Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Demented Jukebox Oldies

I wish I had a jukebox. I’d love to put all those great songs from my youth into an old American Graffiti style jukebox.

If you’ve read some of my past posts, you'll no doubt have an idea of what I think of today’s “music”. But in this entry, I’ll refrain from making any snide remarks about the “songs” that are “sung” by the “artists” of the day. Besides, we had some pretty bad music back in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s as well.

For example, in 1962 Joanie Summers released her big hit single Johnny Get Angry. Here are some of the lyrics from that classic:

Oh, Johnny get ang-er-y
Johnny get mad
Give me the biggest lecture I ever had
I want a brave man, I want a cave man...

I don’t believe Joanie has ever been mentioned in any discussions regarding the advancement of the Women’s Liberation movement.

And if the lyrics weren’t bad enough, the middle of the song features a chorus of kazoos!!! This ranks as perhaps the dumbest song ever recorded.

Other demented oldies (anyone remember the Dr. Demento show?) include Don’t Say Nothin’ Bad About My Baby by The Cookies with its poignant words:

He's true (he's true)
He's true to me (true to me)
So, girl, you better shut your mouth.

Or how about these words from another tough chick song, My Boyfriend’s Back by The Angels:

Hey, he knows I wasn’t cheatin’
Now you’re gonna get a beatin’

There are some songs that make me want to fill my ear canals up with sound-proofing foam. The prime example of this is Leader of the Pack by the Shangri-Las. In this number, a girl sings of her love for a low-down, dirty, stinking, motorcycle gang leader (hey, even Hitler had Eva Braun).

The singer whines, “I met him at the candy store...” The candy store???!!! This likely wasn’t one of your tougher bikers. What did he ride; a Vespa? Actually, they don’t say in the song what he rode. Since he was at a candy store, he was probably a kid on a bicycle with a trading card clothes-pinned onto the frame in order to flap against the spokes and make that children’s idea of a motor sound.

I should mention one more REALLY demented oldie — The Name Game by Shirley Ellis. You know, Shirley, Shirley, bo-birley, banana-fana-fo-firley, fee-fi mo-mirley, Shirley. This nutty number was off-limits to every Mitch, Art, and Chuck.

I have a fond memory of one afternoon in 1964 when our babysitter took me and my brothers to a restaurant downtown, and we played the jukebox for about an hour. The patrons were probably banging their heads against the diner counter as we played only two songs, over and over again. They were Sukiyaki by Kyu Sakamoto, and Dead Man’s Curve by Jan and Dean.

I always loved pressing the alpha-numeric sequence, like J-12 to hear (Just Like) Romeo and Juliet by The Reflections, or B-21 for She Loves You by some band that I’ve forgotten the name of.

While we're on the subject of music, I want to mention an ongoing argument my brother and I have about which is the better 5th Dimension song — Wedding Bell Blues or One Less Bell To Answer.

I prefer Wedding Bell Blues with its lively feel-good melody written by the late, great Laura Nyro. My brother's gripe about this song is that he can't sing it without feeling silly — Come on and marry me Biiiillll, I've got the wedding bell bluuuuuues. Please marry me Biiiiillll....

Ok. A fair argument. But I listen to this song. I don't sing it. I might hum to it. Not being able to sing the words never stopped me from enjoying Sukiyaki.

Now for my complaints about One Less Bell To Answer   a song wherein a woman cries and wails about some man that has left her.

First of all, it is such a morose tune written by the otherwise upbeat Burt Bacharach. Here are the first three lines of Hal David's lyrics:

One less bell to answer
One less egg to fry
One less man to pick up after

The guy had to ring the doorbell? Why wasn't he given a key if she loved him so much? Had he felt more welcomed, he might have stuck around.

One less egg to fry? One egg? ONE? They guy probably left to go get some breakfast. A hefty meal might have kept him home.

The last of those lines is the most telling of all. One less man? How many were there? The poor schmuck likely left because he couldn't find his shorts among all the laundry lying around. Then again, she was probably better off without him. What a slob, making her pick up after him. Good riddance I say.

Well, that's it for J. Just got it in on time.

So sayonara for now, as I leave you with some words from Sukiyaki:

Ue o muite arukou
Namida ga kobore naiyouni
Omoidasu harunohi
Hitoribotchi no yoru

And I have no idea what it means.


  1. A juke box would be a cool thing to own. I'd want it stocked with excellent music. A few weird old tunes might be okay--yeah, there were some pretty bad ones.
    I think I like "One Less Bell" the best. It seems to me it was debuted, or maybe featured, in some television drama show (It Takes a Thief?) where Marilyn McCoo played a lead role. It was a soppy song, but I liked the sound.

    A Few Words
    An A to Z Co-host blog

    1. I believe you're right about the song being featured in It Takes a Thief. I do have to admit that the vocals by the lovely Marilyn McCoo make the song worthwhile. She could sing the words from the phone book and it would sound great. Thanks for the comments Arlee.

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