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.
The following is a very important public service announcement from This Just In…
Fellas, you’ve been warned. Tomorrow, Saturday is Sweetest Day.
Many skeptics and non-romantic fuddie duddies believe Sweetest Day was created by high level business executives because, after all, they gave us Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving.
Sweetest Day originated in the birth place of rock and roll, Cleveland, Ohio in 1922. Herbert Birch Kingston had an idea. He wanted to somehow spread joy into the lives of orphans and shut-ins and those society had basically forgotten or turned its back on. Enlisting the help of friends, they passed out gifts to the underprivileged.
To mark the very first Sweetest Day, movie star Ann Pennington presented 2,200 Cleveland newspaper boys with boxes of candy to express gratitude for their work. Another movie star at the time, Theda Bara, gave out 10,000 boxes of candy to people in Cleveland hospitals and also gave candy to all who came to watch her film in a local theater.
Many years ago while filling in for Mark Belling on WISN the Friday before Sweetest Day, I did what turned out to be, in my view, a hilariously entertaining segment about Sweetest Day.
There were the curmudgeons who angrily huffed and puffed they wouldn’t spend an extra dime for their spouses or significant others on Sweetest Day. Many others couldn’t say enough about how special the day was.
I’ll never forget the woman who called in who was dead serious when she said she and her husband exchanged firearms on the third Saturday of October.
Kinda gets you choked up, doesn’t it?
This week, we dig into the oldies vault for sweet music that’s a whole lotta fun.
Let’s get started.
My goodness. You just never know who’s going to drop in.
OK. The previous song needs some explanation.
Lee Hazelwood wrote it.
After all these years I can’t believe (but understand) what he once said:
“Sugar Town was an LSD song if there ever was one. I was in a folk club in LA which had two levels. I could see these kids lining up sugar cubes and they had an eye-dropper and were putting something on them. I wasn’t a doper so I didn’t know what it was but I asked them. It was LSD and one of the kids said, ‘You know, it’s kinda Sugar Town.’ Nancy knew what the song was about because I told her, but luckily Reprise (Records) didn’t.”
What did Nancy Sinatra have to say?
“It was basically about LSD, but was not publicized as that. It was Lee’s ‘Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds.’ It went against my image which made it tough to choose the other songs for the same collection (album).”
Again, the songwriter, Lee Hazelwood:
“You had to make the lyric dingy enough where the kids knew what you were talking about — and they did. Double entendre. But not much more if you wanted to get it played on the radio.”
My how times have changed.
This next tune definitely has that 60’s feel and sound.
The group was from Hinsdale, Illinois and became quite popular in the Chicago area. For a while they called themselves “The Travelers,” until they learned another band was already using that name.
When it was becoming somewhat difficult to find a replacement one of the band members noted their dilemma was a “cryin’ shame.”
Suddenly the search was over.
In 1966 the group decided to cover a tune the British band “The Searchers” did in 1963 that was never released in America. It reached #49 on the Billboard chart and #4 on a survey by Chicago radio station WLS-AM.
It’s a real sweet toe-tapper.
“Sugar and Spice” never quite cracked the national Top 40, but was a big regional hit for the Chicago band. I remember it well on Milwaukee radio stations WOKY and WRIT in 1966.
Do you recall bubble gum music?
This genre wasn’t genius material. The melody and the lyrics were simple and repetitive. The stars were the Ohio Express and the 1910 Fruitgum Company.
There were lyrics like, “Yummy yummy yummy I got love in my tummy.”
“Hey Jude” it wasn’t.
But it sure was sweet and innocent.
Check out Tommy Roe lip-syncing one of his hits on the after school program in the 60’s, “Where the Action Is.” Filmed in 1966, and yes, that’s Dick Clark narrating.
Our next artists were the biggest-selling group of the 1970’s. By 2005 their combined worldwide sales of albums and singles exceeded 100 million copies. This one did extremely well on the country charts and was a very under-rated recording in their discography.
On the morning of February 4, 1983, Karen Carpenter collapsed at her family’s home in Downey, California. She was taken to a local hospital, but the medical staff was unable to revive her. Carpenter died of heart failure, likely brought on by her longtime battle with anorexia. She was 32.
That’s it for this week.
Have a great weekend.
And if you’ve never celebrated Sweetest Day, try it. You may just love it.
For our close, get ready to sing along at the right parts.