Sunday, October 29, 2017

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


I apologize for not post enough for the Countdown to Halloween. I'll just say I had some minor surgery about two weeks ago and I have been required to dress the incision. Add to that a jump drive that had some Halloween stuff on it was left at my parents house. Since I didn't do a post about the passing of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, how about a photo of him with horror movie TV hostess Elvira.

Thursday, October 5, 2017



Another vintage Halloween greeting card from Tumblr. This one is actually kind of cool because of the ghost and witch. Not sure who the guy behind the ghost is. he kind of looks like the guy from the Pringles can.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Tuesday, October 3, 2017



"Somewhere, somehow somebody Must have kicked you around some.
 Who knows, maybe you were kidnapped, Tied up, taken away and held for ransom.
 It don't really matter to me Everybody's had to fight to be free.
 You see you don't have to live like a refugee.
 I said you don't have to live like a refugee."

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


I wanted to let everyone who reads this blog to know that I plan to continue blogging. My time this spring and summer has been taken up by several activities.

INTERNET PROVIDER:  I also found out recently that I would have to switch Internet providers. I have had the same Internet provider since the 20th century (1999), but I was told they could no longer provide service to my area.

HEALTH: There have also been some problems with my health, namely as bad back and hip. I was taking physical therapy two times a day for most of the spring and early summer. Add to that some other problems (which are of a TMI nature), I have spent most of the summer in doctor's waiting rooms.

SCUMMY CLICKBAIT SITES STEALING FROM ME: It has come to my attention that some scummy clickbait sites are swiping some of my post, sometimes word for word, for their nasty little websites. I've tried to contact these website, but to no avail. Most click bait is sleezy as a used condom.

THE POLITICIZING OF "RETRO" & "NOSTALGIA": This bothers me more than anything. I switched from being a blog that talked about news & politics to a retro pop culture blog, because the writing a news & politics blog was leading to death threats and causing problems with my job. I was mocked on the Internet when I mentioned the threats of violence. It is why I have tried not to "reveal my true identity." This has been a controversy in the Springfield and Ozarks area, but I now have proof that it was a good idea.  Randy Turner, whose blogger I had a link to on the old blog, was attacked earlier this week by some who didn't like what he had posted.

I was seeing the nature of discussing politics becoming volatile and dangerous, so I became a retro blogger. Now, I'm seeing the discussion of retro pop culture becoming to political too. I recently saw an article on the ME-TV website about Highlights Magazine and most of the comments were from idiots bashing gays, African Americans and Millennials. These comments had nothing to do with Highlights Magazine. ME-TV should remove them, but I've said the same thing about the disgusting stuff people post on videos on YouTube of old TV shows and music. I'm tired of seeing comments like, "This was back in the good old days when there were a bunch of n***ers and qu**rs on TV" or "This is what the J**s use to brainwash our children."

My reason for creating a retro blog was to give younger people information on music, movies and TV of the past. When I was younger, information on this stuff was hard to come by or in expensive books. Other adults were useless, because they wanted to get on a soapbox and lecture me about how I shouldn't be interested in pop culture. That is why I don't bash young people or Millennials. I've found, thanks to Tumblr, that Millennials are VERY interested in the older pop culture and how it connects to the current pop culture.

Now for some good news:

I'M ON TUMBLR: Tumblr is my new addiction. What I do over there is not earthshaking, I basically reblog pictures and add funny captions. If you like my sarcastic humor, then follow me on Tumblr.

CONSIDERING A DIFFERENT FORMAT TO THE PODCAST: I'm considering creating a podcast that is a discussion with a colleague/family member. We just need to right equipment.

GETTING READY FOR COUNTDOWN TO HALLOWEEN: My favorite time of the year. There have been several times I have had ideas for a post and then thought, "No, I'll save that for Countdown To Halloween."

Trust me, I have tons of stuff, I've been wanting to post, but haven't had the time. Hopefully, I can share some of the fun stuff from the past that is cluttering up my apartment right now.


