Sunday, March 4, 2012

Desert Island playlist: Yesterday's Rain by Spanky and our Gang

What can I say about this song. When I bought this original album and played it on my small turntable in my basement bedroom with my large Koss Headphones  it blew me away.  This song has stuck with me for over 40 years.   The beginning with the bass singing just draws you into the song and the harmonies just take you.  I know that some people do not know Spanky & Our Gang and it is sad not much is left on the internet because they were amazing vocal group.  I count about ten songs of their my favorites and they are not the singles they put out but are songs that they had on their albums.  Songs like The Swinging Gate, Three Ways from Tomorrow, Chicka Ding Ding, And she's Mine, Leopard Skin Phones, 1-3-5-8 (Pedagogical Round #2), Jane, and Since You've Gone are songs that still have an emotional effect on me. Each one of these members are incredible singers.
 The singers were:
  • Elaine "Spanky" McFarlane vocals

  • Nigel Pickering (June 15, 1929, – May 5, 2011,) - rhythm guitar, vocals

  • Paul "Oz" Bach (June 24, 1939, – September 21, 1998) - bass guitar, vocals (1966–67)

  • Malcolm Hale (May 17, 1941, – October 30, 1968,) - lead guitar, trombone, vocals.

  • John "The Chief" Seiter (born August 17, 1944,) - drums, vocals (1967–69)

  • Kenny Hodges (born August 3, 1936,) - bass, vocals (1968–69)

  • Lefty Baker (January 7, 1939 - August 11, 1971) - lead guitar, banjo, vocals (1968–69)

  • The group's first album, simply titled Spanky and Our Gang, was released by Mercury Records on August 1, 1967, and included three popular songs that were released as singles. These were "Sunday Will Never Be the Same" (their biggest hit, which reached number #9 on the  Billboard Hot 100 chart in the summer of 1967), followed by "Making Every Minute Count" (reached #31) and "Lazy Day" (reached #14). Both "Sunday Will Never Be The Same" and "Lazy Day" sold over one million copies. "Sunday Will Never Be the Same" was written by Terry Cashman and Gene Pistilli. In an interview by Cashman with the Songfacts website, he revealed that the song was originally written as a ballad. However, Cashman said the group "changed it, and they added the vocal, 'Ba-da-da-da-da,' which was a great hook."
    Their second album, Like to Get to Know You, was released in April 1968. Two singles were released: "Sunday Mornin'" in the spring, which reached #30, and "Like to Get to Know You", which reached #17 in the Summer 1968. The single's B-side, "Three Ways From Tomorrow", also received considerable airplay. The album included their rendition of "Stardust", and a version of "Everybody's Talkin'", best known as a hit single for Harry Nilsson and the theme song for the movie Midnight Cowboy.
    "Give a Damn" was released as a single in Summer 1968. In spite of not receiving airplay in several markets because of the curse word in its title - and because it was a comment on racial equality that became the theme song for the New York Urban Coalition - the song became a regional hit where released and overall made #43. It was also performed live on an episode of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, resulting in CBS Standards and Practices division receiving numerous complaints about the song's title being used during "family viewing hours". One such complaint reportedly came from Richard Nixon (Tom Smothers, 'Geraldo' Interview, 1987). "Give a Damn" would become John Lindsay's campaign song during his successful run for Mayor of New York.
    In October 1968, the group's lead guitarist Malcolm Hale died of carbon monoxide poisoning due to a faulty heating system (Hale's death has also been ascribed to bronchopneumonia) This was a devastating blow to the group. The multi-instrumentalist did much of the arranging and pretty well kept the band together. Hale's death, along with the group's satisfaction over what they had achieved already, led to the decision to disband early in 1969. Mercury released a third album, Anything You Choose b/w Without Rhythm or Reason, in January 1969. It contained two popular songs, the previous summer's hit "Give a Damn" and "Yesterday's Rain". The group briefly reformed in 1975 and recorded an album (Change) for the Epic label.
    After the band dissolved, McFarlane had some success as a solo artist. She toured with the Mamas & the Papas, largely singing the parts which had been those performed by the late Cass Elliot. She was most recently seen on stage in Ferndale Repertory Theatre's production of South Pacific portraying "Bloody Mary".

