Take It Easy

I am not sure if this actually counts as being a New Year Resolution, but I plan on taking it easy in 2019.  I have slowed down on my blogging, not caring about being involved in any of the prompts and just writing my own stuff.  In 2017, I wrote for Suzanne McClendon’s September Challenge.  When 2018 started, I did the JusJoJan prompts and then in April, I did the A-Z challenge. I have been blogging every day for quite a while not really pushing myself, as I obtained extreme joy from writing about anything.  Before I discovered the now defunct WordPress Daily Prompt which was also called the Daily Post, I wrote some Essays, some Poetry, Rants, a few Cartoons and I did the Letter Game, which ended up being a disaster.  A lifetime of laughter could have saved them all.

I have also written many times in the other Linda G. Hill challenges, One Liner Wednesday and Stream of Consciousness Saturday.  Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers by Priceless Joy is a Monday writing challenge while The Twittering Tale by Kat Myrman comes out every Tuesday and I have occasionally participated in both of these writing challenges, but because they have character limits, it does not fit my style very well.  Sadly, I only wrote one post for Bikurgurl’s 100WW 100 Word Wednesday.  I also wrote one post for Cee’s Sharing My World, and Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge.  I did a couple of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields Friday Fictioneers prompts.  I wrote several posts for Laura M. Bailey All The Shoes I Wear Manic Mondays 3 way Prompt and I have also been in several of her Monthly Writing Prompts.  I have written many times for Daily Addictions, FOWC with Fandango, Your Daily Word Prompt by Sheryl which for some unknown reason I started calling this the New Daily Post, the Ragtag Community, Scotts Daily Prompt and the Word of the Day Challenge.

A few times, I wrote for Reena Saxon’s Exploration Challenge and I also have been in RayNotBradbury’s Cool Writing Prompt which is now Victoria Ray NB.  I wrote in some Randomness Inked Let it Bleed challenges, the Rachel Poli Time To Write challenges and a Daily Inkling writing challenge.  I even wrote in a Lost in Translation pick a word challenge, which I screwed up, because this was a picture challenge and I did not follow the instructions, but this won’t be the last time that I screwed the pooch.  I did a lot of the Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie challenges like First Line Friday, Marquessa Challenge, MM Music Prompt, MM Photo Prompt, Saturday Mix, Tale Weaver and Wordle.  One of my favorite writing challenges is Helen Vahdati’s Song Lyric Sunday and lately all I want to write about is Music.

Saying “take it easy” could mean the same thing as “see you around”, or “take care”, or “catch you on the rebound”, but that is not how I am using this phrase for my New Year’s resolutions.  I want to take care of myself, both physically and emotionally and Welcome 2019!, as I anticipate that this will be a banner year for me.  I realize that I am a bit of an enigma, but I am not a riddle, wrapped in a mystery.  I probably belong to a district of some type or another, but I don’t enjoy being classified.  Resolutions may come and go, but I plan to be here on WordPress for a while, as I still enjoy writing.  One thing that I want to do is to go to Flagstaff, Arizona and stand on that same corner where Jackson Browne did.

I don’t think that I have ever had seven women on my mind, at least not that many all at the same time, but I guess that some guys are capable of doing this.  The original incident that inspired the song ‘Take It Easy’ took place in Flagstaff, Arizona where a young female cruised by Jackson Browne in a Toyota pickup and she ogled him and that image stuck in his brain.  Jackson Browne’s automobile later malfunctioned while he was in Winslow, Arizona, and he got stuck there for a whole day.  Winslow, Arizona is about 60 miles from Flagstaff, and this where “Standin’ on the Corner Park” was built to honor this song and a flatbed Ford truck remains permanently parked there.  However the real corner where Jackson Browne was standing was next to  a hot dog drive-thru on Route 66 and Switzer Canyon in Flagstaff.

Jackson Browne started writing the song ‘Take It Easy’ on his first album, but he didn’t know how to finish it.  At the time, he was living in in a $60-a-month apartment in the Echo Park section of Los Angeles, and his upstairs neighbor was Glenn Frey, who needed songs for his new band, the Eagles.  Frey heard Browne working on the song, and he told Jackson that he thought it was great.  Browne said he was having trouble completing the track, and played what he had of it.  When he got to the second verse, Frey came up with a key lyric, “It’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowing down to take a look at me.”

Browne turned the song over to Frey, who finished writing it and recorded it with the Eagles, and they used it as the first song on their first album, and it also became their first single.  Frey says that Browne did most of the work on the song and that he was very generous in sharing the writing credit.  Glenn Frey’s changes to this song included stretching out the “E” in “Easy.”  He considers the song one of the most important Eagles tracks, and a great introduction to the group on their first album.

Bass player Randy Meisner sings the harmony vocal in the beginning of this verse with Frey, but drummer Don Henley is singing harmony at the end of the verse “Though we will never be here again”.  Bernie Leadon a founding member of the Eagles provided the lead guitar and distinctive banjo parts, as well as harmony vocals.  Glenn Frey died on January 18, 2016 at the age of 67 from complications of rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis, and pneumonia, while recovering from gastrointestinal tract surgery.  ‘Take It Easy’ is one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

Written for Daily Addictions prompt – Banner, for Daily Inkling prompt – Welcome 2019!, for FOWC with Fandango – Enigma, for JusJoJan 2019, January 1st prompt – my New Year’s resolutions, for January Monthly Writing Prompts – A lifetime of laughter could have saved them all, for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Resolution, for Ragtag Community – Anticipate, for Scotts Daily Prompt – District and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Resolutions.

Caught With His Pants Down

‘C’mon Marianne’ was written by L. Russell Brown and Raymond Bloodworth and popularized by the iconic New Jersey group, The Four Seasons, and it hit #9 on the charts in June, 1967.  Produced by Bob Crewe and arranged by Bob Gaudio, this single was the last Four Seasons single to reach the Top Ten of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the 1960s, and their last Top Ten hit until ‘Who Loves You’ in 1975.  The Four Seasons included Frankie Valli as the lead singer, Bob Gaudio on keyboards and tenor vocals, Tommy DeVito on lead guitar and baritone vocals, and Nick Massi on electric bass and bass vocals.  Massi left the Four Seasons in September 1965, and was replaced temporarily by Charles Calello who, in turn, was replaced by Joe Long.  In 1977, Frankie Valli would leave the group and the Four Seasons split up in 1979.  By 1980, there was a reunion, and the billing was back to Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, seemingly for good.  For more information on Frankie Valli refer to my post Not A Bright Future which is about the song ‘Dawn (Go Away)’.

Bob Crewe was an American songwriter, singer, manager, record producer and fine artist.  His career is among the most varied, successful and innovative in pop music history.  He is probably best known for producing and co-writing with Bob Gaudio a string of Top 10 singles for The Four Seasons.  In his 50+ years in the music industry, some of the Billboard Top Ten hits either co-written or produced by Crewe include ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’, ‘Walk Like a Man’, ‘Dawn (Go Away)’, ‘Ronnie’, ‘Rag Doll’, ‘Bye, Bye, Baby (Baby, Goodbye)’, ‘Let’s Hang On!’, ‘Devil With A Blue Dress On’, ‘Music To Watch Girls By’, ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’, ‘Good Morning, Starshine’, ‘Swearin’ To God’, ‘My Eyes Adored You’ and ‘Lady Marmalade’.

Robert John Gaudio is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer, the keyboardist/backing vocalist of the Four Seasons and the quintessential music maker.  In the late ‘50s, at the age of 15, he co-wrote his first hit, ‘Who Wears Short Shorts’, for a group he started, The Royal Teens.  He then went on to become, with Frankie Valli, a founding member of the supergroup, The Four Seasons.  His song, ‘Sherry’ launched their incredible string of hits.  At the time, he also began a productive and creative relationship with Bob Crewe.  Gaudio co-wrote and produced an entire album of songs for Frank Sinatra and produced six Neil Diamond albums.

Lawrence ‘Larry’ Russell Brown was born in Newark, New Jersey on June 29, 1940, he is an American lyricist and composer best known as L. Russell Brown.  He is most noted for his songs, co-written with Irwin Levine, ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree’, ‘Knock Three Times’ and ‘Say Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose’ which were international hits for the 1970s pop music group Tony Orlando and Dawn.  He also co-wrote ‘C’mon Marianne’ for The Four Seasons, and The Partridge Family 1971 song, ‘I Woke Up In Love This Morning’.  L. Russell Brown has been writing songs since he was 16 years old, and his songs have been recorded over 1,000 times, by musicians such as Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Perry Como and Al Hirt.

