Showing posts with label teen love. Show all posts
Showing posts with label teen love. Show all posts

Sunday, June 28, 2015

***Those Oldies But Goodies…Out In The Be-Bop ‘50s Song Night- The Battle Rages- Jerry Lee or Elvis?- Jerry Lee Lewis’ “High School Confidential”

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of Jerry Lee Lewis banging away on that piano for his life on High School Confidential from the movie of the same name.

Markin comment:

This is the back story, the teen listener back story if you like, going back to the primordial youth time of the mid to late 1950s with its bags full of classic rock songs for the ages. Of course, any such efforts have to include the views of one Billie, William James Bradley, the schoolboy mad-hatter of the 1950s rock jailbreak out in our “the projects” neighborhood. Ya, in those days, unlike during his later fateful wrong turn trajectory days, every kid, including best friend Markin, me, lived to hear what he had to say about any song that came trumpeting over the radio, at least every one that we would recognize as our own.

Billie and I spent many, many hours mainly up in his tiny bedroom, his rock heaven bedroom, walls plastered with posters of Elvis, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, somewhat later Jerry Lee Lewis, and of every new teen heartthrob singer, heartthrob to the girls that is, around, on his night table every new record Billie could get his hands on, by hook or by crook, and neatly folded piles of clothing, also gathered by that same hook or by crook, appropriate to the king hell king of the schoolboy rock scene, the elementary school rock scene between about 1956 to 1960. Much of that time was spent discussing the “meaning” of various songs, especially their sexual implications, ah, their mystery of girls-finding-out-about worthiness.

Although in early 1959 my family had started the process of moving out of the projects, and, more importantly, I had begun to move away from Billie’s orbit, his new found orbit as king hell gangster wannabe, I still would wander back there until mid-1960 just to hear his take on whatever music was interesting him at the time. These commentaries, these Billie commentaries, are my recollections of his and my conversations on the song lyrics in this series. But I am not relying on memory alone. During this period we would use my father’s tape recorder, by today’s standard his big old reel to reel monstrosity of a tape recorder, to record Billie’s covers of the then current hit songs (for those who have not read previously of Billie’s “heroics” he was a pretty good budding rock singer at the time) and our conversations of those song meanings that we fretted about for hours. I have, painstakingly, had those reels transcribed so that many of these commentaries will be the actual words spoken during those conversations(somewhat edited, of course). That said, Billie, king hell rock and roll king of the old neighborhood, knew how to call a lyric, and make us laugh to boot. Wherever you are Billie I’m still pulling for you. Got it.
*********
High School Confidential lyrics-Jerry Lee Lewis

You better open up honey it's your lover boy me that's a knockin'
You better listen to me sugar all the cats are at the High School rockin'
Honey get your boppin' shoes Before the juke box blows a fuse
Got everybody hoppin' everybody boppin'

Boppin' at the High School Hop
Boppin' at the High School Hop
Shakin' at the High School Hop
I've rollin' at the High School Hop
I've been movin' at the High School Hop
Everybody’s hoppin' Everybody's boppin'
Boppin' at the High School Hop

Come on little baby gonna rock a little bit tonight
Woooh I got get with you sugar gonna shake things up tonight
Check out the heart beatin' rhythm cause my feet are moving smooth and
Light

Boppin' at the High School Hop
Shakin' at the High School Hop
Rollin' at the High School Hop
Movin' at the High School Hop
Everybody’s hoppin' just a boppin' just a boppin'

Piano Solo!

Come on little baby let me give a piece good news good news good news
Jerry Lee is going to rock away all his blues
My hearts beatin' rhythm and my soul is singin' the blues

Oooooh Boppin' at the High School Hop
Shakin' at the High School Hop
Rollin' at the High School Hop
Gettin' it at the High School Hop
Everybody’s hoppin' Everybody's boppin'
Boppin' at the High School Hop
********
Peter Paul Markin comment:

“Who are you taking to the hop? Come on now, tell me, tell me, your old buddy Billie, who you asked? Was it Theresa? Was it Donna? Was it Karen?” That was the incessant bugging by my old elementary school boy compadre, Billie, William James Bradley if you didn’t know already, every time a school sock hop came up. But you know, or you should know, that was just a little way that he had to bait me about my shyness, or rather my awkwardness around girls. Around girls that he, king hell king of the late 1950s rock night “discarded” and left for the rest of us, especially for me.

And he knew, he knew damn well that I had not gotten up the nerve to ask any of those three ex-flames, or any girl, to the dance coming up in a few days. For one thing because, as king hell king of the rock night, and therefore king, crowned or uncrowned, of the sock hop he had all the configurations, combinations, set-ups, and, and, no-go bust-ups all computed out, no, not on some machine memory depot but in his head. For another because he didn’t know that I had decided just to go to the dance alone and maybe getting lucky there. Heck, I had done it before, a few times, although not with any great success but if there is any rhyme or reason to youth it is around the possibilities of getting lucky. Of course, old Billie had “selected” Laura as his escort, no awkwardness in Billie, although I had heard, heard from more than one budding teenage source that she “liked me,”(don’t ever tell him this though for I will deny it on seven stacked bibles). Or liked my seriousness, and my clowny, get in the way bookishness. So I am going “stag” on the hope, the hell or high water hope that Billie will let his old buddy, his old amigo, his, well you know, have a dance with his escort to see if I have some “magic.”

Now, and ever since I heard about her opinion of me, I have been wracking my brain to figure out this question. How could she “like me”, or not like me for that matter, I do not know because although I had looked over in her direction in class dreamily (yes, dreamily) more than somewhat I had never said word one to her, or her to me. Now this Laura, if you want a description is not drop-dead beautiful, at least by Billie-Markin defined drop-dead beautiful, twelve and thirteen year old girl beautiful, but she has something else that I would not (and Billie definitely would not) figure out how to say for many years, she was fetching. Definition: nice figure, meaning having a shape, if you really want to know, because when you think about it, boy or girl, twelve and thirteen year old boy or girl, any girl that had a shape (meaning had womanly contours, hips, breasts, nicely-formed legs) rather than a stock stick figure tomboy-like girl was bound to get ahead in that be-bop night, and probably now too.

But more than that, for me, if not for Billie, she didn’t giggle, silly giggle like the other girls when a boy said something stupid-funny (and the twelve and thirteen year old boy universe is more than somewhat filled with stupid-funny stuff done by eons of clueless guys, trying, trying just like me, and just like Billie if he could have ever been honest about it, to figure out the key to the girl-charm thing, yes, there is plenty of room in that universe even now for the stupid-funny) and, she carried herself in a way, sometimes with a certain thoughtful look, sometimes by a thing she did by putting her fingers to her lips, and maybe the most important, that she knew she was a girl and was content with that knowledge. She would lack for no dates or admirers, ever. Oh, ya she was also smart, not Billie street smart, not Markin two-thousand facts smart but asking and answering teacher smart, without being crazy smart about it that you also knew every boy, or almost every boy, in the twelve and thirteen year old boy universe did not like in girls then, and maybe now for all I know. It only gets sifted out later.

But enough of Laura, of Billie, christ of Markin as well, of pre-sock hop arrangements, derangements and dreamily kid in the night be-bop stuff let us get to the sock hop. Hey, wait a minute, you know what sock hops are, or you heard from your parents or grandparents what sock hops are, right? Back in the fifties, yes, the 1950s (and a little bit into the 1960s but the term had kind of died out by then, at least for “non-squares”). If you don’t then I’ll fill you in quickly now, but you’ll see you really know about all of this because it is nothing but a “primitive”, maybe Stone Age when you hear it, version of any school dance scene since they started making teenagers a separate social category in the world, the whole wide world even. Okay the idea was to hem in this mad dash, this mad craze to dance, and dance guys with girls and vice versa, that kids have been into since the radio and jukebox came on the scene, maybe back in that Stone Age now that I think about it.

So dear mother and father, you name the generation, figured out if you can’t beat them join them, and the schools (and churches later) were in cahoots. So every once in a while to keep three eyes on this stuff (and to avoid the feared, seriously feared, basement or “family room”-launched “petting parties” if kids are left to their own devices), maybe a few times a month they would throw a sock hop (the sock part comes from the fact, the hard fact, that most girls, most twelve and thirteen year old girls, wore ankle socks. Ya, no nylons, etc. If you don’t believe me look it up on Wikipedia, or something). Now, most times, this was nothing but some parent or teacher acting as dee-jay and "spinning platters” (records) in some dank, well-lighted, too well-lighted school gym or church basement, christ more than once in the school cafeteria when the gym was being used for other purposes that night. Yes, the night, the night in those days being from seven to about ten in the evening so you would have to think pretty hard about not going, stag or dated up, to the dance if for no other reason than to be able to get out of the house, the cramped, nowhere project house (really apartment) for a few hours uncramped freedom.

This night, this night that Billie kidded me about, this Billie and Laura night, though somehow, although I am vague on the details of how they were brought in, we are not reduced to cranky, scratchy records but a real live local band, a band that prided itself, I heard, on doing covers of the “hot” new singers and groups we knew from American Bandstand (an afternoon television show that had Philly kids, older Philly kids, dancing and swaying to whatever dee-jay Dick Clark, is he still around?, decided was wholesome and fit for the ears of America’s afternoon rock obsessed youth). So this is a time you definitely did not want to miss. And to truth to tell I went early, nervously early if you must know, to see what was up and watch the band set up.

