The Other Sister

Now 73 years old, Eric Clapton is one of the most famous rock and blues guitarists still actively playing for almost 50 years. Eric Clapton is rated #2 on Rolling Stone Magazine list of The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, coming in just behind Jimi Hendrix.  Clapton came in #55 on Rolling Stone Magazine list of 100 Greatest Artists Of All Time.  Derek and the Dominos album released in 1970 on ATCO, ‘Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs’ came in at number 117 on Rolling Stone Magazine list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.  Clapton had a number of songs that made it into Rolling Stone Magazine list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time ‘White Room’ with Cream is #376, his ‘Tears in Heaven’ is #362, ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ with Cream is #65 and ‘Layla’ with Derek and the Dominos is # 27.

Layla was written Eric Clapton and Jim Gordon who was a popular session drummer and a member in the blues rock super group Derek and the Dominos.  In 1983, Gordon murdered his mother and was sentenced to 16 years to life in prison.  Three versions of Layla were released, the original in 1972 by Derek & The Dominoes charted #7 in the UK and #10 in the US, Layla (1982) again by Derek & The Dominoes charted #4 in the UK and did not make the US charts and Layla Unplugged by Eric Clapton in 1992 got to #45 in the UK and reached #12 on the US charts.

Ian Dallas a Scottish a playwright and actor was part of the bohemian scene in swinging sixties London before he converted to Islam.  Ian Dallas was friends with both George Harrison and Eric Clapton, and one day he gave a copy of the ancient Persian Sufi parable Layla and Majnun by a 12th-century Persian poet called Nizami Ganjavi to Clapton and Eric shared this book with Pattie Boyd who was married to George Harrison.  This is a story about a princess who was married to the wrong man.  Leyli and Majnun was rewritten later by the eminent Turkish poet and thinker Muhammad Süleyman Oğlu better known as Muhammad Fuzuli.  This is perhaps the most famous of ancient Persian love stories, and many people consider the story of Leyli and Majnun to be an ancient Arabic precursor to that of Romeo and Juliet.  This tale about the tragic lovers tells a passionate story where a man is in love with an unobtainable woman.  Layla and Qays, are in love from childhood but are not allowed to unite.  Qays (called Majnun, which means “possessed”) is perceived to be mad in his obsession with Layla.  Layla is married off to another and Majnun becomes a hermit, devoting himself to writing verses about his profound love of Layla.  Although they attempt to meet, they die without ever realizing a relationship.  Reading this book about desperation struck a chord with his unrequited love for Pattie Boyd, the wife of his friend and fellow musician George Harrison.  The book moved Clapton profoundly, because it was the tale of a young man who fell hopelessly in love with a beautiful, young girl and went crazy because he could not marry her.

George Harrison was 22 when he spotted his future wife 21 year old Pattie Boyd in 1964, while she had a small part in the movie A Hard Day’s Night.  The two dated and eventually got married in 1966.  George Harrison was dissatisfied with the Beatles’ recording of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’, so he invited Eric Clapton to play the guitar solo on this.  George and Pattie seemed to be reasonably happy, and George’s career thrived following the Beatles’ breakup.  In the late ‘60s and early ’70s, Harrison and Clapton began working closely together and this led to the unfortunate circumstance of Clapton falling desperately in love with Pattie Harrison.  In 1970, Eric Clapton was passionately in love with his friend George Harrison’s wife, model Patti Boyd, but apparently they were not engaged in any unlawful sexual intercourse at this time.  Embroiled in a love triangle with George and Patti Boyd Harrison, Clapton came up with an album of love-tortured blues songs.  Eric Clapton was so obsessed with Pattie Boyd, that he was actually living with her sister Paula because he couldn’t have Pattie.  Later, Harrison and Boyd’s marriage did fall apart, and Clapton was there to pick up the pieces, marrying Pattie in 1979.   In rock ‘n’ roll, coveting thy neighbor’s wife’s ass seems to be a common theme and nothing makes a better story than when a rock star is fooling around, or into wife swapping, or just cheating on their spouse.

George Harrison was affectionately known as ‘the quiet Beatle’, but in fact he was a habitual womanizer.  When Harrison returned from his trip to India, he wanted to emulate the god Krishna who is usually depicted surrounded by maidens, so he told Pattie that he needed concubines and George took them wherever he could find them.  Charlotte Martin a French model with long legs and an incredible figure who Eric Clapton broke up with in 1968 came to stay with George.  Harrison sent Pattie away to stay with friends and he phoned her six days later to tell her that the girl was gone.  George even suggested that he and Pattie go out with her sister Paula, who was dating Eric Clapton at the time, so that they could swap partners at the end of the evening.  Clapton lost his nerve and the foursome never happened.  However Clapton did ask pianist and long-rumored voodoo practitioner Dr. John for a love potion, and he was given “a little box made out of woven straw” to keep in his pocket several weeks before finally winning Boyd over.

In 1973, Harrison’s friend and houseguest Ronnie Wood told him that he intended to sleep with George’s wife Pattie Boyd that evening.  Harrison ended up sharing a bed with Ronnie’s wife Krissie that night.  The last straw for Pattie was when George began sleeping with Ringo’s wife Maureen, another woman she considered a friend.  Harrison actually announced during a dinner party that he had slept with Ringo Starr’s wife Maureen in front of Pattie.  Both Ringo and Pattie were greatly distressed, and Pattie in particular became annoyed by Maureen’s habit of turning up late at night and spending the evening in meditation with her husband, or locking herself away in a studio with him.

Clapton confessed his feelings about Pattie to his friend George, who seemed to be very cavalier about this, reportedly saying “Do whatever you like, man”, giving him carte blanche to go for it.  Clapton said, “To be honest there was a lot of swapping and fooling around”, but initially Pattie was not persuaded.  Although Eric Clapton and George Harrison remained best of friends, Clapton recalled a tantrum that Harrison threw and said, that he was always a little wary of letting his guard down around George.  As the ‘70s progressed, and George Harrison’s promiscuity and drug usage became increasingly more extreme, Pattie Harrison filed for divorce.  In 1974, Pattie and Clapton became a couple and ultimately married in 1979.  Harrison wasn’t angry and even showed up at their wedding reception.  Ultimately, the same issues that destroyed her marriage to Harrison would precipitate Pattie’s divorce from Clapton, and the couple split in 1988.  Perhaps settling for something a little more stable, Pattie Harrison Clapton married her longtime companion, Rod Weston, a property developer, in 2015.

Ringo Starr replaced Pete Best as the Beatles’ drummer and in 1963 Ringo collapsed at a photo shoot and was hospitalized with tonsillitis and Jimmy Nicol filled in for him.  Ringo was overjoyed when they decided to reinstate him.  Maureen Cox was a trainee hairstylist that fell in love with Ringo Starr, and they were married in secret in 1965, a month after she found out that she was pregnant when she was 18.  Ringo threatened to divorce Maureen when he was told about her having sex with George.  It was Harrison’s wife Pattie who alerted Ringo after she found the pair in bed together.  Ringo was a shitty husband, he was an alcoholic, that did drugs, had affairs, was prone to random acts of violence and he used to beat his wife Maureen.  Ringo had an affair with the American model Nancy Lee Andrews while he was estranged from his wife Maureen.

