Monday, February 28, 2011

"Three Inch Tool" by Bob Rivers.

OK, naughty, naughty (couldn't help myself!): Popular Seattle radio personality Bob Rivers parodied Hootie & The Blowfish's '95 #6 hit "Only Wanna Be With You" as part of his "Twisted Tunes" series on KISW. A sad tale about a man's "shortcomings". Parody song?

Little me, my nuts are as small as pearls,
You like to laugh at me because I'm hung just like a squirrel.
Sometimes it bugs me, I'm not a bigger guy,
When I was a baby it was exactly the same size.
But there's nothing I can do, cause I only got a 3 inch tool.

Come home with me, have a cocktail at my place,
I gotta tell you before we get past 2nd base.
In my pants, ain't no big schwing,
But if you can find him he's a friendly little thing.
But there's nothing I can do,I only got a 3 inch tool.
When I'm coming outta the pool, I only got a 1 inch tool.

Sometimes I wonder if it'll ever extend,
I get embarrassed when I'm hangin' with my friends.
They like to razz me, I don't know why.
They get me a Happy Meal and super-size my fries.
There's nothing I can do, I only got a 3 inch tool.
And when I'm coming outta the pool, I only got a 1 inch tool.
Yea, it's small but it's real cool, I'm happy with a 3 inch tool!
I only got a 3 inch tool!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

"Something In The Way She Moves" by James Taylor.

OK, back to the 60's: The first single off this singer/songwriter's '68 self-titled debut album on the Apple label inspired George Harrison to write one of this best-loved tunes in '69. He originally titled it "I Feel Fine" only to find out that that appellation had already been "taken" by The Beatles. First non-British artist to record on Apple Records. To this day it remains a mystery as to the muse for the tune. Covered by Tom Rush in '68 on his "The Circle Game" album. Artist? Song?

Yesterday's answer: Elizabeth "Libba" Cotten's "Freight Train". "Libba" Cotten's original lyrics ask for her to be buried at the end of Chestnut Street - PP&M changed it to Bleecker Street. I've always admired left-handed guitarists who play "upside-down", strung right-handed. Always the same story - grew up in a household with only one guitar and, of course, the owner wouldn't allow it to be strung left-handed.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

"Freight Train" by Elizabeth "Libba" Cotten.

OK, more traditional folk: This North Carolina native taught herself to play on her brother's guitar left-handed and "upside-down". At age 12 in 1907 she wrote her best-known tune inspired by the railroads rolling by her town. A folk classic, it was first recorded by Ramblin' Jack Elliott in '57 and by Mike Seeger, for whom she used to work as a housekeeper, in '58. She won a Grammy at age 93! Popularized during the 60's folk revival - famously covered by Peter, Paul and Mary. Artist? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "Chapel of Love" by The Dixie Cups. For some reason it just doesn't sound anywhere nearly as good when guys sing it - definitely a girls group song. Wha' happened to Phil Spector???!!!

"Chapel Of Love" by The Dixie Cups.

OK, back to the 60's: This New Orleans-based girl trio started out as Little Miss and The Muffets only to be soon renamed The Meltones. Their name was once again changed in '64 shortly before recording their first and biggest hit. A Barry/Green/Spector composition previously recorded by The Ronettes and The Blossoms, it topped the charts for 3 weeks, sold over one million copies and was awarded a Gold Disc. The first recording ever under Leiber and Stoller's brand-new Red Bird label. Happiness and anticipation on a girl's wedding day. #279 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. Covered by Bette Midler, The Beach Boys and Sir Elton John. Featured on the "Father Of The Bride" soundtrack. Trio? Song? (Para credito extra: Como se llamaba la version de Lucecita del '65?)

Yesterday's answer: "Islands In The Stream" by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. I actually like the Bee Gees' version better. (Man, Kenny Rogers is looking BAD these days - too much "work"!)

"Islands In The Stream" by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton.

