Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Music: Tracks and Trivia

Lots of musical topics on my mind this week: First and foremost, I just got Bruce Springsteen’s 4-disc box set Tracks last week, at Tunes, a local record store chain. It was a used copy in excellent condition for only $15.99. I couldn’t pass it up. Now, I’m not a rabid Boss-ophile like some folks I know, but I do like most of his songs. That said, I have to admit that this set is probably the best collection of unreleased rock songs I’ve ever heard. Most of these could easily have been included, as is, in any of Bruce’s albums. Just a thoroughly enjoyable collection of tunes, especially, of course, the ones that feature the E Street Band.

This coming week marks the 38th anniversary of the Woodstock Festival, which I didn’t attend. But I did attend a festival in 1969 that was very nearly as good. Here’s my description as written for XPN’s Most Memorable Music Moments:

“The Woodstock Arts and Music Festival in August 1969 was such a generation- and culture-defining event that it completely overshadowed the festival that occurred just two weeks before: The Atlantic City Pop Festival at the Atlantic City Racetrack on August 1, 2, and 3, 1969. Call it a dress rehearsal for Woodstock, but without the mud. The lineup was every bit as impressive as the more famous festival’s was: Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Joe Cocker, Santana, Chicago, Joni Mitchell, The Byrds, The Mothers of Invention, Procol Harum, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, B.B. King, Dr. John, Little Richard, Sir Douglas Quintet, Canned Heat, Mother Earth, Iron Butterfly(!), Buddy Miles, Three Dog Night, The Chambers Brothers, and many others. . Since it was less than an hour from my home, it was a no-brainer for my friends and me to camp out nearby and groove to three days of fun and music. (And we were in the foreground of a crowd shot on the front page of the Philadelphia Bulletin!) The weather was perfect, and an estimated 110,000 people attended. Let others brag about being at Woodstock, but I have no regrets going to Atlantic City Pop instead!”

This past week also marks the 50th anniversary of the national debut of American Bandstand. Below you’ll find a poem I wrote about that phenomenon a few years ago, after reading an article about former teen dancers from the show. Trivia questions:

1. Who was the original host of Bandstand, before Dick Clark?

2. On what Philadelphia TV station was the original program broadcast?

3. What is the name of the American Bandstand theme song, and who performed it?
(answers below)

Top Ten Music List of the Week: Ten Songs that Created Controversy

1. Society’s Child – Janis Ian (her original song from the 60’s about interracial romance)

2. Cop Killer – Body Count (‘nuff said…)

3. My Sweet Lord – George Harrison (he was sued – and lost – in a plagiarism case – unfairly, I still maintain)

4. Big Muddy – Pete Seeger (he sang this song, a thinly-veiled criticism of the Vietnam War, on the Ed Sullivan Show and was banned from future appearances)

5. Let’s Spend the Night Together – The Rollings Stones (another Ed Sullivan moment: they were forced to change the lyrics to “Let’s spend some time together")

6. Subterranean Homesick Blues – Bob Dylan (with this song, he was the first artist to “go electric” at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, and was virtually booed off the stage)

7. Short People – Randy Newman (hard to believe this silly satirical ditty from the 70’s raised such a ruckus, but groups representing short-statured folks complained about it so much that it was banned from some radio stations)

8. Louie, Louie – The Kingsmen (rumors floated around for years about the unintelligible lyrics, which some claimed were “dirty” –they weren’t)

9. Girl You Know It’s True – Milli Vanilli (the kings of musical fraud – they were top 40 darlings till it came out that someone else was dubbing their vocals)

10. Not Ready to Make Nice – The Dixie Chicks (Natalie Maines’ answer to all the middle Americans who blackballed the girls for their anti-Bush comments)

Poem of the Week: as promised…


Kinescopes smudged gray and white
burn the screen like old dreams.
These are days for those who remember Dick Clark, standing avuncular behind the podium,
announcing the current hit, or the next big one,
as kids began to prowl the floor
in poodle skirts, bobby socks,
skinny ties and plaid jackets,
bouffants and pompadours bouncing in time.

In the camera, movement is the color –
the Stroll, the Cha-cha, the Bristol Stomp,
couples with names like Carmine and Angela,
some regulars, some fresh-faced newcomers
picked from the gaggle of hopefuls
outside the West Philly studio.
The Catholic girls wear sweaters over their uniforms,
so the nuns won’t scold them in school tomorrow.
Inadvertently, they start a fashion trend –
girls all over the country look for the cool dickie collars the kids on Bandstand wear,
unaware that they’re uniform shirts.

Now, years later, when they all get together
(most with grandchildren and Social Security)
they summon up good times and bad:
the fan clubs, teen articles, and the threats
received while slammed against their lockers
by kids that didn’t think them “cool.”
Their sighs waft to that time and back again,
as someone resurrects a jukebox –
Frankie Lymon, Bobby Darin, the Shirelles.
They partner up in the old combinations,
gliding across the diner’s checkered floor,
all the way back to seventeen.

(Answers to trivia questions: 1. Bob Horn. 2. WFIL (now WPVI), Channel 6. 3. “Bandstand Boogie” (various versions were used over the years, including Barry Manilow’s vocal version, but the original, most well-known theme on the national program was by Les Elgart. The tune was composed by Charles Albertine.)

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