Russell Brown started co-writing with Ray Bloodworth in the mid-1960s, and working for Bob Crewe, he wrote the hits ‘C’mon Marianne’ and ‘Watch the Flowers Grow’ for the Four Seasons with Ray Bloodworth.  One day L. Russell Brown and Ray Bloodworth went to meet Bob Crewe for an interview and he asked them to play a song for him.  They had already written ‘I’d Rather Go to Jail’ for Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels and along with Neval Nader they wrote ‘Open Up Your Door’ for Richard and The Young Lions, so they sang him these songs.  Three hours later after singing many more songs, they were hired and that’s how it began.

The first golden age of garage rock flourished from 1963 to 1967, but nobody used that term till 1971 and the Four Seasons’ song ‘C’mon Marianne’ does qualify as garage rock.  It is a tough pop-soul number that has a yearning melody that goes along with a strong rock and roll beat.  The lyrics hit a frantic tone as they present a man who is begging Marianne to try and understand his being unfaithful.  The music maintains the intensity of the lyrics with a fast-paced melody whose verses use taut rhythms to convey a flurry of notes which builds to a pleading chorus that caps a triple repetition “C’mon Marianne (baby)”.  The drums knock out a fast, dance-styled rhythm that acts as a springboard for choppy rhythm guitar riffs, accompanied by a throbbing bass line and spooky, soaring organ riffs.  Frankie Valli delivers an intense, carefully syncopated tenor lead that hits a wounded falsetto at key moments.  During the middle break of ‘C’mon Marianne’ you will hear a riff that sounds like The Doors song ‘Touch Me’ which they recorded a year later.

In this dismal love song ‘C’mon Marianne’, this guy is pleading with Marianne for another chance.  He doesn’t give her the reason why he strayed from her arms to have this fling.  Love and intimacy have a way of bringing us to our knees, and it seems like this is not the first time that this guy cheated on Marianne, so I think it is time for her to walk away from him, as she does not deserve all of the sadness, despair and pain that comes with infidelity.  He says, “Well now your big brown eyes are all full of tears From the bitterness of my cheatin’ years So I hang my head, wish that I was dead”, to which she should reply, “Get lost, once a cheater always a cheater.”  If he had done it just once, then Marianne could possibly come to terms with this, but this guy has developed a pattern and no matter what he says, this is a permanent thing for him.

Marianne, Marianne, Marianne, Marianne

Whoa ho ho here I am on my knees again
I’ll do anything just to make it right
Say you’ll understand, oh I know you can
C’mon Marianne

No matter what people say, it didn’t happen that way
She was a passing fling and not a permanent thing
Say you’ll understand, oh I know you can

C’mon Marianne (baby)
C’mon Marianne (baby)
C’mon Marianne (baby)
Say you can understand
My Marianne, Marianne, Marianne, Marianne

Well now your big brown eyes are all full of tears
From the bitterness of my cheatin’ years
So I hang my head, wish that I was dead
C’mon Marianne (baby)
C’mon Marianne (baby)
C’mon Marianne (baby)
Say you can understand
My Marianne (baby)
C’mon Marianne (baby)
C’mon Marianne (baby)

Marianne, Marianne, Marianne, Marianne

Written for FOWC with Fandango – Leave, for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Lost, for Ragtag Community – Walk, for Scotts Daily Prompt – String and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Dismal.

Cancel Out The Wedding Day

The Everly Brothers came from a musical family.  Don the older brother was born on February 1, 1937 in the mining village of Brownie, Kentucky, and Phil was born two years later on January 19, 1939 in Chicago, Illinois.  Their father Ike Everly was a multi-generation coal miner in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.  He would play music after work and on weekends with his two brothers, Chuck and Len.  Ike learned and mastered a unique guitar style from Arnold Shultz, an African-American fiddler and guitarist who is noted as a major influence in the development of the ‘thumb-style’, or ‘Travis picking’ method of playing guitar.  Ike later taught this to his neighbor and fellow co miner Merle Travis, who lived in the coal mining community of Rosewood, Kentucky, which is also in Muhlenberg County.  Thumb picking style is where the thumb plucks the chord and bass notes, while the index finger picks the melody.  Ike encouraged his boys to sing and he taught them to play guitar.  Don developed into one of the best rhythm guitarists around, as well as being a great lead singer.  Phil became one of the finest harmony singers in rock & roll.  Don usually sang the baritone notes and most of the lead parts, while Phil handled the higher range.

After relocating his wife Margaret and his eldest son Don to Chicago, Ike was appearing with a country group, The North Carolina Boys, on KXEL radio.  In 1945, Ike Everly and his family moved to Shenandoah, Iowa, accepting a job to work at KMA radio station.  At the young ages of 8 and 6, sons Don and Phil began to perform on their parents live radio show.  By 1950, the radio show become known as ‘The Everly Family Show’.  During the summer of 1952 the family accepted a job at WIKY in Evansville, Indiana.  In September of 1953 they packed up the car and moved their radio show to WROL in Knoxville, where they were offered a job on Cas Walker’s show for $90 a week.

Beginning in the mid-1950s, Atkins released over a hundred albums, and earned the nickname Mr. Guitar Man.  Guitar virtuoso Chet Atkins was making records for RCA and he was an in-demand Nashville studio musician who started to produce records.  In 1954, while in Knoxville, the brothers caught the attention of family friend Chet Atkins, manager of RCA Victor’s studio.  He was impressed by the brothers’ song writing abilities, and he gave Don’s composition ‘Thou Shalt Not Steal’, to Kitty Wells, the era’s top female singer, who made it a Top 20 country hit that year.  He sent them to Columbia Records, where they did one 1955 session, recording four very country songs.  This is their first single, which virtually no one noticed at the time.  After a one-song stint on Columbia, the teenage brothers headed to Nashville and to the door of Archie Bleyer’s short-lived Cadence label.  In the spring of 1957 their producer, Archie Bleyer, proudly announced The Everlys’ first Cadence label single with a hall-page advertisement in Billboard magazine.  In its April 20th issue Billboard said, “The Tennessee teenagers have a distinctive, appealing sound, and could click big in the Pop as well as C&W fields.”

Matilda Genevieve Scaduto was renamed Felice by her husband Boudleaux Bryant.  She loved writing poetry, having a way with words combined with Boudreaux’s gift for music resulted in one of the greatest songwriting teams America has known. They spent years living in a mobile home, Felice writing lyrics while her husband Boudleaux was out on the road playing country gigs.  When he got back home, they would write music to the words that she crafted, and soon they had accumulated a vast catalog of originals.  They tried and failed for a few years to get a country artist to record one of their gems, mailing out about 20 songs a day to various artists.  In 1948, their luck shifted when Little Jimmy Dickens recorded ‘Country Boy’, which went to No. 7 on the country charts.  It garnered the attention of the publisher Fred Rose, who invited them to relocate to Nashville, which they did in 1950.

Their career simmered slowly at first, but in 1953 Boudleaux Bryant wrote ‘Hey Joe’ which was recorded by Carl Smith for Columbia Records and it spent eight weeks at #1 on the U.S. country music chart.  The Bryants also wrote ‘Sugar Beet’ which was recorded by Moon Mullican, ‘Midnight’ recorded by Red Foley and ‘I’ve Been Thinking’ for Eddy Arnold.  In 1957, they wrote a string of hit singles for the Everly Brothers, and their place on the country-pop songwriting stage was forever fixed.

The Everly Brothers met Wesley Rose, who was the son of Fred Rose who started a music publication and production business in Nashville back in 1942 (Acuff-Rose).  Wesley was a college-trained former oil-industry accountant, who formed the Hickory label and was very successfully releasing records.  When Elvis Presley erupted out of Memphis and rock & roll began making inroads into the country market, Rose decided to get a piece of the new action and Rose told the Everlys that he would get them a recording contract if they would sign with him as songwriters.  Through Wesley, Phil and Don got in touch with Archie Bleyer.

Bleyer liked the Everlys’ songs but he also wanted them to try a tune that he and Rose had been holding for some time.  It had been written by two of Acuff-Rose’s most prized staffers the team of Boudleaux Bryant, a Georgia songwriter who had started out as a classical violinist, and his wife, Felice, a former Milwaukee elevator operator.  The Bryants song ‘Bye Bye Love’ had been turned down by just about every other artist in Nashville.  Phil and Don were both hungry and desperate, so they accepted the song and they were paid $64.00 to do the session.  They played around with the song trying out various rhythms.  Don had an arrangement of a song called ‘Give Me a Future’, which had this catchy guitar riff in it.  They decided to put that into the beginning of this song and this start really made the difference and on March 1, 1957 history was made in the RCA studios in Nashville.  ‘Bye Bye Love’ enjoyed a 22-week run on the Billboard pop charts, peaking at #2 and it went to #1 on the Country charts and #5 on the R&B, and this record became The Everlys’ first million-seller, sending The Everly Brothers spiraling towards stardom.

