Archive for the ‘1966’ Category

‘If Tonight Was Not A Crooked Trail . . .’

Tuesday, November 9th, 2021

There’s a little note on top of the file in which I write this blog. It’s been there a while, three years maybe. Long enough, anyway, that my eyes tend to slide right past it when I open the file to write a post.

It says, “Tomorrow Is A Long Time.”

I assume it’s a reminder for me to write about the Bob Dylan song, not just a pithy bit of wisdom meant to help me focus on today’s tasks. I further assume the post I had in mind when I typed that potentially enigmatic title – it’s in quote marks, so it has to be a title – was a brief examination of covers of the Dylan song. If so, it’s an example of poor institutional memory, since I did a post like that in 2013.

But that was eight years ago, and my rereading of the post tells me that the Dylan version I would have liked to share wasn’t available in good form at YouTube. (The audio was fine, but the visuals were portions of a show about zombies, which never made sense to me.) So, let’s just review some of the versions of the song I have here in my files.

We start with four versions by Dylan himself: One from around 1962, maybe 1963, included in the 2010 Bootleg Series release The Witmark Demos; one from a 1963 solo performance at New York City’s Town Hall (that would be the first official release of the song, coming out on Dylan’s second greatest hits collection in 1972); and two versions with a band from the 2021 Bootleg Series release 1970.

Here’s that 1963 performance as released on Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 2, this time without zombies.

Other artists jumped on it right away, of course, with Ian & Sylvia being the first, releasing it in July 1963 on their Four Strong Winds album. That one’s here, as are a few other covers from the Sixties by Odetta (1965), Elvis Presley (1966), the Pozo-Seco Singers (1966), Glenn Yarbrough (the first version I ever heard, from 1967), Dion (in a medley with Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin’,” 1968), an obscure group named Street (which included the Dylan song in a medley with a stentorian version of George Harrison’s “If I Needed Someone” in 1968), and by the country-rock duo of Levitt & McClure (1969).

My favorite of those is likely the Yarbrough simply because I heard it first, but I’m certain I long ago featured that one here. After that, I like the version by the Pozo-Seco Singers from their 1966 album Time. There are other, later, versions of the song, but we’ll close things today with the Pozo-Seco Singers.

Saturday Single No. 759

Saturday, October 30th, 2021

Let’s look at what the kids around me were listening to fifty-five years ago this week, as chronicled in the Big 6+30 survey released by the Twin Cities’ KDWB on October 29, 1966. Here’s the top ten:

“96 Tears” by ? & The Mysterians
“Cherish” by the Association
“Last Train To Clarksville” by the Monkees
“Hooray For Hazel” by Tommy Roe
“Dandy” by Herman’s Hermits
“Walk Away Renee” by the Left Banke
“Cherry, Cherry” by Neil Diamond
“Reach Out I’ll Be There” by the Four Tops
“Psychotic Reaction” by Count Five
“If I Were A Carpenter” by Bobby Darin

Even though I wasn’t yet a dedicated listener, I knew almost all of these as my peers listened to radio all around me. They were in the air, and I liked most of the ones I knew. I’m not sure I knew “Psychotic Reaction” back then, and I wonder about the Bobby Darin single. But the rest of them were familiar even though I didn’t have any of those tracks in my collection until probably 1974, when Rick from across the street gave me a hits collection by the Association.

I’ve written about “Cherish” before, noting that when it was getting airplay around me, I recognized it as something special. I’ve also noted here that I certainly didn’t understand the depth of the anguish hidden in the pretty song when I was thirteen; that took years.

The others in that list of ten are fine listening, except for the Tommy Roe single, which I’ve always thought was kind of slight.

And since it’s the 30th of the month today, I’m just going to play Games With Numbers, dropping down to No. 30 on the KDWB survey to see what we’ll listen to this morning. And we find a cover of “Go Away Little Girl,” a song that went twice to No. 1 in the Billboard  Hot 100, once for Steve Lawrence in 1963 and once for Donny Osmond in 1971.