    Yesterday's Rain
    Yesterday's rain brings tomorrow's pain
    Going round my head,
    those feelings are dread
    love has lost, you payed the cost
    with a broken dream and still it seems
    I can't get out from under my cloud,
    and see the light of day.

    Yesterday's rain falls again and again,
    and makes me feel the worlds not real.

    Yesterday came
    just to bring me misery
    till I can see
    over my head,
    the darkness spreads
    to morning light
    that raised from the night.

    And all around the tears are falling,
    to the earth so hungry.

    Yesterday's rain falls again and again,
    and makes me feel the worlds not real.

    Spin to the ground,
    hearing not a sound,
    thoughts inside my head
    are going round and round.
    I got my mind made up,
    but I can't never go,
    friends all around me,
    and I'm still all alone.
    Running through the trees,
    my hands above my head,
    trying to escape the rest.

    Yesterday's rain falls again and again,
    and makes me feel the worlds not real.
    Over my head, the darkness spreads.

    Oh! Yesterday's rain brings tomorrow's pain
    Going round my head,
    those feelings are dread
    love has lost, you payed the cost.

    Yesterdays Rain...
    Yesterdays Rain...
    Yesterdays Rain...

    Enjoy this incredible song from one of the greatest artists of the sixties

    Spanky And Our Gang - Yesterday's Rain

    Friday, February 24, 2012

    Desert Island Playlist: The Eagle and the Hawk by John Denver

    Just got back from a two day workshop on assessing risk and treatment needs for sex offenders.  I put on my earphones and cranked the volume up on this great song by John Denver and just as the guy in the video, my natural reaction was to raise my hands to the sky.  I want to rise above, some days, and this song transports me.  Maybe the fact that one has to take a position sometimes out of what is and get a broader persspective.  Sometimes I feel the need to rise upward to get in touch with the universe and this is what this songs does for me.  Yes it's smaltzy but it gets me emotionally every time I hear it.

     I am the eagle, I live in high country
    In rocky cathedrals that reach to the sky
    I am the hawk and there's blood on my feathers
    But time is still turning they soon will be dry
    And all of those who see me, and all who believe in me
    Share in the freedom I feel when I fly

    Come dance with the west wind and touch on the mountain tops
    Sail o'er the canyons and up to the stars
    And reach for the heavens and hope for the future
    And all that we can be and not what we are

    John Denver - "The Eagle and the Hawk"

    Thursday, February 16, 2012

    The Prayer of the Children

    Desert Island Playlist: Prayer of the Children

    My next selection is one of the most beautiful songs I have heard.  The words reflect a longing to heal from trauma and grief.  They are written by a wonderful musician Kurt Bestor.  Kurt was an LDS misionary in Serbia.  He explained, " Having lived in this war-torn country back in the late 1970's, I grew to love the people with whom I lived. It didn't matter to me their ethnic origin - Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian - they were all just happy fun people to me and I counted as friends people from each region. Of course, I was always aware of the bigotry and ethnic differences that bubbled just below the surface, but I always hoped that the peace this rich country enjoyed would continue indefinitely. Obviously that didn't happen. When Yugoslavian President Josip Broz Tito died, different political factions jockeyed for position and the inevitable happened - civil war. Suddenly my friends were pitted against each other. Serbian brother wouldn't talk to Croatian sister-in-law. Bosnian mother disowned Serbian son-in-law and so it went. Meanwhile, all I could do was stay glued to the TV back in the US and sink deeper in a sense of hopelessness. Finally, one night I began channeling these deep feelings into a wordless melody. Then little by little I added words....Can you hear....? Can you feel......? I started with these feelings - sensations that the children struggling to live in this difficult time might be feeling. Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian children all felt the same feelings of confusion and sadness and it was for them that I was writing this song."  He added, ""Those children didn't hate anybody," he said. "They didn't care about who owned the land, or who had the power or the money. These are adult neuroses. They just wanted to have a mom and dad and a place to play."

    Can you hear the prayer of the children on bended knee, in the shadow of an unknown room? Empty eyes with no more tears to cry turning heavenward toward the light. Crying," Jesus, help me to see the morning light of one more day, but if I should die before I wake, I pray my soul to take." Can you feel the hearts of the children aching for home, for something of their very own. Reaching hands with nothing to hold onto but hope for a better day, a better day. Crying," Jesus, help me to feel the love again in my own land, but if unknown roads lead away from home, give me loving arms, away from harm." (oooooo la la la la etc etc.) Can you hear the voice of the children softly pleading for silence in their shattered world? Angry guns preach a gospel full of hate, blood of the innocent on their hands. Crying," Jesus, help me to feel the sun again upon my face? For when darkness clears, I know you're near, bringing peace again."
    Dali čujete sve dječje molitve?
    Can you hear the prayer of the children?

