Posts Tagged ‘David Seville’

Imprinted

Friday, October 5th, 2018

So last evening, as the small music group from our Unitarian-Universalist fellowship got some music ready for Sunday, our conversations wandered all over our musical landscapes. Three of us are about the same age, and we know pretty much the same songs (although the other two have a better grasp on folk while I know more pop and rock). Our occasional old fogeyness is leavened by our fourth member, who is a graduate student in her twenties.

Anyway, we were working on a couple of tunes to accompany a program on a local social justice initiative. We settled on Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” and “The Hammer Song (If I Had A Hammer),” written, of course, by Pete Seeger although we’re performing it more in the style of Peter, Paul & Mary. And we came to a quandary as we worked on the latter.

I was running through the chords on the keyboard, playing from memory and by ear while Jane was following along with guitar, using the chord sheet she’d found in her binder. And at one point, we were playing different chords. So I pulled out my phone to jump onto YouTube to give a listen to Peter, Paul & Mary.

“It’s going to be in a different key,” said Tom, who was working out a bass line for the song.

“I’ll still be able to tell if they’re going to the tonic or to the dominant,” I said. (I’m kind of the music theory geek among the bunch.) And we soon found that the chords on Jane’s sheet were right and my ears (and memory) had been in error. And along the way we ran across Trini Lopez’ 1963 version of the Seeger song, a very rapid live version that went to No. 3 in the Billboard Hot 100.

I laughed, telling the others that I have the 45, which came to me from my sister. She got it in 1963 from one of those grab bags you could get at record stores, something like twelve records for a buck. And I mentioned that I liked the flip side – Lopez’ take on “Unchain My Heart” a little bit better.

Then we went back to work, getting a handle on the two songs for this coming Sunday. We’re still a little shaky on “Stand By Me,” but we’re okay on “If I Had A Hammer.” As we began to pack away guitars and close up the keyboard, our young friend Cassie headed out for home and sleep – a precious commodity for a grad student.

The rest of us chatted for a few minutes. We talked about our early records: children’s 78s, classical 78s and early 45s. Jane recalled having a copy of Sheb Wooley’s “The Purple People Eater” (No. 1 for six weeks in 1958), and Tom recalled David Seville’s “Witch Doctor” (No. 1 for three weeks, also in 1958).

And then we three old fogies found ourselves singing “Ooo eee ooo ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang! Ooo eee ooo ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang!”

And we laughed and marveled at how music imprints itself on us, the marvelous, the mundane, and sometimes, the just plain silly.