In between those versions, the Happenings took the song to No. 12 in a version that was produced by the Tokens (who in 1969 paired the song with “Young Girl” in a medley that Bubbled Under at No. 118). The production owes a lot to the 4 Seasons. It’s a decent record, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

No. 55, Fifty-Five Years Ago (June 1966)

Tuesday, June 15th, 2021

It’s been a couple of years since we looked at a chart from 1966 for any reason, so we’re going to head that direction this morning and then play a game of Symmetry. Here are the top ten records from the Billboard Hot 100 from the third week in June 1966, fifty-five years ago:

“Paint It, Black” by the Rolling Stones
“Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind” by the Lovin’ Spoonful
“I Am A Rock” by Simon & Garfunkel
“When A Man Loves A Woman” by Percy Sledge
“Strangers In The Night” by Frank Sinatra
“A Groovy Kind Of Love” by the Mindbenders
“Barefootin’” by Robert Parker
“Green Grass” by Gary Lewis & The Playboys
“Cool Jerk” by the Capitols
“Red Rubber Ball” by the Cyrkle

As I typed that list, I knew nine of those ten, and a trip to YouTube refreshed my memory of “Green Grass.” How many of those would I have known fifty-five years ago, though?

I was twelve, between seventh and eighth grades, and that might have been the summer that I took summer school courses in cooking and World War II history, or it might have been chemistry and Spanish. And I wasn’t yet very interested in pop music, so any of those records I remember, I remember only because I heard then when I was with my peers and the radio was on, not because I was listening.

I have vague memories of hearing the records by the Rolling Stones, Simon & Garfunkel, the Lovin’s Spoonful, Percy Sledge and the Cyrkle. And I know I heard the Frank Sinatra single: I was still an easy listening kid, and “Strangers In The Night” topped the Easy Listening chart for seven weeks. I no doubt heard it on WCCO from the Twin Cities and on the two St. Cloud stations, WJON and KFAM. And I liked it, too.

I also liked “I Am A Rock” and “Red Rubber Ball,” as well as “Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind,” although the dilemma facing the singer in that tune bemused me. I could not imagine myself in a position of having to make a choice between two willing girls. (I marked that one off on my bucket list not quite ten years later.) On the other hand, even though I knew it fifty-five years ago, I have never really liked “When A Man Loves A Woman,” and I don’t have any idea why that is.

How about now? Do any of those records fit into my day-to-day listening? Let’s look at the iPod. Four of them are there: The records by Sinatra, the Stones, the Cyrkle and the Capitols. That last is a surprise, almost as much of a surprise as the absence of “I Am A Rock.”

Now, to our other business today: Checking out the record that sat at No. 55 in the middle of June 1966. Not unsurprisingly, it’s a record I don’t think I’ve ever heard of, much less heard: “Come Running Back” by Dean Martin. Back then, I knew “Everybody Loves Somebody,” Martin’s No. 1 hit from 1964, and I think I’d heard “Houston” on one of the 45s that I got from Leo Rau, the jukebox jobber who lived across the alley.

But that was the limit of my Dean Martin lore then. In the past few years, I’ve added a hits package to the digital shelves, but I don’t know much of it well except “Volare” and “That’s Amore.” Add “Mambo Italiano” from my cabaret adventures with Lucille and Heather a few years ago, and that’s the extent of my Dean Martin awareness.

“Come Running Back” is an okay record – it’s a mid-Sixties swingin’ and brassy Pack Rat joint – except for the shrillness of the background singers, and since they pretty much start things off, well, that takes off some points right there. Lyrically, it’s pretty simple: She’s gone and he’s saying that if things don’t work out, come on home. Yeah, we’ve found better records on our dives into the charts, but we’ve also found much, much worse.

“Come Running Back” peaked at No. 35 on the Hot 100 and at No. 4 on the Easy Listening chart.

‘Friday’s Child . . .’

Friday, January 29th, 2021

So I went looking for songs with “Friday” in their titles, and there were about twenty of those in the RealPlayer. Some were obvious, like “Friday On My Mind” by the Easybeats. And then I spotted “Friday’s Child” by Nany Sinatra, a 1966 release on Reprise.

As the tune played, I checked Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles: The record hit the Billboard Hot 100 in early July of 1966, the follow-up to “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’,” which went to No. 1 in February of that year, and to the No. 7 hit from spring of that year, “How Does That Grab You, Darlin’?”

“Friday’s Child,” written and produced by Lee Hazelwood (who was either Nancy Sinatra’s Svengali or her Henry Higgins), didn’t fare nearly as well, topping out at No. 36. That’s not surprising, as it’s an odd and unsettling piece of work:

Friday’s child hard luck is her brother
Friday’s child her sister’s misery
Friday’s child her daddy they call hard times
Friday’s child that’s me

Friday’s child born a little ugly
Friday’s child good looks passed her by
Friday’s child makes something look like nothing
Friday’s child am I, yeah

Friday’s child never climbed no mountain
Friday’s child she ain’t even gonna try
Friday’s child whom they’ll forget to bury
Friday’s child am I

Friday’s child am I

Sinatra’s version, perhaps not surprisingly, turns out to be a cover. Hazelwood recorded the song himself in March 1965, according to the website Second Hand Songs, and used it as the title track for his own album in 1965. The album didn’t chart, and if there were any singles pulled from the album, they didn’t chart either.

Hazelwood’s version of the song is a little busier than Sinatra’s but is disquieting, too, though perhaps a little less so:

Saturday Single No. 709

Saturday, October 24th, 2020

Our main task today here on the North Side is to defrost the freezer. Somehow, when we bought our new freezer the day we moved into the condo (or perhaps the day after) in February 2018, we neglected to see if the new appliance – like the old one – was frost-free.

It isn’t, and defrosting the thing is one of those chores we tend to put off. Today, however, is the day.

We have plastic bins in the kitchen, waiting to be filled with the freezer’s contents, and nature is helping out today, with an outdoor temperature that will stay well under freezing all day. So we’ll just put the filled bins on the deck as we get to the work inside.

With the Texas Gal doing some prep upstairs, it’s about time for me to make my appearance, so we’ll just default to a record I’ve mentioned a couple times before but never featured here: “The Philly Freeze” by Alvin Cash & The Registers. In 1966, it went to No. 49 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 12 on the magazine’s R&B chart.

The Airheads Radio Survey Archive tells us that “The Philly Freeze” went to No. 1 on WJLB in Detroit, and hit the Top Ten on WJMO in Cleveland, WVON and WBEE in Chicago, WCHB in Detroit, and CKLW in Windsor, Ontario. The highest it went in Philadelphia – at least according to the information compiled at ARSA – was to No. 52 at WIBG.

Anyway, here’s “The Philly Freeze” by Alvin Cash & The Registers. It’s today’s Saturday Single.

‘Theme From A Dream”

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020

A few years ago, when I wrote about an old house I visit in a recurrent dream, I ended the post with a version of Boudleaux Bryant’s haunting “Theme From A Dream” by the Larry Page Orchestra. It’s a tune that I first came across – surprise! – on my first Al Hirt album, Honey In The Horn, released in 1963:

Guitar legend Chet Atkins was the first to record Bryant’s song, releasing it on his 1959 album, Chet Atkins In Hollywood. And the website Second Hand Songs lists only two other artists – beyond Atkins and Hirt – who’ve recorded the tune: Pianist Floyd Cramer has two versions listed, as does Dutch singer Willeke Alberti, who recorded the song as “Jij (Jij Alleen)” on two different occasions. (The Dutch words were written by Dutch producer Pieter Goemans.)

There are other versions of the tune out there, as some wandering through YouTube shows. We might come back to them later. For now, here’s the first of Alberti’s two versions, recorded in 1966 and released as a single.