Pattie had been gone from George for two weeks and even though he had nothing to say to her, he liked her being home with him.  Pattie wanted him to say things, to reassure her of his love, but he didn’t, or couldn’t, or wouldn’t, as he wished that she would just understand that he loved her, without needing a discussion.  Ringo and Maureen stopped over and they disappeared for a while, George heard the studio door open and he turned to Maureen who was standing there and he asked, “Where’s Ringo?”  Maureen just shrugged her shoulders and walked over to him and took his guitar out of his hands and carefully put it in its stand.  She moved back towards him and his eyes were roving as her dress swirled around her legs.  It was then he realized she had on Pattie’s dress.  It was one Pattie had recently bought, a long, floral silk that buttoned down the front.  He could tell Maureen had nothing on underneath.  She bit her bottom lip as she stared intently at him.  Now was his chance to stop things, to laugh and ask her what the fuck she was up to, but he didn’t.  He just stood there passively waiting to see what would happen next, what Maureen wanted to happen, where the realm of reliability was taking them.  As gracefully as a dancer, Maureen knelt before him and unzipped his jeans, and while she was loose, he became firm.  George thought he had hit the mother lode, this was a bonanza as Maureen looked sexier wearing Pattie’s dress than his wife ever did when she wore it.  They actually had the audacity to have sex in the same house while both their spouses were in another room.  Being astride George with the skirt of the dress spread out around her, he looked at Maureen like she was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen.  To George this was the strangest feeling, something that went beyond simple sexual pleasure.  It felt as if there was something inside her, something special he had not experienced before with another woman, something that was making its way into his soul.  When he finally kissed her mouth it was as if he’d arrived home after a long journey.  He didn’t feel remorse, it was just meant to be and he couldn’t argue with the universe.

George Harrison’s love for Pattie inspired him to write the song ‘Something’ which Frank Sinatra said was the best love song of the past 50 years. ‘Something in the Way She Moves’ is a song written by James Taylor that appeared on his 1968 debut album for Apple Records, James Taylor. Taylor told Rolling Stone that this song is about an early girlfriend and the calm you feel in the presence of someone who knows you really well, which basically rules out that it was written about Joni Mitchell or Carly Simon, each of whom he later dated.  The opening line “Something in the way she moves, or looks my way, or calls my name that seems to leave this troubled world behind”, inspired George Harrison to write the #1 Beatles’ song ‘Something’.  Ronnie Wood also wrote two songs that are about Pattie Boyd, ‘Mystifies Me’ and ‘Breathe On Me’.  George & Ringo stayed close even after George’s affair with Maureen.

Paul had a five year relationship with actress Jane Asher that began in 1963, and ended when she came home and found him in bed with another woman.  Harrison met Olivia in Los Angeles where she was working for Dark Horse records and they were married in September 1978, a month after the birth of their son, Dhani.  Harrison died from lung cancer in 2001 at the age of 58, two years after surviving a knife attack by an intruder at home.

Layla was recorded by the short-lived ensemble Derek and the Dominos, and this song storms with aching vocals and crosscutting riffs from Clapton and Duane Allman the rare contributing guitarist who could challenge him, it finally dissolves into a serene, piano-based concluding passage.

What’ll you do when you get lonely
And nobody’s waiting by your side?
You’ve been running and hiding much too long.
You know it’s just your foolish pride.

Layla, you’ve got me on my knees.
Layla, I’m begging, darling please.
Layla, darling won’t you ease my worried mind.

I tried to give you consolation
When your old man had let you down.
Like a fool, I fell in love with you,
Turned my whole world upside down.

Layla, you’ve got me on my knees.
Layla, I’m begging, darling please.
Layla, darling won’t you ease my worried mind.

Let’s make the best of the situation
Before I finally go insane.
Please don’t say I’ll never find a way
And tell me all my love’s in vain.

Layla, you’ve got me on my knees.
Layla, I’m begging, darling please.
Layla, darling won’t you ease my worried mind.

Layla, you’ve got me on my knees.
Layla, I’m begging, darling please.
Layla, darling won’t you ease my worried mind.

Written for Daily Addictions prompt – Bonanza, for FOWC with Fandango – Tantrum, for November Writing Prompts – The realm of reliability, for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Reinstate, for Ragtag Community – Loose, for Scotts Daily Prompt – Firm and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Roving.

She Was A Slut

Here’s my story, it’s sad but true, a girl took my heart who at first seemed to be loyal and loving, but it was not meant to be, because she turned out to be a lose woman that ran around with every man in town.  Maybe Sue just wanted to be popular, so she decided to date other guys.  Even though Dion married a girl named Sue, he said that the name of the girl who he wrote about wasn’t his wife Sue.  This song ‘Runaround Sue’ was inspired when Dion attended a basement birthday party in the Bronx for a girl named Ellen.

Dion DiMucci said that in the late 1950s and early ‘60s these parties were something that they did in the Bronx.  They went into the basement of an apartment building at 2308 Crotona Ave., where a friend was the superintendent.  He turned a space that was near the boiler room into a living room, with couches and chairs.  One night in 1960, about 30 guys and girls from the neighborhood got together there to celebrate the birthday of a friend named Ellen.  They started listening to some songs on a phonograph, but soon they began making up their own songs.  At this time Dion was 21 and he had recorded a few hits with the Belmonts, like ‘I Wonder Why’ which peaked at #47 and was written by Melvin Anderson and Ricardo Weeks and also ‘A Teenager in Love’ that reached #5 and was written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman.

Dion said that the Belmonts didn’t know how to write lyrics too good, so they invented this kind of percussive, rhythmic sound used on ‘A Teenager in Love’.  They would make up these sounds that they heard the horn players down at the Apollo Theater do, and they would come back to the neighborhood and he would try to get them to sound like the horn section.  Dion said it was scatting, singing with vocal improvisation or with wordless vocals, mostly nonsense syllables to sound like horns.  Dion was the most prominent rock artist to consistently use scat singing.  Dion was the arranger, bringing back what he heard at the Apollo Theater and giving it to the guys to sing.

At the party, they didn’t have any instruments and they soon turned the portable phonograph off, because Dion always got a kick out of singing for his friends at parties.  That night, Dion did his scatting thing again, getting everyone to lay down a beat on by banging on cardboard boxes, tapping on bottles and clapping their hands rhythmically in time, as this was the way that they partied in the schoolyard.  The people in the basement were jamming, hitting the tops of boxes and Dion gave everyone parts like the horn parts that he knew from the Apollo Theater and this jam kept going for 45 minutes.

Dion came up with background vocal harmony parts and he had everyone sing them over and over: “Hape-hape, bum-da hey-di hey-di hape-hape.”  With this going on, Dion made up a melody and lyrics about Ellen.  People were dancing, drinking beer and having fun.  When Dion left the party that night, he couldn’t let go of that riff and melody, this earworm was still haunting him being firmly ingrained in his head.  Not having a good grasp how to write lyrics too well, although having the perceptiveness to know that the melody and rhythmic line that everyone sang had something special going on, the next morning Dion called his friend Ernie Maresca, who I wrote about yesterday as being part of the Montereys when I wrote about Barbara Ann.  Dion told Ernie about Ellen’s birthday party and asked him if they could meet up at Laurie Records, which was his label after he split from the Belmonts.  Dion thought that they could do something with the music in one of their rooms.

The bones of the song (hey I could have used this for my Stream of Consciousness Saturday post) were already in place when Ernie got there.  Dion had the song’s sound and breaks as well as some of the lyrics and after Ernie heard what was going on in this song, they worked out the melody and lyrics.  Dion had his guitar while Ernie banged on the desk with his palms.  Dion wanted the song to be about a girl that they knew from the neighborhood, who had broken every guy’s heart.  Not Ellen or anyone else at the party.  The girl who had dated everyone, that sort of thing, however they were kids so they didn’t actually have any experience with this type of woman.  They didn’t want to use the real name of the girl from the neighborhood who inspired the song, but Dion and Ernie both knew this girl named Sue that they each admired from a distance at the Harwyn Club in Manhattan.  Her name fit the lyric line perfectly, so the girl in the song was named Sue by coincidence.