Now this is not just any time in the 1950s, although the sock hop thing, the worried parent, worried about those “petting party” things(and more, much more, about sex things) and this wild and woolly rock obsessed thing their no understand what kids are into could have been anytime from about 1955 on, from the time that Elvis exploded onto the scene with those swiveling hips, that jumping girl guitar, that unkempt hair (ya, unkempt to them), and that permanent sneer came onto the scene.

No, this is 1958 when the Elvis thing had died down a little now that he was dead, or we thought he was dead, and for a fact he might have well have been dead in the constant teen chew-up of rock talent from the kind of music and movies he was into after giving us such great stuff like Jailhouse Rock, Good Rockin’ Tonight, Heartbreak Hotel and One Night With You. Ya, the king was dead, long live the king, and let’s move on, okay. Billie and I talked about it, about how guys, rock guys that is, seen to have a short shelf-life, but as Billie knew, knew from his own bumpy rock “career”, that’s show biz. So this night we are wondering, wondering like crazy, how the band will work out and whose music they will cover.

Like I said I got there early and watched the band set up, including a piano besides the guitar and drums so I figure maybe they will do some Little Richard or Fats Domino stuff. Seven o’clock comes and here comes Billie with Laura. Wow, Billie has on a nice jacket, wide lapels like all the rock guys are wearing these days (I’ll tell you about how he got it sometime but you can figure that a projects boy didn’t get it as a birthday present from Ma and Pa). Really sharp. But double wow on Laura who has on a cashmere sweater, some wide skirt and, can you believe this, nylons, to show off her nice legs. Oh ya, and just a hint of smile on her face like she is here with the king of the rock night, crowned or uncrowned, and she has staked out the territory as queen, demure queen, but queen nevertheless.

Yes, fetching (although we will agree between ourselves that I don’t know that word, or how to use it in relationship to describing girls and their charms just yet, alright). But here is where the sweetest part comes in when Billie and Laura make their royal entrance and come over to where I am standing when Billie introduces me, formally introduces Laura to me, she gives me this, well, I don’t care if I do wear out the word, fetching smile and says “I’ve seen you in class but you never seem to pay any attention to me. I thought that report you gave on Greek democracy in class was very well done.” Be still my heart, she actually remembers the report… and me. And here I am wearing some bedraggled (always bedraggled, always) stripped (stripes, jesus) white collared shirt, ratty black pants, and old Thom McAn Easter-bought brown shoes. Well, she remembered my report, that’s a start, and it actually was pretty good because I went to the Thomas Crane Public Library right up in Adamsville Square to look the stuff up.

But enough of reports, and "be still my hearts" because the music is going on. A few covers of Little Richard and Fats as I expected, with that piano and all, some Buddy Holly that sounded a little tinny, a few other non-memorable odd and ends, including some Elvis that sounded, and I again swear on seven bibles, like old time parents’ music, like Frank Sinatra, or those guys. The suddenly, the leader of the band said that he had a special guest on the piano for the next number. We all wondered what the song would be while they were setting the piano up closer to the front. I heard somebody say it was going to be something by a new guy, Jerry Lee Lewis. Whoa! I have only heard him once or twice but I thought his piano was smoking so maybe this guest guy could do a good cover on it. Billie, Billie king hell king of the rock night, must have known something was up, and why (always why) because he brought Laura over and asked me if wanted to dance the next dance with her. Me, two left feet, or two right feet, stag, coming to the dance stag just hoping that I would get lucky with “discarded” Theresa, Donna, or Karen dance with fetching Laura. No way. The she said “but I really want to dance with you, you being Billie friend, and he says you are a good dancer,” and then turns a very whimsical smile on me.

Well what are you going to do when a woman (alright girl, but a girl with a shape) wants to dance with you, and had something nice to say about your school report, and, oh yes had that smile, that come hinter smile that leaves a man (okay, boy) anywhere from twelve to twelve hundred weak at the knees. Well, the music is starting so I say yes, okay yes.

And what does our guest pianist do but a cover, a hot cover by the way, of Jerry Lee Lewis’ latest, High School Confidential, which I had heard about but had not heard. Great. Laura and I are dancing away and she is doing nothing but give me meaningful smiles and, maybe that rumor about her “liking me” was true. I am just dancing away like crazy and people are looking at me like where did he learn how to do that. After the dance I returned Laura to Billie, a little miffed Billie but I could have been wrong on that. And then Theresa came over and asked if I wanted to dance. A few dances, a few Laura-less dances later the call for last dance came, and not feeling like watching Laura with Billie just then I headed home.

The next morning, a Sunday morning, if I recall, Billie came over to the house and was fuming/hangdog as we talked, talked obviously about the sock hop doings. Fuming because I had switched up on him. How? Well, apparently, Laura, sweet fetching Laura, spent more than the allotted time talking about me, rather than about Billie’s virtues and he had used the dance, the Jerry Lee Lewis manic rock number that he had found out the band was going to play to make me look silly (his word, although mine when I heard it was more of an expletive). Hangdog because he felt bad now that he had done his best friend wrong, wrong over a girl although, in Billie fashion, he tried to step back and argue that maybe he did me a favor getting me out on the dance floor. See, though what he didn’t know (and don’t tell him either, if you know his whereabouts) is that I had been taking lessons from his slightly older sister, Carol, on how to dance this latest faster dance stuff.

So that is the end of the story, or almost the end. A few days later Laura knocked at our apartment door in the afternoon after school. My mother answered the door and invited her in, although she, my mother that is, said Laura was coming in no matter what from the look on her face. She was fuming, although as it turns out good fuming, because she said she had been smiling at me like crazy when we were dancing to give me the “hint” to ask her for the last dance, the last close to her dance. Sorry, Laura. And then she blurted out her command, “You and I are going to the next sock hop together and you had better not say no.” Well, when a woman (girl, are you happy) "insists” on something, almost anything like that, and on top of that had that kind remark about that school report, and that shape, what is a boy, a boy of the twelve and thirteen year old universe to do but say yes. So at the next dance I won’t be dancing with Billie “discard” Theresa, Donna, or Karen although they are okay but with fetching Laura. So there Billie, we are even. And if anybody asks you, like they asked me once-Elvis or Jerry Lee? Jerry Lee, long live the king.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

***Out In The Be-Bop, Be-Bop 1960s Night- The World Turned Upside Down-The Great Teenage Triangle

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of Dale Ward performing his classic 1960s teen angst Letter From Sherry, with lyrics provide below, in order to give a flavor of the times to this piece

CD Review

The Heart Of Rock ‘n’ Roll: 1962-1963, take two, various artists, Time-Life Music, 1997


Scene: Brought to mind by one of the songs in this compilation, Dale Ward performing his classic 1960s teen angst Letter From Sherry, with lyrics provide below, in order to give a flavor of the times to this piece.

Nobody said being a teenager was going to be easy now, in 1860 or whenever they invented teenagers, 1960 the time period of this piece, or, hell, 2360. Teen angst, short term or long, comes with the territory. However sometimes something, in this case a song, will sum up just exactly how hard teen life really is. I admit this one had me a little weepy for a while over the fate, a common fate, of one of the characters. That is until I realized, wait a minute this is teen stuff, next week the configuration will have totally changed, or the boys (or girl) in this teen triangle will have sworn off girls (or boys, for the girl). Ya, right.

Rather than leave the reader in any more suspense let me give the details of the heart-rending dilemma. It seems that Robert, well let’s call him Robert because Roberts always seem to be the kind of guys who draw the short end of the stick in teen life, was head over heels in love with Sherry, and had been ever since they met a couple of summers back down at the far end, the teen far end, of Olde Saco Beach up in cold climate Maine so it must have been July, no later. Needless to say they were both “enjoying” the rite of passage teen bored-to-death vacation with their ever-loving families (dogs, optional, although included here since they met while walking the respective family dogs) when the dogs met, and presto Robert and Sherry met. Things went fine for a while, as such summer romances go, and they wrote during the winter with all kinds of expectations of another high school teen romance summer, with maybe a little more than just kissing this time.

As luck would have it though Robert, studious, shoulder to the wheel if smitten Robert, had an opportunity to work at Ben’s Market in Olde Saco that next summer in order to help with his soon to be impeding college tuition. Naturally he had to “jump” at the opportunity (with a very big “friendly” push from his parents). And that is when things started to fall apart.

Nature, and teen nature is a pure scientific example of that law, abhors a vacuum. Especially a foxy Sherry on the beach alone, no Robert alone, (and no dog along for introductions this time) when Eddie, let’s call him Eddie, not Edward, not, Ed, not Eduardo, just Eddie because it is always Eddies who scoop up the foxes in teen life came swaggering up the beach, sat right beside Sherry and started, well, started in his version of fast eddie love talk. Just like that. And Sherry, well, Sherry was just in the mood to hear such talk, if not from "shoulder the wheel" Robert then Eddie, kind of hunky Eddie, would do just fine. After all a girl has to look out for herself in this wicked old world. The long and short of it was that Sherry made a date with Eddie, a happy date when she found out that Eddie had a “boss” ’57 Chevy for that date. Robert’s was working at his silly old market job anyway so he would be none the wiser. That night, it might have been the stars, it might have been the moon, it might have been Sherry mad at Robert, or it just might have been the time of her time, but Sherry let Eddie have his way with her down at the far, far, far end of Olde Saco beach. The place where only teenagers with something on their minds other than throwing pebbles in the surf go, no one else not even the cops.