    Innovators - Prayer of the Children

    Saturday, February 11, 2012

    Desert Island Playlist: Summer Holiday

    One of my first favorite tunes as a young teenager was a song that was the theme tune from a British film starring Cliff Richard and the Shadows entitled Summer Holiday.   I can't recall where I saw the film but it was either at the Theatre Royal in Hyde or on the Cunard Liner Sylvania when we emigrated to the USA in 1963.  The film is tale about a group of guys converting a London double decker bus and touring France.  The story concerns Don (Cliff Richard) and his friends (Hayes, Green and Bulloch) who are bus mechanics at the huge London Transport bus overhaul works in Aldenham, Hertfordshire. During a miserably wet British summer lunch break, Don arrives, having persuaded London Transport to lend him and his friends an AEC Regent "RT" double-decker bus (and not a later Routemaster as often quoted). This they convert into a holiday caravan, which they drive across continental Europe, intending to reach the South of France. However, their eventual destination is Athens. On the way, they are joined by a girl trio (Stubbs, Hart and Daryl) and a runaway singer (Lauri Peters), pursued by her mother (Ryan) and agent (Murton). The movie was a huge box-office hit, thus repeating the success of Cliff Richard's earlier film The Young Ones (1961). I just remember how I thought how cool it would be to do the same thing, travelling the same way. 

    We're all going on a summer holiday.
    No more working for a week or two.
    Fun and laughter on a summer holiday.
    No more worries for me and you.
    For a week or two.

    We're going where the sun shines brightly.
    We're going where the sea is blue.
    We've seen it in the movies.
    Now let's see if it's true.

    Everybody has a summer holiday
    Doing things they always wanted to.
    So we're going on a summer holiday
    To make our dreams come true
    For me and you.

    We're going where the sun shines brightly.
    We're going where the sea is blue.
    We've seen it in the movies.
    Now let's see if it's true.

    Everybody has a summer holiday
    Doing things they always wanted to.
    So we're going on a summer holiday
    To make our dreams come true
    For me and you.
    Hmmmmmm, hmmmmmmm...
    Hmmmmmm, hmmmmmmm...
    Hmmmmmm, hmmmmmmm...


    Saturday, February 4, 2012

    Seven Little Girls sitting in the back seat

    The first LP I ever bought by myself was an LP by Paul Evans.  I purchased it at a store in Sugarhouse, Utah called Mastercraft a company that employed my Dad, Dennis Grimshaw.  They were a reupholstering company who also carried furniture and washing machines and one day when I went in they had a bin of old records.  Here in this one was and album of Paul Evans who I did not know but I knew one of the songs called Seven Little Girls Sitting in the Back Seat.  I had heard it in England and I loved the melody and I can remember fantasizing as I heard the words of some girls on a double decker bus  like the one I used to ride with Dad to Manchester.  I just talked to my wife Jan and realized that her brother Fred Parkin must have had field day when this song came out in the great metropolis of Nephi, Utah.  She said "he was very popular".   I wonder what tht means

    Paul Evans (born March 5, 1938, in Queens, New York] is an American rock and roll singer  and songwriter, who was most prominent in the 1950s and 1960s. As a performer, he had hits with the songs "Seven Little Girls (Sitting in the Back Seat)" (his biggest hit, reaching #9 on the Billboard Hot 100, "Midnite Special" and "Happy-Go-Lucky Me".  As a songwriter Evans' songs were performed by numerous performers, including Elvis Presley, Jimmy Dean and Pat Boone. His most successful songs were "Roses Are Red (My Love)", which was a number one hit for Bobby Vinton in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100; and "When", a chart topper in the UK Singles Chart and #5 in the U.S. for The Kalin Twins

