Archive for the ‘1971’ Category

Saturday Single No. 642

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

Here’s a piece that ran here in October 2015. I’m running it again today because of the number in the heading above. As you’ll see lower down, the minor mystery has been solved.

My sister and I had one of those “oh, my” moments last week at Mom’s storage unit when we found Dad’s alarm clock in a box of stuff. Every night he was home during his more than forty-six years on Kilian Boulevard, Dad had wound the little brown clock – Westclox? Timex? I don’t recall right now – and checked the alarm before setting it back on the nightstand and turning off the light for the evening.

It was that brown alarm clock that had started our weekdays during the school year, waking Mom and Dad at 6 a.m. They’d get dressed, and then Dad would rouse my sister and me while Mom headed downstairs to make breakfast for all of us.

When my second year of college started in September 1972, after my sister had decamped during the summer for marriage and a life in the Twin Cities, my mom decided to sleep in most mornings. That meant it was just Dad and me during the early morning, getting ready for our days across the river at St. Cloud State. He’d rise and dress, then wake me, and both of us would head out the door and drive off right around 7 a.m., he in his 1952 Ford and me in the 1961 Falcon I’d just inherited from my sister.

And for some reason, as the college quarter started during September 1972, Dad began waking me exactly at 6:42 a.m. Every day. Why that exact minute? I have no idea. But for some reason, that minute mattered.

There were days when I wasn’t quite sleeping, having surfaced from slumber to a half-waking state (a place between dreams and reality that I find quite pleasant), and I’d be aware of Dad standing next to my bed. Moments later, I’d hear the very faint click as the plastic tile in my clock radio flipped down, changing the time from 6:41 to 6:42, and Dad would shake my shoulder gently.

I’d nod, he’d head down the stairs to the kitchen, and I’d get out of bed and prepare for the day. By that time, neither of us ate breakfast at home, but when I got down to the kitchen, there would be a small glass of V-8 Juice and a larger glass of milk at my place at the table. I drank them standing up, and we’d head out.

And that’s how I started pretty much every school and work day from the autumn of 1972 until I moved away from Kilian Boulevard during the summer of 1976 (my time in Denmark excluded, although even there, I was an early riser). I never knew the significance of 6:42, and I never asked. I once mentioned it to my sister, and learned that before she left home, she was the 6:42 riser, with me following. Our conversation went elsewhere, so I never asked her the significance, if any, the minute had.

And I suppose I could have asked her last week, as she and I stood in the storage unit, looking at Dad’s clock with memories whirling in our heads. I didn’t think to do so.

She held up the clock and looked at me, as if to ask what to do with it. I shrugged; there are only so many things one can keep. She shrugged, too, and she placed Dad’s alarm clock into the box of things destined for an antique store.

In the time since I wrote this, I’ve asked my sister: Why 6:42? She said that she and Dad had learned that her rising at 6:42 gave her just enough morning preparation time to be ready to leave the house at 7 a.m. “That’s the only significance it had,” she said. And after my sister left Kilian Boulevard for her married life, I unknowingly inherited her schedule. As prosaic and utilitarian as that might have been, any time I see those three digits – whether as 6:42 or 642 – they bring me back to a time when I was much younger and my Dad was still here, winding his alarm clock every night.

And here’s an appropriately titled tune from the late Richie Havens: “Younger Men Grow Older.” It’s from an even more appropriately titled album, 1971’s Alarm Clock.

‘You Gotta Move’

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

I was going to write this morning about Mississippi Fred McDowell, the Rolling Stones and covers of the blues tune “You Got To Move,” but I’m getting a late start to the day. So I’m just going to throw out a preview. Here’s a remastered version of what the Stones did with the tune – they titled it “You Gotta Move” – on their 1971 album Sticky Fingers, a track that intrigued me during my early college days.

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. 631

Saturday, March 2nd, 2019

We took a brief look earlier this week at the Billboard Hot 100 from this week in 1971 – No. 48 Forty-Eight Years Ago – winding up with a very familiar and very loved record, Brewer & Shipley’s “One Toke Over The Line,” as our feature. This morning, we’re going to look at the first week of March 1971 at the Twin Cities’ KDWB.

Here’s the Top Ten in the station’s 6+30 for March 1 of that year, forty-eight years ago yesterday:

“D.O.A.” by Bloodrock
“One Bad Apple” by the Osmonds
“She’s A Lady” by Tom Jones
“If You Could Read My Mind” by Gordon Lightfoot
“Have You Ever Seen The Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Sweet Mary” by Wadsworth Mansion
“Mr. Bojangles” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
“For All We Know” by the Carpenters
“Watching Scotty Grow” by Bobby Goldsboro
“Mama’s Pearl” by the Jackson 5

Well, that’s a wide-ranging ten. I love the Lightfoot, the Creedence and “Sweet Mary.” I like “For All We Know” and “One Bad Apple.” I’m a little better than okay with “Mr. Bojangles” and “She’s A Lady.” ‘Mama’s Pearl” means nothing to me, either way. I dislike “D.O.A.” And I detest the Goldsboro record with the kind of fervor I feel for “Seasons In The Sun.”

But we’re going to go random, playing games with numbers and making today’s date – 3/2/19 – into 24 and see what was at No. 24 in that first 6-30 of March 1971.

And we come up with a B.J. Thomas record whose title sparks no memories: “No Love At All.” And of course, as the first chords of the record come up at YouTube, I recognize them, and as the song plays on, I remember hearing it and liking it as a seventeen-year-old who was pretty damned lonely. “Even the sad love is better than no love at all,” Thomas told me from my old RCA radio.

But from the perspective of forty-eight years, taking in my experiences and those of many friends with lots of loves, I’m not sure I can buy anymore all of what the song is selling:

Read in the paper nearly day
People breakin’ up and just walkin’ away from love and that’s wrong
That’s so wrong

A happy little home comes up for sale
Because two fools have tried and failed to get along
And you know that’s wrong

A man hurts a woman and a woman hurts a man
When neither one of them will love and understand
And take it with a grain of salt

Oh, now believe that
A little bit of love is better than no love
Even the bad love is better than no love
And even the sad love is better than no love at all
Got to believe that
A little bit of love is better than no love
Even the bad love is better than no love
And any kind of love is better than no love at all

No love at all is a poor old man
Standin’ on the corner with his hat in his hand
And no place to go, he’s feelin’ low

No love at all is a child in the street
Dodgin’ traffic and beggin’ to eat on a tenement row
And that’s a long row to hoe

No love at all is a troubled young girl
Standin’ on a bridge at the end of the world
And it’s a pretty short fall

Now people believe me
A little bit of love is better than no love
Even the bad love is better than no love
And even the sad love is better than no love at all
Got to believe that
A little bit of love is better than no love
Even the bad love is better than no love
And any kind of love is better than no love at all

Oh, you got to believe me
A little bit of love is better than no love
Even the bad love is better than no love
And even the sad is better than no love at all

It all depends, I guess, on how one defines “bad love,” and it seems to me there are some scenarios in there that are best moved past. But I guess that just as one shouldn’t expect one’s therapist to sing like a recording artist, one shouldn’t expect a singer to provide entirely useful counseling.

“No Love At All” peaked at No. 10 on KDWB three weeks later. In Billboard, the record peaked at No. 16. And it’s today’s Saturday Single.

No. 48 Forty-Eight Years Ago

Friday, March 1st, 2019

So today we’ll head back to March of 1971, during the last half of my senior year of high school. I was taking courses in astronomy, mass media, journalism and civics and I was singing in the concert choir and playing my horn in the orchestra.

I was also writing lyrics (most of them poor and/or derivative), reading science fiction and, well, being seventeen. And as March began forty-nine years ago, the No. 1 record on the Billboard Hot 100 was the Osmonds’ “One Bad Apple,” a decent enough record.

Our business, though, is further down, as it frequently is. Sitting at No. 48 forty-eight years ago this week was a record that we’ve heard here frequently, having explored its genesis and history at fair length as we went through my Ultimate Jukebox here years ago.

As I wrote back then, Brewer & Shipley’s “One Toke Over The Line” was a happy accident, as some noted in some comments on the duo’s web page:

Michael Brewer: “We wrote that one night in the dressing room of a coffee house. We played there a lot. We were real bored, sitting in the dressing room. We were pretty much stoned and all and Tom says, ‘Man, I’m one toke over the line tonight.’ I liked the way that sounded and so I wrote a song around it. We were literally just entertaining ourselves. The next day we got together to do some picking and said, ‘What was that we were messing with last night?’ We remembered it, and in about an hour, we’d written ‘One Toke Over the Line.’ Just making ourselves laugh, really. We had no idea that it would ever even be considered as a single, because it was just another song to us.”

