Your crusty chronicler is wildly waxing nostalgic. Having seen so many young’uns wearing vintage rock band t-shirts, it struck me that perhaps it might be a good idea if these kids knew something about the assorted artists advertised across their chests. With the significant number of classic rock stations surviving to this day as well as all the remakes by popular artists, sampling and cover versions on such popular shows as Glee it seemed like a good time to experiment with an idea that’s been on the backburner for quite some time now.
Hence this new series: “Do You Remember?” Here your favorite music maven will list and briefly describe actual songs (on 45s/singles) personally purchased over the years by yours truly. The songs here will be presented in the order in which they were purchased not necessarily the order in which they were actually released. So read on and by all means let me know if YOU remember any of these tunes!
“Make Your Own Kind of Music”—Mama Cass Elliot: This pop piece was written by Barry “Princess and the Punk” Mann and Cynthia Weil. While it was first recorded back in 1968 by the Will-O-Bees (Janet Blossom, Steven Porter, and Robert Merchanthouse), Elliot was the first to have a hit with it the following year (1969). In fact, one of her solo efforts, Bubblegum, Lemonade, and… Something for Mama was re-released as Make Your Own Kind of Music, after the hit title track was added to the original playlist. It peaked at number 36 on the Top 40 charts. (This reporter did a pretty decent cover of this one before his nads dropped.)
“(Theme from) The Monkees”—The Monkees:This pop song dates back to 1966 and was written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart as the theme song for the TV series The Monkees. It later appeared on their album The Monkees. It was one of several songs produced as a cereal box single in the late sixties. You literally cut it out of the actual cereal box cardboard and played in on your record player! This song was released as a single in Australia, where it became a hit. To this day, thanks in part to TV re-runs of the old show, it’s still played on oldies radio stations. (Anyone ELSE still watch the show or sing this while running from the incoming tide at the beach?)
“The Ballad of John and Yoko”—The Beatles: This tune was written by John Lennon and released as a single in May 1969. The song was the Beatles’ 17th and last UK number one single. It was recorded without George Harrison (who was on vacation) and Ringo Starr (who was working on The Magic Christian). McCartney said Lennon had had a sudden inspiration for the number and wanted to record it immediately without waiting for the other Beatles to (ahem) get back. Many American radio stations would not initially play the record because they viewed it as sacrilegious. Note the chorus: “Christ, you know it ain’t easy/You know how hard it can be/The way things are going/They’re gonna crucify me.” Nevertheless, it still managed to hit number eight on the US charts. (This the very first Beatles record your screwy scribe ever purchased.)
“Smile A Little Smile For Me”—The Flying Machine: This song was released in 1969 and is the group’s best known tune. It peaked at number 5 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and went gold before year’s end. It was written by Tony Macaulay and Geoff Stephens. Strangely, although it originated in the UK, it had no real presence on the UK Singles Chart, despite the fact that it was first released there. (Ladies who have spent the night with your randy writer know he sometimes sings this one in the shower.)
“Joy to the World”—Three Dog Night: Written by Hoyt Axton,the tune is also popularly known by its opening line: “Jeremiah was a bullfrog”. Three Dog Night first released the number on their album Naturally in 1970. They put out an edited version as a single in 1971
It topped the main singles charts in North America including taking the number one slot on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and on the Canadian Top Singles chart. It quickly went gold and was (and continues to be) covered by an assortment of other artists including: Little Richard, Mariah Carey, The Supremes, The Four Tops Ten Foot Pole and W. Scott Phoenix.
So do YOU remember any of these songs? What are YOUR memories of these tracks? Feel free to share if any of this struck a chord with you!
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.