Posts Tagged ‘James Brown’

No. 50 Fifty Years Ago

Friday, June 4th, 2021

It’s time for another game of Symmetry, checking out the No. 50 record in the Billboard Hot 100 from the first week of 1971, fifty years ago. Along the way, we’ll check out the Top Ten from that week and see how they stacked up then and whether they matter now.

Here’s the Billboard Top Ten released on June 5 of that year, fifty years ago tomorrow:

“Brown Sugar” by the Rolling Stones
“Joy To The World” by Three Dog Night
“Want Ads” by the Honey Cone
“It Don’t Come Easy” by Ringo Starr
“Rainy Days and Mondays” by the Carpenters
“Bridge Over Troubled Water/Brand New Me” by Aretha Franklin
“Sweet and Innocent” by Donny Osmond
“Never Can Say Goodbye” by the Jackson 5
“It’s Too Late/I Feel The Earth Move” by Carole King
“Me and You and A Dog Named Boo” by Lobo

Back then, having just graduated from high school and about to start a summer of lawn-mowing, janitoring and floor-cleaning at St. Cloud State, I liked most of those. The Donny Osmond single left me pretty blah, and something about Lobo’s single bothered me. (Maybe it was “the wheatfields of St. Paul” and the farmer from whom the narrator stole eggs. Not the St. Paul I knew.)

And I do not at all recall hearing Aretha’s cover of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” at the time, even though it went to No. 24 on the Twin Cities’ KDWB. (I don’t think I heard that meditative take on Paul Simon’s masterpiece until I sought it out after reading a Dave Marsh piece about it during the early 1990s.) The flipside went unheard until the Nineties as well.

The others, though, would make up a more than pleasant stretch of listening. My favorites among them? The Stones, Ringo, the Carole King A-side and the Carpenters. And not much has changed today. Those four are in my current day-to-day listening in the iPod, along with “Want Ads” and “Joy To The World.” (I maybe should add “I Feel The Earth Move.” We’ll see.)

Now to our other business, checking out the No. 50 record from fifty years ago. And we find a slow and sad piece of soul from an artist who doesn’t show up here very often: “I Cried” by James Brown. There are several videos of the tune at YouTube, and under one of them, a commenter said, “This is how you sing a soul song.” I agree. (The record went no higher in the Hot 100, but it did go to No. 15 on the magazine’s R&B chart.)

No. 45 Forty-Five Years Ago

Friday, December 20th, 2019

I thought we’d drop back to the last month of 1974 today for a quick look at the Billboard Hot 100 and a game of Symmetry. Much of the music in the top of the chart, I imagine, will be familiar from the jukebox near The Table in St. Cloud State’s Atwood Center. Here’s the Top Ten from forty-five years ago:

“Cat’s In The Cradle” by Harry Chapin
“Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas
“Angie Baby” by Helen Reddy
“When Will I See You Again” by the Three Degrees
“You’re The First, My Last, My Everything” by Barry White
“Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” by Elton John
“Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy)” by Al Green
”Junior’s Farm/Sally G” by Paul McCartney & Wings
“I Can Help” by Billy Swan
“Do It (’Til You’re Satisfied)” by B.T. Express

That’s an okay set, I guess. I had to remind myself about the Al Green single with a trip to YouTube, and the very first strains of the record touched a vein of melancholy, an emotion not in short supply that month. The others are all familiar to varying degrees, but none of them were overly important during that long-ago December (although the Three Degrees single became very important not quite a year later when I was courting the young woman who eventually became the Other Half).

Even at the time, I was tired of the Harry Chapin and Billy Swan singles, and my occasionally faulty memory wants me to think that “Kung Fu Fighting” was a hit in the summer instead of the autumn. Was there a favorite among that bunch of eleven records as December 1974 headed into its last ten days? Well, maybe “Angie Baby,” Reddy’s surreal tale about the crazy radio-loving girl.

And today? How many of them are in the iPod? Only two: “Angie Baby” and “When Will I See You Again.” That says something, I guess.

And how about our work a little lower down, when we drop to No. 45 in that long-ago chart, what do we find?

Well, we find a double-sided single from James Brown, the first side of which – “Funky President (People It’s Bad)” – has the singer testifying about the sad state of the nation, ending with Brown stating, “I need to be the governor. I need to be the governor . . .” On the B-side, “Coldblooded,” he reminds us that “Every trip you got to be hipper than hip!”