When they finished, Dion knew that he needed a solid vocal group behind him, especially since Dion had already split up from the Belmonts.  The Belmonts wanted to sing adorable mood stuff, smooth pop, like the Four Aces or the Four Lads.  That didn’t suit Dion anymore, so they split up in 1960.  One night around this time, Dion was up in the Yorkville section of Manhattan and he ran into these five guys singing on the Street who he thought sounded great.  Dion introduced himself to these guys who called themselves the Del-Satins and he asked them if they wanted to be on a record.  They came down to Laurie Records, and Dion showed them how to sing “Hape-hape, bum-da hey-di hey-di hape-hape.”  They thought Dion was nuts at first, but that’s when ‘Runaround Sue’ really started to rock.  As they rehearsed, they got it and added this flexible vocal support that let Dion bounce around on the song and weave in and out.

The ‘Runaround Sue’ recording session was held in the summer of ‘61 at Bell Sound on West 54th Street.  The Del-Satins didn’t have to rehearse much, as they got it right away and they knew how to jump right in behind Dion.  As they sang, Dion studied the Del-Satins and he knew that they were the real deal.  Their singing was from the street and it was just what Dion wanted.  After the song took shape, Dion called in Gene Schwartz (Laurie’s co-owner), and Gene thought the song had something and Dion knew that it felt right.

Gene brought in some of the city’s best studio musicians, including Teacho Wiltshire on piano who was known for his work on the 1956 motion picture Rockin’ the Blues, Milt Hinton on bass who spent time on the road with Cab Calloway, Panama Francis on drums who played on countless rhythm-and-blues and rock ‘n’ roll sessions, Buddy Lucas on tenor sax who was also a bandleader and he played harmonica, Mickey ‘Guitar’ Baker on lead guitar who was a critical force in the bridging of rhythm and blues and rock and roll and Bucky Pizzarelli on rhythm guitar who played with the Vaughn Monroe Orchestra, the Benny Goodman Orchestra, The Tonight Show Band, and Frank Sinatra.

After Dion released ‘Runaround Sue’ in September 1961, the song became his first and only No. 1 Billboard pop hit. ‘Runaround Sue’ was the No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 from October 23 through November 5, 1961, overtaking ‘Hit the Road, Jack’ by Ray Charles.  It spent 12 weeks in the Top 40.  ‘Runaround Sue’ went on to sell over a million copies, and also rose to No. 11 in the U.K.  It was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002.

‘Runaround Sue’ is a chauvinistic tale about a cheating girlfriend, that warns other guys to stay away from her, as they don’t know what she’ll do.  The singer is cocky in his certainty that ditching Sue is the right thing for him, as this will make him available for the next doll worthy of his charms.  In his macho world, it is fine for the guy to play the field, but woe to the girl who tried to exercise the same freedom.  Dion described ‘Runaround Sue’ as a song about a girl who loved to be worshiped, but as soon as you want a commitment and express your love for her, she’s gone.  So the song was a reaction to that kind of woman.  In 2004, the song was ranked at No. 342 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of ‘The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time’.

As a child, Dion DiMucci who is better known simply as ‘Dion’ was exposed to the blues, country and doo-wop music and he absorbed every note, and he began to incorporate and drench it into his unique brand of early rock-and roll.  Dion achieved doo-wop fame in the 1950s and he still is a highly successful recording artist much loved by Baby Boomers.  Dion flourished first with The Belmonts and then alone, scoring a series of hit songs in the 1950s and 1960s.   Angelo D’Aleo, Fred Milano, and Carlo Mastrangelo were all friends from the area around Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.  They all attended Roosevelt High School and hung out together.  They began singing together and named themselves The Belmonts after the street on which Freddy Milano lived, Belmont Avenue in the ‘Little Italy’ section of the Bronx.  As a trio, they recorded for the Mohawk label in 1957, making their debut with the song, ‘Teenage Clementine’.

As a teenager growing up in the Bronx, Dion DiMucci began singing on street corners.  By 1958, Dion joined  The Belmonts and this group became Dion and The Belmonts.  Dion & The Belmonts included Dion singing lead and the other three singing background.  With their second recorded single released in April 1958 ‘I Wonder Why’ they nearly broke the Top 20, peaking at No. 22.  The song remained in the U.S. Top 40 for ten weeks.  In October 1960, Dion quit The Belmonts and started a solo career.  By the end of the year he released an album on the Laurie label, Alone with Dion, and a single ‘Lonely Teenager’, which rose to No. 12.  His follow-up recordings had less success until he began working with the Del-Satins as an unaccredited backup group.

19 year old Dion was heartbroken when his friends Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper died at the Winter Dance Party Tour while Dion and the Belmonts were on the same tour and not long after heroin, pills and drinking followed.  In 2002, Dion’s ‘Runaround Sue’ was voted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.  Dion isn’t sure how he wound up among the more than 50 colorful and familiar faces that make up the iconic collage that is the cover of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, but it must be about admiration as him and Dylan are the only Americans featured.  Dion will have a lasting impact on Rock and Roll as he was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.

Here’s my story, it’s sad but true
It’s about a girl that I once knew
She took my love then ran around
With every single guy in town

Yeah I should have known it from the very start
This girl will leave me with a broken heart
Now listen people what I’m telling you
A keep away from a Runaround Sue

I might miss her lips and the smile on her face
The touch of her hair and this girl’s warm embrace
So if you don’t want to cry like I do
A keep away from-a Runaround Sue

Ah, she likes to travel around
She’ll love you and she’ll put you down
Now people let me put you wise
Sue goes out with other guys
Here’s the moral and the story from the guy who knows
I fell in love and my love still grows
Ask any fool that she ever knew, they’ll say
Keep away from-a Runaround Sue

Yeah keep away from this girl
I don’t know what she’ll do
Keep away from Sue

She likes to travel around
She’ll love you and she’ll put you down
Now people let me put you wise
She goes out with other guys

Here’s the moral and the story from the guy who knows
I fell in love and my love still grows
Ask any fool that she ever knew, they’ll say
Keep away from a Runaround Sue

Stay away from that girl
Don’t you know what she’ll do now

Written for FOWC with Fandango – Adorable, for Ragtag Community – Drench and for Scotts Daily Prompt – Coincidence.

Sung With A Dramatic Feel

I Can’t Help Myself as I have more oldies rock today, a song from a different time era, but this song has the intensity that songs of today just don’t have any more.  ‘Bernadette’ is a 1967 hit song recorded by the Four Tops, a group that defined and created the environment of soul for the Motown label.  The song was written, composed and produced by the legendary Motown team of Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland, Motown’s main songwriting team, who wrote most of the hits for the Four Tops, including ‘Baby I Need Your Loving’ and ‘Reach Out I’ll Be There’.  The song reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was The Four Tops’ final Top 10 hit of the 1960s.  On the soul chart, ‘Bernadette’ went to number three.  It also reached #8 in the UK on its first release and was a hit again in 1972, reaching #23.  ‘Bernadette’ was the Tops last Top 10 hit until “’Keeper of the Castle’ took off in 1972 and ‘Bernadette’ was also the Tops next-to-last collaboration with Holland-Dozier-Holland.  The HDH-Four Tops swan song ‘7-Rooms of Gloom’ hit No. 7 on the R&B charts in the summer of 1967.

