Hong Kong Phooey

If you were a kid in the mid-seventies…on Saturday morning you were happily blitzed by a morning of cartoons. When I did a post on Underdog last weekend I was asked about Hong Kong Phooey…he was voiced by the great Scatman Caruthers. It was produced by Hanna-Barbera in 1974 for ABC. Around this time Martial Arts were extremely popular and this cartoon played on that.

Hong Kong Phooey’s secret identity is that of Penrod “Penry” Pooch the Police janitor. Penry works with Sgt. Flint and police dispatcher Rosemary. Hong Kong Phooey thinks his martial arts skills catch the bad guys…but it’s usually always Spot the Cat.

Image result for spot from hong kong phooeyImage result for rosemary from hong kong phooeyImage result for sergeant flint hong kong phooey

To my surprise…Hanna-Barbera only made 16 episodes and kept running them forever. I watched this in 1974 through 1976 as it was part of the magical seventies Saturday morning programming.

Van Morrison – And It Stoned Me

When I played the Moondance album for the first few times I would replay this opening track for at least 3-4 times. The song reminded me of when I grew up. It focuses on life’s little pleasures… A trip to the fair and fishing with your friend… A cool drink of water from a clear mountain stream… A ride in the back of a pickup…Van said this about the song:

I suppose I was about twelve years old. We used to go to a place called Ballystockart to fish. We stopped in the village on the way up to this place and I went to this little stone house, and there was an old man there with dark weather-beaten skin, and we asked him if he had any water. He gave us some water which he said he’d got from the stream. We drank some and everything seemed to stop for me. Time stood still. For five minutes everything was really quiet and I was in this ‘other dimension’. That’s what the song is about.

This is just one of the many great songs on this album. Some critics have said that Moondance is one of the best albums of all time. What got my attention were the lyrics, clear sound, and down to earth feel…and of course Van’s voice.

 

Moondance

Half a mile from the county fair
And the rain came pourin’ down
Me and Billy standin’ there
With a silver half a crown

Hands are full of a fishin’ rod
And the tackle on our backs
We just stood there gettin’ wet
With our backs against the fence

Oh, the water
Oh, the water
Oh, the water
Hope it don’t rain all day

And it stoned me to my soul
Stoned me just like Jelly Roll
And it stoned me
And it stoned me to my soul
Stoned me just like goin’ home
And it stoned me

Then the rain let up and the sun came up
And we were gettin’ dry
Almost let a pick-up truck nearly pass us by
So we jumped right in and the driver grinned

And he dropped us up the road
Yeah, we looked at the swim and we jumped right in
Not to mention fishing poles

Oh, the water
Oh, the water
Oh, the water
Let it run all over me

And it stoned me to my soul
Stoned me just like Jelly Roll
And it stoned me
And it stoned me to my soul
Stoned me just like goin’ home
And it stoned me

On the way back home we sang a song
But our throats were getting dry
Then we saw the man from across the road
With the sunshine in his eyes

Well he lived all alone in his own little home
With a great big gallon jar
There were bottles too, one for me and you
And he said Hey! There you are

Oh, the water
Oh, the water
Oh, the water
Get it myself from the mountain stream

And it stoned me to my soul
Stoned me just like Jelly Roll
And it stoned me
And it stoned me to my soul
Stoned me just like goin’ home
And it stoned me

And it stoned me to my soul
Stoned me just like Jelly Roll
And it stoned me
And it stoned me to my soul
Stoned me just like goin’ home
And it stoned me

Beatles – A Day In The Life

When asked what my favorite Beatle song is…It usually depends on what Beatle mood I’m in…early, middle or late…but this one is always near the top. While writing this I found out a strange thing that happened…The Royal Albert Hall was furious about the lyrics…down below on the page is more information.

The beginning of this song was based on two stories John Lennon read about in the Daily Mail newspaper. Guinness heir Tara Browne dying when he smashed his Lotus into a parked van, and an article in the UK Daily Express in early 1967 which told of how the Blackburn Roads Surveyor had counted 4000 holes in the roads of Blackburn and commented that the volume of material needed to fill them in was enough to fill the Albert Hall.