So far still nothing remarkable, right. A million teens lost in the moon-beam night learning about the ways of the world, the adult sex world that they keep hush-hush about but which every teen since Socrates, maybe before, gets hip to, one way or another. But here is where it gets dicey. See Eddie already had a foxy girlfriend back home, Lula Belle, who outfoxes Sherry six ways to Sunday. And is rather possessive of her man. Switchblade-like possessive if it came to it. And Eddie, frankly, while he enjoyed Sherry was in it for kicks, for just doing it when the opportunity arose, and moving on. So that is exactly what he did. Sherry though, after the short summer tryst was over, started writing Eddie asking when he was coming back and all that kind of stuff, girl crush stuff.

Still not that remarkable though. What was though was that Eddie and Robert attended the same regional high school, Arundel High over the other side of Sanford (although they do not live in the same town) together and were both on the football team. (Robert the steady plebeian pulling guard, Fast Eddie, well, the fleet-footed halfback, natch) So one afternoon Eddie, Eddie acting as peacock, showed Robert, in the presence of his best friend, Josh Breslin and so that is how this situation became public, well, school knowledge, one of Sherry’s letters. Eddie went on a little about what he and Sherry did and what a cluck she was for writing a breeze guy like Eddie such stuff. And Eddie said right then and there that he bet Robert five dollars, five serious dollars, that he could write a couple of lines to Sherry about not having enough dough for postage stamps to write her before, or something, as his reason for not writing and he could be right back down there at the far, far, far end of Olde Saco Beach with Sherry anytime he wanted. Well, maybe not anytime because on hearing that Robert reared back and gave Eddie a punch that dropped him to the ground in nothing flat. So floor-fast Eddie and his jaw were on the bench for a while if Sherry wanted to know his whereabouts just then.



***********

Letter From Sherry lyrics-Dale War

A letter from Sherry
Oh boy, what a girl
But to the boy who really loves her
Its the end of the world.

A letter from Sherry
Brings teardrops to my eyes
A letter from Sherry
Oh why, Sherry, why?

My best friend named Eddie
Came by just yesterday
With a letter from Sherry
Heres what she had to say



Dear Eddie Dear Eddie, I love you I love you
With all my heart with all my heart
Vacation last summer
Was grand

And though you
You never write
I pray I pray
Each day and night

For Im yours
And yours alone
And dear Sherry, shes comin home


A letter from Sherry
Oh boy, what a girl
But to the boy who really loves her











Out In The Be-Bop, Be-Bop 1960s Night- The World Turned Upside Down-The Great Teenage Triangle



Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of Dale Ward performing his classic 1960s teen angst Letter From Sherry, with lyrics provide below, in order to give a flavor of the times to this piece

CD Review

The Heart Of Rock ‘n’ Roll: 19621963, take two, various artists, Time-Life Music, 1997


Scene: Brought to mind by one of the songs in this compilation, Dale Ward performing his classic 1960s teen angst Letter From Sherry, with lyrics provide below, in order to give a flavor of the times to this piece.

Nobody said being a teenager was going to be easy now, in 1860 or whenever they invented teenagers, 1960 the time of this piece, or, hell, 2360. Angst, short term or long, comes with the territory. However sometimes something, in this case a song, will sum up just exactly how hard teen life really is. I admit this one had me a little weepy for a while over the fate, a common fate, of one of the characters. That is until I realized, wait a minute this is teen stuff, next week the configuration will have totally changed, or the boys (or girl) in this teen triangle will have sworn off girls (or boys for the girl). Ya, right.

Rather than leave the reader in any more suspense let me give the details of the heart-rending dilemma. It seems that Robert, well let’s cal him Robert because Roberts always seem to be the kind of guys who draw the short end of the stick in teen life, is head over heels in love with Sherry, and has been ever since they met a couple of summers back down at the far end, the teen far end, of Olde Saco Beach up in cold climate Maine so it must have been July, no later. Needless to say they were both “enjoying” the rite of passage teen bored-to- death vacation with their ever-loving families (dogs, optional, although included here since they met while walking the respective family dogs) when the dogs met, and presto Robert and Sherry met. Things went fine for a while, as such summer romances go, and they wrote during the winter with all kinds of expectations of another high school teen romance summer, with maybe a little more than just kissing this time. As luck would have it Robert, studious, shoulder to the wheel if smitten Robert, had an opportunity to work at Ben’s Market in Olde Saco last summer in order o help with his soon to be impeding college tuition. Naturally he had to “jump” at the opportunity (with a very big “friendly” push from his parents. And that is when things started to fall apart.

Nature, and teen nature is a pure scientific example of that law, abhors a vacuum. Especially a foxy Sherry on the beach alone, no Robert alone, (and no dog along for introductions this time) when Eddie, let’s call him Eddie, not Edward, not, Ed, not Eduardo, just Eddie because it is always Eddies who scoop up the foxes in teen life comes swaggering up the beach, sits right beside Sherry and starts, well, starts in his version of love talk. Just like that. And Sherry, well, Sherry is just in the mood to hear such talk, if not from shoulder the wheel Robert then Eddie, kind of hunky Eddie will do just fine. After all a girl has to look out for herself in this wicked old world. The long and short of it is Sherry makes a date with Eddie, a happy date when she finds out that Eddie has a “boss” ’57 Chevy for that night. Robert’s working at his silly old market job anyway so he will be none the wiser. That night, t might have been the stars, it might have been the moon, it might have been Sherry mad at Robert, or it just might have been the time of her time but Sherry let Eddie have his way with her down at the far, far, far end of Olde Saco beach. The places where only teenagers with something on their minds other than throwing pebbles in the surf go, no one else not even the cops.

So far still nothing remarkable, right. A million teens lost in the moon-beam night learning about the ways of the world. But here is where it gets dicey. See Eddie already has a foxy girlfriend back home, Lula Belle, who outfoxes Sherry six way to Sunday. And is rather
Possessive of her man. Switchblade possessive if it came to it. And Eddie, frankly, while he enjoyed Sherry was in it for kicks, for just doing it when the opportunity arose and moving on. Sherry though started writing Eddie asking when he was coming back and al that kind of stuff, girl crush stuff. Still not that remarkable though. What is though is that Eddie and Robert attend the same regional high school (although they do not live in the same town) together and are both on the football time. So one afternoon Eddie, Eddie acting as peacock, shows Robert one of Sherry’s letters and goes on a little about what he and Sherry did and what a cluck she was for writing a breeze guy like Eddie. And Eddie said right then and there that he bet Robert five dollars, five serious dollars that he could write a couple of lines to Sherry about not having enough dough for postage stamps, or something, as his reason for not writing and he could be right back down there at the far, far, far end of Olde Saco Beach with Sherry anytime he wanted. Well, maybe not anytime because on hearing that Robert reared back and gave Eddie a punch that dropped him to the ground in nothing flat. So Eddie and his jaw are on the bench for a while if Sherry wants to know his whereabouts just now.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Where Have The Girls Gone- When Young Women’s Voices Ruled the Airwaves Before The British Rock Invasion, Circa 1964- Early Girls, Volume One

Where Have The Girls Gone- When Young Women’s Voices Ruled the Airwaves Before The British Rock Invasion, Circa 1964- Early Girls, Volume One

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZFIMeg15BA

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of Carol King performing It Might As Well Rain Until September.

Early Girls, Volume One, various singers, Ace Records ,1997

As I mentioned in a review of a two-volume set of, for lack of a better term, girl doo wop some of the songs which overlap in this five volume series, I have, of late, been running back over some rock material that formed my coming of age listening music (on that ubiquitous, and very personal, iPod, oops, battery-driven transistor radio that kept those snooping parents out in the dark, clueless, about what I was listening to, and that was just fine, agreed), and that of my generation, the generation of ’68. Naturally one had to pay homage to the blues influences from the likes of Muddy Waters, Big Mama Thornton, and Big Joe Turner. And, of course, the rockabilly influences from Elvis, Carl Perkins, Wanda Jackson, and Jerry Lee Lewis on. Additionally, I have spent some time on the male side of the doo wop be-bop Saturday night led by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers on Why Do Fools Fall In Love? (good question, right). I noted there that I had not done much with the female side of the doo wop night, the great "girl" groups that had their heyday in the late 1950s and early 1960s before the British invasion, among other things, changed our tastes in popular music. I would expand that observation here to include girls’ voices generally. As there, I make some amends for that omission here.

As I also noted in that earlier review one problem with the girl groups, and now girl vocals for a guy, me, a serious rock guy, me, was that the lyrics to many of the girl group songs, frankly, did not “speak to me.” After all how much empathy could a young ragamuffin of boy brought up on the wrong side of the tracks like this writer have for a girl who breaks a guy's heart after leading him on, yes, leading him on, just because her big bruiser of a boyfriend is coming back and she needs some excuse to brush the heartbroken lad off in the Angels' My Boyfriend’s Back. Or some lucky guy, some lucky Sunday guy, maybe, who breathlessly catches the eye of the singer in the Shirelles' Met Him On Sunday from a guy who, dateless Saturday night, was hunched over some misbegotten book, some study book, on Sunday feeling all dejected. And how about this, some two, or maybe, three-timing gal who berated her ever-loving boyfriend because she needs a good talking to, or worst, a now socially incorrect "beating" in Joanie Sommers’ Johnny Get Angry.