OK, back to the 80's: Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb penned this '83 classic as an R&B tune for Marvin Gaye, who never recorded it. Inspired by a '50 Hemingway "sea chase" story published posthumously in '70. An '83 duet became the Song Of The Year, went Platinum, won the '85 AMA for Favorite Country Single and in '05 was named by CMT "The Best Country Duet Of All Time". Included in The Bee Gees' '98 "One Night Only" live video and album. The brothers Gibb have had at least one #1 hit in EVERY decade from the 60's to the 00's (!). Duo? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "The Last Time I Felt Like This". Beautiful tune!
Double-knit polyester lives on!!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"The Last Time I Felt Like This"

OK, back to the 70's: This '78 Hamlisch/Bergman/Bergman romantic ballad was recorded by Johnny Mathis and Jane Olivor as the theme to "Same Time Next Year" starring Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn. Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated for Best Original Song in '79. Mathis and Olivor performed it during the Oscar ceremony.

Yesterday's answer: "Misty". As a "picker" (in more ways than one!) I LOVE Ray Stevens' version the best.


OK, back to the 50's: This '54 Erroll Garner/Johnny Burke jazz ballad became Johnny Mathis' signature song after peaking at #12 in '59. BOTH Garner's instrumental version and Mathis' sublime vocal rendition have been inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame. Ray Stevens' '75 Country cover won a Grammy for Best Musical Arrangement. It figures prominently in a '71 Clint Eastwood movie.

Yesterday's answer: "Pipeline" by The Chantays. Another one of those "tests of manhood" in high school - you HAD to be able to play "Pipeline" note-by-note to be worth anything as a guitar player.

"Las Cosas Del Amor" por Leonardo Favio.

OKEY, para credito extra - llenen los blancos:

" ella dice que Los Bee Gees, yo digo __________,

si ella dice que Los Beatles, yo digo ______________."

Respuesta: "... The Tremeloes"... "...The Rolling Stones" Leonardo Favio - "Ding Dong, Las Cosas del Amor". " ella dice mejor Favio yo digo Palito Ortega"!

Monday, February 21, 2011

"Pipeline" by The Chantays.

OK, more 60's one-hit wonders: The only hit for this Santa Ana, CA surf band came in '63 with a Carman/Spickard composition originally titled "Liberty's Whip". They changed the song's name after watching "The Endless Summer". A surf rock classic, it peaked at #4. Its distinct sound is achieved by "upside down" mixing - the rhythm guitar and bass are up front whereas the lead guitar, electric keyboard and drums are in the background. Band? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "The Immigrant". Part of Neil's "return" in the 70's. A little pitch for him - one of my all-time faves. He's STILL not in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. Here's the link to sign the petition.

"The Immigrant" by Neil Sedaka.

OK, back to the 70's: This touching '74 Neil Sedaka/Phil Cody composition is arguably Sedaka's most socially conscious song. It peaked at #22. Dedicated to John Lennon as a protest against the U.S. government's refusal to grant him permanent resident status. It recalls with nostalgia the bygone era when America was welcoming of incomers.

Yesterday's answer: "That's How Strong My Love Is". How do you top "Out Of Our Heads"?! Every single song is dynamite - no fillers there!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

"That's How Strong My Love Is"

OK, back to the 60's: Memphis-based sickle-cell disease researcher and gospel composer Roosevelt Jamison penned this soulful love ballad in '64. First recorded by O.V. Wright. Otis Redding's version peaked at #74 in '65 and it was also covered by The Rolling Stones that same year. In exchange, Redding covered The Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction".

Yesterday's answer: "Lonely Teardrops" by Jackie Wilson. Was he cool or what? AND he COULD dance - SMOOTH!!!

"Lonely Teardrops" by Jackie Wilson.

