Posts Tagged ‘Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart’

At The Caucus

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

The Texas Gal and I spent a little less than an hour last evening playing our small part in this nation’s political process: We attended our precinct caucus at a nearby elementary school, meeting with other members of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party from our neighborhood.

(The party’s name – Democratic-Farmer-Labor – is a holdover from the 1944 merger of the Minnesota Democratic Party and the social democratic Minnesota Farmer–Labor Party in 1944. I learned at Wikipedia this morning, that Minnesota’s DFL is one of only two state parties affiliated with the national party that has a different name; the other odd party out is neighboring North Dakota’s Democratic-Nonpartisan League Party.)

Parties caucus every two years; the Texas Gal and I missed the 2014 meeting, but I think we’ve been at every other local caucus since we moved to St. Cloud in late 2002. Turnout last night was high; our precinct, which is not densely populated, had forty-two people cast votes in the presidential straw poll, substantially more than the last time we had a straw poll, which was 2008. Last night, we filled a classroom at the school, which we hadn’t done before. Other precincts that are more densely populated filled the school’s cafeteria and media center.

(The evening has Minnesota’s DFL clearly showing its populist roots: The straw poll results in our precinct had Bernie Sanders with 29 votes and Hillary Clinton with 13, which was a little bigger spread than in the state-wide results reported this morning: With 86 percent of Minnesota precincts reporting, Sanders leads Clinton by a 62 percent to 38 percent margin.)

A lot of Sanders’ support in our precinct came from young folks: I’d guess that about half of the forty-two people who voted were twenty-five or younger. My major disappointment of the evening was that about half of those young folks left right after the straw poll (which is used to apportion delegates to the local district convention, where delegates to the state convention will be selected, and so on up the ladder) and thus they did not take part in the other portions of the caucus, which included selecting those delegates, selecting precinct officers and debating resolutions offered by those at the caucus.

I offered two resolutions: One advocating a national health care system based on the Medicare model, and one advocating an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that bars capital punishment. Both passed, the first unanimously and the second with one dissenting vote. That latter result, to be honest, surprised me. The same resolution was rejected at our precinct caucus eight years ago.

The Texas Gal and I will continue our involvement at least one more step: We volunteered to be among our precinct’s delegates to our State Senate District convention in a couple of weeks. It will be the first time for her to move beyond precinct activities, I think. For me, it’s a resumption of my involvement in DFL politics; during my years in Monticello, I was active in the Wright County DFL, attending several county conventions. I doubt I’ll be that active again, but I’ll probably end up doing more in the precinct; our precinct chair is also a member of our Unitarian Universalist fellowship (and a fellow musician there), so I’ll likely pitch in down the road if he needs some help.

As to appropriate music this morning, I searched the 87,000 tunes in the RealPlayer for the word “vote.” I found the album Devoted by one-time American Idol contestant Kristy Lee Cook and a few tracks that actually deal with voting. The best of them comes from 1969, when voting in the U.S. was still limited to those 21 and older. The duo of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart were among those wanting the voting age lowered (which happened in 1971, when those 18 and older were granted the vote), and the pair released a single titled “L.U.V. (Let Us Vote).”

The record was pretty much ignored: It bubbled under the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks, never getting any higher than No. 111. But it’s an interesting artifact of the times.

‘Six’

Friday, January 11th, 2013

And so we come to “Six” as the March of the Integers goes on. The RealPlayer sifts through more than 66,000 mp3s and brings back 176 of them, leaving us the task of sorting out the chaff from those results.

All the songs with “sixteen” in their titles have to go, including Joe Clay’s 1956 rockabilly romp, “Sixteen Chicks,” country singer Lacy J. Dalton’s 1982 tribute to perseverance, “Sixteenth Avenue” and several versions of “Sweet Little Sixteen.” The same holds true for songs with “sixty” in their titles, including two versions of Elton John’s “Sixty Years On” – one from the studio and one from his live 11-17-70 set – as well as Billy Ward & The Dominoes’ “Sixty Minute Man” from 1951.

