Archive for the ‘1970’ Category

How Many Junks?

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

Summer – in a cultural sense – starts this week, the last days of May. (In a meterological sense, summer starts with the solstice, which will take place here in the American Midwest at 10:54 a.m. on Friday, June 21.) But these days of dwindling May have been disappointing, with too many clouds and too much rain and very few sunny days.

And that’s been a problem, as the Texas Gal has taken this week off from work, and we’d like to play in the sunshine. (Well, it was just as well that yesterday was kind of ooky, as we both had dental appointments and neither of us – especially she – wants to waste a nice day with the mundane unpleasantness of that.) Today, however, promises better times with a high temperature of about 75 (Fahrenheit) and – if I am reading the forecast on my phone correctly – at least dappled sunshine for the day.

So we’re going to go play in a few hours, starting with a lunch at one of our favorite restaurants. Then we’re going to wander a little ways from St. Cloud, looking for antique stores or junk shoppes that we have not visited recently. How many junks we buy depends on both our moods and our assessments of our wallets.

I had thought about dropping in here a song with “summer” found somewhere in its title, but the last sentence of that last paragraph pushed me in a different direction. Here’s Paul McCartney’s lovely brief ballad “Junk.” It was written in India in 1968 and was passed over for inclusion on the White Album and Abbey Road, finally seeing release on the solo album McCartney in 1970.

Forty-Nine Years

Saturday, May 4th, 2019

May 4, 1970: Four Dead In Ohio

Allison Krause
Jeffrey Miller
Sandra Scheuer
William Schroeder

Here’s Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young with the version of “Ohio” that was included on the live album 4 Way Street, assembled from 1970 performances in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago and released in 1971.

‘Dance Into May!’

Wednesday, May 1st, 2019

Here’s a piece that ran here ten years ago. I’ve edited it just a bit. Happy May Day!*

It’s May Day again

No one has left a May Basket at my door this morning. I’m not surprised: How long has it been since anyone actually left a May Basket anywhere? I suppose there might be places where that sweet custom lingers, but that’s not here.

I do recall spending hours with construction paper, blunt scissors and schoolroom glue at Lincoln Elementary School, painstakingly putting together May Baskets with my classmates. I was not an artistic child. My skills were such that my baskets – year after year – were lopsided creatures with little gaps and clots of dried white glue all over. And the May Baskets I made over the years never got left on anyone’s doorstep.

May Day has long been marked as International Workers Day, but on this May Day I do not know of any workers who will march in solidarity today. In Europe, certainly (and perhaps in other places as well), there will be such marches. I do wonder how relevant those marches and those marchers are in these times. How lively is the international labor movement these days? Probably not all that lively, and these may be days when a more vital labor movement would be useful, as societies and priorities are being reordered.

As to specifically celebrating May Day, though, I recall the days of the Soviet Union: May Day was one of the two days a year when there were massive parades across the expanse of Moscow’s Red Square, past the Kremlin and Lenin’s Tomb. It would have been a spectacle to see, of course. One thing the Soviet Union could do well was put on a parade.

Looking further back into May Day history, Wikipedia tells me that the “earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian [times], with the festival of Flora the Roman Goddess of flowers, [and] the Walpurgis Night celebrations of the Germanic countries. It is also associated with the Gaelic Beltane.” May Day, in pagan times, the account continues, marked the beginning of summer.

Current celebrations still abound in the land of about half of my ancestors, according to Wikipedia: “In rural regions of Germany, especially the Harz Mountains, Walpurgisnacht celebrations of Pagan origin are traditionally held on the night before May Day, including bonfires and the wrapping of maypoles, and young people use this opportunity to party, while the day itself is used by many families to get some fresh air. Motto: ‘Tanz in den Mai!’ (‘Dance into May!’). In the Rhineland, a region in the western part of Germany, May 1 is also celebrated by the delivery of a tree covered in streamers to the house of a girl the night before. The tree is typically from a love interest, though a tree wrapped only in white streamers is a sign of dislike. On leap years, it is the responsibility of the females to place the maypole, though the males are still allowed and encouraged to do so.”

Well, there is no dancing here today, at least not around maypoles (possibly around the kitchen if I am bored while waiting for the toaster). If I look real hard in the refrigerator, I might find a bottle of Mai Bock from one of the area’s breweries. That would be cause enough to celebrate.

Happy May Day!

