Archive for the ‘1968’ Category

Saturday Single No. 727

Saturday, March 6th, 2021

This will be brief because I still am not feeling the greatest. Backlash from the vaccine? I dunno. But the less time I spend thinking today, the better off I – and the world – will be.

So, I looked at the number above and thought about airplanes and asked the RealPlayer to sort for “planes.” Maybe not a good idea. Anything with “planet” in its title came up, as well, like Bob Dylan’s Planet Waves, the soundtracks to the television series The Lonely Planet and a few more. And then, even when I found the right word, I had to winnow out everything by the Jefferson Airplane.

But there were still lots of tracks about planes and airplanes, including six versions of John Denver’s “Leaving On A Jet Plane” and thirteen versions of Robert Johnson’s “Terraplane Blues,” but since that last is about a car, it doesn’t really count.

I looked on.

There are a couple of tracks titled just “Airplane,” one by the Indigo Girls from their 1992 album Rites Of Passage and a single by a group called Peter’s Pipers on the Philips label from 1968. Other titles jump out: “Trains & Boats & Planes” by Dionne Warwick. “Waiting For The Last Plane” by Joy Of Cooking. “The Great Airplane Strike” by Paul Revere & The Raiders. “Springfield Plane” by Kenny O’Dell on the Vegas label.

(I recognize O’Dell’s name. He was a prolific country songwriter and producer with a handful of country hits and a similar handful of hits in the Billboard Hot 100, including “Springfield Plane,” which went to No. 94.)

There are versions of Woody Guthrie’s “Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)” from the Byrds, Richard Shindell and Nanci Griffith.

There are “Paper Planes” by Scala & Kolacny Brothers as well as by M.I.A., and “Plane Crash” by Basil Poledouris from the soundtrack to The Hunt For Red October and then “On A ’plane To Nowhere” by Barracade (with that odd punctuation) and “Outbound Plane” from, again, Nanci Griffith.

And then I see “Next Plane To London” by Rose Garden, a 1967 single I wrote about briefly some years ago, and adjacent to it is another version of the tune, and there’s Kenny O’Dell again, who wrote the song and recorded it for his 1968 album Beautiful People.

Who am I to argue? It’s a Kenny O’Dell day, and his cover of “Next Plane To London” is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 723

Saturday, February 6th, 2021

As I’ve likely mentioned at one time or another, I use a sleep aid at night, a pill. About fifteen years ago, I fell into a pattern of sleeping well for five weeks or so and then having a five-or six-day stretch when, no matter what time I went to bed, I got about two, maybe three hours of sleep.

And the pill – a generic of one of those you see ads for on TV – solved that and has done so for these fifteen or so years. Most of the time. About once every four or five months, I have a difficult night. Last night was one of those nights:

I took my pill and retired about one o’clock last night, then lay there with the music from my iPod, turned down low, playing in my ears. For about an hour, I waited for the pill to kick in, occasionally getting drowsy but never more than that.

So, I got up and did stuff: Played a game on the computer, read some news, petted the cats. Then I went back to bed, this time without music. No diff. So I got up and finished a recent (and badly written) novel from the Tom Clancy franchise. By that time, it was four o’clock.

Then I curled up on the couch, my customary afternoon nap spot, and yes, I fell asleep. When the cats began to annoy me, I fed them, then shifted to the bedroom and slept the morning away.

Here’s the so-called Esher Demo of the Beatles’ “I’m So Tired,” a 1968 recording released a few years ago with an expanded edition of The Beatles. It’s today’s Saturday Single.

‘The Price You Pay To Fall’

Wednesday, December 9th, 2020

Consider “December Dream,” singer/songwriter John Braheny’s languid song of love lost:

I can see her slowly walking
Through the empty streets of morning
Who she’s with I cannot tell
His face fades with the others
In the endless spell of dreams I know so well

Though she walks with him, no more with me,
And I know she’s where she wants to be,
Her happiness is there for all to see,
But I find that I still wish it was for me

I can hear her voice still ringing
Through the empty songs I sing
It seems that all the words I find
To say the things that crowd my mind
Only bring me closer to the things I’d rather leave behind

Though I know the game’s been played
I know the mistakes I’ve made
I know I shouldn’t be afraid
To love, for love for any time at all
Is worth the price you pay to fall

Here’s what the Stone Poneys (of which Linda Ronstadt was a member, of course) did with it on their first album, Evergreen Vol. 2, in 1967:

Braheny died at age 74 in 2013. His web page is still up, and there, he noted – not at all surprisingly – that he wrote the song in 1964 after his girlfriend “had a fling with another guy that just destroyed me.” The song later won a songwriting contest in a Cambridge, Massachusetts, festival, and was published in Sing Out! magazine.

