Episode 39–Under the Boardwalk

Before I start this week’s windup, let me point you to a different podcast for a moment. The guys at the TMDR Podcast describe their show as being simultaneously about nothing and about everything, but they keep the shows confined to a couple of topics. I’ve been listening in on their discussions of the HBO series Westworld, and just this week they did a show where they spent some time reviewing several different podcasts, How Good It Is being among the shows they reviewed.

I have to say, I was blown away by the level of praise they gave to the show, and I just wanted to thank them yet again, and offer up this link (click on their logo at right). Go check them out; I think you’ll have some fun.

Back in the mid-1980s I went to a Fourth of July event on Long Island. Among the pre-fireworks entertainment was music provided by The Drifters. What I didn’t realize at the time was that there were LOTS of ex-Drifters simply, er, drifting about, and many of them had gotten together and were touring as The Drifters. What’s more, all of these groups could legally do so in many places around the country.

As it happened, I was young and naive, and kinda-sorta listening to their lead singer and the way he was singing staccato style, because he was older and couldn’t hold his notes for any appreciable length of time.

So did I see The Drifters or did I see “The Drifters”? There’s an element of “both” in my eyes, because there were so many people paid to be one of The Drifters that this group could easily be made up of former members. But that didn’t mean I was watching Ben E. King or Clyde McPhatter.

“Under the Boardwalk” was recorded the day after their lead singer Rudy Lewis died. They recruited a former member from several years ago, and before long a new version of the group had cranked out their second-biggest hit.

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Episode 38–Killing Me Softly With His Song

In 1971, Don McLean was a known artist but hadn’t yet hit it big with “American Pie.” Lori Lieberman was a 19-year-old singer-songwriter who’d recently scored a contract. Lieberman attended one of McLean’s shows and she was so struck by his performance

of the song “Empty Chairs” that she wrote a poem about it, more or less on the spot. She took the notes to her collaborators and they put together a song for her album. It became her first single, but it was quickly overshadowed when Roberta Flack covered it.

While the song was covered numerous times, including versions by artists as diverse as Perry Como and Michael Jackson, it wasn’t until The Fugees put together a hip-hop cover that the song gained new life. Lauryn Hill’s singing gives the song an extra emotional ache, perhaps because their original idea was to turn the song into a cautionary tale about substance abuse, an idea that the original writers didn’t support.

As usual, your podcatcher should have the show by now, or you can play it right here. Or, if you prefer to download it yourself, click here and have at it.

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Episode 37–Walk This Way

Before I do anything else, let me give a shout-out to a friend of the podcast, and one of its first fans who wasn’t related to me. Connie Paulson provided the artwork that you see in this post. You can see more of her stuff if you hook up with the show’s Facebook page.

 

In 1975 Aerosmith was pretty much just another rock band with a modest hit, but when they got writer’s block, a trip to a Mel Brooks movie inspired them to come up with a title, and then Steven Tyler wrote the lyrics over the next day or so–twice, as the story goes. The song was a hit, and ten years later, it was a hit again when Aerosmith teamed up with rap act Run-DMC to cover the song. Check out the video; it’s fun, it’s very creative, and you barely notice that most of the band is missing:

Your favorite podcatcher should have the show by now, but feel free to play it right here, if you’re so inclined. Or, if you prefer to download the episode on your own, follow this link.

And remember: you can also listen to the show via iHeartRadio, Google Play Music and TuneIn.com, which means you can also play it through your Amazon Alexa! (“Alexa, play How Good It Is on Tune In Dot Com.”)

Episode 36–Sultans of Swing

While I’ve made the joke in the past about a band taking ten years to become an overnight success, Dire Straits was successful almost from the jump. After a false start with EMI records, the band found a friend in a BBC disc jockey to whom they’d merely turned for advice. That DJ liked what he heard and started playing their stuff, which turned into a contract with a local label, and which they parlayed into a contract with Warner Brothers Records. And all of it in about the space of a year.

The song doesn’t appear on this album, but this is the guitar on which Knopfler composed “Sultans of Swing”.

Knopfler composed the song on the National Steel guitar you see in the picture here, but he wasn’t happy with it until he played it on a 1961 Stratocaster. He was so happy with the way it sounded that he stuck with the Strat for years afterward.

Given that Dire Straits was their first album, and it did so well worldwide, it was pretty clear early on that Knopfler is a ridiculously talented guitarist who has a way of making it look easy, and it seems to me that unless you’re a music aficionado, his talent is generally under-appreciated.

By now your favorite podcatcher should have this week’s show in your device, but if not, you can listen to it right here: If you’d prefer to download the episode directly, you can do so by going to this link (autoplays in a new window).

Sick Day

Image result for led zeppelin sick again -site:pinterest.comUgh. I really hate doing this, but there’s no show this week. I’ve got an upper respiratory infection, which I think you were able to hear a little bit of last week, but it’s really affected both my voice and my ability to concentrate.

If it clears up faster than I anticipate, I’ll record and release a show mid-week, with another next Saturday. Otherwise it’ll be next week.

In the meantime, I leave you with this. Please don’t hate me.

Episode 35–(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

During their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, October 1964.

By the time early 1965 came around, the Rolling Stones were certainly in the realm of a band that had paid their dues. They’d spent time touring the UK to build up a following there, they’d been to the US once without a hit, which wasn’t an especially successful tour, and they’d been there a second time, a trip that went much better. However, during that tour there were still a few mishaps, and that, plus a guitar riff that Keith Richards literally wrote in his sleep, transformed the Rolling Stones from Just Another British Band Covering American R&B tunes, into a genuine worldwide phenomenon.