Four Tops lead singer Levi Stubbs who is considered to be Motown’s greatest male vocalist delivers a passionate vocal on this song and the background vocals are done by Abdul ‘Duke’ Fakir, Renaldo ‘Obie’ Benson, Lawrence Payton, and the female session group that sang background vocals known as The Andantes which includes Jackie Hicks, Marlene Barrow, and Louvain Demps.  The Funk Brothers (group of Detroit-based session musicians) provided the lush orchestration of instrumentation and virtually every musician who ever played on a Motown track was considered to be a Funk Brother.  The Funk Brothers were paid by the day, their aim was to record as many songs in a day as possible to accommodate all the Motown artists.  The Funk Brothers and the background singers the Andantes gave their all on dozens of records for Motown, but they eventually faded into obscurity.  There are very few singers who could evoke the kind of divine desperation that Levi Stubbs brought when he sang with the Four Tops.  Levi Stubbs stood out as one of the most exciting singers on the Motown roster, with a talent for putting his own stamp on a song.  He thrived on songs that were difficult to sing, which made him a good fit for song writing team of Holland-Dozier-Holland.

Levi Stubbs was born Levi Stubbles on June 6, 1936 in Detroit and he also died in Detroit on October 17, 2008.  Levi had a cousin who was two years older than him, the soul singer Jackie Wilson who was nicknamed ‘Mr. Excitement’.  Like many black American teenagers in the early 1950s, he and three of his school friends Abdul ‘Duke’ Fakir, Lawrence Payton and Renaldo ‘Obie’ Benson formed a vocal group called, The Four Aims, and they were mainly playing school graduation dances and church functions.  With harmonies similar to that of The Inkspots, they quickly moved on to the jazz and R&B circuit, working with Billy Eckstine and Count Basie, as well as Betty Carter, Della Reese, Brook Benton and with Wilson himself.

It was suggested that The Four Aims might be confused with the then popular Ames Brothers a singing quartet from Malden, Massachusetts who had the 1949 single ‘I’m Just Wild About Harry’.  They chose their new name because they were aiming for the top, thus they became The Four Tops.  In 1963, the Four Tops signed with the Berry Gordy recording company Motown.  Unlike the Temptations, they had a fierce loyalty that prolonged their longevity and they stayed together like granite, having no personnel changes and they remained together as a group for decades till Lawrence Payton died in 1997.  Unlike The Supremes and The Miracles, their lead singer never felt the need to step out on his own.

At first the Four Tops spent several months providing back-up vocals to other Motown groups, including the Supremes on ‘When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes’, but in 1964 they recorded their first Motown song ‘Baby, I Need Your Loving’ which reached #11 on the charts.  The Four Tops landed 45 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 from 1964 to 1988.  The group’s repertoire includes soul music, R&B, disco, adult contemporary, doo-wop, jazz, and show tunes.  In the 1990s, the group was performing up to 200 times a year, often with the Temptations, on the oldies circuit.

‘It’s the Same Old Song’ has an interesting story, as The Tops were looking for a quick hit to follow-up their previous song ‘I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)’ that Motown released.  Duke Fakir and Lamont Dozier were both a little tipsy and Lamont was changing the channels on the radio when he said, “It sounds like the same old song.”  Then Lamont said, “Wait a minute” and he took ‘I Can’t Help Myself’ and he reversed it using the same chord changes.  The next day they went to the studio and recorded it, and then they put it on acetate, chief engineer Lawrence Horn oversaw the creation of some 300 hand-cut discs, and within 24 hours, about 1500 copies of the new single were in the hands of many a key radio disc jockey across the country.  The Four Tops continued to crank out the hits with ‘Something About You’ and “’Shake Me, Wake Me (When It’s Over)’.  In 1990, with 24 Top 40 pop hits to their credit, the Four Tops were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.  The Four Tops also received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and were ranked #79 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

There was actually more than one Bernadette, the songwriter Lamont Dozier explained that there were three Bernadettes, and they were all different girls.  This interesting tidbit was kept to themselves as Eddie, Lamont and Brian each had their our own Bernadette.  ‘Bernadette’ has the greatest pause of silence in any song, as it hangs in the air leaving you in suspense and then it falls back to earth like an explosion sending debris flying at you at incredible speeds.  The song is notable for its false ending, where the instruments drop out and the background singers hold a chord.  Lead singer Levi Stubbs then shouts ‘Bernadette!’ and the song resumes, ending in a fade-out.  You could hear the tear in his voice, it is kind of a plaintive cry of anguish and a pain, as he is urging his girl to stick with him and ignore the advances of other men.  ‘Bernadette’ provides burning romantic intensity, where a guy has found desire and jealousy in his girl.  Bernadette is like this perfect girl who everyone seems to want and this guy says that he lives only to hold her, while some other men just long to control her.  He is going to tell the world that she belongs to him, as he finds peace in her arms, she gives him joy in his heart and that is why he will treasure her, for the only joy in life is to be loved.  Bernadette means more to him than a woman was ever meant to be.

Levi Stubbs provided the voice of ‘Audrey II’, the alien plant in the 1986 musical horror comedy film Little Shop of Horrors.

Bernadette, people are searchin’ for the kind of love that we possess
Some go on searchin’ their whole life through
And never find the love I’ve found in you
And when I speak of you I see envy in other men’s eyes
And I’m well aware of what’s on their minds
They pretend to be my friend

When all the time they long to persuade you from my side
They’d give the world and all they own for just one moment we have known

Bernadette, they want you because of the pride that gives
But Bernadette, I want you because I need you to live
But while I live only to hold you some other men
They long to control you
But how can they control you Bernadette
When they can not control themselves, Bernadette
From wanting you, needing you
But darling, you belong to me

I’ll tell the world you belong to me
I’ll tell the world, you’re the soul of me
I’ll tell the world you’re a part of me

In your arms I find the kind of peace of mind the world is searching for
But you, you give me the joy this heart of mine has always been longing for
In you I have what other men long for
All men need someone to worship and adore
That’s why I treasure you and place you high above
For the only joy in life is to be loved
So whatever you do
Bernadette, keep on loving me, Bernadette, keep on needing me Bernadette

You’re the soul of me
On that dream, you’re a ? to me
And Bernadette, you mean more to me
Than a woman was ever meant to be

Written for Daily Addictions prompt – Accommodate, for FOWC with Fandango – Fierce, for Scotts Daily Prompt – Jockey and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Granite.

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.
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.
What a big man he’ll be.
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.

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.
What your throwing away.
Now think what the future would be with a poor boy like me.

Go away I’m no good for you.
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.

Infatuated With A Friend

Neil Sedaka co-wrote the 1958 song ‘Oh! Carol’ for the songwriter Carole King as a lament that they never became closer. She was born Carol Joan Klein and she was three years younger than Neil.  They both lived in Brooklyn and she went to James Madison High School while Neil went to Abraham Lincoln High.  Carole first came into Neil Sedaka’s life when he was a member of the Linc-Tones, a Doo-Wop group that Sedaka put together while he was in high school and while rock and roll was in its infancy.  Neil wrote a song ‘Mr. Moon’ and he sang it in the Lincoln High School auditorium, where the audience went wild.  It was a huge turning point for Neil, as all of a sudden he was popular.  His triumph was short-lived as the school principal told Neil that he could not play that outrageous song in the second show, because of the reaction it got from the students.  The principal’s decision did not sit well with the student body, as they all liked rock and roll, so they signed a petition that insisted Neil be able to play ‘Mr. Moon’ again.

In 1955, now that he was a big shot, Neil had the confidence to start his own group.  Neil Sedaka was sitting in his math class at Lincoln High School when he heard Jay Siegel singing Falsetto.  Neil and Jay decided to form a group and they recruited three members of Mrs. Eisen’s Chorus those being Hank Medress, Cynthia Zolotin and Eddie Rabkin.  They became the Linc-Tones, and they practiced after school.  Neil played the old upright piano and Cynthia had a great voice.  The Linc-Tones were unique as most of the other singing groups around at the time, were not doing their own originals.  The Linc-Tones played a few gigs singing at high school dances and they even appeared on the local television show Dance Time to perform a few of Neil’s original songs that he wrote with his friend Howie Greenfield.

