Got The Fever

Saturday, January 17, 2009

What I Listened to in the 70’s: Part I

To anyone who has read a little bit of this blog they certainly can testify that I’m usually all over the board when it comes to what I listen to. I know that a large part of that is certainly the influences of a few select eccentrics who have turned me on to their particular eclectic palate of musical artwork.

But, I do give a lion’s share of the influence to the medium that has long since past – the AM radio. More specifically, the radio of a time gone by before they all seem to zero in on a target range of listeners. I can’t, for the life of me, find a station that will play a soft rock, then a hard rock, then a pop, then a gospel influenced, then a prog rock, then a soul, then a show tune, then a funk beat, then a standard then a … you get the idea.

Stations now play only one genre of music for a narrow range of listeners. And I think we’re the worse for it. Listeners have lost the ability to be influenced by all styles of music and thus only have a small well from which to draw on. Because of this, when they hear the first measured strains of anything that is not within their experience of day to day listening, they tend to rapidly close out, shake their heads no and wrinkle up their nose.

But play for them an early release of something similar to the vein they’re stuck in and they pop up their forehead and ask, “Who’s that?” See, even on their own rabidly defended, obtuse station, they’ll never hear the templates for their music.

Which is why I’m very grateful indeed for the short time I had listening to stations that thrived with diversity. Though the selections I’m posting were by no means the central figure or the prototype of their genres, or even sparkling influences, they were part of the amalgam of the variety that helped shape my thirst for alternative expressions of music.

Pillow Talk
The wonderfully sultry whisper of physical and emotional love in the bedroom given without the dirty heel of gutter-banality that we find so common and normal today. I don’t believe that Sylvia had another hit, but then again, I always acquiesce to those who are more chart proficient than I am. The flowing strings, the lazy Sunday afternoon atmosphere and the soft snap of the high-hat all combine to make this selection a perfect prelude to soul style seduction.

Side trivia: she offered this to Al Green but he turned it down. She was also co-founder of Sugarhill records, them of Rapper’s Delight fame.

Ooh, I don't wanna see you be no fool
What I'm teachin' you tonight
Boy, you'll never learn it in school, oh, no
So friends who tell me wrong from right
I'll ask to borrow their pants some cold and lonely night

Ooh, hey, baby, let me be
The one who turns you on from A to Z, ha-ha
What you friends all say is fine
But it can't compete with this pillow talk of mine

I found an abbreviated performance version, from Soul Train, on YouTube.

What You Got
Right alongside some of the best rock pop, this will always hold on to me tightly. Effervescent and bright but with a heaping dose of true cracking rock this serves to slice me off a healthy portion of down and dirty pop.

The guitar fills between lines of lyrics and the choppy drum rolls have stuck to my gut long, long after Duke and The Drivers became a trivia answer. And upon repeated listening only solidify them as masterful in my mind. The a-capella portion toward the end (2’40”) reminds me of a pre Black Water. by the Doobie Brothers. Simply – a gem and a song I would have loved to see live at a dive bar!

Maybe it’s the things you do
That keeps me in love with you
It might be just the way you move
You sock it to me in the groove

One thing ‘s plain to see
You rally got a hold on me
What you got – sure looks good!

Never expecting it, I found a clip of Duke and The Drivers performing at the famed Boston Hatch Shell in 1993. Though you have to swallow a fair bit of embarrassing silliness, at about the 4’30” mark is What You Got. I was surprised and quite pleased to hear that they sound exactly the same! Not a small feat for any band!

I do sometimes bemoan the lack of diversity on the radio these days, and I certainly will not be dragged into listening to a genre centric radio station. However, even with PC’s and the availability of countless tracks online I wonder how radio was slowly cornered into a musical landscape devoid of choice.

A few hours after reading what I written above it occurred to me that the genre specific stations are also serving an audience that wants just that – only one type of music that thrills them to core – and I can’t blame them at all. Even I get carried away for a week or two at a time listening to only funk, only pop, only soul or only rock. So, maybe I’m self-debating much ado about nothing.

In any case, the tracks still stand on their own – enjoy!

Pillow Talk (1973)
Pillow Talk

Duke and The Drivers: What You Got (1974?)
From: (?)