One of the musicians Braheny knew in the Boston area was Pete Childs, who – a few years later – was a guitarist for the Stone Poneys sessions. When the Poneys came up light on songs to record, Braheny’s web site says, Childs suggested “December Dream,” which ended up as the first track on the Poneys’ album.

(As it happened, Childs had also worked on earlier sessions by Fred Neil, the reclusive singer/songwriter, and had taught Braheny’s song to Neil, who titled it “December’s Dream.” The recording went unused, however, until it resurfaced in 1999 on the anthology The Many Sides of Fred Neil. It’s available at YouTube.)

Along the way, Braheny recorded a 1968 album, Some Kind Of Change, and left us his version of “December Dream.”

At his website, Braheny marveled that his song got any attention at all: “In retrospect . . . I never would have given the song a shot at being recorded. No real hook, no ‘commercial’ structure, no repeated chorus, a title that doesn’t show up in the song, not even a bridge. Sometimes emotional honesty, sincerity, a little poetry and a pretty melody win. Who knew?”

Saturday Single No. 704

Saturday, September 5th, 2020

Among the 81,000-some tracks on the digital shelves, there are a bunch that name “September” in their titles. How many is a bunch? I don’t know. Let’s find out, taking the first half of the alphabet this week and the second half in a couple of posts over the next week.

Alphabetically, the first one that shows up is “23 Days In September” by Richie Havens, from his 1973 album Portfolio. The same song shows up again with a slightly different title: Its writer, David Blue, used it as the title track for his 1968 album These 23 Days In September. Blue’s version of a lover in depression and a love fading into silence is languid with some nice sonic touches; Havens’ take is faster, driven by his acoustic guitar work.

Then we come to Teddy & The Pandas’ “68 Days To September,” a poppy 1968 tribute to the girl the singer will miss during summer vacation: “Things will be so fine when we’re together again . . .”

“Black September/Belfast” from Mason Proffit’s 1972 album, Bare Back Rider, is an odd an disconcerting piece of work, focusing on the murder of eleven Israeli athletes and coaches by Black September terrorists during the summer Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, in 1972 and citing as well the concurrent sectarian Troubles in Belfast at the same time. References to U.S. Olympic swimmer Mark Spitz and to the ongoing war in Vietnam make it all seem a little scattershot, despite evocative, haunting music.

And from that we go to easy listening maestro Mantovani taking on a tune by country singer Hank Thompson: “Come September (I’ll Remember)” is two minutes and forty-one seconds of shimmering strings, the kind of stuff I remember KFAM-FM playing in St. Cloud during the mid- and late 1960s. Beautiful music, you know.

Up next is is a Wall of Sound-ish piece less than a minute long from Brit Paul Weller. “The Dark Pages Of September Lead To The New Leaves Of Spring” comes from his 2008 album 22 Dreams, where I imagine it served as a transition between two longer pieces. I’ll have to go back and verify that some year.

There are two versions of Carole King’s “It Might As Well Rain Until September” in the stacks here: King’s original, which went to No. 22 in 1962, and a cover by Peggy Lipton from 1968, when Lipton was one of the stars of the TV show The Mod Squad. King’s version is pretty standard Tin Pan Alley pop, while Lipton’s is more subtle, almost easy listening with some nice saxophone work in the background. But Lipton’s sometimes uncertain voice seems overpowered by the production. If I could have King’s voice with the production Lipton had behind her, I’d be very happy.

‘It’s September” by Stax man Johnnie Taylor starts in September and chugs and grooves through the autumn and then – by the end of the record – the entire year, wondering where his woman is while he and the children wonder when life will get back to normal. The 1974 release got to No. 26 on the Billboard R&B chart.

The last track we find in the first half of the alphabet comes from the Dream Academy, perhaps best known for the 1985 hit “Life In A Northern Town.” Today we’re listening to “Lucy September,” a tale, it quickly becomes apparent, about an addict:

Lucy September’s put a hole in her arm
She wonders where all daddy’s money’s gone
Lying on the bed with a wasted friend
Oh yeah she could have been someone
With all the advantages under the sun
But sad to say this is where her story ends

It’s an okay piece of work, but not quite to my taste this morning.

So what is our choice this morning? Well, David Blue’s track haunts me, as his work seemingly does whenever it pops up here. That makes his “These 23 Days In September” today’s Saturday Single.

‘Midnight’

Friday, June 12th, 2020

As I made my way through two new Long John Baldry CDs in the past few weeks, I noticed a couple of tracks I really liked: “Midnight in New Orleans” on It Still Ain’t Easy and “Midnight in Berlin” on Right To Sing The Blues.