Neil and his Linc-Tones made a new friend, Carol Klein, who went to nearby Madison High School.  Neil, Howie, Jay and Hank would go to Carole’s house sometimes alter school and rehearse in her basement.  The fifteen-year-old Carole taught them very sophisticated harmonies.  She’d teach them one part at a time, and then they’d put it all together.  Her musical skills were much more advanced than most of theirs, and she was a great piano player.  Neil was not easily impressed, but he was with Carole.  Carole lived in Gravesend, Brooklyn which was a fifteen minute bus ride away from where the Linc-Tones lived in Brighton Beach.  The distance never bothered Neil, and from time to time, he and Carole would meet on the street corners and at the beach to sing the hits of the day or sharing a pie at Andrea’s Pizza Parlor.  While they did become close friends for a while, it is unlikely that they actually dated as Neil has suggested.  Carole actually said that she never liked Neil.

Howard Greenfield lived next-door to Neil and one day when Howard’s mother overheard 13 year old Neil playing the piano, she introduced her son 16 year old to him.  Neil wrote the music, Howard the lyrics and the two of them continued to write songs together until Howard died in 1986.  At first, Howie and Neil wrote songs that sounded like Gershwin and Irving Berlin, but after hearing ‘Earth Angel’ by The Penguins, they both started exploring rock‘n’roll songs, as that made them look cool and playing Bach was never popular.

After singing at local functions, they got an audition with a music publisher in Manhattan at the famed Brill Building.  This, in turn, led to an audition with the head of a small label, Melba Records owned by Morey Croft.  They had heard Neil’s group sing on the local TV show Startime and wanted them to record three of Neil and Howie’s songs, but the manager, a guy named Happy Goday, insisted that they change their name from the Linc-Tones to the Tokens, which they did.  They recorded a few songs that got some local air play, but everything failed to chart nationally.  The disillusioned group broke up only to re-emerge years later with the hit ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’.

In the meanwhile, Neil and Howie continued writing their songs.  One day Sedaka heard that the Clovers, who had that big hit ‘Love Potion No. 9’ were going to be at Atlantic Records.  Neil and Howie took the A train into Manhattan to go there and try to peddle some of their songs.  They met Jerry Wexler who listened to what they wrote.  The connection that they made with Wexler that day yielded Neil and Howie’s first sales to a major label.  Wexler bought some of their rhythm and blues numbers for Clyde McPhatter ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’, Laverne Baker ‘I Waited Too Long’, the Clovers ‘Bring Me Love’, the Cookies ‘Passing Time’ and the Cardinals ‘The End Of The Story’.  At the Brill Building, they met Mort Shuman and Doc Pomus, who steered them to another office in another music business center known as 1650 Broadway, where a new publishing company was just being formed by the veteran music man, Al Nevins, and his younger partner, Don Kirshner.

Aldon Music was the flagship company of Brill Building pop music, but it was actually located across the street at 1650 Broadway.  The Aldon publishing offices employed a stable of talented songwriting teams including Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield, Carole King and Jerry Goffin, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, and Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich.  At the height of Aldon’s productivity, 18 writers were on the staff, which included the likes of Neil Diamond and Jack Keller.  Collectively, this one-of-a-kind talent factory was the soundtrack for much of the late 1950s through the late 1960s.  Sedaka and Greenfield were one of the first to sign with Don Kirshner and Al Nevins at Aldon Music.

Aldon Music sought to meet two crucial market demands that emerged in the late 1950s.  First, to make rock music fit into the long-established Tin Pan Alley mode of music-selling, where the established music industry was represented by such record labels as Columbia, RCA, Capitol, and others, and secondly to satisfy the need for quality songs that could become hits for their many recording stars.  Record producer Steve Sholes contracted Sedaka for RCA, and RCA quickly issued his first formal solo single, the Sedaka/Greenfield song ‘The Diary’, which peaked at number 14 in February 1959.  ‘The Diary’ was inspired when Neil first met singer Connie Francis.  They had spent all day going over songs to record and became quite bored.  When Connie began writing in her diary, Neil asked her if he could read it.  Connie gave him a firm “no” and thus the inspiration for ‘The Diary’ was born.  After Little Anthony and the Imperials passed on the song, this was just the prompt that Sedaka needed to make him record it himself.

His follow-up song ‘I Go Ape’ missed the Top 40 and his third RCA single, ‘Crying My Heart Out for You’, was a flop.  RCA Victor lost money and was ready to drop Sedaka from their label, but Sedaka’s manager, Al Nevins, persuaded the RCA executives to give him one more chance.  With Neil Sedaka’s career on the rocks, he got advice from producer Don Kirshner who told him to write a song with the girl’s name in the title.  He told Neil to talk in the middle like The Diamonds did in ‘Little Darlin’.

In order to come up with a hit, Neil consulted the international charts in Billboard, then went out and bought the three most successful records he saw listed and listened to them repeatedly, analyzing what they had in common, studying the song structure, chord progressions, lyrics and harmonies.  He discovered many similar elements in these songs, the harmonic rhythm, placement of the chord changes, choice of harmonic progressions, similar instrumentation, vocals phrases, drum fills, content, even the timbre of the lead solo voice.  Neil decided to write a song that incorporated all these elements in one record.  Neil took the beat, the drum licks, the guitar licks, the harmony changes, and went to school on them.  Howie wrote the lyrics in twenty minutes and the result of this deliberate effort was his fourth RCA single, ‘Oh! Carol’, which became his first top-10 hit in 1959.  The ladies singing falsetto behind Sedaka’s middle spoken bridge are The Kittens, a girl trio group who Al Nevins had hanging around the studio.  When Sedaka recorded, everybody thought something was missing, so Nevins turned to The Kittens and asked them to fill in.

Sedaka is a cousin of the late singer Eydie Gormé.  From 1959 to 1963, Sedaka became the second-biggest selling artist, next to Elvis Presley.  Neil Sedaka has written more than 700 songs, he was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, there is a street in Brooklyn bearing his name, and he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  He was born in Brooklyn in 1939 and by the time he was 9 years old, Neil already had begun intensive classical piano training at the Juilliard School of Music.  Connie Francis recorded his ‘Stupid Cupid’ in 1958 and later in 1961, she did ‘Where the Boys Are’.

Neil was a 19 when he met Leba who was 16 while he was performing at her mother’s hotel in the Catskills in upstate New York.  They have been married for 56 years and have a daughter, a son, and three grandchildren.  The moment he saw Leba he was certain that he would end up marrying her.  By 1963, after selling some 25 million records, Sedaka was riding the wave of international success.  Sedaka wrote ‘The Hungry Years’ for Frank Sinatra and ‘Solitaire’ for Elvis Presley along with several hit songs for Captain & Tennille, Tom Jones, the Monkees, and the Fifth Dimension and he had his own hits which include ‘Calendar Girl’, ‘Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen’ and ‘Breaking Up Is Hard to Do’.  In 1963, Carole King released a humorous answer to ‘Oh! Carol’ entitled ‘Oh Neil’, her response did not do nearly as well.

Oh Neil by Carole King
Oh Neil! I’ve loved you for so long.
I never dreamed you’d put me in a song.
I’m Carol and I live in Tennessee.
I never hoped that you’d remember me.
Darling when I saw you at the square dance
My pulse skipped a beat.
My heart felt so heavy like I had too much to eat.
Then you took me walking in the moonlight.
It was, oh, so sublime.
I had too much molasses and your lips stuck to mine.
Oh! Neil I’d even give up a month’s supply of chewin’ tobacky.
Just to be known as Mrs. Neil Sedaky.
My Grandpappy. he don’t like your records.
He said if I play them, I will surely die.
Lookout, I see him comin’ with his shotgun!
There’s nothing lefi to do…
Oh! Neil lI surely die for you!
(Shotgun blast)
Grandpappy: I told that gal not to play them doggone Neil Sedaky records!

