Saturday, October 8, 2011

Stuck in the Sixties, Musically

I imagine that the great majority of pop music fans favor inordinately the music of their youth, the major exception being (perhaps) those who were young musicians and were always impatiently finding fault with the music of the day.

My own experience was that with the arrival of heavy metal I "dropped out" when it came to keeping up with contemporary music. It's not as if I've *never* listened to or liked newer artists, only that at one time I was on top of things, so to speak, and since then my exposure to new artists and new music has been pretty much accidental.

Thus, this post, devoted to pop music related trivia, will focus pretty much on the fifties and sixties. Here are some tidbits for you:

  • The Animals: The original members were a tax collector, a ship's instrument maker, a postman, an illustrator, and a salesman.

  • Seven different artists reached the top forty with Mack the Knife, aka Theme from the Three Penny Opera.

  • The Ronettes, The Crystals, and The Chiffons were all sixties girl groups. In the 1986 remake of Little Shop of Horrors, three black women are occasionally seen and heard in musical numbers and in the credits are identified as Ronette, Crystal, and Chiffon.

  • The Bobbettes: If you're old enough, you may recall their only hit, Mr. Lee.

    One, two, three,
    Look at Mr. Lee.
    Three, four, five,
    Look at him jive.

    Well, the truth is that the Bobettes were aged 11 to 13, Mr. Lee was their fifth grade teacher, and they didn't like him at all. The above lyrics are the cleaned up version of their original recording, I Shot Mr. Lee, which began

    One, two, three,
    I shot Mr. Lee.
    Three, four, five,
    I got tired of his jive.

  • Pat Boone and Roy Orbison were classmates at North Texas State University.

  • Sky Pilot was slang for a military chaplain. When Eric Burdon & the Animals released their song of that name in 1968 it went to number one among the troops in Vietnam and stayed there for six months.

  • Johnny Cash had a big hit with A Boy Named Sue, written by Shel Silverstein. You may recall the verse in which Sue finally finds his father and they get into a fight, Kickin' and a-gougin' in the mud and the blood and the beer.

    Silverstein later wrote and recorded Father of a Boy Named Sue. In this version, told by the Sue's father, Sue is gay and when they meet and fight, they do so Kickin' and a gougin' in the mud and the blood and the creme de menthe.

    And yes, that Shel Silverstein - A Light in the Attic and other children's books.

  • With a Little Help From My Friends, it was reported, was Vice President Spiro Agnew's favorite pop song until someone told him that the friends were drugs.

  • Fats Domino, with eighteen Billboard Top 20 hits, never made it to number one. The closest he came was with Blueberry Hill, which reached #2.

  • Tommy Edwards reached #18 in 1951 and #1 in 1958 with It's All in the Game, written as Melody in A Major in 1911 by Charles Dawes, who was elected Vice President in 1912.

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