Sunday, August 13, 2017


Southwestern Bell had an ad campaign featuring celebrities from each state they served. A parent or relative would say they called the celebrity long distance. Glen Campbell and his parents represented Arkansas (BTW: As a monster kid, I still think it is cool that Missouri was represented by Vincent Price and his niece).

It is amazing that I haven't seen this commercial in years, yet remember it word for word. NOTE: This cuts off abruptly.

Sunday, July 2, 2017


Let's face it, most cover songs sound pretty close to the original. The Beatles version of "Twist and Shout" sounds like the Isley Brothers version, Smash Mouth's version of "I'm a Believer" sounds almost identical to The Monkees version, and even the Jeff Beck Group's version of "Love Is Blue" sounds like Paul Mauriat's "Love is Blue." These are called "faithful" cover versions.

However, there artist that take things in a totally different direction. This blog post (and podcast) will celebrate those great cover versions that "changed it up a bit."

Since I'm using the podcast for illustration, I won't go into very much detail. However, I will point out the inspiration for this post. The Bluebelles' 1984 British hit "Young At Heart" was the subject of a lawsuit by former Fabulous Poodles' fiddle player Bobby Valentino, who played on the record. He said that he should get a credit and some compensation, because his fiddle playing contributed to the success of The Bluebelles recording. It was originally recorded by Bananarama the previous year with a typical bouncy, synthesizer pop song that Bananarama was known for. The judge agreed that his country pop fiddle made the remake a big hit.

I got to thinking about other cover songs that seem to be unrecognizable from the original. Vanilla Fudge's headbanging psychedelic version of The Supremes hit "You Keep Me Hanging On" came to mind, along with Peggy Lee's smoldering, beatnikish version of Little Willie John's bumpin blues "Fever."

I once heard an interview where Screaming Jay Hawkins said he liked Nina Simone's version of "I Put a Spell On You" better than his. On the other hand, I had a co-worker in radio, who would become visibly angry at the very mention of James Taylor's version of the Jimmy Jones hit "Handy Man." Personally, I never cared for Donna Summer's version of "MacArthur Park" and I like most of Donna Summer's hits.

Everyone has covered "Do You Want To Dance?" and "Money," but Bette Midler and the Flying Lizards did those songs different than any other act.

Many of theses are either, rocker becomes ballad, soft rock becomes heavy metal or disco, even a psychedelic pop song turned into a bluegrass song and a bluegrass song from a 60's rural sitcom turned into a Celtic dirge. Even a British rock band doing a goofy Perry Como song about mannequin lust. So lets take a listen.

NOTE: I realize the sound is bad on this. I'm using "borrowed" equipment, so I don't have control of the sound quality. My apologies. I also used a "guest announcer" for this podcast.

"Young At Heart" The Bluebelles 1984 (Original recording by Bananarama 1983)
"For Once In My Life" Stevie Wonder 1968 (Original hit Tony Bennett in 1967)
"Summertime Blues" Blue Cheer 1967 (Original hit by Eddie Cochran 1958)
"Do You Want To Dance?" Bette Midler 1972 (Original hit by Bobby Freeman 1958)
"Love Buzz" Nirvana 1989 (Original recording by Shocking Blue 1969)

