Posts Tagged ‘Seekers’

Saturday Single No. 522

Saturday, January 7th, 2017

Here’s the Billboard Top Ten from January 7, 1967, fifty years ago today:

“I’m A Believer” by the Monkees
“Snoopy vs. The Red Baron” by the Royal Guardsmen
“Tell It Like It Is” by Aaron Neville
“Winchester Cathedral” by the New Vaudeville Band
“Sugar Town” by Nancy Sinatra
“That’s Life” by Frank Sinatra
“Good Thing” by Paul Revere & The Raiders
“Words of Love” by the Mamas & the Papas
“Standing In The Shadows Of Love” by the Four Tops
“Mellow Yellow” by Donovan

Still deeply into soundtracks and trumpet music at the time, about the only one of those I paid any attention to in early 1967 was “Winchester Cathedral,” and that was for two reasons: First, Rick’s older sister – or maybe one of her friends – had the record, and we’d heard it multiple times on New Year’s Eve as we whiled away the last hours of 1966. And then, being a fan of distinctive (read “odd”) music even then, I liked the faux 1920s vibe of the record.

The other nine records in that list, however, were unimportant to me although I’m sure I heard all of them as I made my way through the middle of eighth grade. From the vantage point of a half-century down the road, it’s a decent Top Ten. None of them would make me punch the button on the radio to change the station in irritation, but then, neither would any of them call me to sit in the car to hear the end of the record once I’d pulled into, say, the hardware store lot.

But then, I’m no longer dependent on the radio to hear any of those records; they’re all at my fingertips when I’m home, and I can add any of them to the iPod any time I want. In fact, that might be a better measurement of whether any of those records matter to me these days: Are they among the 3,751 tracks currently in the iPod?

As it turns out, six of them are. The four that are absent are the records by the Royal Guardsmen, Aaron Neville, the Mamas & the Papas and Donovan. That’s not a particularly surprising split, and of those four, I’m most likely to add “Mellow Yellow” to the mix, as I’ve neglected to place any Donovan at all onto the iPod.

There are others from that long-ago Hot 100 that are in the iPod, and there are likely others on the list that I’ve neglected to pull into the little appliance but should have. As I head down the list from No. 10, the first one I notice that fits into either of those categories is a record that was featured here as part of a Baker’s Dozen almost ten years ago, which is a long, long time in blog years. It was probably my favorite pop record in the first months of 1967.

So here’s “Georgy Girl” by the Seekers. Fifty years ago today, it was sitting at No. 20, having leaped up from No. 37 the week before. It would eventually spend two weeks at No. 2 (and get to No. 7 on the chart that today is called Adult Contemporary), and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

‘I Could Have Loved You Better . . .’

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

So, what is it about “The Last Thing On My Mind”?

I’ve been pondering the song – written by folkie Tom Paxton and first released on his 1964 album, Ramblin’ Boy – for a couple of days, and I’ve come to only one thought about it: Despite some references to modern life – like subways – it has to me the feel of one of those songs that’s always existed, a song that’s evolved and come down through the years, loved and passed on from one generation to another.

Here’s Paxton performing the song live in England in 1966:

From the time Paxton wrote the song, it’s been covered regularly (and in several different styles). According to the generally reliable site Second Hand Songs, the first cover was in 1964 by American singer Julie Felix, who was far more popular in the mid-1960s in England than here, and the most recent cover came last year from Tim Grimm, an Indiana musician who recorded the song for an album of covers titled Thank You Tom Paxton. From 1964 to 2011, Second Hand Songs counts forty-nine covers of the Paxton tune. (As I said above, the site is generally pretty reliable, but I know of one cover that was overlooked: The Dubliners, an Irish folk band, released their rather ordinary recording of the song on a 2002 compilation titled 40 Years; some mild digging has not yet revealed when that version was originally recorded.)

I’ve been able to track down quite a few versions of the tune. Among the earliest are those from the Vejtables (the California band I featured two days ago) and the soul/gospel duo Joe & Eddie, both from 1965.

The Vejtables’ version bubbled under the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 117, and a year later, a version by a folk quintet called the Womenfolk went to No. 105. The only version of the tune to actually make it into the Hot 100 was a limp rendition by Neil Diamond, which went to No. 53 in 1971. And in 1968, the duo of Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton took the song to No. 7 on the country chart, making “The Last Thing On My Mind” the first of many charting hits for that long-lasting partnership.

British folk singer Sandy Denny recorded the song for a 1967 album featuring solo performances by her and by Johnny Silvo; the track was re-released in 1970 on Sandy Denny, a collection of Denny’s early solo work. I found the track that I used for the linked video on a German version of that 1970 album, and I thought it was worth hearing simply for the beauty of Denny’s voice, even though the backing track seems intrusive.

One cover that seems familiar, though it got no Top 40 radio play, comes from the Seekers, found on their 1966 album Comes the Day. I suppose I might have heard it on an MOR station or two during the mid-1960s, but All-Music Guide does not list it among the group’s Adult Contemporary hits. So I have no idea where I heard the Seekers’ version long ago, but I think I did.

Not everyone who covered the song approached it as a folk song. The British group the Move turned Paxton’s tune into a trippy seven-minute opus on its 1970 album, Shazam.

As for my favorite versions of the tune, I like the Seekers’ version a lot, and the same goes for the Womenfolk’s take on the tune. And Rick Danko, Jonas Fjeld and Eric Andersen, recording as Danko/Fjeld/Andersen, did a nice version of the song – with Andersen taking the lead vocal – on their self-titled 1991 album.

But my list of favorites is going to have to make room for a new version of Paxton’s song. Judy Collins – who recorded the song on her live 1964 album, The Judy Collins Concert – revisited the song in 2010 for her Paradise album, bringing Stephen Stills into the studio to give her a hand.