Oh! Carol, I am but a fool
Darling, I love you though you treat me cruel
You hurt me, and you made me cry
But if you leave me, I will surely die
Darling, there will never be another
‘Cause I love you so
Don’t ever leave me
Say you’ll never go
I will always want you for my sweetheart
No matter what you do
Oh! Carol, I’m so in love with you
Oh! Carol

Written for FOWC with Fandango – Prompt, for Scotts Daily Prompt – Certain and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Exploring.

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.

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.

Is This A Lasting Treasure

In 1958, ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’ became the first #1 hit by a black female group The Shirelles, topping the Billboard Hot 100 chart.  It is a pop masterpiece that was ranked at #126 among Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  Billboard named the song #3 on their list of 100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time.  The Shirelles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.  This song was written by the husband and wife songwriting team of Gerry Goffin lyrics and Carole King music and it became their first #1 hit.  At first this song met with some resistance from radio stations, but not enough to stop it from becoming a huge hit, selling over a million copies.  From the moment Shirley Owens sings her first line the listener is captured.  The melodious backing vocals, swirling violin break and poetic lyrics made the song a real lasting treasure.

Goffin’s lyrics deftly touch on the doubt that lurks behind all new romances and this is a benignly sexual song with the singer wondering what will happen the day after an encounter with her man, praying that the heat of the moment won’t leave her embarrassed in the morning.  She is nervous and insecure and she feels vulnerable, which are normal reactions to being with someone for the first time, especially for a girl that has decided that she will make love not because she is caught up in a moonlit evening.  The woman is amenable to having sex and she seems to know what she is doing, but she could also be a young girl on the brink of surrendering her virginity.  This song was an anthem of female adolescence, a manifesto to women’s liberation that gave a voice to the challenges of being a girl who longed for both love and sex at a time when only bad girls would admit such a thing.  This song features lyrics that were ahead of their time in subject matter and it captures the bitter sweetness of being a sexually liberated woman, as she is going to give it up to this man tonight and coincidentally it was released in the same year as the first oral contraceptive pill.

In 1957, Kirshner who was from East Orange, New Jersey met Robert Casotto better known as Bobby Darin, and together they went door to door, offering to write commercials for shops and businesses.  On one of their trips, they encountered Concetta Franconero better known as Connie Francis, a New Jersey friend of Kirshner’s who also helped Kirshner.  In 1958, at the age of twenty-one, Kirshner formed Aldon music.  Kirshner an American music publisher, rock music producer, talent manager, and songwriter known as the ‘Man with the Golden Ear’ assigned King and Goffin to write a song for the Shirelles as a follow-up to their previous song ‘Tonight’s The Night’.  King and Goffin had hastily married in 1958 after King became pregnant at the age of 17, while Goffin was still working at a chemical company and they worked at night for Don Kirshner’s Aldon music, in the Brill building, which was the center of the songwriting universe in the early ‘60s.

The song was originally written with the title ‘Tomorrow’ which was lengthened later.  It remained on the charts for 15 weeks and it was revolutionary in a way, as most popular songs of the time defined women as conquests or aspirations, mere objects of male desire.  There had been very little music made for girls, by girls and about girls.  When the Shirelles were first presented with the song, lead singer Shirley Owens did not want to record it, because she thought it was ‘too country’ sounding for their blend of pop/rock and R&B.  She asked if King and Goffin if they could add strings and turn it into a more up-tempo song, which they did and it went on to become an immense hit.  King’s devotion to the song was so strong that she replaced a subpar percussionist and played kettledrum herself on this song.

Around 1957, 4 girls from Passaic, New Jersey, Shirley Owens (later Shirley Alston), Doris Coley (later Doris Kenner-Jackson), Addie ‘Micki’ Harris and Beverly Lee met at their high school talent show calling themselves The Poquellos (meaning birds) and they did their song ‘I Met Him on a Sunday’.  Classmate Mary Jane Greenberg convinced them to sign with her mother’s Florence Greenberg’s small record label Tiara Records, which was quickly sold to Decca.  Florence Greenberg became the group’s manager, and changed their name to the Shirelles by combining frequent lead singer Owens’ first name with doo woppers the Chantels.  Greenberg started her own Scepter label, where she drafted Luther Dixon, who had previously worked with Perry Como, Nat King Cole, and Pat Boone to work with her Shirelles.

In 1958, the Shirelles’ recording of ‘I Met Him on a Sunday’ climbed into the national Top 50.  Two of their singles ‘My Love Is A Charm’ and ‘Lonely Nights’ both failed to chart and the Shirelles were dropped by Decca by the end of 1958.  Follow up songs, ‘Dedicated to the One I Love’ (1959) and ‘Tonight’s the Night’ (1960) with Doris Coley on lead, reached #83 not making much of an impact on the pop charts, however ‘Tonight’s the Night’ was re-released after ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’ became a hit and it went into the Top Five on both the pop and R&B charts in 1961.  ‘Dedicated To the One I Love’ ‎is a cover song written by Lowman Pauling‎ and ‎Ralph Bass and ‘Tonight’s the Night’ was written by Luther Dixon and Shirley Owens and both songs certified gold in 1961.

The Shirelles were the first major female vocal group of the rock era, defining the so-called girl group sound with their soft, sweet harmonies and yearning innocence.  Their music appealed to listeners across the board, before Motown ever became a crossover phenomenon with white audiences.  Even if the Shirelles were not technically the first of their kind, their success was unprecedented, paving the way for legions of imitators, establishing a musical blueprint that has had an enduring influence not just on their immediate followers, but on future generations of female pop singers, who often updated the style with a more modern sensibility.

In their most exceptional moments, this girl group made words of young love feel like pure transcendent joy and supplementing their matching dresses, stylized hairdos, and lyrics about teenage romance their voices were enough to make listeners shiver and quiver.  A constraint that the Shirelles had to deal with was their songs were all about a girl who meets her dreamboat who has the power to make her life a heaven on Earth.  The Shirelles became the first musical effort to capture the real experience and dreams of teenage girls.  They broke through a barrier that some rock critics put forth about girl groups having to rely on romantic delusion, because of their brave rugged individualism.

In 1963, ‘Foolish Little Girl’, which went to # 4, but it was to be the group’s last Top 10 hit and they have remained largely silent since.  They still had nine more (modest) chart entries in 1963-1964, but the end of their hit-making days was written on the wall, due to the British Invasion and the heavy competition from other girl groups like the Supremes, the Crystals and the Dixie Cups.  The Shirelles broke up in the late 1960s but re-formed later for ‘oldies’ shows and different Shirelles lineups toured the oldies circuit in the ‘90s, though Beverly Lee eventually secured the official trademark.  Micki Harris died of a heart attack during a performance in Atlanta on June 10, 1982 and Doris Kenner-Jackson passed away after a bout with breast cancer in Sacramento on February 4, 2000.

Tonight you’re mine, completely
You give your love so sweetly
Tonight the light of love is in your eyes
But will you love me tomorrow

Is this a lasting treasure
Or just a moment’s pleasure
Can I believe the magic in your sighs
Will you still love me tomorrow

Tonight with words unspoken
You say that I’m the only one
But will my heart be broken
When the night meets the morning sun

I’d like to know that your love
Is a love I can be sure of
So tell me now and I won’t ask again
Will you still love me tomorrow

So tell me now and I won’t ask again
Will you still love me tomorrow
Will you still love me tomorrow
Will you still love me tomorrow

Written for Daily Addictions prompt – Immense, for FOWC with Fandango – Silent, for October Writing Prompts – Shiver and Quiver, for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Moonlit, for Ragtag Community – Rugged, for Scotts Daily Prompt – Constraint and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Manifesto.

