Not A Bright Future

The passing of a year can be marked by the four seasons going by, winter, spring, summer and fall or autumn, but in the 1960s, the Four Seasons were one of the very biggest rock & roll groups around.  Their most distinguishing trademark, came from the high falsetto vocals of their lead singer, Frankie Valli.  They sang doo wop romantic tunes with group harmonies that became a little too clean-cut, once the Beatles invaded.  No other white American group of the time besides the Beach Boys could match their intricate harmonies.  They were four distinctly different voices, unlike The Beach Boys, who had that brotherly sound, or the Everly Brothers, who were hard to tell apart.  They were immensely successful, making the Top Ten thirteen times between 1962 and 1967 with hits like ‘Sherry’, ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’, ‘Dawn’, ‘Rag Doll’, ‘Walk Like a Man’, ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ ‘Oh, What a Night’, ‘My Eyes Adored You’, ‘Bye Bye Baby (Baby, Goodbye)’ and ‘Let’s Hang On’.

Francesco Castelluccio was born on May 3, 1934, in Newark NJ, and grew up in a public housing complex.  His manager thought that Castelluccio was too long of a name and that no one would understand it, and while living in Newark, Frankie met a hillbilly singer named ‘Texas’ Jean Valli and Castelluccio, so he borrowed her last name and he changed his name to Frankie Valli.  Frankie was the son of a barber, who at the age of seven decided to be a singer.  In the 1940s, he attended Central High School in Newark and then he enrolled in the American College of Cosmetology to become a hairdresser. Frankie and his good friend Nicky DeVito both had a license to cut hair.  Valli grew up singing on street corners in Stephen Crane Village and in the early 50’s, Valli began singing with the Variety Trio, a vocal group made up of Hank Majewski, and brothers Nick and Tommy Devito, but late 1952, the Variety Trio disbanded.  In 1953, Frankie Valli released his first song ‘My Mother’s Eyes’ which was released under  the name Frankie Valley, but he eventually changed it to the same spelling that Texas Jean Valli was using.

The following year, he and guitarist Tommy DeVito became a team forming The Variatones (with Hank Majewski, rhythm guitar, Frank Cattone, accordion, and Billy Thompson, drums), which between 1954 and 1956 performed and recorded under a variety of names before settling on the name The Four Lovers.  The Four Lovers had a minor hit with ‘You’re the Apple of My Eye’ by Otis Blackwell and they also cut an album called Joyride and appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.  The Lovers caught a break when a friend named Joe Pesci (yes, the Oscar-winning actor) introduced the Lovers to Bob Gaudio, a piano-playing, song-writing prodigy and former member of the Royal Teens.  He had co-written the monster hit ‘Short Shorts’, but then his Teens had returned to obscurity.  The Lovers started working with Bob Crewe, a brilliant lyricist and producer who had written ‘Silhouettes’ for the Rays signed the Four Lovers to a three-year artist contract.  The Lovers flunked an audition at a cocktail lounge located in a bowling alley named the Four Seasons they decided this would make a good name for their ensemble.  In 1962, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons came to fame when they had their first hit, the chart-topping ‘Sherry’. Bob Gaudio wrote the song ‘Jackie’ as a tribute to the First Lady, Jackie Kennedy, but Bob Crewe changed it to ‘Sherry’.  The unknown Seasons sang ‘Sherry’ on American Bandstand, and they suddenly became the hottest band in the land, and after nine years as a recording artist, Frankie Valli became an overnight sensation with a No. 1 record. The sound of ‘Sherry” was unlike anything else on the airwaves.

‘Dawn (Go Away)’ entered the Top 40 on February 8, 1964 and climbed to #3 the week of February 22, behind two Beatles songs ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ and ‘She Loves You’.  It stayed at #3 for three weeks until March 14, when it was bumped to #4 by ‘Please Please Me’.  By March 28, it was at #5 as ‘Twist and Shout’ entered the Top 5.  On April 4, ‘Dawn’ was out of the Top 10 and The Beatles held all five top positions.  In February 1964, 60% of the singles sold in the US were by the Beatles, but the second-biggest seller was The Four Seasons.  The fateful year of 1964 brought the British invasion, but that didn’t stall the Four Seasons.  With the Gaudio-Crewe engine firing on all cylinders, the group released one smash after another including, ‘Ronnie’, ‘Rag Doll’, ‘Save It For Me’ and ‘Big Man in Town’.

‘Dawn (Go Away)’ was written by Bob Gaudio and Sandy Linzer.  Besides co-writing ‘Dawn (Go Away)’, Sandy Linzer also wrote ‘Let’s Hang On’, ‘Working My Way Back to You’, and ‘Opus 17’ (also known as ‘Don’t You Worry ‘bout Me’) for the Four Seasons.  Bob Gaudio was a performing member of The Four Seasons, the original keyboardist and tenor vocalist, and on most occasions he was also their main composer, and sometimes their lyricist, but he achieved his greatest successes by collaborating with other lyricists.  Charlie Calello is an American, singer, composer, conductor, arranger, and record producer born in Newark, New Jersey who started his career with the Four Lovers and has since worked for superstars such as Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Diamond, Glen Campbell and the Four Seasons.  ‘Dawn (Go Away)’was originally written with a totally different feel as a slow folk ballad, but arranger Charles Calello sped it up and at Valli’s suggestion and added a galloping rhythm guitar borrowed from Kai Winding’s version of ‘More’.

Two days before ‘Dawn’ was recorded, Frankie Valli and Charlie Calello were in a car when the song ‘More’ came on the radio and Frankie said, “that’s the kind of feel we need on our next session.”  ‘Dawn’ was recorded with 5 other songs on the same date.  Calello usually worked on the arrangements with Gaudio just before the sessions, but when it came to ‘Dawn’, it just did not feel right and he knew he had to come up with something to meet the challenge.  After Calello came up with the resolution of how to change ‘Dawn”, Frankie and Gaudio were both blown away.  Calello had developed the basic figure that was the glue to the song and the bell sound that became part of the Seasons’ sound for the next few years.  Charlie Calello changed all the chords, and wrote the whole tone scale rise at the end of the bridge.

Bob Gaudio said that the song ‘Dawn’ was not written about a specific girl. ‘Dawn’ contains happy music with dark, deplorable lyrics that seem to be contradictory at times.   Dawn is told to stay with him, because he’ll be good to her.  If she can hang on, then he will hang on to her.  She should think about what a big man he’ll be and about the places she’ll see.  However, Dawn is then told to think about her future being with a poor boy.  The singer tries to persuade Dawn that she will be better off with someone who can support her in the style to which she is accustomed and someone that her family would approve of.  I think he is trying to conceal his true motives, by choosing to dissemble his real intentions of actually wanting Dawn to be with him.  By telling Dawn to go away or to give him up, because he is too poor for her is a futile attempt, as this will probably not work on Dawn, because the more he protests the more Dawn will want to be with him.