OK, let's stay in the 50's: This 1958 Gordy/Gordy/Davis R&B classic was first recorded by Detroit native "Mr. Excitement" in '59. It topped the R&B/Soul charts and peaked at #7 on Billboard's Hot 100. Inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame and is ranked #308 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. In Sept. '75, while performing at the Latin Casino in NJ, the artist suffered a stroke and collapsed on stage as he sang this song right after delivering " heart is crying.". Song? Artist?

Yesterday's answer: "Tears On My Pillow" by Little Anthony and The Imperials. Originally The Imperials, Alan Freed dubbed them Little Anthony and The Imperials while introducing this song on the airwaves. We saw Sha Na Na doing it live at the Valley Forge Music Fair years ago (Andy Kaufman was their opening act!).

"Tears On My Pillow" by Little Anthony and The Imperials.

OK, back to the 50's: This Brooklyn-based R&B/doo-wop group was formed in '57 by former members of The Chesters and The Duponts. Their original name was changed by Alan Freed to include the lead singer's nickname. Their first recording under their new name came in '58 with a Bradford/Lewis composition. An instant hit, it peaked at #4, was their first million-seller and is considered a doo-wop classic. Covered by Sha Na Na in "Grease" and Kylie Minogue's version was an international hit in '89/'90. Group? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "Journey To The Center Of Your Mind" by The Amboy Dukes. Check out the video if you ever wondered where Austin Powers got his outfit - GROOVY, YEAH, BABY, YEAH!!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"Journey To The Center Of The Mind" by The Amboy Dukes.

OK, more 60's one-hit wonders: This Chicago-born and Detroit-based band launched Ted Nugent's career. Their one hit (#16), their second single, was written by rhythm guitarist Steve Farmer. Ironic, as it is overtly psychedelic/acid rock and Nugent has always been an ardent anti-drug campaigner. The band's name comes from an Irving Shulman novel. Band? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "The Bunny Hop". Flip side: "The Hokey Pokey". Of course now with CD's and iTunes there's no "flip-side" or "Side A/B"! (Se recuerdan de Papa Candito tocando el "Bunny Hop"?)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"The Bunny Hop"

OK, back to the 50's: This 1952 dance craze originated at Balboa High School in San Francisco. A novelty dance classic, it features a conga-style line loosely based upon the 19th century Finnish "Jenka" and/or the German "Schottische" or "Rhinelander". First recorded by Ray Anthony and His Orchestra with vocals by JoAnn Greer and The Skyliners. Song? For extra credit name the flip-side.

Yesterday's answer: "What's Your Name" by Don and Juan. Love the harmonies. On my Bucket List: Attend the annual Brooklyn Doo-Wop Reunion.

Monday, February 14, 2011

"What's Your Name?" by Don and Juan.

OK, more 60's one-hit wonders: Roland Trone and Claude (C.J.) Johnson made up this Brooklyn-based R&B doo-wop duo whose only hit only hit came in 1962 with a Johnson composition. It is considered a doo-wop classic and was recently inducted into the Doo-Wop Hall Of Fame. Peaked at #7 in '62. Part of the "Flipped" soundtrack (2010). Song? Duo's name?

Yesterday's answer: "I'll Be True To You" by The Monkees. Davy Jones at his best. Not one of their biggest hits but I always loved that tune. A band from San Juan, The Wellingtons, used to do a great cover (quien se acuerda?).
And, of course, for a double-dose of Davy Jones there's always "I Wanna Be Free" from the same album.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

"My Little Town" by Simon and Garfunkel.

OK, back to the 70's: This poignant '75 Paul Simon composition reunited him with Art Garfunkel in the recording studio for the first time since their breakup in 1970. Debuted during the 2nd episode of SNL which Simon hosted with Garfunkel as a guest. Appeared on each of the artists' solo albums from that year. Paul wrote the tune "for Artie" about his strict Jewish upbringing and his desire to leave his birthplace as a "nasty song because he had been singing too many sweet songs". Art plays the piano at the beginning and there are no solos - all two-part harmonies. Peaked at #9.