The Everly Brothers third album The Fabulous Style Of The Everly Brothers was released in 1959 on Cadence Records.  The big hit songs on the disc are ‘All I Have to Do is Dream’, ‘Bird Dog’, ‘Devoted to You’ and ‘Let It Be Me’.  Today I am writing about ‘Take A Message To Mary’ from this album, which was a #16 Billboard chart hit and it went #27 in the U.K.  ‘Take A Message To Mary’ features haunting minor harmonies and this song is often over-looked.  It is a rather obscure ballad, and it is a haphazard selection, but it fits in with my current theme of writing about songs with Mary in the title.  The Everly Brothers had this incredible knack for turning a mediocre song into a jewel, and this song seems to grow on me each time that I listen to it.

This convict is asking his friend to send a message to his fiancé from jail.  He is guilty and has already been convicted, or else he would be asking for help, or he would be in need of a lawyer.  I guess that he tried to rob a stagecoach and someone got killed with his gun.  The condemned man doesn’t want Mary to find out what he has done.  He is separated from his lover, stuck in jail for the rest of his life, but he wants her to move on and not wait for him to return.  The stripped-down ballad is accompanied by little more than the clacking of what sound like stirrups, marks another stunning change of pace.  The band tapped a screwdriver against a coke bottle as percussion.  This record might be the closest that anyone has ever come to singing in perfect harmony.

The Bryants had a way of tapping into the Everlys’ brotherhood unison vocal style, but unfortunately, because of silly contractual arrangements they weren’t allowed to record any more new Felice and Boudleaux songs.  This meant that The Everly Brothers had to write more of their own songs, which they did and ‘Cathy’s Clown’, one of Don’s, became their biggest selling single.

The Everly Brothers were not only among the most important and best early rock & roll stars, they also had a genuine influence on rockers of any era.  They set unmatched standards for close, two-part harmonies and infused early rock & roll with some of the best elements of country and pop music.  Over the years they released 21 studio albums, two live albums, 29 compilation albums and 75 singles.  They are also #43 on the list of UK Best selling singles artists of all time.  The Everly Brothers have had 35 US Billboard Top 100 singles, with 26 being Top 40 singles.  They hold the record for the most US Top 100 singles by any duo.  In 1986, they were among the first 10 artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  In 1997, they were awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.  They were also inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004.  Their pioneering contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.  The Everly Brothers have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked The Everly Brothers #33 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.  On January 3, 2014, Phil Everly, a lifelong smoker, died in the Los Angeles suburb of Burbank at the age of 74.

These are the words of a frontier lad
Who lost his love when he turned bad

Take a message to Mary
But don’t tell her where I am
Take a message to Mary
But don’t say I’m in a jam
You can tell her I had to see the world
Or tell her that my ship set sail
You can say she better not wait for me
But don’t tell her I’m in jail
Oh, don’t tell her I’m in jail

Take a message to Mary
But don’t tell her what I’ve done
Please don’t mention the stagecoach
And the shot from a careless gun
You can tell her I had to change my plans
And cancel out the wedding day
But please don’t mention my lonely cell
Where I’m gonna pine away
Until my dying day

Take a message to Mary
But don’t tell her all you know
My heart’s aching for Mary
Lord knows I miss her so
Just tell her I went to Timbuktu
Tell her I’m searching for gold
You can say she better find someone new
To cherish and to hold
Oh, Lord, this cell is cold

Written for FOWC with Fandango – Haphazard, for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Change, for Ragtag Community – Jewel and for Scotts Daily Prompt – Genuine.

Love At First Sight

About a year ago, I wrote a post on this same song, but today I have more time, so I will improve on my old post.  In 1957, a New Orleans group called The Sparks released a song called ‘Merry Mary Lou’, which goes:
Mary, Mary Lou
Why must you do
The things that you always do
In this song, Mary Lou runs off to marry another man, jilting her previous boyfriend and leaving him heartbroken making him wonder how she could do this to him.  In 1953, Cayet Mangiaracina was 18, fresh out of Jesuit High School and considering a religious vocation when he auditioned as a piano player for the Sparks, a rock ‘n’ roll group whose five members played for $1 an hour at youth dances.  The band’s four other members who were all still in high school included Ronnie Massa on alto sax, Don Bailey on bass, Joe Lovecchio on tenor sax and Don Connell on drums.  In 1954, Cayet sat down at his family’s upright piano and banged out a tune that he titled ‘Merry, Mary Lou’.  Cayet Mangiaracina said there was no Mary Lou and that the lyric just sounded good, and he eventually left the band in 1956 to join the Dominican Order. After he was gone, the band won a “battle of the bands” competition in New Orleans.  The reward was a trip to New York and a Decca Records recording of this song.  ‘Merry Mary Lou’ became a hit in New Orleans, but other than that The Sparks version went nowhere.

In 1957, Bill Haley and the Comets and in 1958 Sam Cooke each liked this song, so they recorded their own versions, both changing the name to ‘Mary, Mary Lou’.  Gene Pitney broke into the music scene writing ‘Hello Mary Lou’ in 1961.  It seems pretty obvious that he must have heard the Bill Haley and the Comets, or the Sam Cooke version of ‘Mary, Mary Lou’ and that he was influenced by this song before he wrote his ‘Hello Mary Lou’.  After ‘Hello Mary Lou’ became a hit, Cayet Mangiaracina’s publisher, Champion Music, took legal action and the lawsuit was settled outside of court, so Mangiaracina got a share of the song, and he is listed as a co-writer along with Gene Pitney.  Pitney died in 2006, and he never spoke of Mangiaracina or the lawsuit.

Pitney started his career as a teenage songwriter, sending self-produced demos to New York publishers from his home in Stanford, Connecticut.  In 1960, one of his early compositions, ‘Today’s Teardrops’ appeared on the B-side of Roy Orbison’s top 10 hit Blue Angel.  Another early success as a writer was ‘Rubber Ball’, a worldwide hit for Bobby Vee and ‘He’s a Rebel’ for the Crystals.  He had a hit with the Carole King and Gerry Goffin ballad ‘Every Breath I Take’ which he recorded in 1961.  Some of Pitney’s biggest hits were ‘Only Love Can Break A Heart’ and ‘(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance’, which were both written by the Burt Bacharach-Hal David team.  Pitney had a brief but intense affair with Marianne Faithfull while they were touring the U.K. in 1964.  Gene sang ‘I’m Gonna Be Strong’ which was written by the duo Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil as an ode to Marianne, which went to #2 in the U.K and #9 in the US and was later covered by Cyndi Lauper.  Although Gene wrote and recorded ‘Hello Mary Lou’, his record company never released it.  Gene Pitney’s ‘Hello Mary Lou’ was first recorded by Johnny Duncan in 1960.  His publisher shopped the song around to various artists, including Ricky Nelson, whose version became a huge hit.  In 1962, Pitney did record this song on his album Many Sides of Gene Pitney, but it was not nearly as good as Nelson’s cover.

Ricky Nelson did not have to work his way up from the bottom, he got his opportunity to make records, because he was the son of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson.  They had a TV show which was watched by millions of Americans every week called The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet.  Born Eric Hilliard Nelson in Teaneck, New Jersey, on May 8, 1940, Ricky began appearing on his parents’ radio show in 1949, and then on the TV series which aired from 1952 to 1966.  Ricky was known for playing himself on the TV show and he also costarred in the movie Rio Bravo with Dean Martin and John Wayne.  He was also in The Wackiest Ship in the Army with Jack Lemmon, and Love and Kisses with Jack Kelly.  Ozzie played tenor guitar on this song and he had been a successful bandleader in the 1930s, with Harriet being his featured girl singer, so Ricky had plenty of musical experience to call on for advice.  The guitar solo is by James Burton, who later joined up with Elvis Presley.  Burton made his reputation before age eighteen with his guitar soloing on Dale Hawkins’ 1957 hit ‘Suzie-Q’.  James Burton set the tone for future country-rock classics and was widely imitated by later musicians and he also played with Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris and Elvis Costello among others.  The song makes a liberal use of a cowbell and the piano is by Ray Johnson, and other musicians on the record include Joe Osborne on bass and Ritchie Frost on drums.