The Four Seasons got a lot of help from some of the top New York session musicians who played on their songs.  ‘Dawn’ was part of the first session for Ralph Casale, a guitarist from Newark, New Jersey who became part of this elite group of studio pros.  Drummer Buddy Saltzman accented the recording with bombastic around the kit fills and ghost notes, while never using a cymbal once.  Saltzman begins with a short drum intro, featuring a louder perhaps even more frantic drum backing.

Frankie Valli along with The 4 Lovers and The 4 Seasons were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1990. The Four Seasons songs appear in a bunch of movies.  Frankie Valli appeared many times as Rusty Millio on the HBO series The Sopranos.

The Deer Hunter

Dirty Dancing

Conspiracy Theory

The Wanderers

Pretty as a midsummer’s morn’

They call her Dawn.
Dawn,
Go away I’m no good for you.
Oh Dawn,
Stay with him, he’ll be good to you.
Hang on,
Hang on to you.
Think,
What a big man he’ll be.
Think,
Of the places you’ll see.
Now think what the future would be with a poor boy like me.
Dawn go away,
Please go away.
Although I know,
I want you to stay.
Dawn go away,
Please go away.
Baby, don’t cry.
It’s better this way.
Ahh, ahh, ah.
Ohh-ohh-oh.

Dawn,
Go away back where you belong.
Girl we can’t,
Change the places where we were born.
Before you say,
That you want me.
I want you to think,
What your family would say.
Think,
What your throwing away.
Now think what the future would be with a poor boy like me.
Meee-ee.

Dawn,
Go away I’m no good for you.
Dawn,
Go away I’m no good for you.

Written for Daily Addictions prompt – Team, for Daily Inkling Prompt – Ensemble, for FOWC with Fandango – Challenge, for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Dissemble, for Ragtag Community – Week, for Scotts Daily Prompt – Resolution and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Deplorable.

Just A Bit Older

Paul Anka was born in Ontario, Canada, in 1941, and he had already recorded several records by the time he was 15.  In 1957 the 15 year-old Anka became a teen idol for his song ‘Diana’ and he became the first teenager at the time to have a million seller in the U.K.  Paul Anka has had a remarkably successful career to this day as a singer, songwriter, and performer.  Paul is a music legend whose contribution to the industry ranges from making his own hits to writing music for fellow stars.  Paul captured magic with his music that was relevant when he was young, but it is still obvious today.  Oddly, Paul Anka still has not made it into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame which was established in 1983 and is located in Cleveland.

Anka proved a child prodigy, beginning his show business life at the age of 12 by doing impressions of the ‘pop’ singers of the day.  At Fisher Park High School, Anka was part of a vocal trio that he formed called the Bobbysoxers that performed locally in Ottawa.  By the age of 14, he was stealing the family car to drive to amateur singing contests in nearby Hull, Quebec, and writing his own songs based on his personal experiences.  Paul won a trip to New York by winning a Campbell’s soup contest for IGA Food Stores that required him to spend three months collecting soup can labels.  He began taking piano and guitar lessons and in 1956 he went to Los Angeles to visit his uncle.  A meeting with Modern Records led to the release of his first record, Paul Anka with the Jacks single, ‘Blau-Wile Deverest Fontaine’ which was not a hit, as it didn’t make it to the charts.  He also recorded ‘I Confess’, which appeared on the Riviera subsidiary of Jules and Joe Bihari’s RPM label, but the couple songs he had written for Modern only sold 3,000 copies.

During Easter vacation, Anka went to New York with the Rover Boys, a Canadian quartet.  While in New York, Anka gained an audition with the director of artists and repertoire for the ABC-Paramount label producer Don Costa, and he sang his own composition, ‘Diana’.  Costa was initially more impressed with the number of Anka’s completed songs then with his singing ability.  Costa liked what he heard, he soon called Paul’s father to New York and a contract was signed so the teenager could be recorded.  Anka was then sent to voice coaches and received training in song composition.  Within a month, ABC-Paramount was ready to record Anka’s ‘Diana’.  Anka watched as the single hit number one on both sides of the Atlantic later in 1957, eventually selling a reported ten million copies worldwide.   When school started back up in September, Anka didn’t return, as he was busy touring to support his hit.

‘Diana’ was a love song in the form of a plea from a teenage boy who was in love with an older teenage girl.  When Anka was 14, he developed a crush for a 19-year-old girl named Diana Ayoub, who worked as a secretary in the offices of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Ottawa.  He saw her at a church and she was a former babysitter for his younger brother and sister.  Anka said that Diana was a little out of his league, she really didn’t want anything to do with him, which made it even worse.  ‘Diana’ is a clear example of unrequited love, Paul’s infatuation with Diana was one-sided love, it was not reciprocated and she was barely aware of him.  The music was based on a popular Latin rhythm called cha-lypso, which is a modified cha-cha done to a calypso beat.  Cha-lypso had been invented a only a few months earlier, when teenagers needed a special step so they could dance to Mickey and Sylvia’s ‘Love Is Strange’.

In August 1957, American Bandstand, was a new television show that was broadcast out of Philadelphia, PA, and it featured local teenagers dancing to the new rock ‘n roll music.  The show had just gone national on the ABC television network with its new young host, Dick Clark, airing every day at 3 p.m. for an hour-and-a-half.  Within six months of its national debut, American Bandstand was picked up by 101 stations.  Soon there were about 20 million viewers tuning in, and fan letters poured in by the tens of thousands.  Teenagers came to Philadelphia from wide and far for a chance to dance on the show.  American Bandstand also became a place where new talent could be seen, as Clark allotted featured spots on each show for new acts to perform their songs.  The guest performers appeared in person and typically sat with Clark in brief conversation, answering his questions about their music, where they were from, what they were doing next, etc.

Two days later after the August 5, 1957, first national broadcast of ‘American Bandstand’, Paul Anka became the first performer to make his national debut during a television appearance singing his new song ‘Diana’.  At the time the song was at #13 on Billboard’s Hot Top 100 chart, on August 18th it peaked at #2 (for 5 weeks) a week later it would went to #1 (for 1 week), and ‘Diana’ spent 29 weeks on the Top 100.  While ‘Diana’ was at #2, the #1 record was ‘Tammy’ by Debbie Reynolds. On November 3, 1957, Paul Anka performed ‘Diana’ on the CBS-TV variety program The Ed Sullivan Show.