This photo was literally taken at the time Mick Jagger wrote the lyrics to “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” He’s not writing in this photo (there’s someone he’s talking with who’s out of frame), but it was in that place, on that day.

The time from concept to release was a little over a month, and from release to the top of the charts (in the US, anyway) was only another few weeks. The song dominated the Billboard Hot 100 for the entire month of July 1965, and became the #3 song of the year, behind “Wooly Bully” (Wooly Bully? Really? That was #1?) and “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)”.

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Episode 34–Thompson Twins

As a group, the Thompson Twins went through several permutations of their lineup, with the band’s membership count as high as seven in 1981. But before long they’d pared themselves down to a trio, and did terrible things to their hair, as so many of us did in the 1980s. Except me, but I’ve never been one of the cool kids, so.

 This week we’re taking a look at those early incarnations of one of the bands that helped define the Second British Invasion, and helped bring New Wave music from its post-Punk roots into the Pop mainstream. And that’s about the most Rolling Stone thing I’ve written.

I don’t know where you’ve been getting the show from, but the show is now available on iHeartRadio! You can see the whole thing here. So if that’s your thing, now you have a link to me there as well. Oddly enough, though, iHeartRadio is representing all of the shows’ lengths in seconds as minutes. So this 11:14 show is listed as being 679 minutes. Weird, and I hope that this gets straightened out in a bit.

If you’re using Podcast Republic, or iTunes or something else, you should already have the show in your podcatcher. If you prefer to listen online or to download the episode, you can do that here:

 

And yes, I know I mis-pronounce “bass” early in the show. I gotta stop recording after midnight.

Episode 33–Ron Dante

In the mid 1960s, a group called The Detergents released an album of novelty songs, and a couple of them caught on, but one did especially well, a parody of the Shangri-Las’ “Leader of the Pack.” Among that group was a young man named Ron Dante.

A few years later, Dante was chosen to be the lead voice for a fictional band that was tied in with a cartoon series. That band was The Archies, and they had a short string of hits, peaking with “Sugar Sugar” in 1969. Dante provided all the male voices on “Sugar Sugar,” and Toni Wine provided all the female voices. So yes, you appear to hear two women—one singing low and the other singing high—but in fact they’re both Toni Wine.

Wine left the group around the time “Sugar Sugar” became a hit, and the female portion of The Archies’ follow-up single was voiced by someone else. You’ll just have to listen in to find out who that was.

The Archies, around the “Sugar Sugar” era. From Left to right: Toni Wine, Ron Dante, Jeff Barry, Hot Dog (taking a break from conducting), Ron Dante, Toni Wine. Heh.

If your favorite podcast software doesn’t have it for you already, you can always click below to listen to/download this week’s episode.

Oh hey! How Good It Is is listed as a featured podcast on the Podcast Republic app! I’m gonna give them some love for a few weeks, you betcha.

 

Episode 32–Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On

There’s no doubt that Jerry Lee Lewis was a huge influence on the early days of rock and roll. There’s also no doubt that when he married an underage relative, he pretty much torpedoed his hitmaking career.

But his star burned brightly for a little while, and while the jokes continued, he did manage to restore his reputation, and his influence on the genre is undeniable. Elvis Presley once said that if he could play piano like Jerry Lee Lewis, he’d give up singing. And Elton John once said that hearing “Great Balls of Fire” was the first time he’d heard someone “beat the shit out of a piano.” This time around, however, we’re looking at his first hit, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”, which has a bit of a checkered past before Jerry Lee got his hands on it. Maybe that’s what made it attractive to him, hm?

Jerry Lee Lewis is enshrined as one of the inaugural inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and it’s a well-deserved place for him to be.

As usual, if your podcatcher isn’t catching pods today, or if you don’t use one, you can always click on the player below to listen and/or download.

Episode 31–The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

In November of 1975, an ore freighter broke apart and went down very suddenly in a storm on Lake Superior. Singer Gordon Lightfoot thought that the story wasn’t getting enough attention and gathered some news clippings together, then used that material to write a song about the event.

This is the original article from Newsweek’s November 24, 1975 article.

The song was recorded within just a few weeks of the tragedy, and was released the following summer. Just a few days after the first anniversary of the sinking, the song hit Number One on the Canadian charts, and peaked at #2 in the US. I have to admit, though, that when the song came out, 13-year-old me had no idea that it was about a recent event. I figured it was either fictional, or it had happened many years ago. Imagine my surprise!

One of the last dives. The bell has been replaced, and someone is in the pilot house, leaving a can of beer there.

Nowadays, the ship’s location is considered mostly off-limits to all recreational diving and most research dives or equipment, now. It’s also located in a spot in Lake Superior where the border between the United States and Canada has moved several times, now. Right now the ship is on the Canadian side.

What’s that, you say? Your podcatcher hasn’t picked up the show yet? Don’t worry, you can listen to or download it by clicking on the player below. In addition, I hear it’s now available on Google Play, so you can use that if you like. I’m still working on Spotify, but they’re taking their time about it.

EDITED TO ADD: Holy cow, I can’t believe I forgot to post the video of the ship’s launching. There’s no audio, more’s the pity. If you’ve never seen a sideways ship launch before, you’re in for a treat because it’s pretty cool in general. The action starts at about three minutes in.

See you next week!