The double-sided single didn’t go much further on the pop chart, peaking at No. 44. On the R&B chart, the A-side went to No. 4, so we’ll go with “Funky President (People It’s Bad)” this morning.

Walking At Wapicada

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

It was sometime around this time in 1964 that I became a golfer. Well, put it this way: Sometime in June 1964, at the age of ten, I played my first nine-hole round of golf.

For several years, probably since I was six or so, I had on occasion accompanied my dad as he took on Wapicada Golf Course, a nine-hole layout northeast of St. Cloud. (It’s since been renamed Wapicada Golf Club and expanded to eighteen holes.) Dad was out on the course a couple of times a week during the warm months: He played in a weekly league (on Thursdays, I think), and at least one other time each week he loaded his Sam Snead clubs into the ’52 Ford and headed out on Highway 23 toward Wapicada. And on those non-league rounds, I often tagged along.

So what was there for a kid to do as he walked a mile and two-thirds around a golf course? Well, beyond the simple joy of spending time with my dad as he did something he loved and the benefit of physical exercise, there was plenty. A meandering creek ran across the course, flowing west to east on its eventual way to Elk Lake about fifteen miles away, and just south of the creek was a steep slope; both came into play on four holes, two going up the slope beyond the creek and two coming down the slope in front of the creek. Plenty of golf balls went into the creek or the marshy areas just south of it, and it was great fun wandering there as Dad and I made our way around the course, looking for lost balls, dragonflies and frogs.

Here’s a map of Wapicada from a 1964 scorecard. (Note: South is to the top.)

So what else did I do as I walked along with Dad? I kept his scorecard. I washed golf balls on every tee. (Most of the ball washers were the type where one places the ball in a vertical column and then moves the column up and down; one of them – on Hole 2 or 3, I think – was the circular type, where one drops the ball into a hole and then turns a crank to move the ball through the washer. I much preferred the latter type; it was just, for some reason, more fun.) I helped keep track of where Dad’s tee shots went, as Dad had occasional trouble with a severe slice. And, I imagine, we talked as we walked although I don’t remember anything of import that Dad ever said to me there. But that’s okay; conversation between us didn’t have to be important to be valuable.

I loved the bridges at Wapicada, especially the rustic plank bridges that crossed the creek on Holes 1, 4 and 6. I was a little less fond of the bridge on Hole 9, which was more substantial, with metal railings and trusses. It wasn’t quite as romantic, I guess, as the other bridges, but it provided almost a formal passage for those about to complete the ninth hole and head on to the clubhouse. In the mid-1960s, though, there wasn’t much of a clubhouse. Wapicada was built – as were so many things over the years near growing cities – on a one-time farm (probably pasture, given the lay of the land), and the clubhouse for all the years I went to Wapicada was the old farm house.

A big wooden bar with stools, some coolers and tables and chairs – and some neon wall signs and clocks – changed what was, I suppose, the living room into a barroom and the adjacent rooms into quieter places for folks to gather after their rounds. A three-season porch was added, it seems to me, and the original enclosed porch was set aside for a pro shop. I always looked forward to stopping at the clubhouse. Dad would order a Squirt for me and a Hamm’s beer for himself, and I recall standing there wondering if this would be one of those occasional days at the course when Dad would buy us a couple of Slim Jims.

On occasion, I’d tag along when Mom joined Dad, and sometimes I’d be there when the two of them played with another couple, and those times were fun, but not as much fun as when I had Dad to myself. And of course, I looked ahead to the time when I could play the game instead of watch it. And it was fifty years ago this summer that Dad handed over his old clubs to me and I hacked my way around the course in 110 strokes.

I got a little bit better at golf over the years. (How could I not, right?) During my college days and for a few years after, I’d go out on the course on weekends with Dad and my brother-in-law. And I played fairly regularly once I moved to Monticello in 1977, often getting nine holes in early on summertime Thursdays before heading to a weekly mid-morning staff meeting. But golf got more expensive, and my life moved in other directions. The last time I remember being on a course was in 1986 or so, when Rob and Rick came to Monti on a Saturday and the three of us knocked out nine holes in the morning and then repaired to my place for sandwiches, beer and laughter.

I’ve still got Dad’s pre-1960 clubs, tucked into a corner in the basement. His Sam Snead set went in the garage sale Mom had a few years ago. And my golfing days are long over. Even if I wanted to get out onto the course again, pesticides and fatigue would make it at best difficult. But that’s okay. Things come and go. And golf is, as James Brown sang in an entirely different context back in that 1964 summer of my first round of golf, just one of the things that I used to do.