Anka placed four songs in the Top 20 a year later, including ‘You Are My Destiny’ and ‘Crazy Love’, tempering the all-out rebellion of rock & roll with songs that questioned parental authority rather than promoting outright disobedience.  He wrote one of Buddy Holly’s last hits, ‘It Doesn’t Matter Anymore’, which was recorded in 1958 and released posthumously. Less than three weeks after the recording, Buddy Holly was in that tragic accident with Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper where the plane crashed flying into a blizzard, and the title of this song seems rather prophetic.  Anka moved into movies with Let’s Rock and Girls Town. The latter film spawned his biggest American hit, ‘Lonely Boy’, which was just the first in a string of 1959 chart successes including ‘Put Your Head on My Shoulder’, ‘It’s Time to Cry’, and ‘Puppy Love’, which he wrote for his old flame Annette Funicello, and later it became a hit for Donny Osmond as well.

When the teen idol craze began to cool off, Anka (a millionaire while still being a minor) was able to modify his style and take on the adult market, becoming a junior associate of Sinatra and the Rat Pack.  In 1959, he debuted at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas and a year later Paul groomed a solo act became the youngest performer to headline the Copacabana.  By 1961, Anka could boast of the over 125 compositions under his belt, his own record label (Spanka), and the recognition of being behind the second-best-selling single of all time (only ‘White Christmas’ had sold more copies than ‘Diana’).  Anka next moved to RCA and, in yet another shrewd business move, bought the rights to his old masters and made a fortune on reissues alone.

He diversified his career by appearing in several more movie roles including the 1962 drama The Longest Day, for which he provided the Academy Award-nominated theme and made a cameo appearance as a US Army Ranger.  Paul was one of the first pop singers to do shows in Las Vegas, he also hosted television variety shows like Hullabaloo, The Midnight Special, and Spotlite, and moved on to foreign audiences in Asia and Europe where he found his wife, Parisian model Anne de Zogheb. He wrote the theme to The Tonight Show which aired every weeknight for almost 30 years and he got royalities every time it was played.  Anka rewrote the French lyrics to the song ‘Comme d’Habitude’ which later became one of Frank Sinatra’s most famous songs, ‘My Way’, and he also wrote Tom Jones’ biggest hit, ‘She’s a Lady’.  Although he had hit the Top 40 only once since 1963, Anka stormed back into the number one slot in 1974 with ‘(You’re) Having My Baby’, a duet recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, with his singing protégée, Odia Coates.  Anka co-wrote Michael Jackson’s final hit, ‘This Is It’, which was released after it was discovered at the singer’s home following his 2009 death.

“I’m so young and you’re so old
This, my darling, I’ve been told
I don’t care just what they say
‘Cause forever I will pray
You and I will be as free
As the birds up in the trees
Oh, please stay by me, Diana

Thrills I get when you hold me close
Oh, my darling, you’re the most
I love you but do you love me
Oh, Diana, can’t you see
I love you with all my heart
And I hope we will never part
Oh, please stay by me, Diana

Oh, my darlin’, oh, my lover
Tell me that there is no other
I love you with my heart
Oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh
Only you can take my heart
Only you can tear it apart
When you hold me in your loving arms
I can feel you giving all your charms
Hold me, darling, ho-ho hold me tight
Squeeze me baby with all your might
Oh, please stay by me, Diana
Oh, please, Diana
Oh, please, Diana
Oh, please, Diana”

Written for Daily Addictions prompt – Modify, for FOWC with Fandango – Former, for Ragtag Community – Blizzard and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Prophetic.

The First Fake Band

In 1966, the Monkees were the best-selling rock band in the United States and they were the first music act to win an Emmy, of which the band and show earned two, as well as being the only act to have its first four albums go to number one on the Billboard charts, something even the Beatles failed to accomplish.  The Monkees were a manufactured group a Hollywood creation whose only contributions to the records were their voices.  In 1958, two TV producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider formed Raybert Productions.  Bob Rafelson wrote and directed Five Easy Pieces starring Jack Nicholson, and Bert Schneider worked with Rafelson producing Easy Rider.  They wanted to try and create slapstick and absurd comedy something like what the Beatles did in their 1964 film A Hard Day’s NightThey began developing their series and at first, they wanted to hire an established band, such as Herman’s Hermits or the Lovin Spoonful, but they decided against that, because they didn’t want to deal with record company contracts.  They understood the magic of TV, and they knew that their band wouldn’t even have to be musicians, as the instruments would be unplugged and the songs could be re-recorded later in a music studio.  They only had to look convincing and acting experience wouldn’t be necessary, either.  In 1965, they ran an ad in Hollywood looking for Folk & Roll Musicians, Singers for acting roles in new TV series.  After a three-month search interviewing 437 applicants, they ended up with two professional actors and two professional musicians all of whom could sing and they were all funny.

21 year old Micky Dolenz was a former child star, who starred in the adventure series Circus Boy in 1956, where he played the title character, Corky, an orphaned water boy adopted by a traveling circus who worked under the big top, with the stage name Mickey Braddock.  When Micky was 18, he formed his own group called the ‘Missing Links’ where he was the lead singer and guitarist, but the group changed their name to ‘Micky and the One Nighters’ because, they were playing one night stands at bowling alleys.  He was hired to be the drummer, even though he couldn’t play the drums or even make it look like he could.  His singing, however, was top-notch, so he ended up singing on most of the Monkees’ hits.  Davy Jones also 21, from Manchester, England who at the age of 11, starred in the daytime soap opera ‘Coronation Street’, as well as other productions such as ‘June Evening’ and the BBC radio plays, ‘There Is a Happy Land’ & ‘The Morning Story’ and also toured with the musical Oliver! in 1962.  Davy was hired as the “official” lead singer and he also played tambourine capturing the hearts of millions of teen-aged girls with his long hair and charming English accent.

Stephen Stills tried out for the Monkees, but because of his thinning hair and bad teeth, they thought he looked too old, however he recommended an ex-bandmate named Peter Tork who he worked with in Greenwich Village on the East coast and they hooked up again out West in Huntington Beach CA, where they both played in Buffalo Fish which would later become Buffalo Springfield.  Before joining the Monkees, Peter Tork had experience playing bass, guitar, piano, electric keyboards, steel guitar, drums and the banjo.  Tork was 24 and he was working as a dishwasher when he got the audition. He was a guitarist, but in this band, he would play bass.

