Saturday Single No. 630

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2 Responses to “Saturday Single No. 630”

  1. David says:

    “Ooh La La” also returned to “prominence” in the late 1990s when it was used by Wes Anderson in his 1998 film “Rushmore, when it played over the movie’s closing credits (talk about an excellent soundtrack).

    I’m guessing that you didn’t recognize the song as The Faces since its not Rod Stewart (or Ronnie Lane) singing; rather, it’s one of the rare vocals by Ronnie Wood for the band.

  2. casey says:

    That’s a sweet one.

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