And I got to thinking about the word “midnight” and its presence in song titles. So I asked the RealPlayer to search for the word among its 80,000-plus tracks. It came back with 515 results, some of which find the word included in group names – like Hank Ballard & The Midnighters – and some of which find the word included in album titles – like Midnight Radio by Big Head Todd & The Monsters. After winnowing out those and others like them, we end up with about 200 tracks with “midnight” in their titles.

We’re going to hit four of them randomly today.

Our first stop brings us a familiar tune performed by a familiar name: “In The Midnight Hour” by King Curtis. It’s a track from Plays The Great Memphis Hits, released in 1967. The album went to No. 185 on the Billboard 200, and one track – “You Don’t Miss Your Water” – bubbled under the magazine’s Hot 100 at No. 105. King Curtis has shown up enough times in this space that not a lot need to be said except to adapt the title of a 1992 anthology of Curtis Ousley’s work and say, “Blow, man, blow!”

From the midnight hour, we move to the “Midnight Shift” as described by Buddy Holly. The tune warns the listener what to look for in an unfaithful girl (or perhaps a working girl – it’s not entirely clear):

If Annie puts her hair up on her head
Paints them lips up bright, bright red
Wears that dress that fits real tight
Starts staying out ’til the middle of the night
Says that a friend gave her a lift
Well, Annie’s been working on a midnight shift

The track, recorded in 1956, showed up as an album track on the 1958 release That’ll Be The Day. It’s one of my favorite Holly tracks, likely because it’s a little cynical, a counterpoint to a lot of his other work.

And from one giant of the early days of rock ’n’ roll, we move to another, falling onto a track by the recently departed Little Richard. His take on “Midnight Special” (written by another musical giant, Lead Belly) was included on King Of Rock & Roll, a 1971 album on the Reprise label. No singles from the album made the charts (a couple from his 1970 release, The Rill Thing, had tickled the middle and lower portions of the Hot 100), but the album went to No. 193 on the Billboard 200. As to the track itself, Little Richard takes his time getting going, but about a minute in, the train takes off.

We close today’s brief expedition with a track from Bobby Womack: “I’m A Midnight Mover” from his 1968 album Fly Me To The Moon. As always when Womack’s work shows up here, I feel as if I don’t know enough about the man’s work to comment much except to say that his stuff grabs hold of me nearly every time it pops up. “I’m A Midnight Mover” was released as a single by Atlantic but did not chart. The album went to No. 174 in Billboard.

True Spring

Friday, May 8th, 2020

It’s more than pleasant to see the trees and grass and all the greening things beyond our windows. The flowering crab off of our deck is nearly fully leaved and in a week or so will be in bloom. The maple near the front door shows signs of budding.

And the linden in between them waits, as it always does; its leafing will come when the other two are in full green. A late arrival in spring allows the linden to be the last of the three trees to yield its leaves in the autumn.

So, spring as a fact – as opposed to an alignment of the earth – is here. As is pollen. Both the Texas Gal and I have been stuffed, itchy-eyed, and sniffing for the past few days. For me, each passing year seems to bring more allergies. Forty years ago, in my mid-twenties, I was aware of none, but slowly, they’ve accumulated. For a few years in my late thirties, the middle and end of June was the most notable time. Then August came into play as I hit my forties.

Now – and for the past few years – early May has me heading for decongestants, antihistamines and tissues more than ever. So I’m going to sit back and take it easy. There’s little that need be done today. Maybe a bit of work around the house, but then, maybe not.

Here’s a springtime tune: “First Spring Rain” by the little-known New York City group, the Canterbury Music Festival. The 1968 track came my way through the massive Lost Jukebox I found online some years ago.

A Random Six-Pack

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

There are currently 79,000-plus tracks in the RealPlayer, most of them music. (I have about thirty familiar lines from movies in the stacks and some bits of interviews, too.) And today, we’re going to take a six-stop random tour through the stacks. We’ll sort the tracks by length; the shortest is 1.4 seconds of broadcaster Al Shaver exulting over a goal by the long-departed Minnesota North Stars – “He shoots, he scores!” – and the longest is the full album with bonus tracks of Bruce Springsteen’s 2006 release, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, clocking in at an hour and eighteen minutes.

We’re going to put the cursor in the middle of the stack and click six times and see what we get.