Comment: One of my greatest musical memories was seeing S&G live in St. Paul a few years ago. Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, they bring the Everly Brothers onstage and do 4 songs together - INCREDIBLE!!!

Comment from Dr. Dan Rogers:
‎"Poignant:" what an interesting word You know, don't you, that it is derived from a rather sad (thus the modern usage of the word) French fairy tale. The first part of the word comes from the French "pois" (pronounced pwah) or pea; natu...rally, we have changed the pronunciation to sound like the Hawaiian word for lutefisk. Anyway, the story is about a small sand fly, a gnat, which was the insect that pollinates all French pois verts. This gnat (thus pois + gnat = poignant) was a real fan of round, plump behinds of the girl bugs, so when it saw the shape of a pea in one of the pods he became smitten! Just hung around that round shape and ignored the alluring girl gnats. When the pea shrivelled and fell to the ground, our little gnat was heartbroken, devastated, and himself wasted away. This tragic folk tale has come, in French Valentine's Day tradition, to represent the feeling of deep loss and sadness that comes from having your Valentine card rejected by one's love. It is also the reason why the French never, ever eat green pea soup on Valentine's Day, although the British do.

"I'll Be True To You" by The Monkees.

OK, back to the 60's: This Gerry Goffin/Russ Titelman ballad was first recorded by The Hollies in '64 as "Yes I Will", peaking at #9 in the UK in '65. The Monkees covered it in '66 on their self-titled debut album under a different title with altered lyrics. Song?

Yesterday's answer: "Black Water" by the Doobie Brothers. "What A Fool Believes" was written by Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins. Great memories from Phi Chi Medical Fraternity in '75 - seems like every stereo in the house was playing "Black Water" simultaneously!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

"Black Water" by The Doobie Brothers.

OK, back to the 70's: The 1st #1 single for this San Jose, CA band came in '75 with a Louisiana-swamp roots rock tune penned, played and sung by Patrick Simmons, their lead guitarist. Inspired by Mark Twain's writings about the Mighty Mississippi. KILLER fiddle work and a cap(p)ella vocals. Curiously, neither one of the band's two #1 hits in the 70's was written or sung by Tom Johnston, their lead vocalist and main songwriter. Band? Song? For extra credit name their other #1 hit from the 70's.

Yesterday's answer: "He Thinks He'll Keep Her" by Mary Chapin Carpenter. Powerful tune! Check out MCC's little Rickenbacker and John Jennings' KILLER guitar work.

"He Thinks He'll Keep Her" by Mary Chapin Carpenter.

OK, more Country: This singer/songwriter's 1st #1 Country hit was a collaboration with Don Schlitz inspired by a 70's Geritol TV commercial in which a husband extols his wife's energy, attributes and accomplishments. A 36 year-old homemaker who has dedicated her life to her husband and children decides to do something for herself. Grammy-nominated for Record Of The Year in '93. The video is a live performance from a "Women Of Country" special with backup vocals from Emmylou Harris, Kathy Mattea, Patty Loveless, Trisha Yearwood, Suzy Bogguss and Pam Tillis (man, with that backup even I would sound good!). HUGE standing "O" when she did it at the Grammys. Artist? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "I Remember You" by Frank Ifield. Great voice!

Friday, February 11, 2011

"I Remember You" by Frank Ifield.