    The song Seven Little Girls was written by the songwriters Lee Pockriss and Bob Hilliard, who Evans was working for at the time. Evans had written the hit "When" for the Kalin Twins, but had not yet performed on a recorded song. Evans explains how he ended up singing this:
    "It was a fluke. I came in as a singer/writer. I did sing in school, but I liked writing, and I didn't know if I had enough talent as a singer to make it. I was doing demos for people. I could sing songs for writers who couldn't sing and they needed to hire a singer; I think I got $12 a song at the time. They would take the song around to publishers, and they would tape the demo. Lee Pockriss and Bob Hilliard wrote the song, believe it or not, for Merv Griffin. Which is strange, now that I think back on "Seven Little Girls" sitting in the backseat kissing and a-huggin' with Fred. So they took my demo up to Carlton Records for Merv, who was on the label at the time. And the owner of the company, Joe Carlton, said that he had just started a rock and roll label called Guaranteed Records, and he wanted to put the demo out. So that's how I wound up with my Pop hits. Just doing demos for cheap, enough to pay for my lunch and pay for my rides home. I used to cross paths with Jerry Keller, who had "Here Comes Summer" eventually. He got his start doing demos. And actually, I used to cross paths all the time with Paul Simon, who did the same thing. I think he was Jerry Landis at the time."
    Being tapped to perform on a hit song was a mixed blessing, as Evans explains: "Nothing made it without being promoted. They sent me on the road, which bears no resemblance to the road today. The road today is great big concerts and lots of money. They would send me out on the road, and I would do hops, record hops. And for the most part, I guess for all part, I would sing: I would lip-synch in front of these crowds of kids, who would then be dancing to the records. I did The Dick Clark Show by lip-synching. It came out of my royalties, by the way. Any money - anything that was spent by the record company - came out of our royalties. I made very little money at the time. Had a lot of fun, went on the road for 3 solid weeks. I was exhausted after 3 weeks, I didn't really like it. You know, they were all one-nighters and they were bus tours and stuff like that. I wasn't being paid, and I didn't think this was cool, I'd rather have been home writing with my co-writers. That's the way it was, though.

    It was uncomfortable. We wound up in a little city called Bluefield, West Virginia. Bluefield is at the bottom of these mountains, and there were churches all over on the side of the road when you get down, because you can't believe this mountainous road. Many people never made it down that mountain, and I didn't like that. So then we did a show in Bluefield, and I got back on the bus and I said to the driver, 'Well, how long will it take us to get back to the hotel?' He said, 'We're not going to the hotel.' I said, 'What are you talking about?' He says, 'We're going back to New York.' I said, 'E-Gods, it's 2 in the morning already. How long is a trip to New York?' Nineteen hours on the bus. I said, 'No, no, I tell you what - drop me off at the hotel.' I went back to the hotel, I made an airline reservation on, I think it was Piedmont Airlines at the time, got home and I called up GAC, which was my agent at the time, and I said, 'Ta-ta, that's it for the road for me. This is not for me. I can do well at home.' Unfortunately, I had my hits, my 3 hits, and I was drafted into the army. And that was really the end of my singing career for then."
    Evans: "I eventually sent in my attorney for an audit, or he masterminded an audit, and he came back and he told me, 'Paul, your company hasn't paid you $40,000 in legitimate royalties.' The best I could do was get off the label, because if I tried to fight the company for my money, they would have gone bankrupt, and I would have spent the money on my attorneys and my accountants, and I didn't want to do that.