And reviewing the material in this volume gave me the same flash-back feeling I felt listening to girl doo wop sounds. I will give examples of that for this volume, and this approach will drive the reviews of all five of these volumes in the series. Ya, for starters what is a girl-shy boy to make of a song that when some big-voiced woman is telling one and all that her man is no good just because he was catting on her around in Betty Everett’s Your No Good; or some girl all chained up by a guy (not S&M stuff but worst, in a way, chains of mixed-up love) in Chains by The Cookies; or get all weepy about the trauma of a girl who is boy-less all summer by a girl-less guy for all seasons in It Might As Well Rain Until September by Carole King.

And how could a young ragamuffin get catch a break listening to some girl spreading the glad tidings about her new found love in the girls' lav Monday morning in I'm Into Something Good by Earl-Jean; or, the same kind of message, except maybe at the local pizza parlor, in I've Told Every Little Star by Linda Scott. And it goes on and on. Christ, even guys wearing pink shoe laces and looking like some goof have their devotees (but what about no song poor boy, plaid flannel-shirted, black chino-ed, with cuffs, Thom McAn-shoed guy, no way right) in Pink Shoe Laces by Dodie Stevens. And the love eternal love-style songs were worst, for example, a giggling, gaffing girl all plushed up by her boy in I Love How You Love Me by The Paris Sisters. Jesus, that could have been me.

And is there a place for such a lad even in the love’s trials and tribulations-type songs like when the moon took a holiday from looking out for lovers in Dark Moon by Bonnie Guitar; or when it didn’t in You by The Aquatones and was absolutely beaming in the incredible paean to everlasting love, 'Til by The Angels. Hell, even no account, long gone, no stamps, no stationary, no pen, no time to write Eddie has someone pining over him pining big time in Eddie My Love by The Teen Queens. And Eddie was nothing but long gone and never coming back. But the one that gets me, gets me big time, is a total song homage by some sweet girl just because he is her guy in Dedicated To The One I Love by The Shirelles. Lordy, lord.

So you get the idea, this stuff could not “speak to me.” Now you understand, right? Except, surprise, surprise foolish, behind the eight- ball, know-nothing youthful guy had it all wrong and should have been listening, and listening like crazy, to these lyrics because, brothers and sisters, they held the key to what was what about what was on girls’ minds back in the day, and maybe now a little too, and if I could have decoded this I would have had, well, the beginning of knowledge, girl knowledge. Damn. But that is one of the virtues, and maybe the only virtue of age. Ya, and also get this- you had better get your do-lang, do-lang, your shoop, shoop, and your best be-bop, be-bop into that good night voice out and sing along to the lyrics here. This, fellow baby-boomers, was our teen angst, teen alienation, teen love youth and now this stuff sounds great. And from girls even.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Those Oldies But Goodies…Out In The Be-Bop ‘60s Song Night- Betty Everett’s “It’s In His Kiss”

Click on to the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of Betty Everett performing her classic, It's In His Kiss.

It’s In His Kiss- Betty Everett

Does he love me?
I wanna know!
How can I tell if he loves me so?

(Is it in his eyes?)
Oh no! You need to see!
(Is it in his size?)
Oh no! You make believe!
If you wanna know
If he loves you so
Its in his kiss!
(That's where it is!)

(Oh yeah! Or is it in his face?)
no girls! It's just his charms!
(In his warm embrace?)
no girls! That's just his arms!
If you wanna know
If he loves you so
It's in his kiss!
(That's where it is!)
yeah!! Its in his kiss!
(That's where it is!)

Oh, oh, oh, honey !
Squeeze him tight!
Find out what you wanna know!
promise love, and if it really is,
It's there in his kiss!

(How 'bout the way he acts?)
no no no! That's not the way!
You're not listenin' to all I'm sayin'!
If you wanna know
If he loves you so
It's in his kiss!
(That's where it is!)
Oh, yeah! Its in his kiss!
(That's where it is!)

Oh, oh, oh, hold him !
Squeeze him tight!
Find out what you wanna know!
promise love, and if it really is,
well It's there in his kiss!

(How 'bout the way he acts?)
no no no! That's not the way!
You're not listenin' to all I'm sayin'!
If you wanna know
If he loves you so
It's in his kiss!
(That's where it is!)
Oh, yeah ! Its in his kiss!
(That's where it is!)
mmmm ! Its in his kiss!
(that's where it is)
mmmm is in his kiss


Well everyone knows by now that Jenny Dolan and John, John O’Connor, the running back gridiron hero of the North Adamsville football team, the one who almost single-handedly won them their state class championship are postponing their plans to be married now that John has been given a football scholarship to Boston College. See the love-bugs want to wait to see how that pans out, and besides they have each other through thick and thin so to wait is no big deal. But just in case that is not in the cards they are together more these days and so John is not to be seen around Salducci’s Pizza Parlor as much as in his old single days, or even as much as in his “married” days, the days since he and Jennie became an item a couple of years back.

For that matter Frankie Riley, the leader of the pack, hasn’t been seen lately either, ever since his 247th “break-up" with flame, Joanne, Joanne Doyle. That can only mean one thing, old Frankie is out catting around before Joanne reins him in again. And Chrissie knows, Chrissie McNamara knows damn well that Frankie is on the prowl because about twenty minutes after he got his “walking papers” from Joanne this time he was on the phone to Chrissie seeing if she was ‘available.’ “No dice,” said Chrissie and not because she wasn’t interested in Frankie. A lot of girls were, a little. Except “ball and chain” Joanne history meant that this was just Frankie lark time. Besides Chrissie and Joanne had been friends longer than Joanne had known Frankie and Chrissie liked Joanne, which is not what you could say about most girls who knew Joanne. But this is not about Joanne and so it need not be gotten into here.

What needs to be gotten into though is why Chrissie is ambling into Salducci’s Pizza Parlor at ten o’clock at night, a Thursday school night ten o’clock all by herself. Well, it ain’t for the pizza, although the way Tonio, the zen master pizza maker and owner of the parlor, makes those pizza slather and slither is worth coming in for almost any time. And it ain’t for Peter Paul Markin’s company, no way, not for a long time. Peter Paul is “holding down the fort” just now while his “boss” Frankie is, as is already known, out catting around. He probably already has made a note, a mental note, that Frankie for the 27th time has “struck out” with Chrissie and so maybe she wants his company. No way, no way that way, anyway. Peter Paul and Chrissie have gotten friendlier, or Chrissie has, every since Peter Paul started getting into the be-bop folk music scene now growing by leaps and bounds in Boston. They actually went to some coffeehouse over on Joy Street in Boston one night with Frankie and Joanne. The latter pair couldn’t wait to leave (probably because Frankie’s calling card, flannel shirt, jeans, work boots, and ya, midnight sunglasses didn’t raise an eyebrow. Half the guys in the place looked just like him, except maybe the sunglasses). But Chrissie and Peter Paul thought it was fantastic. Just no romance, no way, got it.

What does have Chrissie’s attention is one James Joseph Kelly, Fingers Kelly, who is sitting right next to Peter Paul at the moment. Now Fingers Kelly used to have the moniker of "Five Fingers" Kelly and for the squares out there that meant he was a clip artist and for the real squarey squares that meant he took things from stores…without paying. In other words he swiped things. But a couple of juvenile court appearances and some manhandling by James Joseph Kelly, Sr. shorten his moniker to Fingers, fast. Now what Chrissie wants to talk to Fingers about is why, why just a couple of hours ago, did Fingers state to the best of his recollection that he did not want to see one Christine Anne McNamara on Saturday night. And on that night take her to the annual North Adamsville High School “Hi-Jinks” dance.

Now Fingers, Fingers Kelly, is wise enough to the ways of the world, to know that if he doesn’t grab Christine Anne McNamara with both arms when she is “after” him then some other guy (or guys) will be more than happy to do so. See Chrissie, besides being the head cheerleader at North is nothing but a fox. And Frankie, Fingers, hell even Peter Paul know this fact. Tall, brownish blonde hair, a few freckles, nice legs, and a very nice personality (has to be if Peter Paul thinks so) to go with that physical description. And she is interested in lots of things besides corn-ball cheer leading like that folk music stuff that was just mentioned. But Fingers has the freeze on for her.

Fingers is not bad looking, kind of tall, somewhat athletic (you had to be in his former career), not bad to talk to, but is nothing if not just an okay guy. So the number one question, well, really the number two question after how many days will it be before Joanne reins her lover boy, Frankie, in, is why Chrissie is after Fingers so bad. And why Fingers, knowing what he knows about North Adamsville high school guys, is not waiting with bells on to take Chrissie to the dance. Well, you have not been paying attention on that Finger’s part (Chrissie we will get to in a minute). Finger, when he was Five Fingers, always had kale (cash, money, dollars, okay) and was not afraid to spent it. But in his new life as just Fingers he is broke more than not. And see, he cannot go back to the five fingers way of life because one Senior Kelly will bop him good. And old Senior, while we are at it, is not lending sonny boy any dough (kale, okay) after forking put a ton of money to keep one James Joseph Kelly, Junior out of reform school. So that is the skinny, pure and simple. So if you have any loose change hanging around ship it over Finger’s way, and thanks.