OK, more 60's one-hit wonders: Born in England and raised in Australia, this country/pop crooner's one hit came in '62 with a cover of a 1941 Schertzinger/Mercer composition. He taught himself yodeling and falsetto by listening to Hank Snow. The song made its debut in the 1942 movie "The Fleet's In" sung by Dorothy Lamour backed by the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra. The '62 version topped the charts in the UK and peaked at #5 in the US. Covered by Slim Whitman, Nat "King" Cole and even the early Beatles. Johnny Mercer dedicated the song to Judy Garland, with whom he had an on-and-off relationship even though both of them were married - “I wrote it for Judy Garland. I always had such a crush on Garland I couldn't think straight, so I wrote this song.” Artist? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "Anthem" by Leonard Cohen. The word "genius' falls short when describing Leonard Cohen."Ring the bells that still can ring, Forget your perfect offering, There is a crack, a crack in everything, That's how the light gets in." Pure delight in Cohen's face from backstage as he proudly listens to his "angels" Julie and Perla sing his opus.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Anthem" by Leonard Cohen.

OK, back to The Man: The centerpiece of Leonard Cohen's 1992 "The Future" is a profoundly moving song of hope - acutely aware of flaws and that perfection does not exist. It traces the cycle of decay and regeneration. We learn to appreciate the good that rises from adversity. Featured in the "Natural Born Killers" soundtrack. In the 2006 Cohen tribute "I'm Your Man" his "angels", Julie Christensen and Perla Batalla, perform a masterful version for the ages.

Yesterday's answer: "Black Denim Trousers (And Motorcycle Boots)" by the Cheers. Another one of those I grew up listening to when my Dad used to play it on the hi-fi. Nothing like a good old teenage tragedy song!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"Black Denim Trousers (And Motorcycle Boots)" by The Cheers.

OK, more 50's one-hit wonders: The only hit (#6) for this L.A.-based trio came in '55 with a Leiber & Stoller teen tragedy song about a biker and his girlfriend Mary Lou who pled with him not to go riding on a fateful night. It was the first motorcycle tune to chart and credited as being the first "biker song". Chanteuse Edith Piaf covered it in French ('56) as "L'Homme A La Moto".
Group? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "Chimes Of Freedom". A classic! To this day (since '65!) it is absolutely impossible for me (or any other Byrds nut!) to sit down with a 12-string and not play "Chimes Of Freedom".

"Chimes Of Freedom"

OK, more jingle-jangle: This 1964 Dylan opus was heavily influenced by Rimbaud's poetry and was called by Paul Williams "Dylan's Sermon On The Mount". It expresses his solidarity with the downtrodden and the oppressed as he and his companion watch a thunderstorm from shelter. It marks Dylan's transition from his "protest" period to a "born-again pacifist moral poet". The Byrds' ethereal version on their first studio album adds another layer of meaning as McGuinn's 12-string Rickenbacker's sound evokes the song title.

Yesterday's answer: "I've Never Been To Me" by Charlene. No idea what made me think of that song yesterday - I had not heard it in eons. Big hair 80's!

Monday, February 7, 2011

"I've Never Been To Me" by Charlene.

OK, more 80's one-hit wonders: Ron Miller and Ken Hirsch wrote this ballad in '76 from the male perspective. Miller then rewrote it for a female Motown singer who released it in '77, peaking at #97. It was re-released in '82 with an expanded spoken bridge reaching #3 in the US and topping the charts in the UK. #75 on VH1's 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders. A woman is at a point in her life where she wishes she would have taken the time to lead a "normal" life instead of the life of excitement and luxury she chose. Throughout the song the singer is "talking" to an old school friend. It is rumored that it is about and "from the eyes of" actress Natalie Wood. Singer? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "Playboy" by Gene and Debbe. Gotta love ol' Hef! About being engaged to a 24 year-old he told his doctor: "If she dies, she dies".

"Sin Ella" por Jose Jose.

Okey, una en espa~ol (facilita!): Quen compuso la version original del exito "Sin Ella" de Jose Jose (1969)?

Respuesta: Harry Nilsson "Without Her".

Sunday, February 6, 2011

"Playboy" by Gene and Debbe.

OK, more 60's one-hit wonders: Singer/songwriter Gene Thomas met young vocalist Debbe Neville in Nashville. They were signed by Acuff-Rose Music to record under the TRX label. Their one hit was a '68 Thomas composition that sold over a million copies, was awarded a Gold Record and peaked at #18. Very pleasant pop/country harmonies.

