Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Forgotten Music

Music and I go back a long way together.

It got somehow wired into me at a very early age and I've been expanding the circuits ever since.  I can remember--at age 4--lying next to the huge Grundig-Majestic Hi-Fi (that's Hi-Fi, NOT Wi-Fi!) in our dining room and listening to my parents' small collection of 78-rpm records.

I wonder how many of you are wondering: What's a 78-RPM record?  What's a Hi-Fi?  And what the hell is a Grundig-Majestic?   

Does anybody remember Arthur Godfrey's The Man With The Weird Beard?  Or (with all due apologies to my Native American readers) Heap Big Smoke But No Fire?

I do.

Or Rosemary Clooney's Half As Much?  Or Come On-A My House?  Or Patti Page's How Much is That Doggie In The Window?  Or Sammy Kaye's In The Mission of Saint Augustine

I do.

The advent of the 45-rpm record cemented my lifelong love affair with music and I've never looked back.

I know: What's a 45-RPM Record?

Google it; and if you must ask what Google is, I welcome you to the 19th Century.

I cut my musical teeth throughout the 1950s, '60s, and '70s.  In particular, the '70s were--IMHO--the zenith of rock and pop music.  It was such a musically diverse era; it literally had something for everyone.

It was the era of the singer/songwriter.  If you could write a hooky chorus, could carry a tune across the room, and play a guitar or piano reasonably well (and if you couldn't, you simply teamed up with a good sideman), you had a fighting chance of making it big on the Billboard chart.  Crooners like Lionel Ritchie, Neil Diamond, Billy Joel, and Barry Manilow filled with AM airwaves with their smooth, lavishly-produced sounds.  For those who preferred their music with an edge, Jim Morrison, Jim Croce, Lou Reed, Sly Stone, and Alice Cooper were right at home in the Baddest Part of Town.  Troubadours like Gordon Lightfoot, James Taylor, Lobo, Bobby Goldsboro, and Roger Whittaker lulled us into the comforting belief that the music would go on forever.

Women of talent added their tracks as well, showcasing the considerable skills of Carole King, Melissa Manchester, Janis Ian, Carol Bayer Sager, Janis Joplin, Carly Simon, and Helen Reddy. 

Then there were the duos: Air Supply, the Carpenters, Loggins and Messina, the Captain and Tennille, Seals and Crofts, Sonny and Cher, England Dan and John Ford Coley, and Hall and Oates proved that two talents were indeed better than one.

Let's not forget the groups.  Oh, those awesome (or should I say Groovy) groups: The Mamas and The Papas, Cryan Shames, Buckinghams, Lovin' Spoonful, Association, Cyrkle, Ides of March, Hollies, Kinks, Zombies, Turtles, Grass Roots, Rascals, the Stones, Monkees ... and those 4 guys from Liverpool.

The Beatles were the only group in the history of the world to be banned outright from my house.  Why?  Because my father despised them with every ounce of his strength.  I was told in no uncertain terms that their records were not allowed in the house and that I was forbidden to listen to that s***.

Naturally, I obeyed ... for about four hours.  That's approximately how long it took for me to run out to my favorite stereo store and purchase my first pair of stereo headphones.

Yeah, I defied him.  Yeah, I disobeyed.  Mea Culpa.  Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.  Long live the Fab Four.  Heh heh.

Finally, for those whose tastes tended to run orchestral (and mine still do on occasion), the iconic Percy Faith took contemporary music to an entirely different level, executing his intricately-layered arrangements through the skillful interweaving of lush strings, full brass, horn, and woodwind sections, and tightly-harmonized voices.

There was indeed something for everyone during those halcyon days.

But, as with all good things, that golden era came to a crashing end beneath the tsunami wave known as disco.  The chart-topping artists I'd spent hours listening to were shamefully relegated to the music stores' discount racks or to the anthology sections.  The lesser beings sadly took their rest in music's graveyard.

Let's take a moment to pay our respects to some of those musical memories.  Some were moderate hits here in the U.S.; some never enjoyed the glare of the spotlights, the deafening roar of applause, or the approbation of the sales charts; some were rough, early creative efforts; some were intended to be nothing more than album "filler" tracks; some were hits in other markets; some were tracks that simply never caught on with record-buyers.  But I've found them to be tiny nuggets of listening pleasure nonetheless.  They, too, deserve to be enjoyed and remembered.

Here's a sampling of some of my favorite forgotten tracks.  How many do YOU recognize or remember?:

  1. Summer Sun by Jamestown Massacre.
  2. Take Me In Your Arms by Jefferson.
  3. Tomorrow Is The First Day of the Rest of My Life by Lana Cantrell.
  4. It's Only Make Believe by Wind.
  5. If You Remember Me by Chris Thompson.
  6. Hello Out There by Nick Noble.
  7. King of Nothing by Seals and Crofts.
  8. Mornin' Beautiful by Tony Orlando and Dawn.
  9. San Francisco Is A Lonely Town by Glen Campbell.
  10. Don't Give Up by Petula Clark.

Some of these can still be found on YouTube and elsewhere on the Internet.  If you have a few moments and are so inclined, try giving them a listen.  You might be pleasantly surprised at some of these forgotten musical morsels.

Oh yeah ... Long live the Fab Four ... with or without headphones.

Heh, heh.

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