Stop Stalking Me

This song ‘Walk On By’ is about a woman who asks her former lover to leave her alone, giving a public face to a private heartbreak.  The song was composed by Burt Bacharach, and the lyrics were written by Hal David for singer Dionne Warwick in 1963.  In the opinion of her label Scepter Records, and herself this song was her last shot at making the Top 40.  The song peaked at number 6 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on the Cash Box Rhythm and Blues Chart in June 1964 and was nominated for a 1965 Grammy Award for the Best Rhythm and Blues Recording and this song was the major international hit and a million seller that solidified her career.

Burt Freeman Bacharach is an American composer, songwriter, record producer, pianist, and singer who has composed hundreds of popular hit songs from the late 1950s through the 1980s, many in collaboration with popular lyricist Hal David. In 1957, Bacharach and lyricist Hal David met while at the Brill Building in New York City, and began their writing partnership.  They received a career breakthrough when their song ‘The Story of My Life’ was recorded by Marty Robbins, becoming a number 1 hit on the U.S. in 1957.  Burt Bacharach and Hal David were among the many Jewish kids churning out hits in the Brill Building in the late 50s along with Lieber & Stoller, Pomus & Shuman, and three married couples being Goffin & King, Barry & Greenwich and Mann & Weil.  David started working with Bacharach in the late 1950s on tunes recorded by artists including Perry Como, Gene Pitney, Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra, the Carpenters, Barbra Streisand and Warwick.  Some of Hal David’s other classics are ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head’, and ‘What the World Needs Now Is Love’.  Hal David was president of ASCAP American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers from 1980 till 1986.  In 1973, Burt Bacharach and Hal David ended their collaboration.

In 1961, Bacharach discovered the 21 year old singer Dionne Warwick while she was a session accompanist performing background on the Drifters’ recording of ‘Mexican Divorce’.  After agreeing to work with him, Dionne made her professional recording debut and later that year had her first hit, ‘Don’t Make Me Over’, which reached number 21 on the Hot 100 and number 5 R&B.  Dionne Warwick was a young black woman standing up to authority at a very different time in history she had confidence and conviction.  She was one of the first black recording artists to reach a mainstream pop audience that knew no racial or ethnic barriers.  At age 16, she toured the American south as a backing vocalist with Sam Cooke, the Drifters and the Shirelles when racial segregation was still in practice.

‘Walk On By’ was always part of her routine when she performed and it became Dionne Warwick’s signature song.  It was recorded at Bell Sound Studios in New York, live with a full orchestra including strings, horns, a rhythm section, and background singers and the song was featured on her album Make Way for Dionne Warwick.  Bacharach said that ‘Walk On By’ was the first time that he tried putting two grand pianos on a record in the studio.  Different takes were played with him and Artie Butler and Paul Griffin on piano.  Burt Bacharach was sitting at the piano or in the control room, and on about the 28th take, someone said “I think we may have it”, and they had done two tunes in a three-hour session, ‘Walk On By’ and ‘Anyone Who Had A Heart’.  The song was originally the B-side of ‘Any Old Time Of Day’.  It didn’t really get played on the radio until a New York DJ named Murray the K turned the record over after holding a contest for which side the listeners preferred, and they chose ‘Walk On By’.  This song is listed as #70 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and it’s been covered hundreds of times, by everyone from Johnny Mathis to Vanilla Fudge.

Within ten years after she had her first hit, Warwick and her songwriting team of Burt Bacharach & Hal David, racked up more than 30 hit singles and she had released more than 18 consecutive Top 100 singles, including her classics like, ‘Walk On By’, ‘Alfie’, ‘Say a Little Prayer’, ‘This Girl’s in Love With You’, ‘I’ll Never Fall in Love Again’ and the theme from ‘Valley of the Dolls’, and she also had about 20 best-selling albums.  Warwick received her first Grammy Award in 1968 for her mega-hit, ‘Do You Know the Way to San Jose?’ and a second Grammy in 1970 for the best-selling album, ‘I’ll Never Fall in Love Again’.  She became the first African-American solo female artist of her generation to win the prestigious award for Best Contemporary Female Vocalist Performance.  This award was only presented to one other legend, Miss Ella Fitzgerald.  Warwick is second only to Aretha Franklin as the most-charted female vocalist of all time, with 56 of Warwick’s singles making the Billboard Hot 100 between 1962 and 1998 and 80 singles making all Billboard charts combined.  It is hard to fathom that in the year 2013, at the age of 72, with all the success that Dionne Warwick had in her career that she had to file for bankruptcy, but maybe we could all say a little prayer for her.

If you see me walking down the street
And I start to cry each time we meet
Walk on by, walk on by
Make believe that you don’t see the tears
Just let me grieve in private
‘Cause each time I see you I break down and cry
Walk on by (don’t stop)
Walk on by (don’t stop)
And walk on by

I just can’t get over losing you
And so if I seem broken and blue
Walk on by, walk on by
Foolish pride, that’s all that I have left
So let me hide the tears and the sadness
You gave me when you said goodbye
Walk on by (don’t stop)
Walk on by (don’t stop)
Walk on by (don’t stop)
Walk on

Walk on by, walk on by
Foolish pride, that’s all that I have left
So let me hide the tears and the sadness
You gave me when you said goodbye
Walk on by (don’t stop)
Walk on by (don’t stop)

Now you really gotta go so walk on by (don’t stop)
Baby leave me, never see the tears I cry (don’t stop)
Now you really gotta go so walk on by (don’t stop)
Baby leave me, never see the tears I cry (don’t stop)
Now you really gotta go so walk on by (don’t stop)
Baby leave me, never see the tears I cry (don’t stop)

Written for FOWC with Fandango – Routine, for Scotts Daily Prompt – Authority and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Fathom.

My One Thousandth Post

When I hear the word countable, I think about sheep, which works out even thought the plural of ‘sheep’ is also ‘sheep’.  If you can count it, then it is countable.  Countable is a mathematical property that usually refers to something being at least one and most likely more than one, so you are able to add it.  People in ancient times did arithmetic with piles of stones and the ancient Romans had an instrument called a hodometer, which worked in a similar manner to that of a taxi meter.  In the days of the Roman Empire, when all the empire’s roads radiated out from the capital city, all roads literally did lead to Rome, as the Roman highways connected isolated communities, helping them to absorb new ideas and influences, sell surplus goods, and buy what they could not produce locally.  The modern word ‘mile’ is derived from the Latin milia passuum, which translates to ‘one thousand paces’.

The major Roman roads were marked with a milestone, which was a circular column on a solid rectangular base, set for more than 2 feet into the ground, standing 5 feet tall, 20 inches in diameter, and weighing more than 2 tons.  At the base was inscribed the number of the mile relative to the road it was on.  Milestones marked every mile from Rome, so that no traveler would mistake the fact that they was on a Roman road under imperial domain.  Below the Temple of Saturn in Rome, Augustus set up the golden milestone, which was regarded as the point from which all the principle roads of Rome diverged, this gave the Romans a way to record the distances that separated the capital from the principal cities of the Empire.

Today I reached a milestone and I wanted to celebrate this with a memorable song which I figured would use the word thousand in it someplace.  I looked at a bunch of songs containing the word thousand, but none of them suited me and then I came across a song that contained the word million in it and since I don’t think that I will ever reach that milestone, I figured that I would use it for my post today.  To put a million miles in prospective, our moon is pretty far away from the Earth, but on an average it is only 238,855 miles, which is far less than one million.   On the other hand is four fingers and a thumb, no I am talking about Mars which can vary between being 33.9 million miles away which has never happened, to being 249 million miles away from the Earth.  Venus is actually much closer to Earth than Mars is, varying from 23.6 million miles to 162 million miles away from the Earth.  Even though Venus is closer to Earth than Mars is, nobody is going there and the Space Development Steering Committee says Mars missions in the 2030s have a chance of becoming a reality.  The only thing that I was able to find for this distance is a new satellite called the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) which watches Earth every day from a distance of one million miles away.