A cluster of tracks by some groups have to be set aside as well: That includes single tracks by the Deep Six, the Electric Six, the Six Mile Chase, the Soul Brothers Six, the Sound of Six as well as the gloriously titled “Rub A Little Boogie” by Duke Bayou & His Mystic Six. We also have to set aside a couple of albums each by Sixpence None the Richer and the New Colony Six. And then, everything but the title tune from B.B. King’s 1985 album Six Silver Strings goes by the wayside, as does all of Steeleye Span’s 1974 album Now We Are Six and the 1973 opus by Rick Wakeman, The Six Wives of Henry VIII. But we’re still left with enough titles to put together a nice six-record set.

The most successful, and maybe the best of the bunch, is one I’ve written about before: “Six Days on the Road” by Dave Dudley. Recorded in Minneapolis’ Kay Bank Studios in March 1963, “Six Days” spent two weeks at No. 2 on the country chart and went to No. 32 on the pop chart. The record, wrote Dave Marsh in 1989, had “about as much impact as any hit of the early sixties – it spawned a whole genre of truck driving songs that are not only the closest contemporary equivalent of the cowboy ballads of yore but have produced some of the best country records of the past thirty years.”

[Wikipedia notes: According to country music historian Bill Malone, “Six Days on the Road” was not the first truck driving song; Malone credits “Truck Driver’s Blues” by Cliff Bruner, released in 1940, with that distinction. “Nor is it necessarily the best,” said Malone, citing songs such as “Truck Drivin’ Man” by Terry Fell and “White Line Fever” by Merle Haggard and the Strangers as songs that “would certainly rival it.” However, “Six Days,” Malone continued, “set off a vogue for such songs” that continued for many years. “The trucking songs coincided with country music’s growing identification as working man’s music in the 1960s,” he said. Dudley “strikingly captures the sense of boredom, danger and swaggering masculinity that often accompanies long-distance truck driving. His macho interpretation, with its rock-and-roll overtones, is perfect for the song.”]

When Ringo Starr and producer Richard Perry put together the ex-Beatle’s 1973 release Ringo, the other three ex-Beatles stopped by at various times to offer songs and some help in the studio. Paul and Linda McCartney offered the song “Six O’Clock” and hung around to record background vocals, while Paul wrote the arrangement for the strings and flutes and then sat down at both the piano and the synthesizer, adding a solo on the latter that hangs around in one’s ears long after the very catchy track is over.

The Association was a pretty mellow group (occasionally moving, as Bruce Eder of All-Music Guide notes, “into psychedelia and, much more rarely, into a harder, almost garage-punk vein”), so when “Six Man Band” starts coming out of the speakers, those few bars of growling guitars that follow the light percussion opening make one take note. Soon enough, the record mellows, but those guitars keep popping up, alternating with the stacked vocal harmonies. The record label credits the group as producers, but that only shows how much the Association learned from Curt Boettcher. The record, detailing in vague allusions the joys and hassles of being on the road, hit the Billboard Hot 100 in late August 1968 but only got as high as No. 47.

Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart are perhaps better known as songwriters – their credits include “Pretty Little Angel Eyes,” “Come A Little Bit Closer” and much of the Monkees’ catalog – than as performers. But between 1962 and 1969, they put ten singles in or near the Hot 100 (and Hart had a solo single bubble under at No. 110 in 1980). The best-known of the duo’s records is no doubt “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonite,” which went to No. 8 in February 1968. They’re of interest today because the romantic lament “Six + Six” showed up as the B-side to “We’re All Going To The Same Place,” which bubbled under the chart for one week at No. 123 in November 1968.