We land first on a track by Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers: “Memphis Queen” from the group’s 1989 album Rock & Real. At All Music, William Ruhlman notes, “Grushecky’s songs of tough urban life are made all the more compelling by his rough voice and the aggressive playing of his band.” The track in question, “Memphis Queen,” tells the tale of a Pittsburgh boy headed to New Orleans on the titular riverboat, stopping in St. Louis to search for the “brown-eyed handsome man” and meeting a girl named Little Marie, whose daddy is “down in the penitentiary.” I found the album at a blog somewhere when I was going through a Grushecky phase a few years ago. It’s a good way to start.

We jump from 1989 back to 1972 and a track from Mylon Lefevre. “He’s Not Just A Soldier” comes from Lefevre’s Over The Influence album. Originally recorded in 1961 by Little Richard, who wrote the song with William Pitt, the song reads on Lefevre’s album as an artifact from the Vietnam era, declaring that a young man in military service “is not just a soldier in a brown uniform, he’s one of God’s sons.” And there’s a surprise along the way, as Lefevre is joined on vocals by Little Richard himself. There’s also a great saxophone solo, but I don’t know by whom. (I saw a note on Wikipedia that said the album was a live performance, but I doubt that’s the case.)

Next up is a cover of a piece of movie music: “Lolita Ya-Ya” by the Ventures. The tune originated in Stanley Kubrick’s 1962 film adaptation of the Vladimir Nabokov novel Lolita. Penned by Nelson Riddle, the song is source music from a radio the first time that the movie’s protagonist, Humbert Humbert, sees the title character who will become his obsession. Sue Lyon, the actress who played Lolita, provided the vocals for the film version of the tune. The Ventures’ cover of the tune was released as a single, but got only to No. 61 on the Billboard Hot 100.

From there, we head to 1968 and Al Wilson’s first album, Searching For The Dolphins, recorded for Johnny Rivers’ Soul City Label. “I Stand Accused” was the fourth single from the album aimed at the Hot 100; the most successful of the four was “The Snake,” which went to No. 27. “I Stand Accused,” a good soul workout, bubbled under at No. 106. As usual with Rivers’ productions, the backing musicians were spectacular: Hal Blaine, Jim Gordon, Larry Knechtel, Joe Osborne, Jim Horn and James Burton. (A 2008 reissue of the album provided as bonus tracks eleven singles and B-sides recorded around the same time for the Soul City, Bell and Carousel labels.)

Lou Christie’s fame (and his appeal), as I see it, rests on five singles: “The Gypsy Cried” (1963), “Two Faces Have I” (1963), “Lightning Strikes” (1965), “Rhapsody In The Rain” (1966), and “I’m Gonna Make You Mine” (1970). He shows up here today with “Wood Child,” a track from his 1971 album Paint America Love, released under his (almost) real name, Lou Christie Sacco. (He was born Lugee Alfredo Giovanni Sacco, according to discogs.com.) I’m not sure what the song is about, except that its lyrics are evocative and include the recurring choruses, “You’ve got to save the wood child” and “Take a ticket and get on this boat.”

(A 2015 appreciation of the album by Bob Stanley for The Guardian said: “Yet another side of Christie emerged in 1971 when he cut his masterpiece, Paint America Love, a Polish/Italian/American take on What’s Going On. Orchestrated state-of-the-nation pieces (‘Look Out the Window,’ the extraordinary ‘Wood Child’) compete with majestic instrumentals (‘Campus Rest’) and childhood reminiscences (‘Chuckie Wagon,’ the Sesame Street-soundtracking ‘Paper Song’) in a gently lysergic whole. Online reviews compare it to Richard Ford and John Steinbeck: fans of Jimmy Webb are urged to seek it out.”)

I’m not sure where I got the album, probably a long-lost blog, but I suppose I should take Stanley’s advice and listen to it more closely.

And our six-pack this morning ends with “Long Line” from Peter Wolf, one-time member of the J. Geils Band. The title track from his 1996 album, the tune shifts from straight-ahead tasteful rock to a spoken interlude and back. It sounds a lot more like 1972 than 1996, with some nifty piano fills, which makes it a nice way to end our trek.

‘Doctor, Doctor . . .’

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

You know how it is with plans.

Saturday’s post plans disappeared when I woke up that morning with a case of gout. The word conjures up visions of a bewigged upper-class Englishman seated near a fire with his ailing foot elevated. The reality, I learned when I tried to walk on my left foot that morning, is exceedingly painful.

We spent about four hours at the Urgent Care clinic that day, learning about the ailment and sitting in a waiting room half-filled with parents and children who were no doubt sharing their viral miseries with everyone. I was advised to use steroids and ibuprofen to ease my pain and to consult about further treatment with my regular doctor, Dr. Julie, whom I will see Friday.