"Hooked On a Feeling" Blue Suede 1974 (Original hit by B.J Thomas)
"I Put a Spell On You" Nina Simone 1965 (Original hit by Screaming Jay Hawkins 1955)
"There Is a Time" Solas 2008 (Original recording by The Dillards with Maggie Peterson 1964)
"Fever" Peggy Lee 1958 (Original recording by Little Willie John 1956)
"Diamonds & Rust" Judas Priest 1977  (Original hit by Joan Baez 1975)
"Careless Whispers" Seether 2009 (Original hit by Wham 1984)
"Handy Man" James Taylor 1978 (Original hit by Jimmy Jones 1960)
"The Locomotion" Grand Funk Railroad 1974 (Original hit by Little Eva 1962)
"Bette Davis Eyes" Kim Carnes 1981 (Original recording by Jackie DeShannon 1975)
"Money" The Flying Lizards 1980 (Barrett Strong 1959)
"Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These)" Marilyn Manson 1994 (Original hit for The Eurythmics 1983)
"Satisfaction" Devo 1980 (Original hit for The Rolling Stones 1965)
"Fox On the Run" Tom T. Hall 1976 (Original hit by Manfred Mann 1969)
"Summertime" Billy Stewart 1966 (Written in 1937, first rock era version by Sam Cooke 1957)
"Never Gonna Say Goodbye" Gloria Gaynor 1974 (Original hit by the Jackson Five 1972)
"You Keep Me Hanging On" Vanilla Fudge 1968 (Original hit by The Supremes 1966)
"MacArthur Park" Donna Summer 1980 (Original hit by Richard Harris 1968)
"Woodstock" Mathews Southern Comfort fall 1970 (Original hit by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young March 1970)
"With a Little Help From My Friends" Joe Cocker 1968 (Originally recorded by The Beatles in 1967)
"Walk On By" The Stranglers 1980 (Original hit for Dionne Warwick 1962)
"Proud Mary" Ike & Tina Turner 1971 (Original hit for Creedence Clearwater Revival 1969)
"Light My Fire" Jose Feliciano 1968 (Original hit by The Doors 1967)
"Knock On Wood" Amii Stewart 1979  (Original hit by Eddie Floyd 1966)
"I'm a Man" The Yardbirds 1965 (Original hit by Bo Diddley 1955)
"House of the Rising Sun"  Frygid Pink 1970 (Original hit by The Animals 1964)
"Hey Joe"  Jimi Hendrix 1967 (Original hit by The Leaves 1965)
"Glendora" The Downliners Sect 1966 (Original hit by Perry Como 1956)
"Ain't No Mountain High Enough" Diana Ross 1970 (Original hit for Marvin Gaye & Tami Terrell 1967)

And last but not least:

"Blinded By The Light," "For You" and "Spirits In the Night" Manfred Mann's Earth Band 1976-1980 (Original recordings by Bruce Springsteen 1973).

P. S: Before you say "You left off The Cowboy Junkies version of the Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane." It is different than the version of the Loaded LP." True, but the Cowboy Junkies version is identical to the version The Velvet Underground performs on the Live 1969 LP. So it doesn't count.

Friday, June 16, 2017


If you are on social media (or anywhere on the Internet), you know that people are usually complaining about how bad they think modern pop music is and that none of today's musical stars have any talent. Allegedly. People brag up "the good old days" and how wonderful everything was in the past. Quite a few of these people think that music was better before the advent of rock and roll. Think again.

You see, the people who hated Elvis, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly, then turned their vitriol toward the Beatles, the Stones and Bob Dylan, then hated Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Sex Pistols and disco, they  had the government go after Prince, Ozzy Osbourne and Madonna, and now (if they are still living) complain about Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Kanye West, as well as hip hop/rap in general, liked one of the dumbest songs of the twentieth century (I'm saying the twentieth century, because honestly believe "Red Solo Cup" by Toby Keith will be considered the dumbest song of the twenty-first century).

Not only did they like this song, but they gave it the Academy Award for Best Song. Even harder to fathom is the fact it was written by two of America's greatest song writers. Some of the greatest pop singers of all-time have recorded it and singers are still recording it. What is this song?

My vote for dumbest song of the twentieth century is "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" written by Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael. Mercer wrote such great songs "Moon River, "Glow Worm," "Hooray for Hollywood," "And the Angels Sing," and "That Old Black Magic." Carmichael wrote "Ole Buttermilk Sky," "Heart and Soul," "Up a Lazy River," "Georgia On My Mind" and "Stardust."  Together, Mercer and Carmichael wrote the song "Skylark," which is truly beautiful. All of those are great songs, but this one, in my opinion isn't one of the great ones.

This song was recorded by Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme. More recently Bette Midler and Crystal Gale have recorded this annoying, stinker of a song.  

My problem is the lyrics don't go together. It jumps around with this part early in the song:

"I like a barbecue, I like to boil a ham
And I vote for bouillabaisse stew (What's that?)
I like a weenie bake, steak and a layer cake
And you'll get a tummy ache too."

Then later in the song we get these lyrical gems:

"Whee!" said the bumblebee
"Let's have a jubilee!"
"When?" said the prairie hen, "Soon?"
"Sure!" said the dinosaur.
"Where?" said the grizzly bear,
"Under the light of the moon?"
"How 'bout ya, brother jackass?"
Ev'ryone gaily cried,
"Are you comin' to the fracas?"
Over his specs he sighed,
In the cool, cool, cool of the evenin'
Tell 'em I'll be there.
In the cool, cool, cool of the evenin'
Slickum on my hair."

I'm sure some dork out there will say, "Ah, they don't write songs like that any more." To that, I say "Good!"  This song is proof that there were bad songs in the pre-rock era. As a matter of fact, you could probably say that "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" is our parent's and grandparent's equivalent "We Built This City."


Wednesday, June 14, 2017


Anyone who has read this blog and the original blog knows that one of my all time favorite TV shows is the 1960's BATMAN TV show. Here is a great clip of Adam West in both the role of Bruce Wayne and Batman. Followed by is voice as Mayor Adam West on Family Guy.


Did this little old lady know something about Roger Moore's future?

Sunday, April 30, 2017


It's spring and time to party on the water or this could be music for your boat in the flooding here in Missouri.

Sunday, April 16, 2017


I realize I have poked fun of some of the nonsense on the Internet where people talk about fears of clowns, department store Santa Clauses and department store Easter Bunnies. Now, I am going to confess to having been frightened by something that is frequently referred to a "beloved children's favorite." It is the children's book, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams and first published in 1922.

I never read the book or had it read to me, but I saw an animated TV version. I tried to look for the one I watched on YouTube and couldn't find it. I had a hard time looking up information on this story or looking for the video because I get shaky and nauseated just think about the story (Go ahead, you jerks, and call me "snowflake").

So what scared me about this story that it STILL bothers me in my 40s?  Near the end of story, the little boy contracts a serious illness and a doctor tells the parents that they have to burn his toys because they are contaminated.

This probably wouldn't frighten any other kid, but since I was two years old, I have had multiple illnesses. I nearly spent several months of my early childhood in a oxygen tent at the hospital in Lebanon, Missouri, because of severe asthma. I was never able to really play outside like other kids, because what triggered my asthma was pollen and other allergens, which include trees and grass. I was confined to the indoors, so toys, books and records were my only source of fun. Imagine the terror if that was taken away and burned.

Maybe this didn't frighten other kids, because they didn't have illness in there lives or they had different circumstances in their lives. As for me, it created an anxiety that still won't go away.

At least I didn't say I'm afraid of clowns.


Sunday, April 9, 2017


I had been wanting to find this and, of course, Youtube came through.  This is from the TV version of the popular radio anthology, Family Theater. The radio series adapted several classic children's books, while the TV series focused on mainly stories from the Bible (It was produced by a Catholic group - the radio show usually began with prayer).

I learned about this in an extra on the DVD of Rebel Without Cause. James Dean's first appearance on film was playing John the Apostle in a 1951 episode of Family Theater. The episode is called "Hill Number One."  It features a wrap around story of a platoon of men fighting in Korea. A chaplain brings the men coffee on Easter Sunday and begins telling them the story of the Resurrection.

Like the radio series, the TV show attracted some major actors. In this episode alone, you will see such well-known actors as Roddy McDowell (Planet of the Apes), William Schallert (Patty Duke Show), Leif Erickson (High Chaparral), Frank Wilcox (The Untouchables & Beverly Hillbillies), and Michael Anasara (Broken Arrow, Law of the Plainsman, Star Trek & I Dream of Jeanie).

When this first aired, James Dean wasn't THE JAMES DEAN. This was just the beginning of his legend.

Feel free to post this on Facebook with a overbearing, guilt trip statement like "I bet you won't share this." Maybe I'll get more hits that way.


Saturday, April 1, 2017


This is the 60th anniversary of the greatest April Fool's Day joke ever by, of all people, the BBC News division. We studied this incident in my media and journalism courses at Missouri State University, back when it was Southwest Missouri State University. None of our professors had a copy of it. They assumed it was lost (kind of like early Doctor Who episodes). We can see it, thanks to YouTube.

On April 1st, 1957, the BBC news program, Panorama, ran a 3 minute story about the abundant harvest this spring on spaghetti trees in Switzerland.  It was narrated by the shows, usually serious host Richard Dimbleby. At the time, spaghetti and pasta were not foods that the British ate. The only way to get spaghetti, in the 1950s, in Great Britain was pre-cooked in a can with tomato sauce. People began calling the BBC to find out if they could grow it in their back yard.

Here is the full report. The only thing missing from this is Richard Dimbleby's tag at the end, saying into the camera, "And that is our program for today, April 1st, 1957."

Runners up on great April Fool's Day jokes would be when a reporter for an NBC affiliate in Missouri (John Pertzborn, I think), in the early 90s, profiled a couple that was receiving "left over" TV transmissions from the 1950s. I became suspect when it seemed everything they were watching was off at Goodtimes or Video Steve compilation tape. Another April Fool's joke in the Missouri media world was in the late 80s, when the then top rated Top 40 radio station in Springfield, Missouri, KWTO-FM Rock 99, announced it was going country and the DJs quit on-air. Also a few years ago, Northern Bath Tissue announced their "Rustic Weave Artisan Toilet Paper" in an online commercial (I love the look on that woman's face when she sits down). Also, comic fans used to laugh about the time Comic Shop News announced that D.C Comics had bought out Marvel Comics. This was before Warner Brothers bought out D.C and Marvel was bought out by Disney.

Happy April Fool's Day!    

Sunday, March 19, 2017


A few years ago, I was writing a novel about a boy, named George Marter, growing up in Missouri in the 50s. At one point, a teacher tells him that he needs to know about David Rice Atchison, because he was the 'greatest man to ever come from Missouri.'  George Marter replies to the teacher, "As far as I'm concerned the greatest man to come from Missouri is Chuck Berry."

Needless to say, I haven't finished it and may never (I may go into the details on why in another post). During the writing of that novel, I listened to the music of the era and some of the best music of that era came from CHUCK BERRY.

I had been a fan of his music since I heard it as a child during the 50s nostalgia craze of the 70s. It also was a staple on those quickly disappearing things known as Oldies radio stations. Listening to his music again, via two greatest hits CDs, and mixed with some of the other stuff from that era (see my previous post on annoying music) you realize why Chuck Berry was important to the development of rock and roll. He took the blues, played it fast and wrote it for a younger teenage audience. His songs were about school, racing cars, dating and being a rock and roll fan. He also invented the guitar riff and the guitar solo.

Here are a list of my favorite Chuck Berry songs:

1. "Johnny B. Goode"
2. "Brown Eyed Handsome Man"
3. "Roll Over Beethoven"
4. "Sweet Little Sixteen"
5. "Nadine"
6. "Maybellene"
7. "Thirty Days"
8. "Come On"
9. "You Never Can Tell"
10. "School Days"
11. "Rock & Roll Music"
12. "Run Run Rudolph"
13. "No Particular Place To Go"
14. "Back In the U.S.A"
15. "Promise Land"

Hail Hail Rock & Roll!

R. I. P BERNIE WRIGHTSON 1948 - 2017


He not only created the Swamp Thing, but he created nightmares.

Thursday, March 16, 2017


This post started off as a comparison of two sub genres of rock music. The problem was, as I tried to do some research on the subject, I found very little information or music on-line about it. So I just decided to mix it into a post about several other genres.

If you are on social media, you would assume, from reading all those stupid memes that your un-hip friends post, that Millennials listen to the worst music ever made. In doing some research for this, I found that the hipsters and Millennials are actually into some very interesting and technical, experimental music.

Also, I've noticed these memes usually come from one of three places 1) a country radio station or redneck humor Facebook site, 2) a classic rock - AOR radio station Facebook site or a 3) right-wing political - talk radio Facebook website. All three have an agenda.

Let's look back at the history of rock and roll and see if we can find any trends, that those who criticize the current music scene, bought into that could be scene as vomit inducing.

10. Rural Norwegian/Scandinavian accent novelty songs (70s - 80s): The Wurzels, Da Yoopers and the Bananas at Large. It started in the 50s with a comedian named Harry Stewart, who recorded under the name Yogi Yorgenson. His stuff was kind of fun. Then, in the 60s, came Stan Boreson and Doug Stetterberg doing parodies of popular songs with some rural Norwegian/Scandinavian humor, still okay. That was all. Then, the rural Norwegian/Scandinavian, sort of was revived by a group from England called the Wurzels, who did recorded a parody of "Brand New Key" as "Combine Harvester." Technically, their music was a British rural variation, but the elements were there such as beer and farm implements. In the 80s, some groups out of Minnesota and Wisconsin, began recording original songs, most of these were about two subjects: deer hunting and farting. The redneck crowd like these songs and, if you are in country radio you get request these songs. Ugh.

9. Acapella - Doo Wop Revival (80s - 90s): The Nylons, Take 6, 4 P.M, All-4-One, Boyz 2 Men, New Edition. It started with the Nylons and their covers of Steam's "Kiss Him Goodbye (Na Na Na Hey Hey)" and The Turtles' "Happy Together." It didn't immediately take off, but then New Edition gave us a cover of "Earth Angel," to coincide with its use in Back To the Future. From then on, all boy band (really they are vocal groups not bands, but that is what people call them) had to do some acapella variation of a doo wop, oldies hit or country hit. Even when they covered a song, with musical backing, there would be at least a few bars of acapella. I think Boyz 2 Men had a whole acapella CD. The last hurrah (and best song of this trend) was The Straight No Chaser version of the "Twelve Days of Christmas."  

8.  American Ska - Punk (90s): Save Ferris, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Real Big Fish. In the early 80s, the Ska - Punk movement came out of England with bands like The Specials, The Untouchables, English Beat and Madness had some great songs. In the 90s, some American bands tried to revive the sound. The problem with these bands were their songs were usually too fast or just bad. Save Ferris (great name for a band) committed the ultimate sin by doing a cover of a song from the 80s that I HATE, "Come On Eileen." I also thought Reel Big Fish's "Sell Out" was one of the worst songs ever.

7. Big Band - Timeless Standards Revival (90s - Present): Squirrel Nut Zippers, Cherry Poppin Daddies, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Brian Setzer Orchestra, Michael Bubble, Puppini Sisters. This can be blamed on the short lived popularity of swing-dance. There has always seemed to be a push to bring back the Big Band era and the music of the pre-rock and roll era ever few years, but in the late 90s and early 2000's it almost succeeded. The groups doing original songs were on Alternative radio, where they sounded out of place. The more Timeless stuff helped kill off light AC and, when given its own radio format, it was the same songs over and over. Worse was how major stars (Rod Stewart, Michael Bolton, Bobby Caldwell, Paul McCartney, Carly Simon) recorded CDs of the "Timeless songs" and became un-cool.