    It was a different day. The joke is we walked into record companies, and then our lawyers followed us in, and today the artist follows the lawyer into the record company. They know how this thing works. When I signed with, I guess it was Epic or Columbia, I don't remember which, I saw their contract. The contract was huge, a tome, it was - I don't' know how many pages. And then my lawyer said, 'Well, here's what we're going to give back to them and then work from here.' They had cut about two-thirds of it off with no argument from the record company, the point being that the record company said, 'If you're not well represented and you sign this contract, you're screwed.' Legally. So, you'd better have an attorney."
    Evans other hit songs of the era were "Happy-Go-Lucky Me" and a cover of "Midnight Special," which he came up with out of necessity: "I would do probably 3 or 4 songs. But I wasn't even prepared for that. I got on the bus the first day and the band leader said to me, 'What songs are you planning on performing?' I said, 'Songs?' I had one song prepared: 'Seven Little Girls,' I had a little arrangement written up. And he said, 'Well, you're going to have to do something. What kind of songs do you sing?' I said, 'Well, basically, I sing Folk songs.' And so he asked me to sing a few, I sang him 'Midnight Special' as a Folk song, and he rock and rolled it up. And that really was a blast for me. I didn't expect to go on a bus tour. I was a kid who was doing studio work, and all of a sudden had a hit record, and got sent out on the road."
    The female vocals were The Curls - Sue Singleton and Sue Terry.
    When Evans performed this song, he lip-synched it, which was customary at the time. He did perform it live on one occasion. Says Evans: "The only live that I ever did was the Arthur Murray Dance Party show. It was a network television show, and it was right before I got drafted. I was excited, I never did live anything, and here I'm doing live television. One shot, no retakes, and I can tell you that that was scary to me. I was so nervous. Finally I sat in the seat, and they had 7 girls behind me and a chimpanzee playing the part of Fred. And by the way, he was a naughty chimpanzee, he broke into the girls' dressing room all the time and lifted up their skirts. He was really a strange monkey, but he was a very big star - as big a star as an ape could be, you know. I sat in the front seat of this car that was on the stage, girls sitting behind me, and I hear the overture, and the overture is the beginning of the song. Now the first part of the song, which is called 'Seven Little Girls Sitting In The Back Seat' is 'Seven little girls, sitting in the back seat.' I should have known it. I couldn't think of it. I could not think of the line. My hair got soaking wet from nervous perspiration. Unbelievable. I was so scared because there was no turning back, the curtains were now opened, the overture was over, and I sang, "Seven little girls..." I mean, it just came to me, it was amazing. It's funny, I've heard this from other people, and they've never missed a beat. They get afraid. I've done that before, I've done it again, and this is just national television. I was so shaken by this. I did a good job, got done, and that's all that matters, I know. My wife says that when she sees me on the stage, I walk out on the stage, I do look a little nervous to her - she knows me. But she says the second I open my mouth and start singing, it's all over for nerves."
    Seven Little Girls Sitting In The Back Seat Lyrics
    (Dee doody doom doom, dee doody doom doom)
    (Dee doody doom doom, DOOM)
    Seven little girls sittin' in the back seat
    Huggin and a'kissin with Fred
    I said "why don't one of you come up and sit beside me?"
    And this is what the seven girls said

    (All together now, one, two, three)
    (Keep you mind on your drivin')
    (Keep you hands on the wheel)
    Keep your snoopy eyes on the road ahead)
    (We're havin' fun sittin' in the back seat kissin' and a'huggin with Fred)

    (Dee doody doom doom, dee doody doom doom)(Dee doody doom doom, DOOM)
    Drove through the town, drove through the country
    Showed 'em how a motor could go
    I said "how do you like my triple carburetor?"
    And one of them whispered low

    Seven little girls smoochin' in the back seat
    Every one in love with Fred
    I said "you don't need me, I'll get off at my house"
    And this is what the seven girls said

    (Alltogether now, one, two, three)
    (Keep you mind on your drivin')
    (Keep you hands on the wheel)
    (Keep your snoopy eyes on the road ahead)
    (We're havin' fun sittin' in the back seat kissin' and a'huggin with Fred)
    All of them in love with Fred

    (Dee doody doom doom)
    Kissin' and a'huggin with Fred
    (Dee doody doom doom)
    Wish that I could be like Fred

    Seven Little Girls (Sitting in the Back Seat)

    Classic BBC Radio Theme ~ Desert Island Discs

    I return! My Desert Island Playlist

    After exploring the i-pod I got myself an I pad and realized the possibilities of music and writing became a second and third priority and then not at all. A collector is always looking for novelty and that is where my journey took me.  So I have not listened to all my tape collection.  I have created a play list of my favorite recordings of all time and so because one song at a time might be easier to write about over a period of time we will try this because I love to research information about music. 

    As a kid growing up in England I used to love a radio show called Desert Island Discs and used to listen to it at my Grandma Grimshaw's house.  The program was based on the premise of getting famous people to decide what eight recordings they would choose to take if they were wrecked on a desert island and the program still exists and is celebrating 70 years of Broadcasting with asking their listeners what their discs would be.  I couldn't decide on eight so I created a Desert Island Play list. It now has a home on Spotify and right now has 768 tracks on it. 

    So in order to introduce the process Let us here the theme tune of Desert Island Discs