21 year old Mike Nesmith had worked as a session guitarist up and down the East Coast before moving to Los Angeles with his wife Phyllis Barbour in 1965.  He managed to get a record contract with Colpix Records and released several 45s as well as appearing on ‘Lloyd Thaxton’s’ syndicated teen dance show.  Mike was playing in a band called the Survivors along with Bill Chadwick and John London at the famous Ledbetter’s club in Los Angeles and the Troubadour in Hollywood.  Mike was already a successful songwriter he’d written Frankie Laine’s ‘Pretty Little Princess’ and he was on his way to a successful music career when he auditioned for the show.  Nesmith was the only one who actually saw the ad in Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.  He arrived on a motorcycle wearing his trademark wool cap and he became the lead guitarist.

Raybert having assembled their four musicians, still did not have a name for the band.  Some possibilities that were tossed around were the Creeps, the Turtles, and the Inevitables.  Then Schneider suggested taking a cue from how the Beatles how they had misspelled ‘beetles’, and they turned ‘monkeys’ into Monkees.  Screen Gems’ head of music, Don Kirshner, was hired to develop the band’s sound into something catchy and marketable.  Kirshner tapped top songwriters of the day, including Neil Diamond, Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart, and Carole King, who contributed to the band’s hits, such as ‘Last Train to Clarksville’, ‘I’m a Believer’, and ‘Daydream Believer’.  As the show progressed, the Monkees began writing their own songs, which the television studio wouldn’t let them record.  By 1967, they’d managed to get enough creative control to play the music as well as sing.  By the band’s third album the musicians were actually playing and singing much of their own music (with the frequent aid of session musicians).  With six albums by the original line-up, a television show that lasted two seasons, a feature length movie and songs still played on the radio today, it’s hard to tell where the actors ended and the real band began.

The songwriting team of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart wrote ‘Valleri’ in 1966.  The pair met in 1959 and moved to New York to write songs.  Boyce had previously written a song called ‘Be My Guest’ for rock and roll star Fats Domino, which hit #8 in the US and #11 in the UK, becoming Domino’s biggest hit there in several years, and sold over a million copies.  Hart was involved in the songwriting for Little Anthony & the Imperials’ ‘Hurt So Bad’.  Boyce & Hart were a West Coast equivalent to the kind of craftsmanship and methodology espoused by Brill Building songwriting teams.  In 1964, they had their first nibble on the charts with a minor hit for Chubby Checker called ‘Lazy Elsie Molly’.  They went on to write hits for Jay & the Americans ‘Come a Little Bit Closer’, Paul Revere and the Raiders ‘(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone’ and The Leaves ‘Words’.  They had their greatest success as the musical masterminds of The Monkees.  They wrote the theme song for the TV show and became the group’s producers after attempts with Mickie Most, Snuff Garrett and Carole King didn’t work out.  ‘Valleri’ was a #3 on Billboard Hot 100 hit, and it also spent two weeks at #1 on Cash Box in early 1968.  The song also rose to #1 in Canada, and #12 in the UK.

‘Valleri’ was created at Monkees mastermind Don Kirshner’s request who was looking for a song that had a girl’s-name for the band’s television series.  Valleri was the name of a girl Hart pined for in high school, and it became the title of the song when they were shouting girls’ names back and forth for Kirshner.  Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart delivered one of the group’s best psychedelic rockers, complete with a busy flamenco guitar solo and a rumbling beat.  The original recording was instrumentally backed by the Candy Store Prophets, plus session musician Louie Shelton who added a flamencoesque guitar solo.  The Candy Store Prophets’ rhythm section comprised drummer Billy Lewis, bassist Larry Taylor, a future Canned Heat member and longtime Tom Waits sideman, and guitarist Gerry McGee.

This song was featured in the show’s first season in 1967, but the first version of ‘Valleri’ went unreleased, it received radio airplay because two DJs taped the audio directly from the video, one in Chicago, one in Florida, and as demand for anything Monkees began to spread, they played this taped TV version on their radio shows.  Listeners called the stations airing the rough mix of ‘Valleri’ asking where they could buy a copy of the record that they had just heard.

Nesmith led the fight to have the Monkees play their own instruments and write songs for their albums.  The band’s record label Colgems eventually did acquiesce on their third album Headquarters released in 1967, where the Monkees played their own instruments, wrote eight of the 14 selections, and produced the album (with a little help from their friend Chip Douglas). Kirshner had a falling out with The Monkees (especially Mike Nesmith) and he was fired in early 1967 after releasing ‘A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You’ without first informing the group, so the song never made it to that second album, which was released in April.  After the Monkees parted ways with Don Kirshner they wanted to write their own material, which meant the end for Boyce and Hart.  Lester Sill head of Colgems Records thought that ‘Valleri’ could be released as a single, but since the track was produced by Boyce and Hart, the original recording couldn’t be released.  Sill approached Boyce and Hart, who agreed to produce a re-recorded unaccredited session track for ‘Valleri’.  The remade ‘Valleri’ made it to Number Three in the US, and was to be the band’s last top ten hit.  It was also their last single to receive a push from their television series and it became the last single to be certified gold.

During the summer of 1967, Hendrix was popular in the United Kingdom, but he was still basically unknown in the United States.  Hendrix ended up as the opening act for The Monkees, who were in the middle of their successful 1966-1968 TV series run and this unexpected pairing seems like serendipity.  In 2012, Davy Jones age 66 passed away in Stuart, Florida from a severe heart attack resulting from arteriosclerosis.  In July of 2018, Mike Nesmith underwent quadruple bypass heart surgery after having trouble catching his breath and having two brief trips to the emergency room.  Hank Cicalo is an American recording engineer who worked with The Monkees, Carole King, Barbra Streisand, and George Harrison.  The original rear album cover for Headquarters featured a mislabeled photo that identified Hank Cicalo as sitting next to Chip Douglas.  This was corrected by substituting a different photo rather than revising the caption.

Valleri I love my Valleri
There’s a girl I know who makes me feel so good
And I wouldn’t live without her, even if I could
They call her Valleri
I love my Valleri

Oh yeah, come on

She’s the same little girl who used to hang around my door
But she sure looks different than the way she looked before
I call her Valleri
I love my Valleri

Valleri I love my Valleri
I love my Valleri
I need ya, Valleri

Written for Daily Addictions prompt – Caption, for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Acquiesce, for Ragtag Community – Serendipity and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Emergency.