Ricky was good looking and he had a pleasing voice and he sang with conviction, and after Ricky’s cover of Fats Domino’s ‘I’m Walkin’ made it into the Billboard Top 10 in 1957, Ozzie began featuring Ricky singing on his TV show, where he quickly became a teen idol.  Nelson had already run off twelve Top Ten singles before scoring with his biggest double-sided hit in 1961, Travelin Man, the A side of the same record that had ‘Hello Mary Lou’ on it and this went to #1.  ‘Hello Mary Lou’ reached #9 in the US charts and it went to #2 in the U.K. in the spring of 1961.  The song appeared on Nelson’s sixth album Rick Is 21.  Nelson was second only to Elvis Presley during rock ‘n’ roll’s ‘50s pinnacle, putting out 52 singles on Billboard’s Hot 100 between 1957 and 1973.  Nelson was killed on December 31, 1985 when a malfunctioning heater aboard a dilapidated behemoth DC-3 he was riding in caught fire spreading to the cabin killing everyone aboard.  When Ricky Nelson entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, he was inducted by John Fogerty of Creedence.

In this bubbly, bouncy song, a guy falls in love with Mary Lou, a girl that he just set his eyes upon.  They passed by each other one sunny day and she flashed her big brown eyes which made him want her and he felt like they will always belong together.  He saw her lips, heard her voice and felt like this gave him no choice.  Wild horses couldn’t make him stay away and he thought about a moonlit night as a way to orchestrate his affections, where he would have his arms around her good and tight and this made him speechless.  The Statler Brothers and Creedence Clearwater Revival both had hits with this song.  Led Zeppelin did a cover of ‘Hello Mary Lou’ on their triple live album How the West Was Won.  James Burton was one of Jimmy Page’s idols as a youth and he said that he carried a picture of James in his wallet.  My last time when I wrote about this song Hello Mary Lou, I included the Ricky Nelson version, so if you need to listen to that, you can go there.  Today I have the New Riders of the Purple Sage, which I think is better.

Hello Mary Lou, goodbye heart
Sweet Mary Lou, I’m so in love with you
I knew Mary Lou, we’d never part
So hello Mary Lou, goodbye heart
You passed me by one sunny day
Flashed those big brown eyes my way
And oo I wanted you forever more
Now I’m not one that gets around
Swear my feet stuck to the ground
And though I never did meet you before
I said, hello Mary Lou, goodbye heart
Sweet Mary Lou, I’m so in love with you
I knew Mary Lou, we’d never part
So hello Mary Lou, goodbye heart
I saw your lips I heard your voice
Believe me I just had no choice
Wild horses couldn’t make me stay away
I thought about a moonlit night
My arms about good an’ tight
That’s all I had to see for me to say
Hey, hey, hello Mary Lou, goodbye heart
Sweet Mary Lou, I’m so in love with you
I knew Mary Lou, we’d never part
So hello Mary Lou, goodbye heart
So hello Mary Lou, goodbye heart
Yes hello Mary Lou, goodbye heart

Written for FOWC with Fandango – Belong, for Ragtag Community – Orchestrate and for Scotts Daily Prompt – Need.

You Sure Look Fine

Ray Charles Robinson was born on September 23, 1930, in Albany, Georgia, living his childhood in the hard years of the Depression.  When Ray Charles was young, his mother took in wash and he said that his family was so poor that they “ate everything on the pig but the oink.”  Ray also said, “Even compared to other blacks, we were on the bottom of the ladder looking up at everyone else. Nothing below us except the ground.”  Ray became blind at age 9, two years after witnessing the drowning death of his little brother George in his mother’s laundry tub.  This memory haunted him for the rest of his life, being emotionally helpless while his little brother drowned absurdly in a bath basin.  At the age of seven his right eye was removed as a result of glaucoma, soon after he became totally blind.  Charles reportedly had a busy personal life with two marriages and long-lasting affairs, resulting in him fathering 12 children with 10 different women.

Ray Charles wrote ‘Mary Ann’ for and about Mary Ann Fisher who was his mistress and mother of one of his children and also a woman who toured with him performing vocals as one of the Raelettes.  Mary Ann was 32 and working as a dishwasher in 1955 when she met Ray Charles at the USO club at Fort Knox.  She toured with him from 1955 until 1958.  Ray began hiring female singers to contrast against his voice and to liven up his performances.  Mary Ann Fisher tickled Ray’s fancy, as a singer and she later had a minor hit solo single, ‘I Can’t Take It’ on the Seg-Way label.  The Atlantic girl group The Cookies, which included Margie Hendrix, Darlene McCrae and Pat Lyles did backup vocals for Neil Sedaka, Little Eva, and Carole King and they had a hit with the song ‘In Paradise’, on Atlantic in early ‘56 were brought in along with Mary Ann, to become The Raelettes (sometimes spelled The Raelets, or The Raeletts, or The Rae-Lettes), Ray’s backing group.

Ray met a girl named Eileen Williams through his friend, and she became his first wife in July of 1951.  Their marriage ended in divorce in the year of 1952 because Ray was on the road so much.  About three after his divorce Ray met a woman by the name of Della Beatrice Howard in Houston, Texas.  Della Beatrice Robinson met Charles when she was one of his backup singers.  Their marriage lasted for about twenty-two years and they got a divorce in 1977.  The Raelettes formed his support mechanism, both as his backing singers and his love interests.  They were the women who called him “Daddy” Charles, complementing his unique mix of gospel, jazz and soul.  There was a rumor that in order to be a member of the Raelettes you had to “let Ray”, which refers to the fact that Ray slept with many of the Raelettes over the years, but he did not bag all of them.  Charles enjoyed the convenience of being able to sleep with his singers and he never liked to conclude a day without female companionship.

Charles romanced many of the Raelettes, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes switching his affections from one to another.  The seven other men in his band would also usually be pursuing whichever women Charles had spurned.  His second wife Della was sidelined after she had given birth to their third son and later Margie Hendricks was also sidelined with maternity leave, and she was replaced temporarily by Pat Lyles’ mother Mae Mosely Lyles.  With a mother-and-daughter presence in the line-up, Mae Mosely took Margie’s place in more ways than one.  When Margie returned a couple of months after the birth, Mae had usurped her in Ray’s affections, and would remain his mistress till the end of 1964.  Charles had the shameless audacity to dedicate songs to his affairs, like ‘Mary Ann’.  Whilst most of the Raelettes had already been impregnated by Charles, he used women in his lyrics to reinvigorate himself as a suave bachelor.

Mary Ann Fisher is remembered for being one of the first African American women to have a career as a Rhythm and Blues singer, thus paving the way for future generations.  She was inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and was a regular participant in Kentucky Folklife music stages.  A movie titled Ray was made about the legendary soul musician Ray Charles who lived from 1930-2004.  Ray is a 2004 American musical biographical film focusing on 30 years in the life of rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles.  This movie won 54 awards.  In the film Ray Charles was played by Jamie Foxx and Mary Ann Fisher was played by Aunjanue Ellis.

This is a funny conversation from the film.
Ray Charles: From now on we’re gonna sing a four part harmony. Ethel, I want you to sing alto. Margie, I want you to sing tenor. Pat, soprano, and Mary Ann, bass.
Mary Ann Fisher: I ain’t no bass. I’m a soprano.
Margie Hendricks: I’ll sing bass. Where we come from we can sing anything.
Mary Ann Fisher: We talking about singing, sugar, not hog calling.
Fathead Newman: Oh that’s cold.
Margie Hendricks: Who you calling a hog?
Mary Ann Fisher: Well, if the corn cob fits.

Well now, oh Mary Ann
Well you sure look fine
Well, oh oh now
I could love you all the time

Well, now oh Mary Ann
I said baby, don’t ya know
Well now, oh oh baby
Don’t ya know
Don’t ya know baby
That I love you so

Oh well oh oh
I’m gonna talk about it, hmmm…
Easy! Oooh…

Oooh, Mary Ann
Can I take you home tonight
Oh baby, yeah, yeah
Can I take you home tonight
If you let me baby
I’ll make everything alright

Oh well oh oh
I’ve got a feeling.

Written for Scotts Daily Prompt – Bag.

A Gold-Digging Woman

Ronald Cornett Hawkins was born in Huntsville, Arkansas on January 10, 1935, just two days after Elvis Presley emerged into the world.  Hawkins graduated from Fayetteville High School in 1952 and during this time, he formed his first bands. Hawkins enrolled in University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville as a physical education major and dropped out, enlisted in the National Guard and was discharged.  He tried to run his own nightclub called the Rockwood Club in Fayetteville, using older friends as fronts until he turned twenty-one and could serve his own liquor.  After attending college, Ronnie joined the Army and served six months of active duty.  While Hawkins was in the army, his cousin Dale Hawkins struck gold in early 1957 with ‘Suzie Q’, which was based around a stinging riff by his writing partner, a young Louisiana guitarist named James Burton.