McCartney contributed the line “I’d love to turn you on.” This was a drug reference, but the BBC banned it because of another section, which they assumed was about marijuana…that guaranteed it would be huge.

George Martin once said he got chills listening to John’s voice in this song. I can relate to that.

In 2005 Q magazine ranked A Day In The Life as the number 1 British song of all time.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/4235010.stm

1. A Day In The Life – The Beatles
2. Waterloo Sunset – The Kinks
3. Wonderwall – Oasis
4. God Save The Queen – Sex Pistols
5. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
6. My Generation – The Who
7. Angels – Robbie Williams
8. Life on Mars? – David Bowie
9. Sympathy For The Devil – Rolling Stones
10. Unfinished Sympathy – Massive Attack
Something I didn’t know is that the Royal Albert Hall was furious over the lyric
I read the news today oh boy
Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire
And though the holes were rather small
They had to count them all
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall
They wrote this letter to Brian Epstein after Brian sent them a copy of the album.
And John’s reply back!
The Albert Hall banned any performance of the song by anyone. The below link tells the story.

 

From Songfacts

A 41-piece orchestra played on this song. The musicians were told to attend the session dressed formally. When they got there, they were presented with party novelties (false noses, party hats, gorilla-paw glove) to wear, which made it clear this was not going to be a typical session. The orchestra was conducted by Paul McCartney, who told them to start with the lowest note of their instruments and gradually play to the highest. >>

This was recorded in three sessions: First the basic track, then the orchestra, then the last note was dubbed in.

Regarding the article about Tara Browne, John Lennon stated: “I didn’t copy the accident. Tara didn’t blow his mind out. But it was in my mind when I was writing that verse.” At the time, Paul didn’t realize the reference was to Tara. He thought it was about a “stoned politician.” The article regarding the “4000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire” was taken from the UK Daily Express, January 17, 1967 in a column called “Far And Near.”

John’s friend Terry Doran was the one who completed John’s line, “Now they know how many holes it takes to fill…” Terry told him “fill the Albert Hall, John.”

The ban was finally lifted when author David Storey picked it as one of his Desert Island Discs.

Speaking with GQ in 2018, Paul McCartney explained this song’s origin story: “‘A Day In The Life’ was a song that John had started. He had the first verse, and this often happened: one of us would have a little bit of an idea and instead of sitting down and sweating it, we’d just bring it to the other one and kind of finish it together, because you could ping-pong – you’d get an idea. So he had the first verse: ‘I read the news today oh boy,’ and we sat in my music room in London and just started playing around with it, got a second verse, and then we got to what was going to lead into the middle. We kind of looked at each other and knew we were being a little bit edgy where we ‘I’d love to turn you on.’ We knew that would have an effect.

It worked. And then we put on another section I had: ‘Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head.’ Then we finished the song up and did a big sort of epic recording of it with a big full orchestra and everything. And then did that crescendo thing in the middle of it with the orchestra, which was an idea I’d had because I’d been talking to people and reading about avant-garde music, tonal stuff and crazy ideas. I came up with this idea. I said to the orchestra, ‘You should start, all of you.’ And they sat all looking at me puzzled. We’ve got a real symphony orchestra in London who are used to playing Beethoven, and here’s me, this crazy guy out of a group and I’m saying, ‘Everyone start on the lowest note your instrument can play and work your way up to the highest at your own pace.’ That was too puzzling for them, and orchestras don’t like that kind of thing. They like it written down and they like to know exactly what they’re supposed to do. So George Martin, the producer, said to the people, ‘You should leave this note and this point in the song, and then you should go to this note and this note,’ and he left the random thing, so that’s why it sounds like a chaotic sort of swirl. That was an idea based on the avant-garde stuff I was into at the time.”

The final chord was produced by all four Beatles and George Martin banging on three pianos simultaneously. As the sound diminished, the engineer boosted to faders. The resulting note lasts 42 seconds; the studio air conditioners can be heard toward the end as the faders were pushed to the limit to record it.