Tom Shipley: “‘One Toke’ wasn’t meant to make it to record. We were opening for Melanie at Carnegie Hall, and we played two encores. We really didn’t have anything else to sing to them. So we played ‘One Toke,’ and the audience gave us a standing ovation. The record company president was there, and he said ‘Record it!’”

Record it, they did, with Jerry Garcia providing the steel guitar parts, according to Joel Whitburn in Top Pop Singles. As March began in 1971, “One Toke Over The Line” was heading up the chart, having moved from No. 57 a week earlier. It would peak at No. 10, the duo’s only Top 40 hit. (Two others, “Tarkio Road” and “Shake Off The Demon,” would peak at Nos. 55 and 98, respectively.)

What’s At No. 100? (1-23-1971)

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

Here’s the Billboard Top Ten from January 23, 1971, forty-eight years ago today:

“Knock Three Times” by Dawn
“My Sweet Lord/Isn’t It A Pity” by George Harrison
“One Less Bell To Answer” by the 5th Dimension
“Lonely Days” by the Bee Gees
“Black Magic Woman” by Santana
“Stoney End” by Barbra Streisand
“Groove Me” by King Floyd
“Your Song” by Elton John
“Rose Garden” by Lynn Anderson
“It’s Impossible” by Perry Como

Back then, as a high school senior, I liked almost all of these, some more than others. My faves among them were those by George Harrison, the Bee Gees, Elton John and the 5th Dimension. Those all merited an increase in volume when they came on the radio (although I don’t recall hearing “Isn’t It A Pity” on the air very often if at all).

I also liked the Santana and the Streisand singles, and I liked “Groove Me,” even though I thought it was a little weird, what with the grunting and all. And then there was “Knock Three Times.” I wrote some years ago about the decision that the St. Cloud Tech administration made as school resumed in September 1970 to relabel the cold lunch room as the Multi-Purpose Room and to install a jukebox. As I noted:

That was a move that I think the authorities eventually regretted, certainly by the second time Dawn’s No. 1 hit “Knock Three Times” drew the attention of some student’s quarter . . . When Tony Orlando and his crew told us to “knock three times,” feet stomped on the floor and books slammed on the table. “Twice on the pipe” drew the same reaction.

So, I liked the anarchy the record spawned, and I knew it had a great hook (even before I knew the term “hook”), but for some reason, it was still a little off-putting, kind of like Tony Orlando’s mustache.

What about “Rose Garden”? Well, the record was okay, but I was confused by the fact that about the same time the record began getting airplay, my sister was reading a book titled I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. Was there a connection? Almost fifty years later, I don’t know. I have a vague memory of reading a piece in which songwriter Joe South refers to the book – a 1964 semi-autobiographical novel about a young woman’s struggle with mental illness – in connection with his song.

In that interview, did South acknowledge the book’s title as inspiration for a hook? Or maybe he said that the book’s existence is why the song title was changed. It was first recorded in 1967 by Billy Joe Royal as “I Never Promised You A Rose Garden” but most subsequent recordings, including South’s and Lynn Anderson’s – were released as simply “Rose Garden.” I don’t know.

That leaves “It’s Impossible,” a record that was just too sappy, even for a kid who loved easy listening.

So that was then. How about now? Well, ten of those eleven are in the iPod. The only one that’s not there is the Perry Como single, which means that off-putting or not, “Knock Three Times” still has a place at the table (more by reason of nostalgia than quality, I guess).

And, as usual, we’re going to drop to the very bottom of that long-ago Hot 100 and see what we find.

When we play this game, most of the time we get a single that’s just okay. We’ve gotten some dreck. And now and then, we find a gem. Today, happily, is one of the gem days as we come across the first single by the Allman Brothers Band to reach the Hot 100: the Dickey Betts-penned “Revival (Love Is Everywhere).” The record was in its third week in the Hot 100, having peaked at No. 92. It would be gone a week later.

What’s At No. 100? (11/13/71)

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

I’m in the mood to play a round of What’s At No. 100, so I searched the Billboard Hot 100 files for charts released on November 13 over the years we generally cover here, and I ended up getting my choice of 1961, 1965, 1971, 1976 and 1982.

I know that my pal and blogging brother jb – who spins his tales at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ – would jump at the 1976 chart, as that is his year beyond all years. I’m going to pass on it, although I will satisfy some of his itch and tell him that the No. 100 record on this day in 1976 was “Daylight” by Vickie Sue Robinson, which had peaked the week before at No. 63.