Poking Fun At Pop

The Turtles might be one of rock’s most misunderstood but yet most beloved bands.  In 1947, both Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman were born on opposites coasts of America, but Kaylan moved from New York to Los Angeles as a child and they ended up singing in the same local a cappella choir.  Howard learned saxophone and Mark took up clarinet and in 1961 at a 10th grade dance Mark Volman saw a local band called The Nightriders, with Howard on stage playing saxophone, and other choir members Al Nichol on lead guitar, Don Murray on drums and Chuck Portz on bass.  Mark eventually became an official member of the group and then in 1963 the instrumental surf group changed their name to the Crossfires.  After high school graduation, the Crossfires continued on while its members attended area colleges picking up rhythm guitarist Jim Tucker along the way and securing a residency as the house band at a club called Revelaire in Redondo Beach.  In 1964, Mark and Howard put down their saxes to concentrate more on singing and they grew their hair long.

In 1965, local disc jockey and club owner Reb Foster became their manager and said he would get a couple of music industry people in to check them out.  Two ex-Liberty record staff, Ted Feigan and Lee Laseff who had just started their own White Whale label, turned up were impressed and signed them as the first act to their fledgling label, but they suggested the Crossfires should change their name.  Someone suggested The Tyrtles employing the tactic that the Byrds used.  Everyone agreed on the name, but preferred the traditional spelling Turtles.

The first song they recorded at the suggestion of the label was a cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’ which was followed by their big hit ‘Happy Together’, a song that two members of The Magicians, Gary Bonner and Alan Gordon, had written and this song was produced by ‎Joe Wissert.  It reached number 12 in the UK and number one in America knocking the Beatles’ Penny Lane off the top.  Rhythm guitarist Jim Tucker left the group and was not replaced, so the Turtles were a group of five.  Don Murray was replaced by drummer John Barbata and Chip Douglas replaced Chuck Portz on bass for a short time, but Jim Pons soon became the bass guitar player.  The Turtles released 18 US Hit Singles between 1965-1970.

While Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman provided heavenly harmonies, the Turtles became a ubiquitous presence on Top 40 radio for much of the ‘60s.  They were making challenging and adventurous records that were getting played on the radio, but were still experimental, and at the same time commercially successful.  The Turtles were a happy group of guys till things started to spoil in 1967, when Dave Krambeck, their first road manager, suggested very strongly that their manager, Bill Utley (who later went on to manage Three Dog Night and Steppenwolf) was “screwing them over.”  An audit of White Whale that showed a $160,000 shortfall while the Turtles were turning out hit records.  Dave Krambeck borrowed $550,000 of the Turtles’ money to pay Bill Utley off, sold his half-interest in the band to a management firm and then disappeared with the proceeds from a Turtles’ tour.  Suits and countersuits were filed, which led to long legal battles.

The record company was desperate to get another big hit and they told the band to come up with something like ‘Happy Together’.  This manifested itself initially when Howard, in a fit of disgust, wrote the mocking ‘Elenore’, that became a huge hit because record buyers responded to the sincerity of his voice rather than really reading into the tongue-in-cheek lyrics. Mark and Howard were not happy about being hounded in this way, so they decided to throw something together, a really cheesy clichéd song in the hope that it would flop, and that song was called ‘Elenore’.  ‘Elenore’ was written as a parody of ‘Happy Together’ and it was never intended to be a straight-forward song.  It was meant as an anti-love letter to their record company White Whale, who were constantly on their backs to bring them another ‘Happy Together’.  The chords were changed, and all these bizarre words were included to make the song sound stupid in hope that the record company would leave them alone, but they didn’t get the joke, they thought it sounded good, so their plan backfired, because it met the record company’s approval.

Elenore was pretty much the result of Howard Kaylan who wrote this song a half-hour in a hotel room in Chicago saying, “So you want clichéd simplistic pop songs, here is the most clichéd simplistic pop song ever!”  The Turtles sat down and shaped that song into a record that would eventually be produced by Chip Douglas.  In 1968, it became a top 10 hit from the L.A. band’s album The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands.  This album featured a pair of huge hits ‘Elenore’ and ‘You Showed Me’, but there are too many goofy comedy tracks flanking them (the album’s conceit finds the band impersonating various groups in various genres, Sgt. Pepper-style).  Kaylan said that he virtually rewrote the earlier hit as a joke, in order to show the label executives what dicks they were.  He threw in some nonsense like “pride and joy, etcetera” and “I really think you’re groovy” to make the song cheesier.  The “You’re my pride and joy etcetera” line is ingenious and pretty much the key point in recognizing that this song is sarcastic capturing the insouciance of 1968, that devil-may-care “tune in and drop out” ethos of the hippy era.  ‘Elenore’ had brilliant off-kilter lyrics and it reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100.  The one thing that did annoy Howard was that the band once had an agreement that any song written by any member of the group then the whole band would be credited and ‘Elenore’ was written solely by Howard.

Mark and Howard became increasingly unhappy with the direction their music had taken and were having endless and tedious litigation over financial issues with White Whale and so they decided in 1970 to disband.  Volman and Kaylan remained friends and were both interested in exploring the edgier side of music, so they both joined Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention under the pseudonyms Flo and Eddie.  They later did a lot of session work and provided backing vocals on Alice Cooper’s 1980 album Flush the Fashion and can also be heard on Bruce Springsteen’s 1980 hit Hungry Heart.  Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman also sang backing vocals on a bunch of T. Rex songs.  Drummer Johnny Barbata played with various CSNY folks and he played drums on ‘Ohio’.  Judee Sill was signed to their publishing company and she recorded her song Lady-O.  In the 1980s, the group re-formed hitting the oldies circuit, becoming a popular draw.  The Turtles became a blast from the past touring with five other classic rock legends including Chuck Negron (formerly of Three Dog Night,) The Association, The Cowsills, The Box Tops, and Ron Dante from The Archies.

This song is about a girl named Elenore, who has this thing about her especially at a time in this guy’s life when he wants her near him.  She is able to put life back into his heart, because there is nobody like her.  This guy falls for her, asks her out on a date to go see a movie, then this guy declares his undying love.  There is no heartbreak to be found in Elenore as this song ends happily ever after.  I never knew that Turtles were singing “Elenore really”, as I always thought it was “Eleanor Rigby” that Beetles song, but this is just another example of a modegreen.  A series of words that result from the mishearing or misinterpretation of a statement or song lyric.  For example, ‘lied the pigeons to the flag’ for ‘I pledge allegiance to the flag’, or ‘for Richard Stands’ instead of ‘for which it stands’, in the Pledge of Allegiance.

You got a thing about you
I just can’t live without you
I really want you Elenore near me
Your looks intoxicate me
Even though your folks hate me
There’s no one like you Elenore really

Elenore gee I think you’re swell
And you really do me well
You’re my pride and joy et cetera
Elenore can I take the time
To ask you to speak your mind
Tell me that you love me better

I really think you’re groovy
Let’s go out to a movie
What do ya say now, Elenore can we?
They’ll turn the lights way down low
Maybe we won’t watch the show
I think I love you, Elenore, love me

Elenore, gee I think you’re swell
And you really do me well
You’re my pride and joy, et cetera
Elenore, can I take the time
To ask you to speak your mind?
Tell me that you love me better

One more time!