Ronnie spent his weekends at a nearby club, fronting a band of four black musicians, which were known as The Black Hawks. This is where he developed an outrageous stage persona that earned him such nicknames as ‘Rompin’ Ronnie’ and ‘Mr. Dynamo’.  He was fascinated by tricks and while he was hanging around Memphis Ronnie learned the camel walk a move not dissimilar from Michael Jackson’s moonwalk, but three decades earlier, and his back flips became an integral part of his live act.  After finishing his service, he moved to Helena, where he formed a touring band The Ron Hawkins Quartet with Willard ‘Pop’ Jones on guitar and brothers Jimmy Ray and George Paulman on guitar and bass, respectively.  Ronnie sang but didn’t bother to learn to play a physical instrument.

The guys performed in various dives, their selections built mainly on the Bo Diddley beat.  Another guitarist, Levon Helm, who’d grown up around Turkey Scratch, a glorified field near Marvell, Arkansas, who had in the past been in a band with his sister Linda called The Jungle Bush Beaters wanted to be in Hawkins’ group badly enough to learn to play drums.  At the suggestion of Harold Jenkins (later known as country and western star Conway Twitty), the group headed for Canada in 1958.  In the spring of 1958, Ronnie recorded ‘Hey Bo Diddley’/’Love Me Like You Can’ in a studio in Toronto.

They played a place called the Grange where they were more readily accepted by the locals than they had been back home and this is where they shortened their name to The Hawks.  Harold Kudlats who managed a roller rink and got to meet all the big bands back in the late 40s and early 50s like Glenn Miller, Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and later on he had Harry James, Gene Krupa, Billie Holiday, R&B singers Nat King Cole and Ben E. King and rock acts Bill Haley & the Comets and Chubby Checker all playing at his roller rink.  One day Conway Twitty arrived on his doorstep and asked for his help to book him in Canada.  He got Conway booked and he went on to be a superstar, and Kudlats opened up the Harold Kudlets Agency.  Later Conway recommended Ronnie Hawkins to Harold Kudlats and Ronnie christened him as Canada’s Colonel.  Kudlats booked Hawkins and The Hawks throughout Canada and the Eastern US and he helped Hawkins secure a record deal with Roulette Records.

Morris Levy the head of Roulette Records thought that Hawkins could be a potential heir to the conceptual throne left vacant when Presley entered the Army.  Ronnie and the Hawks cut the record ‘Forty Days’ at their first session for Roulette, which peaked at #45 on the Billboard Hot 100.  The second Roulette single, was a remake of Young Jessie’s ‘Mary Lou’, that reached #26.  Obediah Donnell Jessie an African American R&B and jazz singer and songwriter who had this deep baritone voice, but he didn’t want people to think he was old, so he took the recording name Young Jessie.  His mother was related to Blind Lemon Jefferson and his brother became an actor, playing Otis Day in the hit movie Animal House.  Young Jessie joined The Flairs, an American doo-wop group from LA with Richard Berry who composed Louie Louie when he was with the Pharaohs and later Jessie was a member of the Hunters and Coasters.  Jessie’s biggest seller was ‘Mary Lou’, released in June 1955, with Dub Jones and other members of the Cadets.  Buddy Knox with The Rhythm Orchids did a cover of ‘Mary Lou’ in 1957.

Samuel Bihari from the Modern record label, using the pseudonym Sam Ling, took half of Jessie’s royalties, and Jessie was also exploited by Levy as Jacqueline Magill is listed as the co-writer of ‘Mary Lou’ along with Ronnie Hawkins on this Roulette release.  She is a bit of a mystery, and she was reportedly Morris Levy’s girlfriend, but Levy (and Roulette) had a reputation for playing fast and loose with songwriting credits.  Ronnie’s version of the tune ‘Mary Lou’ cooked in a way that differed from Jessie’s.  ‘Mary Lou’ and ‘Need Your Lovin’ were recorded along with six other titles that were included on Hawkins’ first album Ronnie Hawkins during a session on April 29, 1959 at New York’s Bell Sound Studios.

I was not able to find out any information as to whether or not there was a real person named Mary Lou that relates to the title of this song.  If there was, her identity was probably kept secret, so as to avoid law suits.  The singer expresses his discontent about being involved with this girl named Mary Lou who made a real fool out of him.  It was a crying shame the way she took everything from him including his money, a watch, a diamond ring and the keys to his Cadillac.  He hires a detective to track her down and she is caught and put in jail, but she bribes the judge with sexual favors to pay her bail.  Mary Lou travels around making a fortune and treating all men like fools and driving them crazy.  She showed up back in town saying she was sorry, but then she took his ‘65 Ford and a two dollar bill.

Ronnie Hawkins is older here and he appears to be a bit listless in the video below, not doing any of his cartwheels.

I’m gonna tell you a story
‘Bout ol’ Mary Lou
I mean the kind of a girl
That make a fool of you

She make a young man old
And an old man pay
The way she took my money
Was a crying shame

Mary Lou, Mary Lou
She took my watch and chain
Mary Lou, Mary Lou
She took my diamond ring
She took the keys to my Cadillac car
Jumped in my Caddy and she drove afar

Put a detective
On her trail
The post office thought
They’d chase her by the mail

She got picked up
And then was put in jail
Stroked the judge
Just to go her bail

Mary Lou, Mary Lou
She took my watch and chain
Mary Lou, Mary Lou
She took my diamond ring
She took the keys to my Cadillac car
Jumped in my Caddy and she drove afar

She left Detroit
To go to Kalamazoo
Made her a fortune
Out of fools like you

Met her a rich man
Who was married and had some kids
Stroked that cat
Until he flipped his lid

Mary Lou, Mary Lou
She took my watch and chain
Mary Lou, Mary Lou
She took my diamond ring
She took the keys to my Cadillac car
Jumped in my Caddy and she drove afar

She came back into town
About a week ago
Told me she’s sorry
She had hurt me so

I had a ‘65 Ford
And a two dollar bill
The way she took that
Lord, it gave me a thrill

Mary Lou
She took my watch and chain
Mary Lou, Mary Lou
She took my diamond ring
She took the keys to my Cadillac car
Jumped in my Caddy and she drove afar

Written for FOWC with Fandango – Video, for Ragtag Community – Past, for Scotts Daily Prompt – Tune and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Listless.

A Quintessential ‘60s Soul Classic

Since it was introduced four months before the normal start of the 1965 production year and built alongside 1964 Ford Falcons and 1964 Mercury Comets, the earliest Mustangs are widely referred to as having a 1964½ manufacture date.  The Ford Mustang is the longest survivor of the affordable breed of classic American muscle cars.  The iconic look of the Mustang features a long hood and shorter rear body design that helps it deliver performance on the road and the talking Kitt on the TV show Knight Rider was a Mustang.  Enough about the car, I am writing about a song, so don’t use this as a guide for Lee Iacocca’s special project.

Bonny ‘Mack’ Rice, sometimes credited as Sir Mack Rice, was an American songwriter and singer.  His best-known composition and biggest hit as a solo performer was ‘Mustang Sally’.  In the mid 50s he joined The Falcons, whose others members were Joe Stubs, Wilson Pickett, Willie Scholfield, Lance Finney and Eddie Floyd.  He was a 2007 recipient of the Blues Trust Lifetime Achievement Award.  Mack Rice appeared in the 2003 documentary Only the Strong Survive about the last living soul singers along with William Bell, Jerry Butler, Isaac Hayes, Sam Moore, Wilson Pickett, Mary Wilson, Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas and The Chi-Lites.

In 1955, Mack Rice (Baritone) started singing with a Detroit doo-wop vocal group called the Five Scalders that included Johnny Mayfield (Tenor), Sol Tilman (Tenor), Gerald Young (Tenor) and James Bryant (Bass).  After graduating High School, he was drafted into the Army and served several years in Germany.  When he returned to Detroit in 1957, his mother mentioned an ad in the newspaper placed by a group looking for new members.  Bonny joined The Falcons in 1957 and he stayed with them till they broke up in 1963 performing as a solo vocalist.  The other members of the Falcons included Eddie Floyd, Wilson Pickett and Joe Stubbs.  His biggest successes were as songwriter for other artists and Mack later wrote songs for Eddie Floyd when he went solo.  Mack Rice sang with Ollie and the Nightingales, joining them in 1970.  He was also a staff songwriter for Stax Records, and wrote the hits ‘Respect Yourself’ with Luther Ingram for the Staple Singers and ‘Cheaper To Keep Her’ for Johnny Taylor.  Rice is one of the few musicians whose career touched both Motown and Stax Records.  Rice died at home in Detroit on June 27, 2016, aged 82, from complications of Alzheimer’s disease.

