Posted in 1960s, 1967, Holiday Songs

58–Alice’s Restaurant Massacree

Click here for a transcript of this week’s show. 

Arlo Guthrie in a still from
the 1969 film Alice’s Restaurant 

The early-to-mid 1960s was a great time to be a folk singer, whether or not you were the protesting type. And Arlo Guthrie, son of Woody Guthrie, had the decade pretty much fall into his lap. It didn’t hurt that he was actually kind of good at it.  And when, as a freewheeling 17-year-old, he and a friend took a fateful trip to the town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts to visit a couple of friends for the Thanksgiving weekend. It turned out to be an adventure that he later immortalized in a song. Between airplay on a single radio station in New York City and its inclusion on the Newport Folk Festival’s main stage, Arlo was able to get a record contract and the song became the entire first side of his debut album. 

And despite the song’s 18-1/2 minute length, and its subject matter (much of which was taboo then), and some of the language used (some of which is taboo now), the song continues to get radio airplay, in full, and unedited. 

Although the restaurant and the microbus are long gone, Guthrie continues to perform the song from time to time, though he’ll update the lyrics so that they’re either more topical or less offensive. Or both. 

And as usual, for the nine of you who don’t use the podcatchers, here’s the episode for listening or downloading:

And of course, if you DO use a podcatcher of some kind, please leave a rating and/or a review. I really appreciate the support. 

Posted in 1960s, 1967, 1968, 2000

Episode 53–Both Sides Now

Click here to view a transcript of this show. 

Sweet Judy Blue Eyes. They’re still stunning to look at. 

The late 1960s was a great time for the fusion of folk and pop music, and a lot of singer-songwriters made their marks with recording their songs, and those of other performers, during that time. So it was when Judy Collins first heard Joni Mitchell singing “Both Sides Now” down a telephone line one late night in 1967. Collins met with Mitchell and Al Kooper that very night in the bar  from which Kooper placed the phone call, and the song wound up as the opening track to Side Two of Collins’ seventh album, Wildflowers.

For whatever reason, though, the song wasn’t released as a single for about a year, but releasing the song turned out to be a great idea, because it turned into Collins’ first foray into Billboard’s Top 40 and propelled Wildflowers to the Number 5 position on their albums chart. 

Joni Mitchell, in the meantime, managed to score a recording contract of her own and recorded it, along with several other songs that had already been cut by other artists (including “Chelsea Morning”, which Collins had recorded and released as a single earlier that year) and a few new tracks. “Both Sides Now” became a stealth title track for her self-produced second album, Clouds, and finally propelled her into the public light. 

The song has been covered literally dozens of times from 1967 all the way up to this decade, and by artists of all ages and genres so clearly this is a song whose impact will be felt for many years to come. 

As usual, your podcast software should have this show by now, but if you dig listening to it from here (looking at you, Brother Of Mine), by all means have at it:

And, of course, I’d be thrilled beyond measure if you were to leave a comment or a rating/review wherever you get your podcasts. 

Posted in 1960s, 1966, 1967

Episode 46–Mellow Yellow

 

Donovan Leitch had already experienced some success in the UK, enough that Epic Records showed interest in distributing his music in the United States. When he signed the contract, however, it created a brief legal quagmire because his label in the UK had a distribution agreement with a different US label. As a result, there was a period where his albums and singles just couldn’t synchronize with one another. As a result, “Sunshine Superman” was released in the US months before it was in the UK, and in the meantime he’d moved on to his next project, which began with “Mellow Yellow”. Again the releases were asynchronous, but it was a Top 20 hit on both sides of the Atlantic and throughout Europe as well.

The song probably took on some extra popularity because it also became a song into which anyone could plug practically any meaning, at a time when theories about “what did the artist mean when he wrote this?” were really starting to thicken the air. And as it happens, he was largely being pretty straightforward.

As I mentioned during the show, the 1999 Gap ad has a few young future stars in it. Keep your eye peeled for Rashida Jones (Parks and Recreation) at the very end, for Monet Mazur (lots of one-offs but starring in All American starting October 2018) as the blonde girl singing the second line, and Jason Thompson (General Hospital) somewhere in between. 

https://youtu.be/jIfTh0T6M8Y

As usual, your podcatcher should have found this show by now, but if it hasn’t, or if you’re a do-it-yourselfer with the downloads, you can pick it up right here: 

Posted in 1960s, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1990s, 1993, Uncategorized

Episode 22–Under The Covers II

Did you ever decide that you were in the market for something, let’s say you need a car, and all of a sudden you see advertisements for cars all over the place? Or, you learn a new word and suddenly you see it being used everywhere?

This is called the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, and it’s a weird little trick our brains play on us. And recently, I was pranked by my brain in this manner.

Episode 9 was devoted to songs that you may not have known were covers of other artists, and I thought at that time that it was kind of a fun idea, and I’d like to come back to it once in awhile. Now, I was thinking maybe another 20 or 30 episodes down the road, but then Baader-Meinhof got in the way and I started really noticing it when it was pointed out that a song I was listening to was a cover of another recording. So, because I have a tendency to write stuff down and then immediately lose the notes, I decided to return to the concept a little more quickly than I usually do. And the fun thing is, I’m saving the one that came as the biggest surprise to me for another show.

