I was watching TV this week, and the song Happy Together by the Turtles came on at the end of the show. I hadn't heard that song in a long while, but I've always loved it. Not only is it a good tune, but it brings with it a lot of happy memories for me. You see, I have 4 older siblings, and like baby boomers everywhere, they fully embraced the pop culture that tore through the country in the Vietnam era. In other words, the radio or records were always on, and as a little kid, I was exposed to a lot of music at a precocious age. One of those songs was Happy Together.
Wow, what a song! And those are some snappy clothes, right? I dress like that on casual Fridays at the office. That song got me thinking about some other tunes that my older siblings turned me on to during my kindergarten era. I remember in the pre-FM high fidelity days that AM radio was the bomb, and that we were always wanting to hear the latest from WEAM or WPGC. Does anyone remember the Buckinghams? Man, I thought they were a huge band at the time because their songs were played on the radio! And then they played live at my sister's high school. Looking back, I now realize that they were 3 hit wonders trying to catch it big - but playing high school gyms was their reality, and they faded fast. Nonetheless, I'll never forget this poppy hit:
That album cover with the Union cavalry uniforms lived in our house for years. I wonder who has it now? At least they were smart enough to use Union duds. Ask Skynyrd how they feel now about that freakin' confederate flag hanging in the background of many of their shows from the 70s.
Moving on, I loved a song by the McCoys, a band that featured a very young guitar whiz named Rick Derringer. Many years later, I would see Mr. Derringer open for Peter Frampton at the Capital Centre and play both this classic as well his other big hit, Rock 'n' Roll Hoochie Coo. It was a night I'll always remember - the Frampton show was the closest thing that I've ever seen to Beatlemania. I screamed at an amazingly high pitch for hours before I finally feinted!
The Young Rascals put out a tune that was super popular in my house. It features an accordion in the background, which must have been a transitional instrument from Edith Piaf singles circa WW2 to the modern rock sound. I've never checked on that "fact" but it sounded good as I thought of it, so there it is. My inspiration for that riff? Take a look at the picture of the band below and tell me that the guy on the far right doesn't look exactly like Cliff Claven from Cheers. That explains why I went with the Edith Piaf to rock 'n' roll b.s. line above - it just seemed so factual. Regardless, I loved the song, still do, and remain a fan of the accordion to this day.
The Box Tops had a huge hit with The Letter. It was mega-big in my house, too. Yes, that is a very hoarse Alex Chilton on lead vocals. For a guy that put out such great music later, it must have been frustrating that this was his biggest hit. It's a great song, however, and the royalties probably had him living large in Memphis for years.
I finally developed my own tastes in music. At the ripe age of 6, I was given a 45 for my birthday that featured my favorite song at the time, Carrie Anne by the Hollies. And sometime that year, I purchased my very own 45 with my very own money, whatever that means at that age. Want to hear it? It's by the Human Beinz out of Youngstown, Ohio. And you know what? This song still kicks butt!
Eventually, I grew a bit bigger, and shared a room with my two older brothers. I've revisited that charming House of Horrors many times with my shrink, haha, but it was also a springboard to more great music. We had one of those "close 'n play" kind of record players (you know, the ones that you taped pennies to the arm so that the needle would press down and continue to play the records), and we would listen to music as we fell asleep. What did we listen to? All kinds of stuff that doesn't seem likely to make you drowsy: Steppenwolf, The Who, The Beatles, The Kinks, Iron Butterfly, the Woodstock album, etc. And then an album by a band called Black Sabbath showed up, and Ozzie gently sang us to sleep with tunes like this:
Hey, wake up! Hahaha, how in the heck did that ever put kids to sleep? And what were my parents thinking? Oh, I know the answer to that second question: "The kids are in bed, finally!" Yeah, that must have been it.
Hey, this has been fun. Sometimes when you think back or bump into an old friend, you kind of feel young again. John Hiatt wrote a song about this that is sweet and full of reminiscences. And there's even a picture of an accordion in the video!
And with that, I'm outta here. But I'll be back with my review of Netflix's Springsteen on Broadway. You won't want to miss that. And I'm plotting my 2019 live music course right now, and have lots lined up. I'll be sure to post on those shows for your entertainment. Better yet, why don't you swing by and we'll go see a show together? It's a nice thought. See ya.
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.