In 1965, Rice wrote a song called ‘Mustang Mama’ after visiting his friend, the actress/singer Della Reese, in New York City. Reese told him that she was thinking about buying her drummer Calvin Shields a new Lincoln for his birthday, which Rice, being from Detroit, thought that getting someone a car was a great idea.  During a drive with Shields, while they were smokin’ some weed, Shields started talking about the Mustang car and Rice let it slip out that he might be getting a new Lincoln for his birthday and the drummer replied, “I don’t want a Lincoln, I want a Mustang.”  Rice said that he had never heard of a Mustang before, but Shields filled him in that it had just come out about a month ago.  They went for a drive and saw a billboard for a Mustang and Shields said, “Look up there, man, on that billboard sign.”  Rice said, “Oh shit, man, that car there?  No no no, it’s too little for me!  In Detroit we’re used to driving big cars man, that little shit?  What are you gonna do with it, you gonna ride in it by yourself?”  Shields kept talking about how much he loved the Mustang and Rice couldn’t believe that Shields wanted such a small car instead of a big ol’ Lincoln.  When he returned to Detroit, Rice decided to write a song about Ford’s new compact titled ‘Mustang Mama’, a tale of a fast car and love gone wrong which was based on a nursery rhyme that Rice had heard as a child growing up in Mississippi “Little Sally Walker”.

“Little Sally Walker/Sittin’ in a saucer Weepin’ and a-cryin’/For a cool drink of water Rise Sally rise/Wipe your weepin’ eyes.”  Rice played the song for his friend and publisher who was married to Aretha Franklin and he brought Rice over to her house to sing some of the song for her.  When he got to the part that says, “Rise Sally rise, Rise Sally rise” Aretha suggested, that he change it to “ride, Sally, ride”.  Aretha put a little piano thing on the song, and suggested that he change the title to ‘Mustang Sally’ and that is how it all started coming together.

Delloreese Patricia Early an American jazz and gospel singer, actress, and ordained minister was known professionally as Della Reese and her career spanned seven decades.  Della Reese started as a gospel singer for Mahalia Jackson when she was only 13 and rose to television fame in her 60s as Tess on the CBS show Touched By An Angel.  She made broadcasting history as the first black woman to host a national talk show.  In the late 1950s, she had some million-selling hits including ‘And That Reminds Me’ and ‘Don’t You Know’.  Reese broke into TV full-time with a starring role in the hit 1975-78 comedy series Chico and the Man.  She also had roles on It Takes Two, Crazy Like a Fox, Charlie & Co. and The Royal Family.  She also took starring roles in the features Harlem Nights and A Thin Line Between Love and Hate and appeared in 20 made-for-TV pictures. Della Reese died on November 19, 2017 at the age of 86.

This song is about a girl who lives a wild life in her brand new Mustang car.  Her sugar daddy bought her the car, and this transformed her into Mustang Sally, and now she’s running around town, paying little attention to her boyfriend/benefactor.  The man who is paying for her companionship warns her that she needs to slow it down, or else he will have to put her flat feet on the ground!  Bonny Rice released ‘Mustang Sally’ in May of 1965 and it hit the R&B charts, peaking at #15.

In 1960, Wilson Pickett joined The Falcons and he sang lead on their 1962 hit ‘I Found A Love’, and then he left the group for a solo career later that year.  After signing to Atlantic in 1964, producer Jerry Wexler took Wilson Pickett to Stax Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, where he recorded with Booker T. and the MG’s.  Wilson Pickett came across ‘Mustang Sally’ when Rice was booked to play at The Apollo theater, and the headliner Clyde McPhatter didn’t show.  Rice called his old bandmate Pickett, who performed in McPhatter’s place.  When Pickett heard Rice perform ‘Mustang Sally’, he decided to record it himself.  His version hit the R&B and Pop charts a year and a half after Rice originally recorded the song.  ‘Mustang Sally’ came out on the 1967 Wilson Picket Funk / Soul album, The Wicked Pickett, on the Atlantic Label.  ‘Mustang Sally’ became a hit peaking at 23 on the pop music charts and reaching number six on the R&B charts.  In 2010, Rolling Stone Magazine named Pickett’s version, the 441st greatest song of all time.

Pickett recorded ‘Mustang Sally’ at FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, with producer Rick Hall and engineer Tom Dowd at the controls.  He was backed by Memphis guitarist Chips Moman and FAME regulars Roger Hawkins on drums, guitarist Jimmy Johnson, bassist Tommy Cogbill, and keyboardist Dewey ‘Spooner’ Oldham.  FAME had been operating since 1959 and had a big hit recording ‘When A Man Loves A Woman’ for Percy Sledge.  FAME’s studio musicians became known as “The Swampers”, immortalized by their name-check in Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Sweet Home Alabama’.  “Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers And they’ve been known to pick a song or two (yes they do).”

The song, however, very nearly never made it out of the studio.  ‘Mustang Sally’ literally ended up on the studio floor after Pickett finished his final take at FAME Studios.  The tape suddenly flew off the reel and broke into pieces.  However session engineer, Tom Dowd calmly cleared the room and told everyone to come back in half an hour.  Dowd pieced the tape back together and saved what became one of the funkiest soul anthems of the ‘60s.  The Muscle Shoals musicians were building a reputation as some of the best in the business, and they caught the attention of Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records, which was Pickett’s label.  Spooner Oldham played the keyboard on this song.  Spooner noticed there was no keyboard on that record, so he closed his eyes for a second, daydreaming, and he pretended that he was a Harley Davidson motorcycle that was driving through the studio, kind of revving up its engine.

‘Mustang Sally’ has a bouncy groove that provides an unhurried and interminably funky disposition leaving plenty of room for Pickett to testify as he and the instrumentalists riff off of each other.  Soul legend Wilson Pickett was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.  The unique sound and quality of his voice only got better with age, singing his hits in their original keys well into his 60s.  He influenced generations of singers and musicians.  Pickett had a heart attack and died while seeking help at a hospital in Reston, Virginia, on January 19, 2006 at 64 years old.

In 1983, 32 years old Sally Ride became the first American woman – and also the youngest – to fly to space alongside four other crew members.  The five astronauts flew aboard Challenger, the ill-fated space shuttle that exploded in Cape Canaveral 73 seconds after take-off three years later.  Dr. Ride was selected because of her expertise with robotics and her ability to maintain her cool under extreme pressure.  When the team took off a crowd of 250,000 watched the launch, with many cheering and singing “Ride Sally Ride” from the Mack Rice song ‘Mustang Sally’.

Mustang Sally
Guess you better slow your Mustang down
Oh Lord, what I said now
Mustang Sally, now baby, oh Lord
Guess you better slow your Mustang down, oh yeah
You been runnin’ all over the town now
Oh, guess I have to put your flat feet on the ground
What I said now, listen;
All you wanna do is ride around, Sally (ride, Sally, ride)
All you wanna do is ride around, Sally (ride, Sally, ride)
All you wanna do is ride around, Sally (ride, Sally, ride)
All you wanna do is ride around, Sally (ride, Sally, ride)
One of these early mornings, baby
Oh, gonna be wiping your weeping eyes
What I said now, look a-here;
I bought you a brand new Mustang, a nineteen-sixty-five
Now you’re comin’ ‘round, signifying oh woman
You don’t wanna let me ride
Mustang Sally, now baby, oh Lord
Guess you better slow that Mustang down, oh Lord
You been runnin’ all over the town now
I got to put your flat feet on the ground
What I said now
Listen to me one more time you all
All you wanna do is ride around, Sally (ride, Sally, ride)
All you wanna do is ride around, Sally (ride, Sally, ride)

Written for FOWC with Fandango – Guide and for Scotts Daily Prompt – Manufacture.

Just Want To Tell Her Goodbye

In America, the day of the phone booth has come to an end, because widespread use of mobile phones has alleviated the need to provide another way for people to make or take calls while they are out and about.  When our decedents watch Superman movies in the future, they will have no idea what Superman is searching for.  In 1971, pay phones were common and this guy calls his girl from one, but her mother picks up instead.  Silvia’s mother is polite, but she does not want to let him speak to her.  She tells him that, “Sylvia’s busy, too busy to come to the phone, that she is trying, to start a new life of her own and that she is happy and she wants him to leave her alone.”

Today the telephone operator has also become obsolete and it is hard to believe that the human being who was always there on the other end of the phone is no longer around.  Actually phone operators still exist for people that want to place collect calls, but they are not as prevalent as they used to be with all of the unlimited cell phone calling plans around these days.  In order to use a coin-operated public telephone, which was often located in a telephone booth you would need to remove the phone from the hook and listen for a dial tone and then dump enough coins in to make your call.  If the call was prolonged past the time allotted by your deposit, the operator would come on the line to inform you that you had to put more money in the phone.  This is the part of the song that always makes me laugh, as this guy is not able to get through to his girl and the operator keeps on saying, “Forty cents more, for the next three minutes.”