All I know about the Apostles, I learned at the blog Funky Sixteen Corners, which is where my pal Larry spins his records. Back in 2006, Larry noted that all he knew about the superb instrumental “Six Pack” was that it was from 1969 (and he could have added that it was released on Kapp, a fact made obvious by the label scan). He said, “Despite any religious connotations of the name Apostles, I’m betting that they weren’t following anyone spiritually besides the Meters. It starts out with a funky – but not overly exciting – bass line, so as the record begins you’re sitting there thinking to yourself, ‘I expect this 45 to provide an acceptable level of funk, but little else.’ Then, a few short seconds later, the guitar player drops in with some of the wildest, bell-bottomed, crazy-legged fatback guitar and knocks the whole thing for a loop.” Not quite a year later, a reader by the name of John Rogger left Larry a note: “[I]’m glad to see that someone other than myself likes the records my father produced! ‘Six Pack’ was a great hit for him, but the bigger hit was ‘Soulful’ on the first album he released with the band. . . . If you’re able to find it, listen to it. It’s a great song. It actually sold more than “Six Pack” did. . . .Thanks for finding stuff on my dad. It makes me happy since he wasn’t able to continue his dream and legacy due to the war. I still play his songs on the radio station I work at. It’s fun times for me. . . . The Apostles was a rock and roll band formed from the Renegades that my dad was in charge of in the ’60s in St. Louis. He did a lot back then for music. Now he does real estate. Go figure!”

Candi Staton has showed up here a few times, most recently in September, when her “Never In Public” caught my ear. This morning, it was her “Six Nights and a Day” that got my attention. The track showed up in 1974 on the album Candi, Staton’s first release on Warner Brothers after leaving the Muscle Shoals-based Fame label. Warner Brothers released “Six Days and a Night” as a single (Warner Bros. 8112 b/w “We Can Work It Out”) in 1975, but it didn’t show up in either the Hot 100 or the R&B Top 40. I seem to say this every time I run across one of Staton’s R&B sides, but it’s true: The record deserved better.

From When Your Host Was A Lad

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

The photo project continues. Mom and I spent some time yesterday with pictures from 1967-68, my freshman year, when I was fourteen. And I thought I’d share a few of those here today along with some era-appropriate music.

One of the long-term projects Mom and Dad had over the years was to take pictures of my sister and me on our first days of school. From my sister’s first day of Kindergarten in 1955 through the first day of the fall quarter at St. Cloud State in 1975, Dad and his cameras captured the moments. There were times, I admit, when I wasn’t always that delighted to be posing, but that first day of ninth grade was a little different. For the first time ever, Dad was letting me wear my hair in a style other than very short.

The first day of school that year happened to be my birthday as well: September 5. So, here’s the song that was No. 95 on the Billboard Hot 100 that week: “Spreadin’ Honey” by the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band.

The high point of ninth grade for me was the spring musical. The plot of On With The Show was simple: Three crooks on the lam from the cops take refuge in a circus. One of them, the male lead, falls in love with the baton twirler. I don’t recall what happened to the female lead.

As to the the comedy lead – your host here – well, he ends up finding fulfillment in the circus as well. Along the way, he dons the wrong costume and does a turn as a veiled dancing girl, a set-up always good for laughs. (The costume mix-up also brought me some joshing by a few of the other ninth-grade guys, as I had to wear a bra stuffed with cotton – I never knew whose it was – underneath my hot pink harem girl outfit.) Eventually, I ended up in a more gender-appropriate role and costume.

And the record that was No. 53 in the Billboard Hot 100 during the first week of May when we gave our two performances was “Goodbye Baby (I Don’t Want To See You Cry)” by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart.

These days, the Texas Gal  and my doctor  lecture me on regular occasion about several aspects of my diet.

One such aspect that attracts more attention than most is my love of hot dogs. They’re my lunch choice at least twice a week, sometimes more. But my wife and my doc will have a difficult time dislodging me from my franks. It’s an appetite – an addiction? I won’t say so  – that goes back more than forty years. Here I am preparing Saturday lunch on May 18, 1968. (Dad’s notes on the slide indicate that we were dining on Tom Sawyer brand wieners that day.)

And here’s the tune that was No. 18 in the Billboard Hot 100 on that particular Saturday, May 18, 1968, Arthur Conley’s “Funky Street.”