Elenore, gee I think you’re swell, ah-hah
Elenore, gee I think you’re swell, ah-hah-hah

Written for Daily Addictions prompt – Spoil, for FOWC with Fandango – Draw, for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Brilliant, for Ragtag Community – Blast, for Scotts Daily Prompt – Approval and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Conceit.

Forever And A Day

The Seekers were a singing quartet from Australia who scored a string of number one hits in England and Top Ten successes in the U.S. that lasted into 1967, two years later than most of the rest of the British exports to America.  They played acoustic instruments (even the upright bass), and had hits with songs like ‘I’ll Never Find Another You’, ‘A World of Our Own’, ‘Come the Day’, and ‘Georgy Girl’.  In June 2014, Queen Elizabeth II awarded each of The Seekers one of the Commonwealth’s highest honors, the Medal of the Order of Australia, for seminal contributions to Australian music and for their support to non-profit organizations.

The Seekers were formed in Australia in 1963 by Athol Guy (vocals, bass), Keith Potger (vocals, 12-string guitar), and Bruce Woodley (vocals, guitar), who had all attended Melbourne Boys High School together.  Potger had led a band in the late ‘50s called the Trinamics, doing covers of Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, et al., while Guy had led a band called the Ramblers.  The breakup of both groups got the two of them together with Woodley and a singer named Ken Ray, and they formed a doo wop outfit called the Escorts.  By 1963, the folk boom that had started sweeping America and England in 1959 had made its way to Australia, and the Escorts evolved into the Seekers.

By late that year, they’d met Judith Durham, who worked at the same advertising agency where Athol Guy had his day job.  She’d been born with perfect pitch, her voice was fleek and she had originally intended to sing opera until she was bitten by the jazz bug in the mid-‘50s.  Durham already had records out, backed by Frank Traynor’s Jazz Preachers on the W&G label, but was willing to try singing folk music on the nights she wasn’t singing jazz.  She became the group’s fifth Seeker, but Ray disappeared shortly after, and Durham took his place as lead singer.  Her membership in the Seekers got them a recording contract with W&G Records.  The Seekers’ greatest hit was ‘Georgy Girl’, which made them the first Australian group to reach No.1 in the USA.  It was composed for The Seekers by Tom Springfield with lyrics by actor Jim Dale for the black and white movie ‘Georgy Girl’ starring Lynn Redgrave.  The song was nominated for an Oscar.

Their debut album, ‘Introducing the Seekers’, was released in 1963.  Their debut single was the traditional historic Australian bush ballad from 1894, ‘Waltzing Matilda’.  The Seekers started out as a folk and gospel group and they were together from 1963 – 1968, and during that time they pushed both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones off the top of the music charts for seventeen straight weeks and they sold 50 million records.  In May of 1964 they travelled to the U.K. and filled in on a bill headlined by folk singer Dusty Springfield where they met her brother, songwriter and producer Tom Springfield.  In 1965, The Seekers were named ‘Best New Group’ at the ‘Top Of The Pops Awards’.  ‘I’ll Never Find Another You’ came out in 1965 on the Seeker’s album ‘Live at the Talk of the Town’ and the song charted #1in the UK and in Australia and it got to #4 pop and #2 easy listening on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the US.

In the middle of ‘67 Judith Durham released her debut solo single The Olive Tree and later she gave the group her six months notice.  Durham said that she never set out to be a group singer, and as the group’s popularity increased she felt the pressure as the media focus was always on her, so in July 1968 she parted ways with The Seekers to pursue her own career.  With her departure, The Seekers disbanded.  Durham felt compelled by the group’s fans to come back every now and then and on their 50th anniversary performance in 2013, she suffered a brain hemorrhage which caused her to be hospitalized and go through rehab for six months and her recovery is still continuing.

British brother and sister Dionysius P. A. ‘Tom’ and Mary O’Brien formed the folk group the Springfields in the early ‘60s, and they each changed their last name from O’Brien to Springfield.  Mary also changed her first name to become Dusty Springfield.  They had several U.K. chart entries as well as making the American Top 20 with ‘Silver Threads and Golden Needles’ in 1962, but by 1964 they had split up, with Dusty Springfield launching a successful career as a pop singer.  1964 was a big year for Dusty Springfield as she had Top 40 hits with ‘I Only Want To Be With You’, ‘Stay Awhile’, ‘Wishin’ And Hopin’, and ‘All Cried Out’ in the U.S..  Dusty Springfield died of breast cancer on March 4, 1999 and Tom Springfield essentially retired from the music industry in 1970 as both a writer and performer.  In 1966, the song Red Rubber Ball was written by Paul Simon and Bruce Woodley of The Seekers and recorded by The Cyrkle.

‘I’ll Never Find Another You’ was written and produced by Tom Springfield, and Tom wrote most of the Seekers’ identifiable material during the ‘60s.  They filmed The Seekers at the recording studio at Abbey Road studio.  ‘I’ll Never Find Another You’ is catchy folk pop song with a distinctive guitar riff and the lyrics pledge romantic devotion.  This love song mentions a new world, a promised land where lovers will hold hands beside each other.  It hints at a soul mate saying that “There is always someone For each of us.”  Forever seems like a long time to me, but for some reason another day is added, so the singer can “search the whole world over Until my life is through.”  It is a long journey walking together through a storm with her only concern being losing her love, because she knows that she will “never find another you.”

There’s a new world somewhere
They call the promised land
And I’ll be there someday
If you could hold my hand
I still need you there beside me
No matter what I do
For I know I’ll never find another you

There is always someone
For each of us, they say
And you’ll be my someone
Forever and a day
I could search the whole world over
Until my life is through
But I know I’ll never find another you

It’s a long, long journey
So stay by my side
When I walk through the storm
You’ll be my guide, be my guide
If they gave me a fortune
My pleasure would be small
I could lose it all tomorrow
And never mind at all
But if I should lose your love, dear
I don’t know what I’d do
For I know I’ll never find another you

But if I should lose your love, dear
I don’t know what I’d do
For I know I’ll never find another you
Another you, another you

Written for Ragtag Community – Fleek.