But we’re going to head to November 1971, when I was nearing the end of my first quarter at St. Cloud State and struggling with the realities of maybe having a girlfriend (a story – one I do not believe I’ve told entire – for another time). Here’s the Billboard Top Fifteen for November 13, 1971:

“Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves” by Cher
“Theme from ‘Shaft’” by Isaac Hayes
“Imagine” by John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band
“Maggie May/Reason To Believe” by Rod Stewart
“I’ve Found Someone Of My Own” by the Free Movement
“Yo-Yo” by the Osmonds
“Peace Train” by Cat Stevens
“Have You Seen Her” by the Chi-Lites
“Inner City Blues (Make Me Want To Holler)” by Marvin Gaye
“Superstar/Bless The Beasts And Children” by the Carpenters
“Baby, I’m-a Want You” by Bread
“Never My Love” by the 5th Dimension
“Got To Be There” by Michael Jackson
“Do You Know What I Mean” by Lee Michaels
“Desiderata” by Les Crane

I know well all of those except for the 5th Dimension single, which was a live performance. It’s not on the digital shelves here, and a quick check at Oldiesloon tells me that it never made the 6+30 at KDWB in the Twin Cities, which is where I still did most of my Top 40 listening. I still tuned my RCA radio to Chicago’s WLS as I went to sleep, and the 5th Dimension record went to No. 10 there, so I likely heard it, but do not remember it.

And knowing the other fourteen well, hearing them in a cluster like this would be a time trip: Hanging with the guys in Stearns Hall, playing table-top hockey with Rick and Rob, enjoying a surprise evening visit from my maybe girlfriend, listening to the radio in the lounge at Carol Hall with a bunch of guys as we waited to learn our draft lottery numbers, failing basic chemistry and African history because I’d never learned how to study in high school, and a whole lot of other memories.

Do I really like all those records? Most of them. I can do without the Osmonds, and the Michael Jackson record has never meant much to me. Many of the others, as it turns out, are on my iPod: Cher, Isaac Hayes, Bread, Rod Stewart, the Free Movement, John Lennon, Cat Stevens, the Chi-Lites, Lee Michaels, and the Carpenters’ A-side. So it was a good month for me to listen to the radio.

But what lies below? What do we find when we head down the chart to No. 100? Well, we find a record that’s been featured here a number of times, “Hallelujah” by Sweathog, in its first week in the Hot 100. By the end of the year, the group’s cover of the Clique’s 1969 recording would peak at No. 33. Almost ten years ago, when I included Sweathog’s record in my Ultimate Jukebox, I wrote:

From the clanking introduction with its gospel piano and percussion through the workmanlike vocal and jubilant choruses, Sweathog’s single hit is fun. It doesn’t tap any major memories; it’s more of a dimly recalled artifact that it would have been nice to hear more often long ago.

Here it is:

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.”

Saturday Single No. 608

Saturday, September 8th, 2018

I had another less than perfect night of sleep; I was up by four o’clock, reading news online with iTunes keeping me company. And along the way, I heard Kate Taylor’s “Do I Still Figure In Your Life.” It’s from her 1971 album Sister Kate, an album I shared here long ago.

It’s a song I’ve long enjoyed. I imagine the first version I ever heard of it was Joe Cocker’s, which was on his 1969 debut album, With A Little Help From My Friends. And I wondered where the song came from and how many versions of it there are.

Well, it was written by Brit Pete Dello and first recorded by his group, the Honeybus. It was released in the U.K. as “(Do I Figure) In Your Life?” on the Deram label in October 1967, according to Second Hand Songs. Covers followed, of course, first from Dave Berry, another Brit. His version was released in 1968 on Decca in the U.K. and on a London promo in the U.S., according to Discogs.

Joe Cocker came next, recording the song under the title we generally see: “Do I Still Figure In Your Life?” Then came another Brit, Samantha Jones, in 1970, and finally, the song crossed the ocean in 1971 for Kate Taylor’s version. Second Hand Songs lists seven more covers in the years since. (The website is probably not comprehensive, but as I’ve noted before, it’s a good place to start.)

Among those seven covers was another take on the song by its writer, an effort credited to Pete Dello & Friends on the 1971 album Into Your Ears. Also of note is a 1974 version of the tune by Ian Matthews on Some Days You Eat the Bear and Some Days the Bear Eats You.

We’ll likely dig a bit further sometime soon and listen to some of those versions, including the original by the Honeybus, but I think this morning we’ll stick to the cover that started this morning’s diversions. So here’s Kate Taylor’s “Do I Still Figure In Your Life,” today’s Saturday Single.