Now Chrissie is another matter. As already mentioned Fingers is okay but just okay so it has to be something else. And it ain’t dough (although she does not know that Fingers is broke, totally broke). And it ain’t the no car for a Saturday night date. She said that she would borrow her father’s car. Even Peter Paul is puzzled by this situation and usually he is clueless about such “high” romance. The only thing anybody has come up with is something that people noticed after Chrissie first’s heavy “parking” date (you know what that is right, nobody is that square) with Fingers (a double date because of Finger’s car-deprivation so its not what you think). For a couple of days after that she was all dreamy-faced, all glowy and stuff. Humm.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

***Those Oldies But Goodies…Out In The Be-Bop ‘50s Song Night- The Dubs- “Could This Be Magic”

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of The Dubs performing the classic, Could This Be Magic.

THE DUBS
"Could This Be Magic"

Could this be magic
My dear
My heart's all aglow
Could this be magic
Loving you so
Could this be magic
My dear
Having your love
My prayers were answered
So far from above
I thought it would be
Just a memory
To linger my heart in pain
But too much pride
I opened up my eyes
And I'm with you dear once again
Could this be magic
My dear
Having your love
If this is magic
Then magic is mine
Could this be magic
Then magic is mine

I suppose everybody in America knows, knows by heart now, that John O’Connor and I, Jenny Dolan, are an “item.” The poster boy and girl sweethearts of North Adamsville High according to one piece of gossip that I heard, or overheard, Joanne Doyle saying sarcastically, in the girls’ lav at school one Monday morning when she was giving her weekend round-up report to all who would listen. What I couldn’t spread around about her and lover boy, Frankie, but that was old Jenny, old miserable Jennie, before I got my John, and got him good. Of course Joanne only retells what the pizza pie in your eye corner boy king, so-called, Frankie, Frankie Riley if your one of the about three people in the Class of 1964 who doesn’t know him, has already started spreading around. The gist of tale is that he has lost his ace-in-the-hole (really just his bodyguard for when he makes the wrong move on some real tough guy's girl), Jumping John O’Connor (although I am putting a stop to calling him that name, and fast) to a frill (that’s me, or that’s me when Frankie does his 28 flavors of disrespect to girls thing, except no-nonsense mistress Joanne, by calling them frills, molls, frails and everything else that he has picked up from watching too many 1930s gangster films, and reading too many Raymond Chandler crime novels). See John and Frankie go back to first grade together over at North Adamsville Elementary and somehow Frankie thought that was enough to keep the “twists” (girls again) at a distance so John could be his full-time “body-guard.”

And if Frankie hasn’t spread the news around about John and me then Peter Paul Markin, clueless Peter Paul when it come to knowing anything about girls (and girls and guys who get together for more than reading books at the library, or going to a debate or stuff like that) did, once Frankie unleashes him to spread it around. Now everybody respects Peter Paul for his knowledge, for his devotion to learning more about stuff, and for sticking up for the, as he calls them, “fellow down-trodden” of the earth but he has been strictly blind-sided by Frankie ever since he came to North Adamsville. When I was lonely (lonely for my John, if you want to know) I went out with Peter Paul, once, but no thanks. So between Joanne (really Frankie), Frankie (really Joanne) and Peter Paul (really Frankie, and maybe Joanne) you’ve probably got the story all wrong. Like the why behind why John and I did not get together until just now, although we were made for each other and that’s the truth, and has been the truth for a long time.

Let me tell the story, my side, and see if it is anything like you heard from Frankie, or Peter Paul. Although now that I think about it if you got it from Peter Paul then you haven’t finished reading the treatise on the subject of John O’Connor and Jennifer Dolan yet and I can save you some time, and save your eyes too. See back in sixth grade when I was just starting to get a little shape but was still really just a stick I went to Chrissie Mc Namara’s twelfth birthday party. Now Chrissie and I had been friends for ages so I expected to be the party but what really got my girl temperature up was that John was going to be there.

Now John was good-looking even then, kind of quiet, a good all-around athlete (a great football player-in-the-making even then, even then in little Pop Warner League), and, I think, shy around girls but I had eyes for him. Big eyes, and not just twelve year old big eyes, but going way back to first communion at Sacred Heart where we were boy white suit and girl white dress paired together to walk down to the communion rail and I had to calm him down because he was scared of the idea of eating the wafer, the body and blood of Christ. No, I was not every day in every way crushed up on him, but crushed up somewhere deep inside since then. In sixth grade time though when I started getting my shape a little, you know, I couldn’t keep from thinking of him. So at Chrissie party I was flying high in expectation. I had my best dress on, had taken a long soapy bath, and worn some of my mother’s perfume (don’t tell her, okay). And I wasn’t disappointed because he asked me to dance, dance close, dance airless close. I almost kissed him then but I waited until the lights went out that signaled the time for some “petting” games to start and then ran over to the sofa and planted the biggest, hardest kiss I could on him. Boy, did I have my signals crossed because he pushed me aside (not hard but definitely aside) and ran out of the house. That’s how he got the name Jumping John O’Connor once Frankie got the story out. He hated the name, and I did too.

After that I didn’t run into him enough to get nervous because at school we were in different classes and, obviously, I wasn’t hanging around shabby, two-bit, greasy pizza parlors wasting my good time and energy listening to Frankie (and his lap dog, Peter Paul) play his lordship. Besides Joanne, Joanne Doyle, Frankie’s plain jane, so-called girlfriend, and I never got along every since I told her that Frankie was calling me up on the telephone any time they had a “misunderstanding.” She flat-out didn’t believe me but ask Peter Paul, he knows, he knows everything about Frankie Riley and his “love” life.

This year though, sophomore year, John and I have our daily last period study class together and a couple weeks into the class I noticed that he kept looking (for a second anyway) in my direction. And more than once. And I started looking in his direction (for a second anyway, and more than once). As we found out later everybody in the class, including the study class monitor, Miss Wilmot, the old dyke, knew we were “making eyes” at each other. Except, of course, maybe Peter Paul who was also in the study hall down front and reading. Still, naturally, that will not stop him from claiming in his treatise that he was the key to introducing John and I.

Believe me I didn’t know what to do at first. I was “gun-shy” from that sixth grade fiasco party so I was afraid to think that he might be interested in me. But, and I admit it, I was miserable, and had been pretty miserable since John’s rebuff that Chrissie’s party night, even though I went out with lots of boys. Then one day I figured out (and talked to Chrissie about it, and she agreed) that John, shy, quiet John wasn’t going to do anything about me unless I started the ball rolling. And here is what I figured out to do (on my own, no Chrissie help). I was going to go into the lion’s den, the holy of holies, Salducci’s Pizza Parlor where Frankie and his boys, including John, hung out a lot and just flop myself in John’s lap and dare him, no double dare him, to throw me off in a public place. And I was going to do it too, once I got my courage up, or was miserable enough to try anything.

Well, one Friday night, one October Friday night, a few weeks ago I got so miserable at home that I decided to go for broke. I walked up the Downs and entered Salducci’s, fearful, very fearful, but then I saw John sitting on the outside of the booth with the boys (Frankie, Peter Paul, Fingers Kelly John and a couple of other denizens) and saw my chance. I quickly walked over and flopped myself on John lap. And you know what he said. “I’m sorry” as he gently, very gently, broke my fall with his strong arms. My heart went crazy with fear. I thought that I had misinterpreted his looks at me in study class just like at the party and started to get up. But as I started to get up John held me close, held me close like maybe it was going to take the whole football team, both offense and defense, and scrubs and water boys thrown in to get me of his lap before he finished his red-faced say.

And this is what he said, and said in a way that he had been thinking about it for a while. “I’m sorry, real sorry, that I pushed you away at Chrissie’s birthday party and ran out and never apologized. I just didn’t know what to do then.” And he added, “Will you forgive me?” Frankie and the boys were flabbergasted but John, red-faced and all, maybe more so after saying his piece, held his ground. I wanted to say all kinds of witty, smart things but all I could blurt out was, “yes.” I started to get up but he would not let me up (and truthfully I wasn’t trying hard anyway) until he asked to walk me home. You know the answer so I will not be coy. As we walked and talked it seemed like an instant until we got to my house. The lights were out but John said he wanted to talk a little, and we did, boy and girl things that you don’t need to know about. And while we were talking he reached out and held my hand. And I got all red-faced, especially when every once in a while he would loosen up his grip and then gently squeeze my hand again like he was afraid to let go. And I was afraid to let him let it go. I will tell you that night, I swear, John could have done anything he wanted with me, anything, but we just held hands, tight hands. Okay, you have the story straight now.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Those Oldies But Goodies…Out In The Be-Bop ‘60s Song Night- The Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine”

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of The Chiffons performing their classic, He's So Fine.