I’ve learned a lot already – won’t list the details here – and will learn more later this week, but since late Saturday afternoon, there has been no pain.

But I have picked up another case of plugged head and sniffles, no doubt courtesy of one or more of Saturday morning’s ailing urchins. And this morning, I head out to my clinic so the lab can draw blood ahead of my appointment Friday. It’s a doctor week.

And here’s the garage “Doctor Doctor” by Gary Walker & The Rain. It’s from 1968’s Album No. 1. I’ll be back later this week.

‘In Search Of . . .’

Friday, October 11th, 2019

During the autumn of 1972, having completed my Beatles LP set, I turned to explore other music, selecting four albums in a record-club buying binge: Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones, Retrospective by the Buffalo Springfield, a live album by Mountain and In Search Of The Lost Chord by the Moody Blues.

In the forty-some years since, the least-played album of those four is that last, the Moody Blues’ first foray into mysticism backed by the Mellotron (which gave them sounds orchestral and more with which to work). Released in 1968, it was also – to my ears – the worst of the group’s albums until the 1990s. I recall the first time I played it, lazing on the green couch in the basement rec room, hearing the spoken word track “Departure” as it led off Side One:

Be it sight, sound, the smell, the touch.
There’s something inside that we need so much
The sight of a touch, or the scent of a sound
Or the strength of an oak with roots deep in the ground.
The wonder of flowers, to be covered, and then
To burst up through tarmac to the sun again
Or to fly to the sun without burning a wing
To lie in the meadow and hear the grass sing
To have all these things in our memories’ hoard
And to use them
To help us
To find . . .

And then came laughter taking the place, I’ve assumed, of the words “the lost chord.” One of the lyric sites I use offered “God” as the laughter-covered word. Maybe. All I know is that as “Departure” played on my stereo for the first time, I was baffled and not at all entranced. The rest of the album – picking up right after “Departure” with “Ride My See-Saw” – was just okay. “Legend Of A Mind” with its “Timothy Leary’s dead . . .” was a bit silly, and the creaking doors in “House OF Four Doors” were overkill. I was not blown away as I had been a year or so earlier when I’d heard the group’s Question Of Balance across the street at Rick and Rob’s house.

There were some nice moments: “Ride My See-Saw” does rock, and “Voices In The Sky” and “The Actor” are lovely and elegant. And on my listening this week, the closer, “Om,” is not so odd as it seemed that autumn evening in 1972.

But my interest in exploring the rest of the Moody Blues’ catalog stopped when I heard In Search Of The Lost Chord. It engaged again a few months later at Christmastime, when Rick gave me the group’s most recent album, Seventh Sojourn, which was much more accessible to the nineteen-year-old me.

So I ducked back a year and listened with friends to bits and pieces of the 1971 album Every Good Boy Deserves Favour and eventually bought that album – along with Days Of Future Passed – in the late 1970s, just about the time the group came back from its hiatus with Octave, which I bought immediately.

So In Search Of The Lost Chord was a rocky start. How did it do on the charts? According to Joel Whitburn, the album went to No. 23 on the Billboard 200, and one single – “Ride My See-Saw” – went to No. 61 on the Hot 100. It’s my least favorite of the group’s early albums (those released before the group’s 1970s hiatus). I’ll give it at best a C-minus.

Here’s “Ride My See Saw” (led off by the last cackling laughter of “Departure”).

‘Adventure Fridays’

Friday, September 27th, 2019

Since the Texas Gal retired at the end of August, we’ve decided to designate the fifth day of the former work week “Adventure Friday.” Our first adventure took us pretty much straight east from St. Cloud to St. Croix Falls, the little town just on the other side of the Wisconsin line. We had lunch, checked some historic sites, found a painted rock left by a member of the Facebook group called “Painted Rocks – Minnesota” (see their page here), and wandered north in Wisconsin to the little town of Grantsburg before heading for home.

Something last week kept us from adventuring – I don’t recall what it was – and it looks as if our adventure for today may be postponed: We had planned to head northwest a little ways to the small town of Freeport and the Hemker Zoo. We’ve seen television commercials for the zoo recently, and if the weather was nice, we thought, we could check it out and maybe even feed the otters. (We both are fond of the sleek and furry aquatic mammals.)

But it’s damp outside with puddles of water along the alley, and the forecast calls for light rain into the afternoon, long past otter-feeding time. So if we want to have an adventure today, it will need to be something we can do indoors. We’ll talk about that in a bit. But in the meantime, here’s a (perhaps predictable) tune for our zoo adventure that we’ll have to postpone. It’s Simon & Garfunkel’s “At The Zoo.” It’s from their 1968 album Bookends.