the appropriate pages at Ancestry.com as I dig further and further into my history (and that of the Texas Gal, too).

So I’ve been dealing – and will continue to do to box-by-box for some time – with history. That’s one of musician Al Stewart’s favorite topics, too, and he approaches it in a different way in his song “Tasting History.” It’s from his 2000 album Down In The Cellar, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 637

Saturday, April 13th, 2019

Last evening we attended a local production of Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the first production written years ago by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. It was lively, fun, well-done, and a good time. And it got us home relatively early as these things go, about 10. That gave us time enough to stay up late.

So after settling in, we watched a couple episodes of Season Six of Game of Thrones in advance of the premiere of Season Eight tomorrow evening. We watched a couple more this morning before beginning our Saturday chores. We might finish Season Six before tomorrow evening, but we won’t have time for Season Seven. That’s okay, as it’s still relatively fresh in our memories, I think.

Anyway, along with frittering away our time on fantasy, we’ve been keeping the household running. I’m doing more these days than I have since early January, although there are some tasks I cannot yet resume. I keep trying to remind myself as I sit at the computer or sit on the couch that healing of any kind – physical or emotional – takes time. I’d kind of forgotten that.

So, three paragraphs, all mentioning time. That’s a cue. The RealPlayer has more than 2,800-tracks that come up in a search for “time.” As usual, some go by the wayside, like all of Ronnie Aldrich’s All-Time Piano Hits and Big Maybelle’s Saga of the Good Life & Hard Times as well as everything but the title track from Anne Briggs’ The Time Has Come and many more.

Still, as one might expect, there’s a lot to work with. And I run across an easy listening version of “It’s Going To Take Some Time” by the Button-Down Brass (featuring the “funky trumpet” of Ray Davies). The song, written by Carole King and Toni Stern and first released in 1971 on King’s album Music, showed up here eight years ago when I waded through King’s work in the wake of my Ultimate Jukebox. Other than that, it’s been ignored.

Along with those two versions, the RealPlayer also offers the Carpenters’ cover of the tune, which went to No. 12 in 1972, the only version of the song ever to reach the Billboard Hot 100. (The Carpenters’ record also went to No. 2 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart.)

Now, I once referred to the Carpenters as sitting on the softest end of the pop-rock couch or something similar, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like their work, or at least some of it. And Karen Carpenter’s voice was a thing of beauty. So for all of the above reasons, here’s “It’s Going To Take Some Time,” today’s Saturday Single.

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.

Saturday Single No. 635

Saturday, March 30th, 2019

I didn’t sleep well, unaided by cats who demanded breakfast at 7 a.m., and my back hurts this morning, more than it has for some time.

I’m in a cranky mood. None of the 77,000-some tracks in the RealPlayer have the word “cranky” either in their titles, their album titles or their notes. This increases the cranky quotient.

The word “back,” however, brings up more than 1,400 results. Some of them – as is usual with a RealPlayer search – must be discarded, as they contain the word “backing” in their listing or they link to an album, like the Bible’s Walking The Ghost Back Home (1986). Stuff like that.

In addition, many of the titles in the search results refer to “go back” or “come back” or similar usages, not to “back” as a body part. But there are a few tracks I can pull to offer something back-related to listen to this morning.

And we find a track from an album I discovered in 1998, during my last year on Pleasant Avenue in South Minneapolis. “Get Off My Back” is on the self-titled 1975 album by a group called High Cotton. The information at discogs.com categorizes the band as Southern Rock and seems to indicate that the band never released another album. (A single, “Going Up To Get Down,” was pulled from the album; it was the group’s only released single.)

I recall having high hopes for the album and being vaguely disappointed with it, but twenty-plus years later, “Get Off My Back” sounds pretty good. Not world-beating, but good enough for a Saturday morning.

That’s why “Get Off My Back” from High Cotton’s 1975 self-titled album is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 634

Saturday, March 23rd, 2019

It’s been an earworm week. I was in the living room the other day, likely reading the paper, with the iPod running through the CD player in the kitchen. And then came Art Garfunkel’s clear tenor:

Clearing skies and drying eyes
Now I see your smile
Darkness goes and softness shows
A changing style . . .