THE CHIFFONS
"He's So Fine"

(Do-lang, do-lang, do-lang)
(Do-lang, do-lang)
He's so fine
(Do-lang-do-lang-do-lang)
Wish he were mine
(Do-lang-do-lang-do-lang)
That handsome boy over there
(Do-lang-do-lang-do-lang)
The one with the wavy hair
(Do-lang-do-lang-do-lang)
I don't know how I'm gonna do it
(Do-lang-do-lang-do-lang)
But I'm gonna make him mine
(Do-lang-do-lang-do-lang)
He's the envy of all the girls
(Do-lang-do-lang-do-lang)
It's just a matter of time
(Do-lang-do-lang)
He's a soft [Spoken] guy
(Do-lang-do-lang-do-lang)
Also seems kinda shy
(Do-lang-do-lang-do-lang)
Makes me wonder if I
(Do-lang-do-lang-do-lang)
Should even give him a try
(Do-lang-do-lang-do-lang)
But then I know he can't shy
(Do-lang-do-lang-do-lang)
He can't shy away forever
(Do-lang-do-lang-do-lang)
And I'm gonna make him mine
(Do-lang-do-lang-do-lang)
If it takes me forever
(Do-lang-do-lang)
He's so fine
(Oh yeah)
Gotta be mine
(Oh yeah)
Sooner or later
(Oh yeah)
I hope it's not later
(Oh yeah)
We gotta get together
(Oh yeah)
The sooner the better
(Oh yeah)
I just can't wait, I just can't wait
To be held in his arms
If I were a queen
(Do-lang-do-lang-do-lang)
And he asked me to leave my throne
(Do-lang-do-lang-do-lang)
I'll do anything that he asked
(Do-lang-do-lang-do-lang)
Anything to make him my own
(Do-lang-do-lang-do-lang)
For he's so fine
(So fine) so fine
(So fine) he's so fine
(So fine) so fine
(So fine) he's so fine
[Fades]
(So fine) oh yeah
(He's so fine) he's so fine
(So fine) uh-huh
(He's so fine)
He's so fine.....
*****
That Frankie, Frankie Riley, really gets to me sometimes. Here he has the best girl around, Joanne Doyle, smart, cute, maybe more than cute but I don’t dare say it here just in case he has the joint cased (or maybe she will see it and be embarrassed), and he is catting around, catting around like crazy trying to make every twist not tied to a big bruiser of a guy. Even then, if she is a boffo, he will take a run at her and hope his track shoes are fast enough. or faster than her boyfriend anyway.

And here I am all by myself,girl-less, Johnny O’Connor, Jumping Johnny O’Connor they call me but I don’t like it, don’t like it at all. See, back in sixth grade, back before Markin, Peter Paul Markin, came on the scene and took my place, my rightful place, as Frankie’s right-hand man we were at a “petting” party, a girl’s birthday party really, but you know how kids' stuff gets going, boy and girl kids' stuff, and this stick tried to kiss me hard, some sweet-perfumed, freshly-soaped stick (I can still smell her smell now), when the lights went out and I jumped up and ran out of that birthday girl’s house. Now, and probably for eternity, I am Jumping Johnny O’Connor. But I still don’t like it. And funny that stick girl, I’ll just call her by her first name, Jenny, turned out to be lately, well she turned out to be cute, maybe more than cute but I don’t dare say it just in case she has her spies around.

Now don’t get me wrong, Peter Paul’s a good guy, a funny guy really, and he has about twelve million facts that he seems to keep tied up in a bag and has ready for any occasion, any Frankie-needs-facts-occasion. So I can see where Frankie could use him as maybe second right hand guy, and I could be first. See, where Peter Paul has those facts I’ve got the beef, the well-muscled beef, that Frankie really needs if, and when, those track shoes aren’t fast enough when that boffo girl’s big bruiser boy friend gets the word.

Some people call me a stup and a simp for hanging around with a weirdo like Frankie but that’s not right. I just don’t like to read a lot of books, and stuff like that. I like my sports, and getting some serious attention, some serious girl attention, except no dice from Joanne and ever since that party nothing but ice from that Jenny, for being good at them. But see, Frankie, and now Peter Paul, are into that new be-bop beat thing, and I have noticed that Joanne is playing right into it, even liking it when Peter Paul starts going on and on about this and that in the universe, poetry, politics, history, and not sports. But I am a sensitive guy about stuff like that jumping name, and no way would I do Peter Paul’s soap box tirade stuff or Frankie’s catting if ever I could find a true love girl.

Enter Jenny:

Oh there's John O’Connor across the street sitting in the window seat at Salducci’s Pizza Parlor alone. And there, as usual, walking over to him is Frankie Riley, the most esteemed high exalted leader of that pack of foolish beatniks who hang there after school and at night whenever he can escape the leash, the Joanne Doyle leash, and, of course, Peter Paul Markin, his slavish dribbling (oops) scribbling scribe who fancies himself a man of letters, whatever that is. Gee, I wish John would get away from that crowd. He doesn’t fit in. I know him and Frankie go way back, first grade at North Adamsville Elementary I think, but since Peter Paul and his eleven thousand useless facts made the scene a couple years ago John has been second fiddle. It’s a shame because John is so sexy and such a good athlete, football, basketball, baseball that he doesn’t need those flannel-shirt wearing, black chino-wearing, work-boot–wearing, sunglass-wearing, ah, men of some letters that I can think of.

Maybe you know the story about John and me in sixth grade already but let me just tell you my side. I’ve heard a lot of different stories about how he got the name, wrong stories, so let me set you straight. They call John Jumping John O’Connor because of me. See, I have had a crush on him since, well, since, so when Chrissie McNamara had her twelfth birthday and told me John was coming I was crazy to go too. I took a long bath, dressed up in my best dress, and wore some of my mother’s perfume (don’t tell her, alright). Okay, okay I wasn’t a beauty like Chrissie but I sure was prettier than that Joanne Doyle. And I didn’t have a shape, then. I was a stick like the boys called us among themselves (so they thought, like such terms could be kept secret, secret with sisters around) back them, shapes and sticks.

The party was going pretty good and John, for some reason, asked me to dance, we danced and that was that, for him anyway. But as will happen at twelfth birthday parties, and on other occasions as well, the party was really a cover for “petting.” You know what petting is right, and if you don’t look it up. I was thrilled, heart-beating thrilled, pulse-pulsating thrilled that John danced with me, and misread the meaning of it big time. So when the lights went out I drew a bee-line to John and gave him a big kiss right on the mouth as hard as I could. He pushed me away like I was one of his football opponents, jumped off the sofa he was on, and ran out the door. That’s the real story. Except for me, for my midnight alone sorrows. Since then he hasn’t spoken to me, or acknowledged my existence. Funny though, I have seen him in class lately looking over in my direction for a few seconds and then turning his head back when I have spotted him, at least I hope he is looking my way.

I admit it. I am miserable ever since that party a few years back. Sure I have gone out with other boys to parties, the movies, and for pizza. I even went out with Peter Paul once but he was so full of air, and of himself, that I put the geek (no go) sign on him. And, yes, Frankie, pure as the driven snow Frankie, just so you know, has made more passes at me than you can shake a stick at. And Joanne, Plain Jane Joanne Doyle, is clueless. But John is the only one who has my eyes since, well, since. Maybe one day, one day when I am just miserable enough, just miserable enough to say enough, I will walk into Salducci’s and just sit on his lap and dare, not double dare, John O’Connor to jump up. It’ll be harder to get me off of him than the whole opposing team on the football field on Saturday afternoon.

Reenter John:

Hey, there's Jenny at the bus stop. I wonder where she is going all by herself. I noticed that she noticed that I was looking at her, looking at her kind of long and easy, a couple of times in study class. I wonder if she is still sore at me for pushing her aside when she kissed me hard like that and I jumped out the door at Chrissie’s birthday party that time. I didn’t mean to do to it but I had never been kissed by a girl like that before. I wonder too if she knew when I asked her to dance then that I had had a crush on her since, well, since. Maybe some day, maybe some day when all the guys, all the guys with their be-bop wisdom wise-guy stuff, are not around, I’ll go over and apologize to her.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Once Again, When Bop-Bop Bopped In The Doo Wop Night- “The Best Of Doo Wop Uptempo”- A CD Review

Once Again, When Bop-Bop Bopped In The Doo Wop Night- “The Best Of Doo Wop Uptempo”- A CD Review

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q96ylFiQK_I

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers performing Why Do Fools Fall In Love?

CD Review

The Best Of Doo Wop Uptempo, various artists, Rhino Records, 1989


Recently I got caught up, and caught up bad, in the girl group doo wop (or that is what I prefer to call it anyway) night and mentioned that I had a hard time, a really hard time, relating to girl groups. No, not that they could not doo wop with the guys, Christ, half, more than half the time, they were better than the guys. Think of those great Shirelles numbers that came exploding off the charts. No, my problem, my mostly girl-less teenage alienation, teen angst, teen guy couldn’t figure out girls problem, was the lyrics of most of the songs. Songs filled with lines about longing for long gone Eddie, songs about parents forcing young love out the door when it involved the leader of the pack, or wistfulness about whether true love would survive the night, or tomorrow night. Or even such lowly concerns as the fact that one’s boyfriend was back, or that one had reclaimed an old boy friend and made some other teenage girl miserable, miserable waiting at the midnight phone, still waiting maybe. You know, girlish concerns, girlish giggle concerns not fit for serious teenage boy angst ears.

Not so though with the doo wop guys, slow, or as here up-tempo. Here the reverse is true, well, somewhat true. Although many times girl-less I could relate to such lyrical problems as two-timing mamas, fickle girls trying to decide between Johnny and Jimmy, girls, conspiring, yes, conspiring, and I will provide notarized proof upon request, to break up Susie and Bobby so Laura can have a shot at the lad. Such were the treacheries of the teen life, the 1950s teen life American-style (although I suspect, without notarized proof here, that this stuff rings a bell for today’s teen whatever nation, via Facebook convenience, they hail from.