Addendum: A huge hat’s off to reader Nate C. for hooking me up with the Duke and The Drivers track! I have been looking high and low for this for many moons (see What I’ve Been (Unsuccessfully) Looking For on the right hand column) and outta the blue, comes an email from N.Y.! Thanks Nate. Much appreciated.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Dave Clark Five

It’s amazing how time in the ER has the ability to force your head to turn around and refocus on the right priorities. You can almost hear the crackling and grinding of gears in your mind being cleared just as vividly as you could when you for instance work on taking a block of stone out of the middle of the wall it’s imbedded in – the cement being ground and dusted as the sharp chips fly about and the sandy, powdery residue falls and floats suspended in midair and the heavy feel of stone on stone as the block is being extracted.

Health, among other awakenings, has given me sharper clarity as to what needs to be further refined. It’s not that those subjects of importance were ever on the back burner – far, far from the thought! But maybe it helps to ever urge and wedge them even further into a more consecrated space.

Awake alone, I was struck, yet again, with one of Cupid’s deepest arrows. Watching my youngest while she slept this morning, so serene, the picture of angelic innocence, flooded me with the crushing weight of the enormity of love and devotion I have as a parent. I was bolted with the realization that I will not ever have the capacity to give my heart so meaningfully and completely to another on Earth than I have to my children.

You can have your many undulations and interpretations that come with a multitude and history of significant others along with the requisite variations of ‘till death do us part’, but no such candle of devotion would ever be noticed in the glowing white universe of worship that encompasses the love for a child.

I imagine that any parent would tell you these same things.

From the day my oldest arrived to the homestead – from the DAY I say again, I was the one to put him into the crib after he fed. I would pick him up, cradle him to my shoulder and slowly, lethargically and purposely sway back and forth and hum this song. I hummed because I knew my deep hum would be comforting.

I hummed this every night – again, EVERY night until he was just shy of his eighteenth month birthday. That is something that no stellar award given to me thus far has ever been able to swell my head with as much accomplishment and pride as this has. I did the same to my next boy, and finally to my youngest – my daughter.

To this day, just before they fall asleep, I sit on their bed, one at a time, and sing/whisper this song to them. They know the routine – just at the last ‘Because, because …’, I stop(!) and they have to fill in the last ‘I-I love you’. Sometimes it takes longer than at other times, sometimes they smile and hold their breath as they tease me, and other times it’s as if they don’t want to be bothered, but I wait. And wait. And wait. Until they fill in the last ‘I love you.’ Meaningful nighttime routine I hope they will always remember.

As for the DC5? This certainly was a hit, but not one that you hear often. Most times we hear Glad All Over, Catch Us If You Can and if we’re lucky, Bits And Pieces. But none are sweeter than this timeless piece of fidelity.

It's right that I should care about you
And try to make you happy when you're blue
It's right, it's right to feel the way I do
Because, because I love you

It's wrong to say I don't think of you
'Cause when you say these things
You know it makes me blue

Give me one kiss and I'll be happy
Just, just to be with you
Give me, give me, a chance to be near you
Because, because I love you

The Red Balloon
Well, talk about coincidence! I had visited various web sites this past week for appropriate movies for my kids to watch this weekend and one of the recommendations was for The Red Balloon! It could not happen so smoothly if I had planned it myself.

I don’t know much of the history or charting of this track, but I’m sure a few of you more knowledgeable bloggers will. I have never heard this on the radio, so I’m happy to place it here! Maybe a few of you have knowledge of hearing or enjoying this in it’s time?

In and out of the Red Balloon
Marry the farmers daughter, yeah
Sleepy heads in the afternoon
Callow la, callow la Vita

Well the old man passed me by
And he didn't hear me cry
I didn't know his name
And he didn't come again

The sun was coming out
And the kids began to shout
The dogs began to bark
In that lovely Paris park... OH!

I was turned on to the DC5 by an older music fan who inundated me with his complete album and single collection – a devout and rabit fan of all things DC5. It was he who told me that they were the rock band that had the most appearances on the Ed Sullivan show!

I remember being on the high school track team and waiting on the field for the opposing team. We could see their bus, but no one came out for quite a while. After a bit, we heard, blaring from an amazing portable PA system that they had mounted next to their bus, Catch Us If You Can. Then, the all filed out, one at at time, and ran around the track until the end of the DC5 track. An inspiring entrance if there ever was one.

Even today, I can with glee break out the soundtrack to Having A Wild Weekend and froth myself up! As for the little ones (not so little anymore)? As soon as this blog is published, we’re going to watch The Red Baloon and enjoy the rest of the day just messing around.

Dave Clark Five: Because
Dave Clark Five: The Red Balloon
From: Glad All Over Again

Just happened to peruse and found this on YouTube: