Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.
Daryl Dragon, the “Captain” half of the popular recording duo the Captain and Tennille, died last week of renal failure at the age of 76. The group’s string of huge hits in the 70’s began with “Love Will Keep Us Together.” Ironically the two divorced in 2014. “I can say without exaggeration that he showed no physical affection for me during our very long marriage,” said Toni Tennille.
Dragon came from a musical family. His father, Carmen, was a composer and conductor, and his mother, Eloise Dragon, was a soprano who sang on radio programs. Darryl Dragon took classical piano training but preferred the boogie.
This week we’re featuring the act that had seven hits in the Top Ten, but with special emphasis on the keyboard prowess of Dragon who could play 16 electronic instruments. Pay close attention to Dragon’s major contributions. Really, it’s hard not to.
Let’s get started with a song composed by Tennille as she was falling in love with the ultra-introverted Dragon. It got airplay on a local Los Angeles radio station a few years before they truly hit stardom with “Love Will Keep Us Together.”
“I wrote it for Daryl,” said Tennille, “but he was such a dodo. He even fixed me up with his best friend.”
It reached #4 in 1975, the same year the pair married.
This was recorded for the late night TV program “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert.”
“After our first hit,” Tennille said, “everyone thought, ‘Aren’t they nice—so young and fresh.’ But we were 30 years old. We had to grow up.”
The couple’s songs became, as Tennille told Dick Clark during an interview on the “American Bandstand” TV show, “more sensual.”
Howard Greenfield and Neil Sedaka wrote their first hit that went gold and won a Grammy Award. They wrote this one, too, that made the Top Ten in 1978.
In October 2011 Rolling Stone magazine asked its readers to name the worst songs of the 1970’s. This next selection came in at #5 (Disco Duck was ranked #1).
Faculty members in the Music Department at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota said. “This offensive ballad chronicles the romance between two anthropomorphic bacon-eating muskrats.”
In a 2001 interview Tennille said, “I don’t know why people are so polarized about this tune. People either love it, or they loathe it.”
Like Liberace used to say the Captain and Tennille were laughing all the way to the bank as the recording hit #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in 1976. Tennille shares an interesting story and the Captain whimsically matches up his wizardry to the cute (or dreadful depending on your taste) lyrics, even using a xylophone.
At the White House
“We had two great hits, ‘Love Will Keep us Together’ and ‘The Way I Want to Touch You,’’ Tennille said in 2016. “I thought, ‘I probably can’t do ‘The Way I Want to Touch You.’ It might be a little too intimate for the White House.’ But then Mrs. Ford came in and said, ‘Are you going to do ‘The Way I Want to Touch You?’
“I said, ‘We weren’t planning to.’ She said, ‘Oh you must! It’s Gerry and my favorite song.’ I went, ‘Okay, we’ll do that.’ Then I said to Daryl, ‘We really should do ‘Muskrat Love,’ too.’ It was a huge hit and I thought everyone would get a kick out of it. I thought they seemed like a fun group!”
Tennille and Dragon would often run into the former President and First Lady in California.
“Mrs. Ford would say, ‘Gerry you remember Toni and Daryl! They performed at the White House.’ And the President said, ‘Yes, you did the song about the mice.’ We said, ‘Mr. President, it was muskrats!’”
On some of their albums, the Captain would do an instrumental. This one is no muskrat melody.
That’s it for this week.
Have a great weekend.
We close with a pretty standard that Johnny Mercer wrote the music and lyrics to in 1944. It’s dreamy alright with a positive message. Don’t miss Dragon when the lovely Tennille sings “smoke rings rise in the air.”