Yesterday's answer: "Doctor Robert". Love George's double-tracked guitar work. Some thought it was about "Speed Doctor" Robert Freymann, others believed it was about an unnamed dentist who introduced them to LSD. Gallery owner Robert Fraser was another theory and last ...but not least Bob Dylan (Robert Zimmerman) who first exposed the blokes to marijuana. Now we know it was John himself!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

"Doctor Robert" by The Beatles.

OK, more Fabness: This 1966 Lennon tune from "Yesterday And Today" was his FIRST composition in no uncertain terms about drugs. Theories abound as to the inspiration for the title from a British dentist to an art dealer to an NYC physician to Bob Dylan. Eventually John was quoted as saying: "...was another of mine. Mainly about drugs and pills. It was about myself: I was the one that carried all the pills on tour and always have done. Well, in the early days. Later on the roadies did it, and we just kept them in our pockets loose, in case of trouble."

Yesterday's answer: "Beach Baby" by The First Class. Extra credit: "Tossing and Turning". A little bubblegummy but I always liked "Beach Baby".

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"Beach Baby" by The First Class.

OK, more 70's one-hit wonders: Husband-and-wife singer/songwriter duo Carter/Shakespeare wrote their major hit in '74 in southwest London far away from any shore. They recruited lead vocalist Tony Burrows ("Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)", "Gimme Dat Ding", "United We Stand") and Chas Miller to form a pop studio-based group. Riding the wave of 60's nostalgia and with Brian Wilson-esque rich harmonies, it peaked at #4 in the US and at #13 in the UK. Group? Song? For extra credit, name Carter's 1965 hit.

Yesterday's answer: "Suite No. 1 for Unaccompanied Cello" by J. S. Bach. Years ago my father and I had the honor of meeting Don Pablo Casals accompanied by the then Governor of P.R., Don Luis A. Ferre at a concert at the Conservatory of Music. I still have his autograph.

"Suite No. 1 for Unaccompanied Cello" by J. S. Bach.

OK, more Baroque: A 13 year-old Pablo Casals (Pau Casals i Defillo) was rummaging through a thrift shop in Barcelona in 1889 when he "discovered" a copy of the Grutzmacher edition of the 6 J. S. Bach Cello Suites. Written in Cothen (where he was choirmaster) between 1717 and 1723, they were virtually forgotten until Casals recorded all 6 at age 48 between 1924 and 1925. His re-recordings between '36 and '39 are perhaps his best-known and most cherished works. The Prelude of one of the Suites with its familiar arpeggiated chords has become very popular in TV and film, having been featured in an American Express TV ad and in "The Killing Box", "Lost And Found", "Master And Commander", "Hilary And Jackie", "You Can Count On Me" and recently on HBO's "You Don't Know Jack". Suite?

Yesterday's answer: "TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)" by MFSB. I used to live a few blocks away from the studio in Philly - interesting characters coming in and out! Sigma Sound Studio - 212 N. 12th St. in Philly.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)" by MFSB.

OK, more 70's one-hit wonders: This '74 Gamble/Huff composition was THE first Disco number to top the Billboard Hot 100 charts (released 3 months before The Hues Corporation's "Rock the Boat"). Written to replace King Curtis' "Hot Potatoes" as the "Soul Train" theme. Mostly instrumental, the few vocals came from The Three Degrees, whom later on that year charted with "When Will I See You Again?". Won a Grammy for Best R&B Instrumental Performance in '74. Still played before every ballgame at the Citizen Bank Park. Song? Group? For extra credit, what does the name of the group mean?

Yesterday's answer: "Here Comes The Sun" by The Beatles. I remember hearing it for the first time - liked it instantly. Didn't take very long for my dear friend Ralph Yunque to figure out that "the secret" was to capo up 7.