A Six-Pack For May Day
“First of May” by the Bee Gees, Atco 5567 (1969)
“For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her” by Glenn Yarbrough, from For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her (1967)
“May Be A Price To Pay” by the Alan Parsons Project from The Turn Of A Friendly Card (1980)
“Mayfly” by Jade from Fly on Strangewings (1970)
“Hills of May” by Julie Felix from Clotho’s Web (1972)
“King of May” by Natalie Merchant from Ophelia (1998)

I imagine I’m cheating a little bit with two of those. But to be honest, I thought I’d have to cut more corners than I did. I was surprised to find four songs in my files with the name of the month in their titles.

How could I not play the Bee Gees’ track? It was, I think, the only single pulled from the Gibb brothers’ sprawling album Odessa, but it didn’t do so well on the chart: It spent three weeks in the Top 40, rising only to No. 37. Clearly out of style in its own time, what with the simple and nostalgic lyrics, the sweet, ornate production and the voice of a singer seemingly struggling not to weep, it’s a song that has, I think, aged better than a lot of the singles that surrounded it at the time. Still, I think “First of May” is better heard as a part of Odessa than as a single.

Speaking of out of style at the time, in 1967 Glenn Yarbrough’s honeyed voice was clearly not what record buyers were listening for. His For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her was a brave (some might say desperate, but I wouldn’t agree) attempt to update his sources of material, if not his vocal and background approaches: Writers whose songs appear on the album include Stephen Stills, Bob Dylan, Buffy Ste. Marie, Phil Ochs, the team of Mike Brewer and Tom Shipley and, of course, Paul Simon, who wrote the enigmatic and beautiful title track. I don’t think the new approach boosted Yarbrough’s sales much – at least one single was released to little effect in Canada and the UK; I don’t know about the U.S. – but the record enchanted at least one young listener in the Midwest. The album remains a favorite of mine, and Yarbrough’s delicate reading of the title song is one of the highlights.

The Alan Parsons Project track “May Be A Price To Pay” is the opener to The Turn Of A Friendly Card, the symphonic (and occasionally overbearing) art-rock project released in 1980. Most folks, I think, would only recognize it as the home of two singles: “Games People Play” went to No. 16 in early 1981, and the lush “Time” went to No. 15 later that year. The album itself was in the Top 40 for about five months beginning in November 1980 and peaked at No. 13. That success paved the way for the group’s 1982 album, Eye In The Sky, which peaked at No. 7 in 1982, with its title track becoming a No. 3 hit. As overwhelming as The Turn Of A Friendly Card can be, I think it’s Parsons’ best work.

I don’t know a lot about Jade; I came across the trio’s only album – rereleased on CD with a couple of bonus tracks in 2003 – in my early adventures in the world of music blogs. All-Music Guide points out the obvious: Jade sounded – right down to singer Marian Segal’s work – very much like early Fairport Convention with Sandy Denny. That’s a niche that a lot of British groups were trying to fill at the time, and Jade filled it long enough to release one album. “Mayfly” had more of a countryish feel than does the album as a whole.

According to AMG, “Julie Felix isn’t too well-known in her native United States, but since 1964 she’s been a major British folk music star and has been compared over there with Joan Baez.” Well, that seems a stretch to me, based on Clotho’s Web, the album from which “Hills of May” comes. The album is pleasant but has never blown me away.

One album that did blow me away when I first heard it in, oh, 1999, was Natalie Merchant’s Ophelia. Supposedly a song cycle that traces the character of Ophelia through the ages, the CD was filled with lush and melancholy songs, some of which were almost eerie. Repeated listening only made the CD seem better, if a bit more depressing. It’s a haunting piece of work, and “King of May” is pretty typical of the entire CD.

*The information at Wikipedia may have altered over these past ten years. If this were a newspaper piece, I’d check. But it’s a blog post and not a very important one, either, so I’m leaving that stuff as it was ten years ago.

‘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.

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:

‘Raise Your Voice . . .”

Monday, October 29th, 2018

Today’s lesson – offered in December 2007 in what was an earlier translation from the Dead Air Scrolls – comes from the Book of Onehit, Chapter One:

And in those days when AM Radio ruled the youth of the land of Usa, those young ones heard strange and wondrous sounds come from the speakers. Sundered into small tribes as they were, the youth of Usa listened carefully for their various leaders, waiting to hear what wisdom those leaders sent to them through the little speakers in their plastic appliances.

Messages of music came frequently to those who were members of the greater tribes, the tribes of Beatle and Dylan and Rolling Stone, the tribes of Who and Clapton and Chicago and Beegee, and also the tribes of the place called Motown, the Wonder and the Franklin and the Supreme Temptation. And those who heard these AM messages went to their temples and laid down their offerings, and they came away from the temples with their vinyl. And when they played it on their turning tables, lo, it rocked!

There were those whose messages were clearly heard but once. Later messages would not wake their tribes. Their tribes were of lesser size, and though the members of those tribes listened intently to the first messages, few found need to listen again. And soon no more messages were inscribed for those tribes in the Scroll of Top Forty. These were the tribes of Greenbaum, of Robin of the McNamaras, of Lemon Pipers and Blue Cheer, the tribes of Smith and Steam and Spiral Starecase, of Flying Machine and Bubble Puppy, of Jaggerz and Edison Lighthouse, of White Plains and Tee Set, the tribes of R. Dean Taylor and the Pipkins. And the world at large rejoiced at the silence of the Pipkins.

Many members of those tribes went to their temples and laid down their offerings. They took home with them their vinyl, most of them wiser and taking only the smaller pieces of vinyl with the original message, the one that AM radio had already sent them. And lo, they ignored the flipside.

Others would commit the sin of over-enthusiasm, offering more at the temple for the larger pieces of vinyl, those with the original message set amid the horror. For when they laid those albums on the turning tables, lo, they sucked. And no one came to their parties evermore. And tomorrow is a long time, indeed.

Those tribes dwindled, their members becoming more careworn and manic as the numbers around them decreased. They would utter pronouncements that were more and more ignored: “Crabby Appleton matters!” “Mock not the Ides of March!” “All hail Daddy Dewdrop!”

And the vinyl turned, and AM radio sent them no more messages. Many of them turned from their leaders, who had fallen silent. They sought new leaders, and lo, some of them heard from Climax. And some heard from Sailcat. And some from Miguel of the Rios. And they learned not and would not change their ways.

When the end of their days came, their boxes of vinyl were filled with album after album of Onehit and much horror, and those boxes were sent into exile at the thrift stores. Some in later days would avidly seek those Onehit messages and would gain them for small offerings. They would place them on their turning tables, and only those who liked irony would come to their parties.

And some would come to notice in those later days the greater messages amid the dross of Mouth & MacNeal and Skylark and Bullet, of Apollo 100 and Coven and Ocean, of Tin Tin and Bloodrock and Cymarron and Christie. “Wonders,” they called them. And so prospered the cult of Onehit. They sought the odd, the curious, the utterly weird and even the profane, as long as it was the only celebrated message from one tribe. Among the slightly odd but treasured remnants on vinyl was the work of Teegarden and Van Winkle of Westbound, whose message of “God, Love and Rock & Roll” had been heard by its adherents in the long-ago autumn of 1970 (reaching something called No. 22 in the Scroll of Billboard).

Long years later, as no other of their tribal messages had been celebrated enough to be in the Scroll of Top Forty, Teegarden and Van Winkle of Westbound were among those whose names were celebrated by the cult of Ohehit.

And the world at large still rejoiced at the silence of the Pipkins.

Hear now, all of you, the message of “God, Love and Rock & Roll.” It brought Teegarden and Van Winkle of Westbound into the Scroll of Top Forty in the autumn of 1970. And in years to come it would bring them to the attention of the cult of Onehit, whose parties must be odd indeed.

‘Sail On, Silver Girl . . .’

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

We spent a pleasant evening with Rob and his sister Mary Ellen the other Saturday, taking in a show by a local group called the Fabulous Armadillos. The show, titled “What’s Going On – Songs From The Vietnam War Era,” was remarkable, with the very familiar tunes – starting with the Animal’s “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” and ending with Ray Charles’ version of “America the Beautiful” – being performed as closely as possible to the original recordings.

(Interspersed between many of the tunes came memories and commentary from three veterans of the armed forces, two who served in Vietnam and one who served in Iraq, giving the evening a sense of gravitas.)

Performing the songs as closely as possible to the originals means, of course, finding local talent able to perform in a broad range of styles. I would guess the most difficult thing about a band like the Armadillos is finding vocalists. Not to downplay the instrumentalists – especially the guitarist of the group who replicated Jimi Hendrix’ famed Woodstock performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” just before intermission – but somehow vocal matching seems harder.

Which is why I wondered a bit when one of the group’s vocalists took his place in a spotlight during the first half of the show and the keyboard player in the shadows behind him moved into the familiar and beautiful introduction to “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” It’s one thing for a keyboard player to master Larry Knechtel’s astounding piano arrangement, and it’s quite another to find a singer who can match Art Garfunkel’s range and purity of tone.

Of course (well, perhaps I shouldn’t be so matter of fact about it, but having seen the Armadillos a couple of times, nothing they do really startles me beyond, occasionally, the choice of material), he nailed it, leading to one of several standing ovations the crowd gave the band during the two-and-a-half hour show.

And since then, in odd moments, I’ve found myself thinking about and assessing Paul Simon’s masterpiece, and not for the first time. Nearly ten years ago, when offering the 228 tracks of my Ultimate Jukebox, I thought about “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” writing:

I suppose there’s little argument about which record was the best thing that Simon & Garfunkel ever did. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is an extraordinary song and record. But as much as I’ve loved it over the years, I found myself uneasy sliding it in among the other records in this mythical jukebox. As well as looking for good records, I guess I was also looking for flow, for a collection of songs that would make interesting combinations and patterns as the tunes played. And I decided as I considered the work of Simon & Garfunkel that “Bridge” just brings a little too much weight along with it, stopping the show.

Well, it did stop the show the other week, at least for a few moments, and it touched a memory for me of a bicycle ride through the streets of Fredericia, Denmark, a ride that took place forty-five years ago this month. I was falling in love, and after spending an evening with the young lady, I was biking sometime after midnight to the home where I lived with my Danish hosts. As I wrote in a memoir a few years ago:

I was so enthralled, so immersed in the joy of falling in love, and one night, as I rode that big black bicycle home to Vejrøvænget, I sang the third verse of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” the verse that goes, “Sail on, silver girl. Sail on by. Your time has come to shine – all your dreams are on their way. See how they shine.”

I could not make the young lady in question shine as much as she deserved. And, not quite fifteen years later, when the same verse became a beacon in another chance at love, another woman and I learned that maintaining the luster is hard work, and we failed. Even with all that attached to it, that third verse of the song is still my favorite, and – after truly listening to the song for the first time in a long time – I find myself loving the song again.

Here it is, the title track of Simon & Garfunkel’s brilliant 1970 album:

What’s At No. 100? (October 10, 1970)

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nor can I.

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

2,397,000

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Let Me Run Down Your Fingers . . .’

Friday, September 7th, 2018

Looking back forty-eight years to the September 7, 1970, “6+30” survey from the Twin Cities’ KDWB, the top six records immediately start a playlist in my head:

“War” by Edwin Starr
“In The Summertime” by Mungo Jerry
“Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” by Stevie Wonder
“Make It With You” by Bread
“25 or 6 to 4” by Chicago
“Solitary Man” by Neil Diamond

Decent records all, but I find things more interesting in the bottom six of that long-ago survey:

“Holy Man” by Diane Kolby
“Lay A Little Lovin’ On Me” by Robin McNamara
“All Right Now” by Free
“Soul Shake” by Delaney & Bonnie & Friends
“Long Long Time” by Linda Ronstadt
“Tell It All Brother” by Kenny Rogers & The First Edition

We’ve talked about the bottom three of those at one time or another here, and the one that grabs my attention this morning is the first entry in that list: “Holy Man.” Sitting at No. 31, it was new to the survey:

The record peaked at No. 12 on KDWB three weeks later, which is probably why I recall it. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the record, but when I saw it listed on that 1970 survey this morning, I remembered hearing it and liking it.

The record’s success at KDWB was an anomaly, as “Holy Man” made it to only No. 67 on the Billboard Hot 100. There were a few other stations around the country where the record did well, based on what’s available at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive. In Kansas City, “Holy Man” went to No. 11 on KHB’s “40 Star Super Hit Survey,” as it did on the “Big Thirty” at Salt Lake City’s KNAK. A few other stations saw the record peak in the top twenty. One of those was the Twin Cities’ WDGY, where it got to No. 19. (The highest ranking that the surveys at ARSA show for the record is a peak at No. 4 on 2SM in Sydney, Australia.)

“Holy Man” was the only charting single for Kolby, a native of Houston, Texas, although several others were released in the U.S. and elsewhere between 1970 and 1974. All but one of those singles ended upon her one released album, a self-titled effort that – oddly – was not released until 1973, three years after her one bit of chart success. The one non-album single listed at Discogs – “Ju Ju Woman” – is also pretty good.

Kolby died in 2016 at the age of 70. Her life and career are examined in a post from this past June at the blog Aquarium Drunkard.