6. American Blues Revival (Late 80s - early 90s): Omar & the Howlers, Fabulous Thunderbirds, Jeff Healy Band. This is the subject that has caused me not to post in a while. I was going to compare the music of the late 60s British blues revival with the American blues revival of the late 80s. When I was in college, the local AOR station seemed to play a huge glut of these American blues revival bands. Out of all of the stuff being played, I only liked about three songs, "Bad To the Bone" & "Who Do You Love" by George Thorogood and "Smoking Gun" by The Robert Cray Band. There was also a tone of local blues bands around. I always preferred the late 60s British blues of Led Zepellin, Cream, Fleetwood Mac and Ten Years After. There was something made their interpretations of the blues different. Maybe it was help from acid, pot, Alistair Crowley and that person Robert Johnson met at the crossroads, but their blues was like atomic thunder from outer space. A new generation discovers it every year. The American blues revival of the 80s has largely become the in-house music of chain barbecue restaurants like Rib Crib and Famous Dave's. Here is the thing that caused my lengthy lack of post. Doing research on those bands was impossible, because I could find very little information about them on the Internet. I could track down very little of the music. I looked in an old Gold Disc AOR catalog from the 90s at work and only found a few names I remembered. Most of the groups had names like Jimmy Fudbucker and the Skillet Lickers. The only thing I found was a comment on the message board that summed up why these groups didn't have the impact of the British groups of the 60s. This person said "It lacked the feeling and soul that the blues is supposed to have. They made the blues bland and boring." 

5. Mummers String Bands (50s): Ferko String Band, Nu-Tornados, Quaker City Boys. If you wondered what in the world that photo at the top of this post represented, here it is. Sadly, I have to blame this one on one of my broadcasting media heroes: Dick Clark. The Mummers Parade has been a New Years Day tradition for over a century in Philadelphia. In the 50s, it was aired live on TV. This was also when American Bandstand was broadcast from Philadelphia.  The oddly dressed marchers and bands in the parade can only use string and percussion instruments. Some how they wound up catching the nations attention. Ferko String Band performed mainly instrumentals on records, but they had a hit. A vocal group, with a Mummers sanctioned banjo and glockenspiel, called The Quaker City Boys gave us "Teasin." 

The Nu-Tornados, on the other hand, gave us the dorkiest hit of the early days of rock & roll. A song called "Philadelphia U.S.A."It makes "Pink Shoe Laces" look like "Blowin In the Wind." The trend lasted roughly a year and thankful stayed in Philly after that.

4. Nostalgia - Camp (60s): New Vaudeville Band, Ian Whitcomb, Rainy Daze, Purple Gang, Bonzo Dog Band.  The Pop Art movement of the 60s lead to nostalgia for the pop culture of the past. In some circles, it was known as camp. Starting in about 1965, British Invasion artist Ian Whitcomb, known for his breathless hit "You Turn Me On," started reviving old ragtime songs like "Where Did Robinson Crusoe Go With Friday On Saturday Night?" The next year, British composer Geoff Stephens, wrote a song called "Winchester Cathedral." He had it recorded by a studio group with a vocal by John Carter, the former lead singer of the Ivy League, singing through a megaphone, like singers of the 1920s. Using the name The New Vaudeville Band, the song became an unexpected hit and spawned some other records with that sound. Several older artist (Rudy Vallee, Guy Lombardo, Lawrence Welk, George Burns and Tony Randall) and easy listening acts recorded cover versions, as well as bringing back more old songs from the 20s. It also spawn two bad copies that were blatant drug references. A band out of Denver used the nostalgia sound for their sledgehammer subtle minor hit "Accapolco Gold" and a British group called the Purple Gang recorded "Granny Takes a Trip." One group who started out doing the nostalgia sound revival act but left it behind was The Bonzo Dog Band. Here is one of those nostalgia tunes they recorded.


3. Death Songs (50s - 60s): "Teen Angel," "The Leader of the Pack," "Tell Laura I Love Her," "Last Kiss." This is one of those trends that have for years caused people to ask "WHY?". What caused the teenagers of the late 50s until the British Invasion to love such morbid songs. Many trace the beginning of this to be early 1959 and the death of Buddy Holly, Richie Valence and Big Bopper.  First came Mark Dining's "Teen Angel" and soon the Top 40 was filled with car wrecks (Ray Peterson's "Tell Laura I Love Her" J. Frank Wilson "Last Kiss"), drownings (Jody Reynolds "Endless Sleep"), suicides (Pat Boone "Moody River", ghost girls ("Laurie"), a football team in a bus crash ("The Hero"), a girl eaten by a shark ("The Water Was Red") and a biker who may have hit a truck ("The Leader of the Pack"). This phase started to fade with the death of President Kennedy. Teens turned to the happy music of the British Invasion and Motown acts. The nail in the coffin (pardon the pun) may have been "I Want My Baby Back" by Jimmy Cross. It was a parody that took things a little too far. Jimmy misses his dead girlfriend so much that he digs up he coffin and crawls inside with her. Of all of these songs, my favorite is "Johnny Remember Me" by Johnny Leyton. He never says what happened to the girl or really if she is dead or not, but, thanks to production from Joe Meek, she is a spooky as a Roger Corman Poe movie.