The Last ‘Time’

Wednesday, June 17th, 2020

Somewhere around the beginning of 1965, my dad subscribed to Time magazine. I seem to recall President Lyndon Johnson on one of the first covers that we saw. And I imagine that I – then eleven years old – poked through each of the magazine’s weekly editions a little bit as they came through the mail slot.

Dad read each week’s edition carefully, a few pages each evening before bedtime. And a lot of what he – and I, when I took advantage – read was something we found nowhere else: coverage that supplemented the St. Cloud and Minneapolis newspapers with a wider variety of national and international news. (That news came, I now know, with a great helping of Timesnark, the right-wing and elite attitudes fostered in the weekly by founder Henry Luce just forty years earlier.)

(Some of that coverage we might have been able to get from any of the evening news shows, but watching television news was not part of our evening routines. The only broadcast news we absorbed on Kilian Boulevard during the 1960s and early 1970s was the CBS News morning report on WCCO radio, generally running in the background as we had breakfast and prepared for school and work.)

As I grew into a news junkie, I read the magazine more and more frequently. Once I started college, I added regular reading of Newsweek at the St. Cloud State library, and a few years later, when I left home for the world of work, that’s the magazine I subscribed to, seeing it as less snarky and slightly more hip to pop culture.

Still, at Kilian Boulevard, Time fell through the mail slot every week. Sometimes Dad would pass them on to me; during my college year in Denmark, he clipped stories he thought would interest me and packaged them weekly with clippings from the daily newspapers and Sports Illustrated to keep me entertained and at least a little up-to-date. (Those thick envelopes, probably about thirty of them, are still with me, tucked away in a box full of other stuff I brought back from my adventure in Denmark.)

And week after week, month after month, year after year, the magazine kept coming to Kilian Boulevard. When Dad died in 2003, I helped Mom change the account into her name. And the magazine would eventually come to her at her Waite Park home, at her Ridgeview Place assisted living apartment, and finally, at Prairie Ridge, the facility’s memory care unit.

Somewhere during the last years of her life, Mom had renewed her subscription to Time into mid-2020, when she would be 98 years old. (I think she got stung by one of those companies that offers to renew a subscription and then charges an additional $50 or so for the renewal.) Anyway, after Mom died, I just switched the subscription into my name, and Time kept coming to the East Side and, most recently, to the North Side.

When Dad first subscribed during the mid-1960s, a news consumer’s options beyond daily newspapers were limited. There was some radio news, three national television broadcasts at dinnertime and the three main newsmagazines, Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report. And Dad read his editions of Time from cover to cover.

Now, in 2020, the information that Time brings me is dated. I have twenty-four-hour news from multiple sources on my TV and my computer. I glance at the first few pages of each edition, but almost always, it gets set aside and sits on my end table until the next weekly edition arrives. There’s nothing wrong with the magazine’s coverage – it quit being snarky (for the most part) years ago – but in general, the magazine offers nothing I can’t get elsewhere for a cheaper price. So I haven’t renewed the subscription.

That’s why the edition of Time that came late last week will be – I think – the last one. (I maybe wrong, and one more may come my way, but no more than that, I’m sure.)

After Mom died in 2017, we sold her things, closed accounts at her bank and elsewhere, disconnected her telephone and took care of other, similar, tasks. I think the subscription to Time is the last bit left of Mom and Dad’s life on Kilian Boulevard. And after more than fifty-five years and about 2,880 weekly editions, that’s ending this month.

Here are the Pozo-Seco Singers and their 1966 track “Time.” (I thought about the Rolling Stones’ “The Last Time,” but I’ve never really liked the record.)

Saturday Single No. 689

Saturday, May 16th, 2020

I worked at a number of things during my professional career: college teacher, corporate researcher, skip-tracer, public relations writer, newspaper editor and reporter. If I am at base any of those things, it is that last. Even more than twenty years after I closed my final notebook, I am a reporter, a newspaperman.

That’s why the story published May 13 in the Minneapolis Star Tribune – headlined “Twin Cities weekly newspapers are shutting down in the face of pandemic” – was distressing. The newspaper business has been in crisis for some time, of course. The rise of the 24-hour news cycle on television and the availability of other news sources on the Internet, along with other factors, have made newspapers more vulnerable, dropping circulation and thus depressing ad revenue.

Then, as the piece notes, add the impact of Covid-19 to society in general and to the business sector particularly, and ad revenues drop even more. The story wasn’t surprising to me; I’ve noticed the Minneapolis paper becoming noticeably slimmer in the past two months, and Time magazine, too, is remarkably more slender when I take it from the mailbox. That revenues have been falling at community newspapers as well is not startling.

Just as distressing as the actual news about weekly papers in the Twin Cities area, however, were the personal connections. I’ve known reporters, editors and publishers at many of the newspapers mentioned in the piece, and one of the newspapers that recently closed was the Eden Prairie News, where I wrote for almost four years in the early 1990s.

In a lot of ways, those were good years for me: I was coming out of my wandering phase – I had moved seven times in a little less than four years, going from Minnesota to North Dakota back to Minnesota to Kansas to Missouri and finally back to Minnesota again – and was looking for a place to stay for a while, perhaps even thrive. Eden Prairie and its newspaper helped me do both. And I was saddened to see that the newspaper is gone and sad, too, to see that the vibrant city I enjoyed getting to know is now without a local paper.

I imagine the day will come when print news is dead instead of just dying, and it may come in my lifetime. Maybe I’m wrong. Actually, I think I am. I see the major national newspapers – the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and others – surviving, and maybe even the newsmagazines like Time will do so, too. But I expect that smaller cities and town will be without local papers, and I think that will include St. Cloud.

There are about 100,000 folks in the St. Cloud metro area, and for years, the St. Cloud Times – owned by the Gannett chain – has been struggling, downsizing office space and shedding staffers in an attempt to stay upright. Someday, I think, the corporation will pull the plug. And the same is going to happen, I think, to newspapers all over the country in a lot of medium-sized cities like St. Cloud. We’ll all be poorer for it.

So I looked on the digital shelves for a track with the word “sad” in the title, to match how I feel as I write this, and I came up with “Sad Wind,” a 1966 instrumental B-side from a group called the Imperial Show Band. It came to me through the massive Lost Jukebox collection, and though it doesn’t sound particularly sorrowful, it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Four At Random

Friday, May 15th, 2020

We’re wandering through iTunes today, landing on four of the 3,900-some tracks I keep there and on my iPod.

First up is “I Want Candy” by the Strangeloves. The Strangeloves were a goof perpetuated in 1965 by Brill Building writers Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gotterher. As Dave Marsh notes in The Heart of Rock ’n’ Soul, they decided in the wake of the British Invasion that “if the public wasn’t interested in domestic acts, they’d reinvent themselves as foreigners.” So they became the Australian brothers Miles, Giles, and Niles Strangelove, claiming to “have taken their rhythmic ideas from aborigines and to have added Masai drums after hearing them while on an African safari. The goof worked, with the Masai drums – actually tympani – helping “I Want Candy” to get to No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100.

We jump ahead to 2019 and “Moonlight Motel,” the most effective track on Bruce Springsteen’s Western Stars:

There’s a place on a blank stretch of road where
Nobody travels and nobody goes
And the Deskman says these days ’round here
Two young folks could probably up and disappear into
Rustlin’ sheets, a sleepy corner room
Into the musty smell
Of wilted flowers and
Lazy afternoon hours
At the Moonlight Motel . . .

Last night I dreamed of you, my lover
And the wind blew through the window and blew off the covers
Of my lonely bed,
I woke to something you said
That it’s better to have loved, yeah it’s better to have loved
As I drove, there was a chill in the breeze
And leaves tumbled from the sky and fell
Onto a road so black as I backtracked
To the Moonlight Motel

She was boarded up and gone like an old summer song
Nothing but an empty shell
I pulled in and stopped into my old spot

I pulled a bottle of Jack out of a paper bag
Poured one for me and one for you as well
Then it was one more shot poured out onto the parking lot
To the Moonlight Motel

As regulars here know, I love Springsteen’s work, but I have to admit that most of Western Stars left me unaffected, its subdued mood not really grabbing me. It held together thematically, but most of the tracks were just okay. I did, however, think that “Moonlight Motel” worked, and worked well.