That said all that is left is to figure out the stick-outs, and there are many here, some verily classics of the genre of the up-tempo doo wop night: Get A Job (first, ma says it at about twelve or thirteen, then girlfriend says it at about sixteen or seventeen so you have some dough to spend on her, then wife says it at about twenty-five or six, okay we get it, yes, get a job): The Silhouettes; Gee (great harmonics, although the lyrics are, ah, a little light), The Crows; Blue Moon (an old time Tin Pan Alley tune that cries out for this treatment, and a big old full moon to croon under), The Marcels; Little Star (wistful, guy version), The Elegants; Step By Step (sensible approach to a relationship, if you can do it, most teens just forget it), The Crests; and, Come Go With Me (yes, please do), The Del-Vikings.

Note: I have to make a special pitch for Why Do Fools Fall In Love? by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, the max daddy of the bop-doo wop night and the voice that basically made it all possible for all those groups, all those big city corner boy (and girl) groups, to partake of the rock scene and some fame. When my best elementary school friend, Billie, William James Bradley, king of the neighborhood rock night and a pretty good budding rock singer, first heard this song I thought he was going to go crazy. He had us doo-wopping that thing all one summer when we were hanging out in back of the school. And guess what? That song (and a couple of others) had the girls, a couple at first, then a few more, then a bevy (nice word, right?) all coming around and getting all moony and swoony. And kept this reviewer from being girl-less, for a while anyway. Thanks, Frankie.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Let's Have A Party-In The Golden Age Of Classic Rock- The Year 1957 – A CD Review

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of The Tune Weavers performing their classic last dance of the night song, Happy Happy Birthday Baby.

CD Review

1957, various artists, Time-Life Music, 1995


Although I am not completely familiar with the range of their efforts, and of their purpose, I have already extensively reviewed many CD compilations from Time-Life Music’s Rock ‘N’ Rock Era series. A highlight of that series has been the cover artwork that has evoked, and evoked strongly, the themes that dominated our lives, our hubristic teenage lives, in the classic age of rock as we watched it unfold. Things like last dance school dances, lovers’ lanes, dancing the night away to the latest rock music, drive-in movies, drive-in restaurants, summer beach life and on and on. This later series also driven by year dates, at least as observed through the cover art, seems to be less concerned with strong old time evocations by flashy artwork. Nevertheless sometimes just a simple photograph as appears on the 1957 cover evokes those memories in a more subtle way.

And what does that photograph picture. Well, Johnny (we’ll just call him that for our purposes here, okay) suited up in sports coat, white shirt, and tie (pants not observed although they had to be black chinos, cuffed or uncuffed, and shoes, well, loafers for sure) and Susie (ditto Johnny) dressed up in her best frilly party dress (no bobby socks or nylons showing so I cannot discuss that issue here nor will I venture into the girl shoe night anymore than I would today into the woman’s shoe night) are comparing notes on the latest 45s.

For those not long in the tooth who may have wandered into this space and are not sure why that was the size record we played on our old time record players (no not wind-up Victrolas, wise guys) when we wanted to drown out ma, pa, and sibling noises about homework, chores, or just the stuff of everyday life. Each record had a one song A side (the hit) and a one song B side, each side a little over two minutes long. That idea didn’t last too long before responding to the crush of the market they started making LPs, records with several songs on each side. Oh, I forgot, for those who don’t know what a record is, long or short, look it up on Wikipedia. I have given enough time to the subject.

And in the year 1957 what might they be comparing on this night, this house party night (or on other school dance nights) well here, as usual the “battle of the sexes” will be played out just like from teen time immemorial. At least records and record player time immemorial. While Buddy Holly, Patsy Kline, Rickey Nelson, and the Everly Brothers have entries on this CD compilation the real fight, the real important fight, school dance or house party, is what song will be played for the last dance. Yes, the key last dance to see whether the evening continues when they hold each other tight after a night of apart self-expression rock and roll dancing. So the battle really boils down to Could This Be Magic? by The Dubs or Happy Happy Birthday Baby by the Tune Weavers and if Johnny does not want to be lonely tonight he better make the right choice. Good luck, brother Johnny.

Monday, April 25, 2011

When Girls Doo-Wopped Into The Be-Bop 1960s Night-The Best Of The Girl Groups-Volume 2-A CD Review

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of the Shirelles performing I Met Him On A Sunday..
CD Review

The Best Of The Girl Groups, Volume 2, various artists, Rhino Records, 1990


The bulk of this review has also been used in a review of Volume 1 of this CD set.

I have of late been running back over some rock material that formed my coming of age listening music (on that ubiquitous, and very personal, iPod, oops, battery-driven transistor radio that kept those snooping parents out in the dark, clueless, and just fine, agreed), and that of my generation, the generation of ’68. Naturally one had to pay homage to the blues influences from the likes of Muddy Waters, Big Mama Thornton, and Big Joe Turner. And, of course, the rockabilly influences from Elvis, Carl Perkins, Wanda Jackson, and Jerry Lee Lewis on. Additionally, I have spent some time on the male side of the doo wop be-bop Saturday night led by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers on Why Do Fools Fall In Love? (good question, right). I note that I have not done much with the female side of the doo wop night, the great ‘girl’ groups that had their heyday in the late 1950s and early 1960s before the British invasion, among other things, changed our tastes in popular music. I make some amends for that omission here.

One problem with the girl groups for a guy, me, a serious rock guy, me, is that the lyrics for many of the girl group songs, frankly, did not “speak to me.” After all how much empathy could a young ragamuffin of boy brought up on the wrong side of the tracks like this writer have for a girl who breaks a guy's heart after leading him on, yes, leading him on, just because her big bruiser of a boyfriend is coming back and she needs some excuse to brush the heartbroken lad off in the Angels' My Boyfriend’s Back. Or some lucky guy, some lucky Sunday guy, who breathlessly catches the eye of the singer in the Shirelles' Met Him On Sunday from a guy who, dateless Saturday night, was hunched over some misbegotten book, some study book, on Sunday feeling all dejected. And how about this, some two, or maybe, three-timing gal who berated her everloving boyfriend because she needs a good talking to, or worst, a politically incorrect "beating" in Joanie Sommers’ Johnny Get Angry.

So you get the idea, this stuff could not “speak to me.” Now you understand, right? Except, surprise, surprise foolish, behind the eight- ball, know-nothing youthful guy had it all wrong and should have been listening, and listening like crazy, to these lyrics because, brothers and sisters, they held the key to what was what about what was on girls’ minds back in the day, and maybe now a little too, and if I could have decoded this I would have had, well, the beginning of knowledge, girl knowledge. Damn. But that is one of the virtues, and maybe the only virtue of age. Ya, and also get this- you had better get your do-lang, do-lang, your shoop, shoop, and your best be-bop, be-bop into that good night voice out and sing along to the lyrics here. This, fellow baby-boomers, was our teen angst, teen alienation, teen love youth and now this stuff sounds great.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Those Oldies But Goodies…Out In The Be-Bop ‘50s Song Night- The Shirelles “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?”- Billie’s, Billie The Pope Of “The Projects” Night, View

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of the Shirelles performing the classic Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?.

Markin comment:

This is another tongue-in-cheek commentary, the back story if you like, in the occasional entries under this headline going back to the primordial youth time of the mid to late 1950s with its bags full of classic rock songs for the ages. Of course, any such efforts have to include the views of one Billie, William James Bradley, the schoolboy mad-hatter of the 1950s rock jailbreak out in our “the projects” neighborhood. Ya, in those days, unlike during his later fateful wrong turn trajectory days, every kid, including best friend Markin, me, lived to hear what he had to say about any song that came trumpeting over the radio, at least every one that we would recognize as our own.
Note:

Billie and I spent many, many hours mainly up in his tiny bedroom, his rock heaven bedroom, walls plastered with posters of Elvis, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry and of every new teen heartthrob singer, heartthrob to the girls that is, around, every new record Billie could get his hands on, by hook or by crook, and neatly folded piles of clothing, also gathered by that same hook or by crook, appropriate to the king hell king of the schoolboy rock scene, the elementary school rock scene between about 1956 to 1960. Much of that time was spent discussing the “meaning” of various songs, especially their sexual implications, ah, their mystery of girls-finding-out-about worthiness.

Although in early 1959 my family was beginning to start the process of moving out of the projects, and, more importantly, I had begun to move away from Billie’s orbit, his new found orbit as king hell gangster wannabe, I still would wander back until mid-1960 just to hear his take on whatever music was interesting him at the time. These commentaries, these Billie commentaries, are my recollections of his and my conversations on the song lyrics in this series. But I am not relying on memory alone. During this period we would use my father’s tape recorder, by today’s standard his big old reel to reel monstrosity of a tape recorder, to record Billie’s covers of the then current hit songs (for those who have not read previously of Billie’s “heroics” he was a pretty good budding rock singer at the time) and our conversations of those song meanings that we fretted about for hours. I have, painstakingly, had those reels transcribed so that many of these commentaries will be the actual words (somewhat edited, of course) that appear in this space. That said, Billie, king hell rock and roll king of the old neighborhood, knew how to call a lyric, and make us laugh to boot. Wherever you are Billie I’m still pulling for you. Got it.
********
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? Lyrics

Carole King

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow

Tonight you're mine completely,
You give your love so sweetly,
Tonight the light of love is in your eyes,
But will you love me tomorrow?

