Monday, December 3, 2018

The Past Is Another Country Dept.

     If you’re around my age, you’ll surely remember the days of AM music radio, before the FM alternatives were well established. You might also remember that pop music in those days could be a bit...strange.

     Oh, we had all the treacly love-pop we have today. We had the beginnings of “protest pop,” though there wasn’t very much of it. But we also had categories that appear to have dwindled away. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is a matter of taste.

     Here are the categories I have in mind at the moment:

  • Summer Love songs: This morning I awoke with my skull DJ playing Peter and Gordon’s “Yesterday’s Gone,” but my favorite will always be Chad and Jeremy’s “Summer Song.”
  • Teen Death songs: Who can forget the bathos of “Teen Angel” or “Leader of the Pack?”
  • Car and Driving songs: The Beach Boys had hits with “Little Old Lady from Pasadena,” “Little Deuce Coupe,” “Fun, Fun, Fun,” and “My 409,” while Jan and Dean scored with “Dead Man’s Curve.”
  • Surfing songs: Here’s the Beach Boys again with “Little Surfer Girl” and “Surfing USA,” and Jan and Dean with “Surf City” and “Ride the Wild Surf.”
  • Novelty songs: The Playmates’ “Beep Beep,” Sheb Wooley’s “Purple People Eater,” Dave Seville’s “The Witch Doctor,” Bobby Pickett’s “The Monster Mash,” The Searchers’ “Love Potion Number 9,” and Napoleon XIV’s “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Hahah!” top that list.
  • The Uncategorizable: Chad and Jeremy’s “Rest in Peace,” Strawberry Alarm Clock’s “Incense and Peppermints,” Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” and “Canned Ham,” and John Fred’s “Judy in Disguise” don’t seem to fit anywhere.

     What varieties of nonsensical but fun pop music come to your mind, Gentle Reader?


Jess said...

My brother, and I, would listen to Beaker Street, when the weather was just right. Clyde Clifford played what many wouldn't, but exposed many to music they would never find on their typical local am station.

Kye said...

How about Johnny Horton and "The Battle of New Orleans"? Or "Snoopy vs The Red Baron" by The Royal Guardsmen?

Mark said...

Not sure whether these are novelty or uncategorizable....

"Hocus Pocus" by Focus
"Simon Says" by 1910 Fruitgum Company
"Yummy, yummy, yummy" and Chewie, Chewie by Ohio Express
"Snoopy vs. the Red Baron" by the Royal Guardsmen

There are many more like this that take me back to the days of playing 45s on my portable record player or listening to WABC's Cousin Brucie on my transistor radio.

Good grief, I'm getting old...

daniel_day said...

Nights in White Satin. Actually, almost anything (which I remember) by the Moody Blues had lyrics which made no sense. And then there's Yes, which went so far in that direction it got insulting.

Hangtown Bob said...

In what category would you place "Surfin Bird" by the Trashmen??

It was too weird to be placed in the surf category.

CGHill said...

The Trashmen were a legitimate surf band, even if they were from Minnesota. (The B-side of "Surfin' Bird" was a perfectly straightforward beach number called "King of the Surf.")

JWM said...

I remember how eclectic AM radio used to be in the mid/late 60's. When you tuned in KRLA, or KHJ in Los Angeles you'd be likely to hear Sinatra, followed by the Beatles, followed by Dylan, surf music, and even some R&B. It was a little bit of everything.

Oh, hey--
Remember the Singing Nuns?
Dominique, a neek a neek....

Or Sukiyaki?


LiberTarHeel said...

Jimmy Dean's "Big John", 1961
Dickey Lee's "Patches", 1962

Don't get me started!

Col. B. Bunny said...

Not nonsensical but great:

Gogi Grant - The Westward Wind (YouTube version badly in need of blood transfusion)
Patti Page - Old Cape Cod
Ray Stevens - Turn Your Radio On
Peter, Paul and Mary - Leaving on a Jet Plane