This song ‘Sylvia’s Mother’ was the first single released by Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show, who later became simply Dr. Hook.  It was written by Shel Silverstein and many of the songs that he wrote for the band were works of comedy and he is also known for writing ‘A Boy Named Sue’ for Johnny Cash.  This band had two lead singers, in the video Ray Sawyer is the one with the eye patch the other is Dennis Locorriere.  Locorriere was only 20 years old, but he delivered the vocal with a sincere sorrow.  After this song became a hit, audience members would sometimes throw coins at the band when the line “40 cents more” was sung, and this could hurt, especially when they were launched from the balcony.

Shel Silverstein was a brilliant storyteller with a vivid imagination, but this story was real.  The poor guy in the phone booth speaking with Sylvia’s mother who he calls Mrs. Avery, was actually him, trying to get through to his girlfriend Sylvia.  Her real last name was changed, because it didn’t fit the rest of the story and the story may be a bit exaggerated, but it was mostly true.  It happened around 1964 and when he called Sylvia, he was only able to reach her mother who told him, ‘She can’t talk to you.’  He asked her, ‘Why not?’ and her mother responded by saying that Sylvia was packing and she was leaving to get married, which was a big surprise to him.  The guy was in Mexico and he was a bullfighter and a painter.  After begging with Sylvia’s mother, “Please Mrs. Avery, I’ve just got to talk to her I’ll only keep her a while”, he finally got to talk with Sylvia, but not before Sylvia’s mother issued this warning, ‘Shel, don’t spoil it.’

The identity of Sylvia was always kept a big secret, but a Dutch public television producer named Arjan Vlakveld eventually found out who Sylvia was, and he also was able to track down Sylvia’s mother.  He was at his brother’s place having a glass of wine in the garden when he met an American woman who he let know that he produced documentaries and did pop star interviews.  The American told him the story about Sylvia and her mother, who she knew and from this information Arjan hoped he could trace Sylvia.  Arjan ran down a few names and ended up in a telephone conversation with Sylvia Pandolfi, who at that time was a museum director in Mexico City.  The line in the song, “Down Galveston way” meant that she was getting married to a Mexican and moving there.

I can relate to this song even though I have never had to go desperately digging into my pockets for more coins, while I was trying to talk to a girl before she leaves town.  Younger people who have grown up in the age of cell phones may not be able to relate to this, but it wasn’t all that long ago when communicating with your girlfriend was much more difficult.  Twenty five years ago, hardly anybody had cell phones and parents considered it their duty to listen in on phone calls, so they could try and prevent their daughters from getting involved in some type of Charlie Manson cult.  Back in the day, when a boy called his girlfriend, he would often have to talk with her parents first, who would act as a gatekeeper, preventing their daughter from talking to someone unless they approved of him.

‘Sylvia’s Mother’ initially bombed as a single when Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show released the self-titled album in 1971.  But they had faith in the song, so instead of releasing another single, they released ‘Sylvia’s Mother’ again as a single in July 1972.  This time the song was a hit going up to the Top 5 in both the US and UK.  Silverstein eventually provided another hit to the band in 1973 with ‘Cover of the Rolling Stone’, which charted #6.  After this hit, the band failed to come up with another successful follow-up single.  Between their two aptly-titled albums Belly Up! and Bankrupt, Dr. Hook would in fact declare bankruptcy, lose a founding member, and languish in self-pitying obscurity.  Shel Silverstein grew up in Chicago and he started out as a cartoonist, publishing his work in Playboy and the military publication Stars & Stripes, before he turned to writing children’s books.  The band Dr. Hook is an American blue-eyed soul, country-flavored novelty pop rock down-and-dirty Jersey bar band that formed in Union City, New Jersey.

If you watch this video you will see Silverstein playing the harmonica with Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show on his houseboat doing ‘Sylvia’s Mother’.

Sylvia’s mother says “Sylvia’s busy, too busy to come to the phone”
Sylvia’s mother says “Sylvia’s trying, to start a new life of her own”
Sylvia’s mother says “Sylvia’s happy so why don’t you leave her alone?”
And the operator says
“Forty cents more, for the next three minutes”

Please Mrs. Avery, I’ve just got to talk to her
I’ll only keep her a while
Please Mrs. Avery, I just want to tell her

Sylvia’s mother says “Sylvia’s packing, she’s gonna be leaving today”
Sylvia’s mother says “Sylvia’s marrying, a fellow down Galveston-Way”
Sylvia’s mother says “Please don’t say nothing to make her start crying and stay”
And the operator says
“Forty cents more, for the next three minutes”

Please Mrs. Avery, I’ve just got to talk to her
I’ll only keep her a while
Please Mrs. Avery, I just want to tell her

Sylvia’s mother says “Sylvia’s hurrying she’s catching the nine o’clock train”
Sylvia’s mother says “Take your umbrella, ‘cause Sylvia it’s starting to rain”
And Sylvia’s mother says “Thank you for calling and sir won’t you come back again”
And the operator says
“Forty cents more for the next three minutes”

Please Mrs. Avery, I’ve just got to talk to her
I’ll only keep her a while
Please Mrs. Avery, I just want to tell her

Tell her goodbye
Please, tell her goodbye

Written for FOWC with Fandango – Trace and for Scotts Daily Prompt – Warning.

Got It Goin On

When Mrs. Robinson was introduced to the world, she was a predator toying with a young man’s heart, as this broken down woman set out to corrupt an innocent kid.  Since 1999, the term cougar has been used for a woman who seeks sexual activity with significantly younger menWhen Paul Simon began writing what would become the 1968 hit song ‘Mrs. Robinson’, he intended it to be a song about times past.  After receiving a call from movie producer Mike Nichols, who wanted Simon to write some songs for his 1967 film The Graduate, Simon changed the title and the lyrics to fit the film’s antagonist, and the song and the movie became two of the biggest hits of the 1960s.  The Graduate starred Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson, a middle-aged woman who seduces the much younger Dustin Hoffman who was dating her daughter.

Jennifer Coolidge played Jeanine Stifler (aka Stifler’s Mom) in the 1999 romantic comedy American Pie movie and this is what made the ubiquitous acronym MILF become popular.  This movie contains a lot of gratuitous female nudity, where a string of sex-crazed pubescent boys ogle babes and try to lose their virginity while getting drunk and engaging in silly sexual deviance.  Stifler’s mom is not the main character in this movie, but she does have an unforgettable scene and someone made a parody of the song ‘Jessie’s Girl’ about Stifler’s mom.  “You know I wish that I had Stifler’s Mom, I wish that I had Stifler’s Mom Where can I find a MILF like that?”

‘Stacy’s Mom’ is a 2003 a pop rock song recorded by the band Fountains of Wayne and written by Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger.  The song was inspired because one of Adam Schlesinger’s friends that he grew up with. thought that his grandmother was hot.  They were both about 11 or 12, when this friend told him that he thought his grandmother was hot.  I think that ‘Stacy’s Mom’ makes a much better song title than Schlesinger’s grandmother who is probably the first GILF.  There never really was a Stacy or a Stacy’s mom, but New Zealand supermodel and actress Rachel Hunter was Stacy’s mom in the music video.  ‘Stacy’s Mom’ reached number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the band’s highest-charting hit in the United States, but the video reached No. 1 on both MTV’s TRL and VH1’s VSpot Top 20 Countdown.  It was largely their only successful song and it was nominated for a Grammy for Best Vocal Pop Performance.  It told the story of a young lad who was obsessed with Stacy’s mum and did everything he could to grab another glance of the attractive woman.  The video has a shocking ending when Stacy walks in on the dude when he is (insert expletive here) while he is imagining her mum dressed in a very small bikini.  Poor Stacy is always getting upstaged by her mom.

When I first started dating my father gave me some advice.  He told me that if I intended to get serious with any girl, that I should take a good look at her mother, because the chances are good that in 20 years that she will end up looking a lot like her.  If the kid in this song would have heard this advice, then he would have realized what a treasure he had in this girl Stacy and maybe he wouldn’t have gotten so hung up on her mother.  This song begins with an infatuated chant of “Stacy’s mom has got it goin’ on”, over and over.  This wimp of a kid wants to visit with Stacy after school so he can stare at her mother in a lecherous manner.  Stacy has a swimming pool in her back yard and he thinks that it is a good idea if they both soak in it after school.

He inquires about Stacy’s mom’s business trip, which should be none of his business, and then it gets uncomfortable where he implies that perhaps she is trying to avoid him.  Stacy should have realized this as being a signal of danger and she should have dropped him like a hot potato at this point, because he crossed the line becoming disrespectful to both her and her mother.  He has the audacity to tell Stacy, “You know I’m not the little boy that I used to be I’m all grown-up now baby can’t you see.”  This kid does not know when to quit and he goes on, “Stacy can’t you see, you’re just not the girl for me.”  He was probably having the dream of all dreams when he says, “I know it might be wrong but I’m in love with Stacy’s mom.”