So this time around we’re going to hear from musicians as diverse as Salt ‘n’ Pepa, Led Zeppelin and Linda Lyndell. Who? Just go listen, you’ll be fine, I promise. In fact, you’re going to be sad that you don’t know who Linda Lyndell is, especially when you find out WHY you don’t know who she is.

I noted this briefly at the end of the show, but something I noticed only while I was recording was that all of the songs enjoyed only modest success until the cover came out. But the other common thread is that the more successful artist made some sort of change to the song, almost as if that made the difference between whether or not the song was a hit.

As usual, if your favorite podcatcher isn’t getting the job done, you can feel free click on the player below to listen and/or download the show:

Also, my apologies for the late delivery of this episode; I had a technical issue that was frankly kind of scary, and had me wondering whether I’d be forced to A) re-record the episode after B) buying a new computer, but fortunately I managed to fix what was wrong and we’re only a few hours late.

Posted in 1960s, 1967

Episode 16–Light My Fire

This was the “goddess” label that Elektra Records used on the 45 in Columbia. Look! Boobies!

It was the Summer of Love, and as Johnny Rivers sang, everybody kept on playin’ Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Everybody, that is, except for the fans of an underground band playing the clubs in Los Angeles, who kept calling the local radio stations and requesting a song from that band’s debut album. Eventually Elektra Records put out a shorter version of that seven-minute song, and before long it was climbing the charts nationwide, spending three weeks in the #1 slot in July of 1967. The self-titled album itself couldn’t break Sgt. Pepper‘s hold on the Billboard’s Albums chart, but being #2 to The Beatles is pretty respectable, nonetheless.

The Doors got their name from the title of an Aldous Huxley book called The Doors of Perception, which in turn came from a William Blake quotation:  “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”

Today’s show is a little bit on the short side, coming in at just over 10 minutes, and I think it’s because I’m talking so damn fast. I shouldn’t drink so much tea right before recording the show.

And as usual, if you’ve got a favorite podcatcher, you should be able to hear this week’s show already, or you can just click the player below:

 

Also as usual: if you were to go to iTunes or wherever you find your podcasts (Spotify! Really! I had no idea!) and leave a rating, and maybe even some feedback, well, that’d be nice too.

And SCROLL DOWN! Go check out Doug Miles’ stuff!

Posted in 1960s, 1962, 1964, 1967, 1968, 1970s, 1972, 1974, 1980, 1980s, 1985, 1986

Episode 14: Six Feet From Stardom

Mick Jagger, as it turns out, became Carly Simon’s backup singer on “You’re So Vain” because he just happened to pop into the studio the day of recording. The bad news is, that put him on the list of candidates that people think Simon’s singing about.

Before they were famous, lots of artists sang backup for other artists. But once in awhile, they’ll lend their talent to someone else because it’s fun, or because they owe someone a favor or maybe just because they were asked to.

This week, we’re going to listen in on a bunch of songs that have famous people singing backups. Some of them are pretty well known; others may come as a surprise to you.

Per our Standard Operating Procedure, if you’ve got a favorite podcatcher, you should be able to hear this week’s show already, or you can just click the player below to listen/download it right here:

And, as usual, if you were to go to iTunes or wherever you find your podcasts and leave a rating, and maybe even some feedback, I’d be quite the happy camper.

Posted in 1960s, 1967

Episode 3: The Buckinghams’ Greatest Hits

Click here for a transcript of this week’s show. 

This week, we’re taking a look at the Buckinghams, a Chicago-based group which had five big hits, all of which charted in a single year, after which they practically disappeared off the charts.

For thirty years I harbored a suspicion that most of their hits were all about the same person, so I did a little research to find out what the story was. And, of course, the answer practically dropped into my lap.

As usual, if you haven’t subscribed via iTunes or your favorite podcast catcher, you can download the file, or  listen from right here:

That said, I wouldn’t complain too loudly if you went to iTunes and gave me a positive review. Even if that’s not your podcast catcher, every little bit helps.


Some links related to today’s show…

Rock ‘n’ Roll Stories: James Holvay (KLCS-TV interview) https://vimeo.com/88115020, retrieved 8/6/17. This is a great interview piece.

All Time Hits, WGN 1965, Several concatenated clips of the Buckinghams singing Beatles hits. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RId6u8fNsng posted by Dennis Miccolis and retrieved 8/6/17

All Time Hits, WGN 1965, “Unchained Melody” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I90MXbMA-Xs  posted by Museum of Broadcast Communications, Chicago and retrieved 8/6/17.

“Dennis Tufano Talks About and Sings ‘Susan’”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6TaZdGFudQ posted by Dennis Tufano Fans, retrieved 8/6/17

Buckinghams’ official website: www.thebuckinghams.com

http://www.rebeatmag.com/dennis-tufano-the-buckinghams-and-rocks-greatest-disappearing-act-part-1/ and  http://www.rebeatmag.com/dennis-tufano-the-buckinghams-and-rocks-greatest-disappearing-act-part-2/, retrieved 8/6/17. The pieces don’t appear to link to one another, so you’ll probably have to come back here to get the other half.

McLane & Wong Entertainment Law, “The Buckinghams” (1996) http://www.benmclane.com/bucking.htm , retrieved 8/6/17

Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict; Hey Baby, They’re Playing Our Song: A Conversation with Carl Giammarese (2010?)
http://popcultureaddict.com/interviews/buckinghams-htm-2/ , retrieved 8/6/17