I lay the paper on the couch and sat back as Garfunkel made his way through “Disney Girls (1957),” the sweet paean to nostalgia written by Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys and first released on the Boys’ 1971 album Surf’s Up.

And for the past three or four days, bits and pieces of the song’s lyrics have popped in and out of my head at odd times:

Patti Page and summer days on old Cape Cod . . .

I’m in love with a girl I found . . .

She likes church, bingo chances, and old time dances . . .

A forever wife and a kid someday . . .

Fantasy world and Disney girls, I’m coming back . . .

The record didn’t chart back in 1971; from what I can tell at discogs.com, it was released as a single only in Holland. Nor did Garfunkel’s 1975 version, which showed up on his Watermark album and was the B-side of his “Break Away” single. Nor, from a quick check of Joel Whitburn’s books, has any other version. The best known of those other versions may be the 1971 cover by Cass Elliot, which was the B-side to her single, “(If You’re Gonna) Break Another Heart.”

I’ve seen commentary – where, I cannot recall – that “Disney Girls (1957)” was a societal harbinger of the Fifties nostalgia that took hold of a lot of American pop culture in the early 1970s, a nostalgia reflected by movies like American Graffiti, television shows like Happy Days and its spin-off, Laverne & Shirley, and records like “Did You Boogie (With Your Baby)” by Flash Cadillac & The Continental Kids, to name just a few. Those things came along a little later, though, starting – if I have things right – in 1973. So what do I know? Fifties nostalgia never was a big deal to me, anyway.

It’s a nice song, though, and – as I said – it’s been running through my head at odd times this week. The site Second Hand Songs lists about fifteen additional versions of it, from the Beach Boys’ 1971 original through a cover by Mari Wilson in 2012. Maybe we’ll dig into some of those someday, but for now, here’s the original “Disney Girls (1957)” by the Beach Boys. It’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 633

Saturday, March 16th, 2019

I’ll be spending a good portion of today at my other keyboard – the musical one – getting ready to return tomorrow to my role as one of the musicians at our Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. Along with the standard offertory and the song we sing as the children head toward their classes, I’ll be playing two other pieces: I’ll lead the fellowship in a chant titled “Be Ye Lamps Unto Yourselves” at the close of the service.

And during the middle of the service, I’ll be playing as I sing Don McLean’s “Crossroads,” a meditation on life from his 1971 American Pie album. My compatriot Tom will sit in on bass, but I don’t know if I will have any other vocal support. No matter. I’ll do the best I can.

I’ve shared the tune here once before, about five years ago, but I thought that this time, I’d share the lyrics:

I’ve got nothing on my mind, nothing to remember
Nothing to forget and I’ve got nothing to regret
But I’m all tied up on the inside. No one knows quite what I’ve got
And I know that on the outside what I used to be I’m not. Anymore.

You know I’ve heard about people like me but I never made the connection
They walk one road to set them free and find they’ve gone the wrong direction
But there’s no need for turning back, ’cause all roads lead to where I stand;
And I believe I’ll walk them all, no matter what I may have planned

Can you remember who I was? Can you still feel it?
Can you find my pain? Can you heal it?
Then lay your hands upon me now and cast this darkness from my soul
You alone can light my way, you alone can make me whole . . . once again

We’ve walked both sides of every street, through all kinds of windy weather;
But that was never our defeat as long as we could walk together
So there’s no need for turning back, ’cause all roads lead to where we stand;
And I believe we’ll walk them all, no matter what we may have planned

“Crossroads” is a piece that’s sustained me through any of numbers of turns in my life over the past thirty-some years, reminding me that no matter which roads I walk, I will find myself where I am supposed to be. For that reason, and because it’s going to be in my head today, Don McLean’s “Crossroads” is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 632

Saturday, March 9th, 2019

So, I slept late. Watched as the Texas Gal moved our new furniture into its approved places (I could not help because of limitatons from my surgery), ate lunch and am now watching the Class A – generally the smaller schools – final of the state high school hockey tournament. (After two periods, St. Cloud Cathedral, where Rick, Rob and their siblings went to high school, leads Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin from up on the Iron Range by a score of 4-2.)

Obviously not much will get done in this space today.

So here, just because it’s Saturday, is “Dancing On A Saturday Night” by Flash Cadillac & The Continental Kids. It went to No. 93 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1974, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.