Now that I have one million miles covered, I thought that I should investigate what happened one million years ago.  In case you did not know, Raquel Welch was not around one million years ago.  I did find an article about a colony that was established one million years ago in Antarctica by Martins, but I found that harder to believe than Raquel Welch being a cave woman.  I discovered that 620,000 years ago the Cromerian interglacial began, which does not seem all that exciting, but 1.4 million years ago the first fires were made by humans.  It is thought that humans first learned how to speak one million years ago.  One million years ago our human ancestors are estimated to have numbered around eighteen thousand five hundred individuals spread across the entire world.  Records exist of beings using stone tools in Eastern England at this time.

I probably should apologize for the long introduction, all of that beating around the bush and pussyfooting around that I did, anyway now it is time for the song, which is what this post is actually about.  Without further ado, time to crack the whip, shake things up, get the show on the road and bring on the magic.  Before the Grass Roots became a hit-making machine for a decade from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, they started out as just another attempt by commercial songwriters P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri to break free of their contractual obligations to Trousdale Music, the publishing arm of Dunhill Records, so they could be part of a real band.  The duo had already found success either writing or co-writing hits for other artists including, ‘Eve of Destruction’ a No. 1 for Barry McGuire, # 29 ‘Let Me Be’ and #20 ‘You Baby’ for the Turtles, a # 8 ‘A Must to Avoid’ for Herman’s Hermits and a #3 song ‘Secret Agent Man’ for Johnny Rivers.  Their label, Dunhill Records allowed them to release albums of their material under a number of monikers, the best-known being the Fantastic Baggys ‘Summer Means Fun’, but none of these had any success.  Undeterred, Sloan and Barri in 1965 took another shot, this time as a band called the Grass Roots (originally called ‘Grassroots’) with a song sung by Sloan called ‘Where Were You When I Needed You’ that reached #28 on the Billboard charts on June 18, 1966, but the problem was that the Grass Roots was just an illusion, as there was no actual band.

Sloan and Barri found a bunch of San Francisco blues guys called the Bedouins, who briefly became Version 1 of the Grass Roots.  The Bedouins lead singer, Bill Fulton recorded a new vocal over the backing tracks laid down for the P.F. Sloan version of the song.  The Bedouins performed on the 1966 debut album, mostly with studio musicians, but they weren’t happy with the style of music or the lack of creative input that they were given, so it was inevitable they would not last and eventually they went back to San Francisco to re-form as The Unquenchable Thirst.

Sloan and Barri looked for Version 2 of the Grass Roots and found it in a demo tape of a band called the 13th Floor.  This version 2 group consisted of Rob Grill (vocals, bass), Warren Entner (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Creed Bratton (lead guitar) and Rick Coonce (drums) and these guys became the Grass Roots that pop fans know and love.  The group’s members were never close to being recognizable, and their in-house songwriting was next to irrelevant, however the Grass Roots managed to chart fourteen US Top 40 hits, including seven Gold singles and one Platinum single, as well as two hits collections that effortlessly went Gold.  The Grass Roots had a series of major hits, most notably ‘Let’s Live for Today’, ‘Midnight Confessions’ and ‘Temptation Eyes’ and the Grass Roots set a record for being on the Billboard charts 307 straight weeks.  They are one of only nine bands that have charted twenty nine or more Top 100 Billboard singles.  They set an all-time attendance record for a one act U.S. concert of 600,000 people on July 4th, 1982 in Washington, DC.  Over the course of their career, The Grass Roots sold over 20 million records worldwide and they were awarded two Gold albums, one Gold single and charted a total of twenty-one times.

Eleven months after their hit ‘Let’s Live for Today’ was recorded the group had another chart entry, and during that period when their third album Feelings failed to sell, Sloan and Barri’s partnership broke up, with Sloan departing for New York in an attempt at a performing career of his own.  The band even considered splitting up as all of this was happening.  The Grass Roots did return to the charts in the late Fall of 1968, (with Barri producing), and it was a triumphant one, where ‘Midnight Confessions’ reached #5 on the US charts and earned a Gold record.  In April of 1969, Creed Bratton left the band, to be replaced by Denny Provisor on keyboards and Terry Furlong on lead guitar.  Now a quintet, The Grass Roots went on cutting records without breaking stride, enjoying a string of Top 40 hits that ran into the early ‘70s, including, ‘Baby Hold On’ (#38), ‘The River Is Wide’ (#31), ‘Heaven Knows’ (#24), ‘Temptation Eyes’ at (#15) and the song that I am writing about today, ‘I’d Wait A Million Years’ (#15), which was released in 1969 and written by Gary Zekley and Mitchell Bottler.

The Grass Roots went through several more personnel changes and eventually the group became a 60s nostalgia act, touring with other 1960s groups like The Turtles, Gary Lewis & the Playboys, The Buckinghams, The Monkees, Gary Puckett and Herman’s Hermits.  The Grass Roots were much more than a burble, they were a real fixture on the airwaves and they had a regular presence on American Bandstand.  Rob Grill the long time lead singer and a very nearly original member of the group played with the Grass Roots for more than four decades.  In 2011, Grill died in Tavares, Fla. at the age of 67.

The song writing team of Zekley and Bottler also wrote ‘The Grooviest Girl in the World’ which was done by The Fun and Games, ‘Hallelujah’ by Sweathog, ‘Sooner or Later’ by The Grass Roots, ‘I Can’t Break Away’ by Chuck Jackson, ‘La-La-Love Chains’ by Silver, Platinum and Gold, ‘Saturday Night, Sunday Morning’ by Thelma Houston, ‘Quick Slick’ by Syreeta and ‘Superman’ first recorded by The Clique, but made more famous by R.E.M.  In late 1966 when Dean Torrence (of Jan & Dean) needed some songs for a new album, he enlisted the help of Gary Zekley, and one of the songs that he gave Torrence was called ‘Yellow Balloon’.

This song is a jovial tale of a man who would do a million things in order to win the heart of a certain girl.  He is desperately longing for this girl and he is willing to wait a million years, walk a million miles, cry a million tears, swim the deepest sea, climb the highest hill, just to have her near him.  He will swallow the pain and pride, while pacing the floor, with sweat pouring down his chest, as he can’t hide all that he feels inside.

All of the lonely nights
Waiting for you to come, longing to hold you tight
I need you so desperately
Waiting for you to come bringing your love to me [but]
I’d wait a million years
Walk a million miles, cry a million tears
I’d swim the deepest sea
Climb the highest hill, just to have you near me
As love is reality
When you are near to me, I am in ecstacy
I’d swallow the pain and pride
Baby, I just can’t hide all that I feel inside [and]
I’d wait a million years
Walk a million miles, cry a million tears
I’d swim the deepest sea
Climb the highest hill, just to have you near me
A million years, I would wait for you
A million tears, baby I’d be true
A million miles, I would follow you
A million years, if you want me to
Pacing the floor, detest
Sweat pouring down my chest, still I can’t love you less
It’s worth all the pain and pride
Baby, I just can’t hide all that I feel inside [and]
I’d wait a million years
Walk a million miles, cry a million tears
I’d swim the deepest sea
Climb the highest hill, just to have you near me

Written for Daily Addictions prompt – Inevitable, for FOWC with Fandango – Illusion, for Ragtag Community – Burble, for Scotts Daily Prompt – Committee and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Jovial.