Georgia Gibbs, whom I called "The Queen of Cover Artists," covered so many LaVern Baker songs that it really angered Baker. Whether it's true or not, there was at the time a widely reported story that Baker took out a flight insurance policy naming Gibbs as the beneficiary, so that if anything happened to Baker then Gibbs wouldn't go broke.
OK, doowop. For some reason So Fine, a song by The Fiestas, popped into my mind the other day. Close behind it came the memory that the flip side was a doowop song, Last Night I Dreamed. Now this is one of those songs that people tend to love or hate. I recall a young woman telling me that in places it sounded like "a bunch of castrated pups."
Sooo . . . I went to YouTube to search for it and was *quite* surprised to find it. I haven't heard it for roughly fifty years. So Fine charted in 1959, while I was in Germany, and although I've heard that any number of times, I had never heard Last Night I Dreamed anywhere but on the jukeboxes in German bars.
I snagged it from YouTube and then, well you know how you watch a video on YouTube and then get presented with the option to watch any number of videos that YouTube thinks might be related to what you just watched. I don't really have a point to make in this post, and am just gonna ramble a little about where those choices took me and the memories they stirred, all fifty or more years old. If old folks bore you, go away.
One of the choices was Daddy's Home, which reached #2 in 1961, by Shep & the Limelites. The mildly interesting thing about this song is that it's a sequel (generally known as an "answer song") to You're a Thousand Miles Away (1956, didn't make the pop charts) by the Heartbeats. James Shepherd had been the lead singer of that group at the time, so he recorded the original song with one group and the sequel with another. He tried to milk it to death by releasing Three Steps to the Altar and Our Anniversary, but they tanked. Enough was enough.
YouTube then took me to one of the truly great doowop songs, In the Still of the Night, by The Five Satins. Recorded in a church basement, this was Voted 100th best song of the 20th century by the Recording Industry of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.
From there I went to My Girl by the Temptations. Arguably the best song to come out of Motown, it was written by Smokey Robinson and was the RIA/NEA pick for the 20th century's 45th best song.
And then . . . and then . . . don't do this, I'm warning you. I clicked on something described as "Most Requested Oldies Medley." Have you ever been doing something and wished you were having a root canal instead?
OK, we'll wrap this up with two items: 1) Since you're dying to know what song the RIA/NEA chose for the 20th century's best: It was Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Judy Garland; and 2) a short list of doowop tecommendations (in addition to those mentioned above).
- I Only Have Eyes For You by The Flamingos
- Money Honey by Clyde McPhatter & the Drifters
- The Tracks of My Tears by The Miracles
- Stay by Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs
- At My Front Door by the El Dorados
- Over the Mountain by Johnnie & Joe
- Sixty Minute Man by The Dominoes