Is this a lasting treasure,
Or just a moment's pleasure,
Can I believe the magic of your sighs,
Will you still love me tomorrow?

Tonight with words unspoken,
You said that I'm the only one,
But will my heart be broken,
When the night (When the night)
Meets the morning sun.

I'd like to know that your love,
Is love I can be sure of,
So tell me now and I won't ask again,
Will you still love me tomorrow?
Will you still love me tomorrow?

**********
Billie back again, William James Bradley, if you didn’t know. Markin’s pal, Peter Paul Markin’s pal, from over the Adamsville Elementary School and the pope of rock lyrics down here in “the projects.” The Adamsville projects, if you don’t know. Markin, who I hadn’t seen for a while since he moved “uptown” to North Adamsville, came by the other day to breathe in the fresh air of the old neighborhood and we got to talking about this latest record, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? by the Shirelles. They are hot.

Fair’s fair right, so I’ll give you Markin’s, Peter Paul’s, take on the lyrics, so I can come crashing down on his silly pipe dream ideas. By the way if you don’t know, and he will tell you this himself if he is honest, he was behind, way behind, in figuring out girls, and their girlish charms. I had to practically tell him everything he knows. Where did I learn it? Hell like everybody else from the older kids, the older guys, and my older sisters too if you can believe that. So I know a lot, or at least enough to keep old Peter Paul from being a total goofball. Still, see, he thinks the main thing is that the girl in the song here is worried about her reputation because she has just given in, in a moment of passion, to her boyfriend, it’s way too late to turn back and yet she is having second thoughts, second thought regrets, about it, and about what he will think of her and whether it will get around that she “does it.”

Ya, she does it, now officially certified a woman, or at least acting like a woman can act, that is what my sister Donna says, and from the feel of the song, probably in some back seat of some “boss” convertible, a Chevy I hope. Her guy, some under the hood day and night guy making that baby, his real baby, hum against the in-stock store-bought standards of his father’s car, his old fogy father’s car. She was breathless weeks ago when her Chevy guy came up gunning that beast behind her walking home from school and said “Hop in.” And she did, now she's the queen bee of the high school adventure car hop night. All the other girls, friend or foe, frantic at her fortune and ready to leap, girls’ “lav” leap, all over her come Monday morning finely-tuned grapevine gossip time. So tonight is paying back time, car hop queen bee paying back time. No turning back.

I hope, I really hope, they “did the deed” down by the seashore, big old moon out, big old laughing moon, waves splashing against the rocks and against the sounds of the night, the sounds of the be-bop moaning and groaning night. Call me a romantic but at least I hope that is where she gave it up. Or, maybe, away from coastal shoreline possibilities it was at some secluded lovers’ lane mountain top, tree-lined, dirt road, away from the city noise, some be-bop music playing on the car radio, just to keep those mountain fears away, motor humming against the autumn chill and the creaking sun ready to devour that last mountain top and face the day, and face the music.

But see that’s where Markin has got it all wrong, all wrong on two counts, because Chevy guy two-timing her, or spreading the “news” about his conquest, or even that hellish girls’ lav whirlwind inferno is not really what’s bothering her. Markin has got this starry-eyed thing, and I think it is from hanging around, or being around, all those straight lace no-go Catholic girls, who do actually worry about their reputations, at least for public consumption. That is why high Catholic that I am, just like old Markin, I don’t go within twenty yards of those, well, teasers. Ya, teasers but that’s a story for another time, because right now we have only time for women, or girls who act like women. What’s bothering moonstruck girl, number one, is that she likes it, she liked doing it with Chevy guy, and is worried that she’ll go crazy every time a boy gets within arms length of her. She “heard” that once a girl starts doing it they can’t help themselves and are marks, easy marks, for every guy who gives them the eye. Jesus, where did she ever get that idea. Must have been out in the streets, although I personally never heard such an idea when I was asking around. This is what I heard, well, not from the street but from my sister Donna, she said it was okay, natural even, for girls to like sex. If the moment was right, and maybe the guy too. It wasn’t some Propagation of the Faith, do-your-sex-duty to multiply thing we heard in church. Hell, Donna said she liked it too, and believe me, old Donna doesn’t like much if you listen to her long enough. So moonstruck girl don’t worry.

But number two you do have to worry about, although I don’t know what you can do about it now I never did ask Donna about that part. Pregnant. Ya, the dreaded word for girls and guys alike when you were just trying to have a little fun, just liking it. Now everything your mother told you about “bad” girls, about leaving school, about shot-gun weddings, or about having to go to “Aunt Bessie’s” for a few months, flood memories and as the sun comes up there is momentary panic. Like I say I don’t know what you can do. I don’t know the medical part of the thing. But Peter Paul, leave it to Peter Paul, who knows diddley about sex (except what I tell him) says do you know about “rubbers.” And he got all in a lather telling me that there is some new pill coming out, and coming out soon, so you don’t have to worry. This from a guy was practically missed the first time he kissed a girl. But if he is right, and I ain’t saying he is, then check it out and then you can still like “doing it.” And not worry.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Those Oldies But Goodies…Out In The Be-Bop ‘50s Song Night-Mark Dinning's "Teen Angel"

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of Mark Dinning performing Teen Angel.

Markin comment:


This space is noted for politics mainly, and mainly the desperate political fight against various social, economic and moral injustices and wrongs in this wicked old world, although the place where politics and cultural expression, especially post-World War II be-bop cultural expression, has drawn some of my interest over the past several years. The most telling example of that interest is in the field of popular music, centrally the blues, city and country, good woman on your mind, hard working, hard drinking blues and folk music, mainly urban, mainly protest to high heaven against the world’s injustices smite the dragon down, folk music. Of late though the old time 1950s kid, primordial, big bang, jail-break rock and roll music that set us off from earlier generations has drawn my attention. Mostly by reviewing oldies CDs but here, and occasionally hereafter under this headline, specifically songs that some future archaeologists might dig up as prime examples of how we primitives lived ,and what we listened to back in the day.
************
MARK DINNING
"Teen Angel"
(Jean Surrey & Red Surrey)
Teen angel, teen angel, teen angel, ooh, ooh
That fateful night the car was stalled
upon the railroad track
I pulled you out and we were safe
but you went running back
Teen angel, can you hear me
Teen angel, can you see me
Are you somewhere up above
And I am still your own true love
What was it you were looking for
that took your life that night
They said they found my high school ring
clutched in your fingers tight
Teen angel, can you hear me
Teen angel, can you see me
Are you somewhere up above
And I am still your own true love
Just sweet sixteen, and now you're gone
They've taken you away.
I'll never kiss your lips again
They buried you today
Teen angel, can you hear me
Teen angel, can you see me
Are you somewhere up above
And I am still your own true love
Teen angel, teen angel, answer me, please
************
First off, get used to hearing ad finitum about angels, earth-bound, heaven-sent, hell-sent, angelic, yes, angelic, heart-broken, heart-breaking angels, and how many angels can fit on the head of a pin, Enough angels to make old revolutionary Puritan poet John Milton's angel fights in Paradise Lost seem, well, punk by comparison. That is if you really want to know about 1950s rock subject matter, all of the above, naturally being teen angels (as if there were any other kind), maybe even Milton's, and that brings us to the heart of this Mark Dinning teen angst classic, Teen Angel.

Frankly, I am bewildered by the bizarre lyrics and story line here, although it rates high, very high on my newly constructed teen song angst-o-meter. Peggy and Billy, okay I know they are not named, or maybe nameable, in the universal teen night but let’s call them that to give name to the kinds of fools we are dealing with, were stranded out on railroad tracks in old Billy’s apparently dead-ender car, probably his father’s hand-me-down. That should have been the first tip-off to Peggy. There were a million guys in town with “boss” cars, including Linc with his ’57 cherry red Chevy by the look on his face every time you passed by, who would have been more than happy to give you a tumble.

Or maybe Billy just didn’t have gas dough and the clunker ran out, unfortunately, ran out on that old dreaded isolated track with all those signs saying don’t stop, please don’t stop, on the tracks because even if trains were going out of style in the big 1950s freeway car exodus they still ran every now and again. No dough Billy, christ I knew seven guys (although not Linc) who had plenty of dough , or could get it, to show you a good time, including Frankie (and Frankie, supposedly only had eyes for his ever lovin’ sweetie, Joanne).

Okay, the ways of love are strange, no question, so Billy it was. But, jesus, he pulled you out, you were safe and then you went ballistic over some f-----g, cheapjack ring, some cheapjack fake gold (like about four carat gold filigree, maybe) with fako diamond and barely legible stuff written on it class ring. And you knew, since you had been out with Billy for a while by then that it was cheapo. Come on you couldn’t have been that na├»ve. Now you have left Billy all choked up over his teen angel lost, and I know for a fact that he stayed that way, for a while. But just recently he seems to be on the mend because didn’t Tommy T. see him and Linda Lou, ya, sweet “hot stuff’ Linda Lou, walking hand and hand into Kay’s jewelry store, the upscale jewelry store. I wonder what they were looking for?