This kid would never be a suitable mate for Stacy’s mom, because she is way too hot and he is still immature.  He is probably a neighbor because he did mow their lawn, and he can’t get it out of his mind the one day when Stacy’s mom came out dressed in compromising attire, wrapped up in just a towel.  He thought that she was crushing on him when she said, “You missed a spot over there.”  She noticed a patch of grass that he missed and brought this to his attention and he twisted this into her liking him.  He tells Stacy, “I know that you think it’s just a fantasy but since your dad walked out your mom could use a guy like me.”  In his sick world, he is there to rescue Stacy’s mom from a world of loneliness by becoming Stacy’s new father.  He has waited to make his intentions known and he feels that this is the perfect time to declare his love, saying that Stacy’s mom is all he wants, because she has got it goin on, something that he will never have.

Fountains of Wayne first appeared in 1996 and they are based in New Jersey. Chris Collingwood is a British-born American singer, songwriter, artist and founding member of Fountains of Wayne.  Adam Schlesinger is the bassist and a songwriting contributor and guitarist Jody Porter and drummer Brian Young round out the group.  At 49 years old Rachel Hunter is still a stunner and she stands almost six feet tall.  She was married to Rod Stewart between the years 1990 thru 2006.

Stacy’s mom has got it goin on
Stacy’s mom has got it goin on
Stacy’s mom has got it goin on
Stacy’s mom has got it goin on
Stacy can I come over after school? (after school)
We can hang around by the pool (hang by the pool)
Did your mom get back from her business trip? (business trip)
Is she there or is she tryin to give me the slip? (give me the slip)
You know I’m not the little boy that I used to be
I’m all grown-up now baby can’t you see
Stacy’s mom has got it goin on
She’s all I want, and I’ve waited for so long
Stacy can’t you see, you’re just not the girl for me.
I know it might be wrong but I’m in love with Stacy’s mom.
Stacy’s mom has got it goin on
Stacy’s mom has got it goin on
Stacy do you remember when I mowed your lawn? (Mowed your lawn)
Your mom came out with just a towel on. (Towel on)
I could tell she liked me from the way she stared (The way she stared)
And the way she said “You missed a spot over there.” (Spot over there)
And I know that you think its just a fantasy
But since your dad walked out your mom could use a guy like me
Stacy’s mom has got it goin on
She’s all I want, and I’ve waited for so long
Stacy can’t you see, you’re just not the girl for me
I know it might be wrong but I’m in love with Stacy’s mom
Stacy’s mom has got it goin on (Shes got it goin on)
She’s all I want, and I’ve waited for so long (Waitin and waitin)
Stacy can’t you see, your just not the girl for me.
I know it might be wrong but I’m in love with Stacy’s mom.
I’m in love with Stacy’s mom
Wait a minute Stacy can’t you see, you’re just not the girl for me
I know it might be wrong but I’m in love with Stacy’s mom

Written for FOWC with Fandango – Danger, for November Writing Prompts – The dream of all dreams and for Scotts Daily Prompt – Soak.

A Fan

The Grateful Dead were listed 57th in the Rolling Stone magazine issue ranking The Greatest Artists of all Time. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.  The lyrics to the song ‘Bertha’ were written by Robert Hunter and the music was written by Jerry Garcia.  Robert Hunter said that there is no truth to the rumor that Bertha was the name of a dangerous electrical fan in the office of their 710 Ashbury street home.  Supposedly this large floor fan was said to have a mind of its own and it would periodically glide across the floor when it was activated.  The front grill covering the blades was missing and when it vibrated across the floor towards you, you had to move, you really had to move, otherwise you might be injured, but you probably wouldn’t die.  Others say that Big Bertha was about an oscillating fan that they had to shut down after they laid out a couple of fat lines on the table and Bertha blew their coke on to the floor.

‘Bertha’ first came out on the 1971 live album, Grateful Dead more commonly known as ‘Skull & Roses’, and Hunter said that he actually doesn’t remember what this song was truly written about.  Hunter may not remember as he fully participated in the use of psychedelics, moved on to cocaine and smoking heroin, and he also drank a lot of alcohol.  He thought that it is probably some vaguer connotation of birth, death and reincarnation, the cycle of existences, some kind of such nonsense like that.  Hunter said, “I wouldn’t be surprised, but then again, it might not be.”  Hunter always did love spirituality and mythology, and Bertha is likely named after the Germanic goddess Bertha who rewarded of the generous, and punished the bad.  I really doubt that Robert Hunter would write a song about anything so superficial as an electric fan, because that was just not his style.  Jerry Garcia said this song is about a huge overpowered fan named Bertha that someone decided to renovate with an incredibly high speed motor adapted to drive it, but he did not write the lyrics.

The way I heard it was that Bertha was a female fan, not one that you plug into an outlet.  She was one of the first deadheads and she would end up sleeping in their living room and when the morning rolled around she didn’t want to leave.  The Dead were lamenting that they might have to move, since Bertha wouldn’t go home!  Bertha was said to be a big woman and most guys have had an evening where they consumed too much drink and they ended up the next morning in bed with some slightly overweight girl.  You see her laying next to you the next morning snoring away and the events of the last evening sort of come back to you, but you are still perplexed about why in the hell it is even possible that you woke up wearing this girls panties, a memory that you clearly would like to repress.  You go splash some water on your face, a lot of water and when you get back to your bed you shake the girl to try and wake her up.  When this girl makes no attempt to leave you start to go nuts, because you don’t want your friends that will soon be stopping by to find out how bad you were slumming last night.  You would rather be thrown into the jail house, so you don’t have to deal with her, or deal with your friends sneering remarks.  I also heard another story that says Bertha was very enthusiastic fan at the grateful Dead concerts and she would get right up front and interfere with the acoustics because of her large body.  This story says that the band loved her and they immortalized her in this song, even though they had to continually ask her to move to prevent her from messing up their sound.  Another story says that Bertha was the first deadhead to wear the skull symbol and she became the official mascot of The Grateful Dead.

Some of the lyrics in this song ‘Bertha’ are sort of humorous, such as, “Run around a corner, run smack in to a tree”, as this was written before Forrest Gump made jogging popular.  The line, “Dressed myself in green, I went down to the sea”, may relate to what Hunter said about this song invoking thoughts of birth, death and reincarnation, as green signifies growth, rebirth, and fertility and the sea is where all life first formed.  Other lyrics such as, “Ran into a rainstorm, ducked into a bar door” probably signifies that this guy really wanted to get away and maybe have a few drinks to settle down.  “It was all night pouring, pouring rain But not a drop on me”, most likely because he stayed at the bar all night.  This is all I got and I hope that you enjoyed my take on trying to see what’s going down, as it is not always easy to read between the lines.

‘Bertha’ was quite often an opening song at Grateful Dead concerts, as it got all of the fans up on their feet bopping around. Throughout their career, they played more than 2,300 concerts and Bertha was played 397 times at these concerts.  If you ignore drum solos and space jams, only 18 other songs were played more times live by the Grateful Dead.  These are ‘Playing in the Band’ performed 669 times, ‘Not Fade Away’ 644, ‘Me and My Uncle’ 624, ‘Sugar Magnolia’ 595, ‘I Know You Rider’ 562, ‘The Other One’ 562, ‘China Cat Sunflower’ 559, ‘Truckin’ 530, ‘Jack Straw’ 472, ‘Minglewood Blues’ 437, ‘Good Lovin’ 437, ‘Mexicali Blues’ 433, ‘Tennessee Jed’ 431, ‘The Promised Land’ 428, ‘Deal’ 422, ‘Around and Around’ 417, ‘Looks Like Rain’ 414 and ‘Wharf Rat’ 398.

I had a hard run
Running from your window
I was all night running, running, running
I wonder if you care?
I had a run-in
Run around and run down
Run around a corner
Run smack into a tree

I had to move
Really had to move
That’s why if you please
I am on my bended knees
Bertha don’t you come around here anymore

Dressed myself in green
I went down to the sea
Try to see what’s going down
Maybe read between the lines
Had a feeling I was falling, falling, falling

Turned around to see
Heard a voice calling, calling, calling
You was comin after me
Back to me

I had to move
Really had to move
That’s why if you please
I am on my bended knees
Bertha don’t you come around here anymore

Ran into a rainstorm
Ducked into a bar door
It was all night pouring, pouring rain
But not a drop on me

Test me, test me
Why don’t you arrest me?
Throw me in the jail house
Until the sun goes down
Till it go down

I had to move
Really had to move
That’s why if you please
I am on my bended knees
Bertha don’t you come around here anymore

Written for Daily Addictions prompt – Glide, for FOWC with Fandango – Repress, for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Renovate and for Scotts Daily Prompt – Die.