2. Spoken Word Recitations: (60s): "A Open Letter To My Teenage Son,""I.O.U," "Grover Henson Feels Forgotten," "History Repeats Itself," "The Americans (A Canadian's Opinion)," "Gallant Men." This may get me into trouble. Before there was talk radio and memes on Facebook, there were the spoken word recitations. Don't get me wrong, not all were preachy tirades. Some spoken word recitations were stories with a musical background, such as "Old Rivers" by Walter Brennan, "Ringo" by Lorne Greene, "Phantom 309" by Red Sovine, and "The Shifting Whispering Sands" by Billy Vaughan with Ken Nordine. The others give us lectures against burning our draft card and respecting our elders, the similarities between President Lincoln and President Kennedy, how Europeans and "smug self-righteous Canadians" need to respect Americans, the true meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance, how kids need positive role models and how much your mother has done for you. 75 percent of these records used an instrumental version of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" for a background. After the 60s, these type of recordings fell out of fashion because they don't gel well with the rest of the programing on music stations.  Imagine if you were listening to the radio today and between the latest hit by Beyonce and the latest hit by Katy Perry, the radio station played a cranky, old, white griping about how today's teenagers are stupid, people on welfare or illegal aliens . You understand. I will admit I do have two favorites that actually came along after the boom of these records in the mid to late 60s. One is 1999's "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)", which was credited to producer Baz Luhrmann, but the reading is by actor Lee Perry. The other is 1971's "Desiderata (Child of the Universe)" by talk show host Les Crane. What I like about these are the upbeat music and positive, affirmative tone.


1.  Answer Songs (50s - 60s): "He'll Have To Stay," "I'm the Girl From Wolverton Mountain," "I'll Save The Last Dance For You," "Tell Tommy I Miss Him," "I'm the Duchess of Earl," "Oh Neil," "Yes, I'm Lonesome Tonight," "Gary, Don't Sell My Diamond Ring," and "I'm Glad They Took You Away Ha-Ha!" The most ridiculous of all of these trends I mentioned has to be the answer song trend of the 60s. It's roots were planted in the early 50s on the rhythm and blues side when Hank Ballard & the Midnighters released "Work With Me, Annie" and on the country side with Hank Thompson's "The Wild Side of Life." Etta James fired back at Ballard with "Roll With Me, Henry" and Kitty Wells snapped back at Thompson with "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels." For some reason the peak began in 1960 and lasted until the British Invasion hit (Let's face it, the British Invasion groups can be thanked for getting rid of awful stuff). Every time a male artist or group had a hit, another record company would release a bad re-write of the song with a female singer or group and visa versa. You can tell from the above titles that much of this was pure dreck (although "Oh Neil" was by Carole King, who Neil Sedaka wrote "Oh, Carol" about, so there was a point to that one).  The only ones that worked are Jan Bradley's "Mama Didn't Lie," an answer to The Shirelles hit "Mama Said There Would Be Days Like This," Katy Perry's "California Gurls," which was an answer to Jay-Z "Empire State of Mind" and, the grand daddy of all answer songs, "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynard Skynard, which was an answer to Neil Young's "Southern Man" and "Alabama." The reason these work is they are original songs that sound different than the songs they are an answer to not a carbon copy with the gender of the singer changed.
Some will, of course, holler "What about disco? What about rap? What about hair bands? What about psychedelic music? What about punk?" Those genres and styles had staying power, whether you like them or not. These are brief flash in the pans. Lucky for us they were brief.

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