The Meaning Of Life

On November 29, 1969, Laura Nyro singer, pianist and song writer had three of her songs in the Top 10, although none of them were performed by her.  Blood, Sweat & Tears ‘And When I Die’ reached #2, the 5th Dimension ‘Wedding Bell Blues’ got to #3 and Three Dog Night ‘Eli’s Coming’ was at #10.  Around 1955, when Laura Nyro was 17 years old she wrote ‘And When I Die’ and later she sold the song to the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary for $5,000.  In 1966, Nyro obtained a record contract after auditioning before record company executive Artie Mogull, who had earlier signed Bob Dylan to his first major-label contract and she released her 1967 debut album, More Than a New DiscoveryThis was a remarkably sophisticated collection of original songs that featured Wedding Bell Blues’, ‘Stoney End’ which was done later by Barbara Streisand and also ‘And When I Die’.  That same year, she performed at the famous Monterey Pop Festival and after her performance, record producer David Geffen signed Nyro to a $4 million contract with Columbia Records.  Her next two albums were widely regarded as her best, 1968’s Eli and the Thirteenth Confession and 1969’s New York Tendaberry, however even though they were critically acclaimed, these albums were not commercially successful.

‘And When I Die’ is a song about the eternal cycle of life that is filled with an eerily prescient sense of mortality.  When someone dies, you need to find a way to deal with this and this teenage girl had a profound idea that a new baby would be born to take the place of the person that passed away.  Laura wrote, “I’m not scared of dying and I don’t really care.  If it’s peace you find in dying, well, then let the time be near” which really shows courage.  My paternal grandmother always made me laugh as she would say, “When I die, wrap me up in a burlap bag and kick me down the sewer” and this same callous attitude about burial is in the lyrics, “Just bundle up my coffin cause it’s cold way down there.”  It is difficult to understand how Laura Nyro was able to understand so much about life while she was still so young, especially as she wrote, “My troubles are many, they’re as deep as a well”, and I guess that having troubles makes you grow up quicker.  This song touches on a theme of atheism with the line, “I can swear there ain’t no heaven but I pray there ain’t no hell”, and I guess it is always better to be safe than sorry.

No one can say for sure what awaits us after we die and this is made clear by the line, “But I’ll never know by living, only my dying will tell”, as that is when the meaning of life will be revealed, the hidden secrets will be exposed and you will face the consequences.  Laura says, “Give me my freedom for as long as I be.  All I ask of living is to have no chains on me, And all I ask of dying is to go naturally, only want to go naturally”, which shows her intellectual depth understanding that people want to die peacefully and with dignity.  Laura continues, “Don’t want to go by the devil, don’t want to go by the demon, Don’t want to go by Satan, don’t want to die uneasy, Just let me go naturally”, so when death happens you can slip away and it’s not a frightening ordeal.

A lot of people are on the fence about Laura Nyro not knowing what to make of her, as she had a lot of talent, and wrote some stellar songs, but because of her stage fright, she was never a great performer.  Although many of her songs were hits for others, as an artist, Nyro only had one lone pop chart hit that made it into the Top 100 ‘Up on the Roof’ which was written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King and that only made it to No. 92.  She only had one Top 40 album, ‘New York Tendaberry’, which rose up to No. 32.  Laura was a wayward yet reclusive artist, who resisted pressure to streamline her songs for mass consumption.  Sadly, Laura Nyro died from ovarian cancer at age 49 on April 8, 1997 and on April 14, 2012, she was inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Blood, Sweat & Tears was a jazz-rock American music group noted for their combination of brass and rock band instrumentation.  The idea of forming the electric rock band Blood, Sweat & Tears was conceived by Al Kooper in July of 1967 who was an ex-member of the Blues Project.  He wanted to be in charge musically and he found three members who wanted to work with him, those being bassist Jim Fielder who did a short stint in Frank Zappa’s The Mothers of Invention, Blues Project guitarist Steve Katz, and drummer Bobby Colomby.  The horn section featured Fred Lipsius (saxophone), with Randy Brecker and Jerry Weiss on trumpets and flügelhorns, and Dick Halligan playing trombone.  The new group was signed to Columbia Records at the same time as Laura Nyro was there.  The name Blood, Sweat & Tears came to Kooper after a jam at the Cafe au Go Go, where a cut on his hand left his organ keyboard covered in blood.

1968 was a landmark year for Blood Sweat & Tears, the band already had two albums and they were going through a critical transition. Less than a year after forming the band, founder, principal songwriter, keyboard player and singer Al Kooper was out of the band.  They asked Kooper to give up his front man position, but he declined and this left the band in a precarious  state with dim desires reasons for concern. Kooper did leave in March of 1968, and Brecker followed him out.  A surprising turn of events of Colomby and Katz deciding to salvage the band out of this debacle.  The lineup was reshuffled and expanded, Kooper had played the organ and now the keyboard was given to Dick Halligan.  For a lead singer they found a Canadian national named David Clayton-Thomas and this allowed them to release their second album, which was a commercial success.

The BS&T album reached no. 1 on the Billboard chart in April 1969 and went on to sell four million copies.  It was also the album that included one of the band’s best songs ‘And When I Die’.  The group’s second album, Blood, Sweat & Tears, was produced by James William Guercio and released in late 1968.  The record quickly hit the top of the charts, winning Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards over the Beatles’ Abbey Road, among other nominees and it eventually became a quadruple Multi-Platinum album.  ‘You’ve Made Me So Very Happy’ written by Berry Gordy Jr., Brenda Holloway, Patrice Holloway and Frank Wilson rose to number two on the charts.  A whole herd of songs like ‘Spinning Wheel’ by David Clayton-Thomas, ‘More and More’ by Vee Pee Smith and Don Juan, ‘Smiling Phases’ by Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood and ‘God Bless the Child’ by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog Jr. were also on this album.  ‘You’ve Made Me So Very Happy’, ‘Spinning Wheel’ & the song ‘And When I Die’ strangely all peaked at no. 2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

And when I die
and when I’m dead, dead and gone,
There’ll be one child born and
a world to carry on, to carry on

I’m not scared of dying
and I don’t really care
If it’s peace you find in dying,
well, then let the time be near

If it’s peace you find in dying,
when dying time is here,
Just bundle up my coffin cause
it’s cold way down there,

I hear that’s it’s cold way down there,
yeah, crazy cold way down there
And when I die and when I’m gone,
There’ll be one child born and
a world to carry on, to carry on

My troubles are many, they’re as deep as a well
I can swear there ain’t no heaven but I pray there ain’t no hell
Swear there ain’t no heaven and pray there ain’t no hell,
But I’ll never know by living, only my dying will tell,
Only my dying will tell, yeah, only my dying will tell
And when I die and when I’m gone,
There’ll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on

Give me my freedom for as long as I be
All I ask of living is to have no chains on me
All I ask of living is to have no chains on me,
And all I ask of dying is to go naturally, only want to go naturally
Don’t want to go by the devil, don’t want to go by the demon,
Don’t want to go by Satan, don’t want to die uneasy,
Just let me go naturally
And when I die and when I’m gone,
There’ll be one child born, there’ll be one child born
When I die, there’ll be one child born
When I die, there’ll be one child born
When I die, there’ll be one child born
When I die, there’ll be one child born

Written for Daily Addictions prompt – Concern, for FOWC with Fandango – Fence, for October Writing Prompts – Dim desires, for Ragtag Community – Herd and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Stellar.