Great Speckled Bird was a Canadian county band put together in 1969 by folk performers Ian and Sylvia Tyson. Named after the 1938 recording by Roy Acuff, the group released a self-titled album in 1970, You Were On My Mind in 1972 (billed as Ian & Sylvia & The Great Speckled Bird), and was credited on Ian Tyson’s 1973 album, Ol’ Eon. Wikipedia notes that the band continued to back the duo until their break-up in 1975. What we get this morning is a track from the 1970 album, “Long Long Time To Get Old.” The song is a series of vignettes, most of which end with the advice, “Remember this, children: If the good lord’s willing, live a long, long time to get old.” I guess it sounded profound in 1970.

Our final stop brings us one of those sappy things that I carry close to me and always will: “Somewhere My Love (Lara’s Theme from ‘Dr. Zhivago’)” by Ray Conniff & The Singers. The 1966 single went to No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent four weeks on top of the magazine’s Easy Listening chart. I heard it, no doubt, on WCCO from the Twin Cities and on KFAM from St. Cloud’s south side, and it became one of my favorite records from the mid-1960s. The song itself is also one of my favorites: there are twenty versions of the tune on the digital shelves by performers like Roger Williams, Ramsey Lewis, Ferrante & Teicher, along with – of course – the Conniff version and several versions by Maurice Jarre, who wrote the soundtrack for the film.

Saturday Single No. 636

Saturday, April 6th, 2019

So I wandered around the digital shelves this morning as I waited for my over-the-counter meds to kick in, and I idly searched the 77,000 tracks in the RealPlayer for the word “ache.” (Yeah, I was feeling a bit sorry for myself.) And I got back 230-some results.

As usual with those searches, a lot of stuff had to be trimmed out, including a 1966 album titled I Can’t Grow Peaches On A Cherry Tree by someone called Just Us. Based on the notes attached to the mps3, I scavenged it from a blog called raremp3 about the time I started blogging and never paid much attention to it.

So as I listened to the tune “Listen To The Drummer,” I began to dig. It turns out that Just Us was a duo made up of studio musician Al Gorgoni and Chip Taylor, who is perhaps best known as the writer of “Wild Thing” and “Angel Of The Morning.” (He’s also known, less interestingly to me, for being the brother of actor John Voight and thus the uncle of Angelina Jolie.)

The album’s an assortment of mid-1960s close-harmony folk with a few familiar covers (and generally spare instrumentation). It’s a little bit bland at times but decent. It threw off one minor hit on the Colpix label, as the title track went to No. 34 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 3 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart in the spring of 1966. Discogs tells me that Kapp Records, which released the album, sent out three more singles in the next year or so, two of them pulled from the Cherry Tree album and another with A and B sides pulled from a 1967 EP titled What Are We Gonna Do. None charted.

Just Us was the second group to record “I Can’t Grow Peaches on a Cherry Tree,” which was written by Camille Monte and Estelle Levitt. Second Hand Songs says that The Browns (with the addendum, “Featuring Jim Edward Brown”) were the first in June 1965. Their version bubbled under at No. 120. Just Us recorded the tune in December of 1965, followed by Nancy Sinatra in August 1966, a group called the Defenders in December 1966, and Teddy Bear & The Playboys sometime in 1967. Second Hand Songs also lists one instrumental version by Art Blakey in September 1966 and a version in Portuguese by Jerry Adriani in October 1965.

And that’s likely more than we need to know about “I Can’t Grow Peaches on a Cherry Tree.” I’ll likely check out Nancy Sinatra’s version, but probably not any of the others. For today, we’ll go with the hit. So here’s “I Can’t Grow Peaches on a Cherry Tree” by Just Us, today’s Saturday Single.