Unsung And Hung Upon The Scars

A 23 year old Tandyn Almer wrote ‘Along Comes Mary’ which was a big hit for The Association, and later on he had a song ‘Sail on, Sailor’ for The Beach Boys that also made the charts.  In addition to his song writing talents, Almer invented a water pipe called the Slave-Master described in A Child’s Garden of Grass as the perfect bong.  Most people think that ‘Along Comes Mary’ is about marijuana, probably because pot is sometimes referred to as Mary Jane.  When you see the Association, they are usually dressed up real nice wearing suits which makes everyone think that they were straight laced, but the Association had a long and troubled association with drugs that were a lot harder than marijuana, as their bass player Brian Cole overdosed on heroin in 1972.

The lyrics in ‘Along Comes Mary’ are unbelievably vague, but filled with color and life, and all of the internal rhyme is magnificent.  There’s so much going on in this song, that it becomes hard to understand any meaning, as torrents of words are piled together.  Mary gives him comfort and improves his life, but his love for Mary erased some of his memory and all that remains is haunted remnants of the sweet punch that was in his cup.

Not all that much is known of Almer’s origins and upbringing, except that he was a child prodigy who was able to play classical music by ear on piano at the age of 4.  He attended a conservatory in Minnesota in his youth, and became fascinated with the jazz.  About 1961, he went to Los Angeles, where his musical interests shifted to pop and rock music.  In 1964, he graduated from Los Angeles City College and he became a fixture at a Los Angeles folk-music club the Troubadour, and some of Almer’s compositions were sung by a teenage unknown named Linda Ronstadt.  By 1965, he had written ‘Along Comes Mary’ and some people thought he was going to be the next Dylan.  Almer became good friends with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and helped him out on a project in 1969 rewriting some of the band’s songs and also performing background vocals.  A&M Records rejected the recording, in part because of the connection to Almer, who was once fired for creating a disturbance in the company parking lot.  Tandyn Almer had some medical issues and he basically dropped off the planet living a solitary life.

The Association’s lead guitarist Jules Alexander met singer Terry Kirkman and the two young musicians jammed together in Los Angeles in the mid-1960s.  Kirkman had played in groups with Frank Zappa for a short period before Zappa went on to form the Mothers of Invention.  In 1964, they eventually, formed a group called The Inner Tubes and played at the Troubadour along with Doug Dillard, Cass Elliot, David Crosby and many others who drifted in and out of this band.  In the fall of 1964, they formed The Men, a 13 piece Folk rock band.  After a short time, The Men disbanded, with six of the members electing to go out on their own in February 1965.  At the suggestion of Kirkman’s then-fiancée, Judy, they took the name The Association.

Like the Grass Roots, the members in this band are practically unknown to most people, and the original lineup consisted of Jules Alexander (using his middle name, Gary, on the first two albums) on vocals and lead guitar, while Kirkman sang vocals and played a variety of wind, brass and percussion instruments, Brian Cole sang vocals, played bass and woodwinds, Russ Giguere sang vocals, played percussion and guitar, Ted Bluechel, Jr. was on drums, guitar, bass and vocals, and Bob Page was on guitar, banjo and vocals.  Page was soon replaced by Jim Yester on vocals, guitar and keyboards before any of the group’s public performances.

In 1965, Jules Alexander was hired by singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer Curt Boettcher to play on a demo of ‘Along Comes Mary’, and he was so impressed by the song he asked if he could pitch it to his group could so they could record it.  Curt also sang lead on the demo.  Released in 1966, the single emerged as a blockbuster, defining the Association’s pioneering harmony pop sound.  It should have made Almer one of the hottest songwriters in Los Angeles, but he never scored a major hit again.

The Association soon had two smash hits ‘Along Comes Mary’ at #7 and ‘Cherish’ charted at #1, making them one of the hottest new bands of 1966.  It was no surprise that their debut album, featuring both of those songs, was also a big success, rising to #5 and remaining their highest-charting LP ever, with the exception of their Greatest Hits compilation.  The record also gave the Association the chance to showcase their versatility on material penned by both group members and outside songwriters, their complex multi-part vocal harmonies being the greatest unifying factor.

Composer and conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra Leonard Bernstein, recognized the song’s musical sophistication and he became one of Almer’s biggest fans.  During one of the latter’s famed Young People’s Concerts, he illustrated a musical concept called the Dorian mode (an ancient scale that was neither major or minor) by performing a sample of ‘Along Comes Mary’ on the piano to demonstrate the freshness of this mode.  Bernstein implied that the most relevant exploration for the revitalization of music had come recently through certain pop songs and that they were much more than simply catchy tunes.

Every time I think that I’m the only one who’s lonely
Someone calls on me
And every now and then I spend my time in rhyme and verse
And curse those faults in me

And then along comes Mary
And does she want to give me kicks , and be my steady chick
And give me pick of memories
Or maybe rather gather tales of all the fails and tribulations
No one ever sees

When we met I was sure out to lunch
Now my empty cup tastes as sweet as the punch

When vague desire is the fire in the eyes of chicks
Whose sickness is the games they play
And when the masquerade is played and neighbor folks make jokes
As who is most to blame today

And then along comes Mary
And does she want to set them free, and let them see reality
From where she got her name
And will they struggle much when told that such a tender touch as hers
Will make them not the same

When we met I was sure out to lunch
Now my empty cup tastes as sweet as the punch

And when the morning of the warning’s passed, the gassed
And flaccid kids are flung across the stars
The psychodramas and the traumas gone
The songs are left unsung and hung upon the scars

And then along comes Mary
And does she want to see the stains, the dead remains of all the pains
She left the night before
Or will their waking eyes reflect the lies, and make them
Realize their urgent cry for sight no more

When we met I was sure out to lunch
Now my empty cup tastes as sweet as the punch

Written for Daily Addictions prompt – Solitary, for FOWC with Fandango – Parking, for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Haunted, for Ragtag Community – Color and for Scotts Daily Prompt – Pitch.