The rising orchestra-glissando and the thundering sound are reminiscent of “Entry of the Gods into Valhalla” from Richard Wagner’s opera “Das Rheingold,” where after the rising glissando, Thor beats with his hammer. George Martin said in his 1979 book All You Need is Ears that the glissando was Lennon’s idea. After Lennon’s death, Martin seems to have changed his mind. In his 1995 book Summer of Love: The Making of Sgt. Pepper, he states that the rising orchestra-glissando was McCartney’s idea. >>

This being the last song on the album, The Beatles found an interesting way to close it out. After the final note, Lennon had producer George Martin dub in a high pitched tone, which most humans can’t hear, but drives dogs crazy. This was followed by a loop of incomprehensible studio noise, along with Paul McCartney saying, “Never could see any other way,” all spliced together. It was put there so vinyl copies would play this continuously in the run-out groove, sounding like something went horribly wrong with the record. Another good reason to own vinyl.

In 2004, McCartney did an interview with the Daily Mirror newspaper where he said he was doing cocaine around this time along with marijuana. “I’d been introduced to it, and at first it seemed OK, like anything that’s new and stimulating,” he said. “When you start working your way through it, you start thinking, ‘This is not so cool and idea,’ especially when you start getting those terrible comedowns.”

The movie reference in the lyrics (“I saw a film today, oh boy. The English Army had just won the war”) is to a film John Lennon acted in called How I Won The War.

McCartney’s middle section (woke up, got out of bed…) was intended for another song.

The Beatles started this with the working title “In The Life of…”

This is a rare Beatles song with a title that is not part of the lyrics. Another one is “Yer Blues.” 

That’s Mal Evans doing the counting during the first transition from John to Paul. He set the alarm clock (heard on the recording) to go off at the end of his 24-bar count. Evans also helped with the composition of a couple of songs on the Sgt. Pepper album. Although he never received composer’s credit, the Beatles did pay his estate a lump sum in the 1990s for his contributions. Evans died January 5, 1976 after a misunderstanding with the police. 

George Martin (from Q Magazine, July 2007): “John’s voice – which he hated – was the kind of thing that would send shivers down your spine. If you hear those opening chords with the guitar and piano, and then his voice comes in, ‘I heard the news today, oh boy’ It’s just so evocative of that time. He always played his songs to me on the guitar and I would sit on a stool as he strummed. The orchestral section was Paul’s idea. We put two pieces of songs together that weren’t connected in any way. Then we had that 24-bars-of-nothing in between. I had to write a score, but in the climax, I gave each instrument different little waypoints at each bar, so they would know roughly where they should be when they were sliding up. Just so they didn’t reach the climax too quickly. With ‘A Day In The Life,’ I wondered whether we were losing our audience and I was scared. But I stopped being scared when I played it to the head of Capitol Records in America and he was gob smacked. He said, That’s fantastic. And of course, it was.”

In the original take, the 41-piece orchestra was not used. Instead, Lennon had roadie Mal Evans count to 21 in a very trippy manner and set off an alarm clock after the 21 counts. This version is on the second Anthology CD, and is very different than the one on Sgt. Pepper

David Crosby was at Abbey Road studios when The Beatles were recording this. In an interview with Filter magazine, he said: “I was, as near as I know, the first human being besides them and George Martin and the engineers to hear ‘A Day In The Life.’ I was high as a kite – so high I was hunting geese with a rake. They sat me down; they had huge speakers like coffins with wheels on that they rolled up on either side of the stool. By the time it got the end of that piano chord, man my brains were on the floor.” 

The orchestral bit was used in the Yellow Submarine movie. Photos of different geographical areas were shown as The Beatles were apparently traveling in the submarine to try and find Pepperland.

When asked by Rolling Stone magazine what songs of his dad’s constantly surprise him, Sean Lennon said: “I’ve listened so much to that stuff that there are very few surprises. But I do think ‘A Day In The Life’ is always inspiring.”

The American rock band Hawthorne Heights originally named themselves A Day in the Life after this song. In 2003, lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist JT Woodruff changed it to their current name.

On June 18, 2010 John Lennon’s handwritten lyric sheet for this song featuring corrections and alternate crossed-out lines was auctioned at New York Sotheby’s. It was sold for $1.2 million to an anonymous American buyer.

This was rated the greatest ever Beatles song in a special collector’s edition issue by The Beatles: 100 Greatest Songs. The list was compiled to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Fab Four’s final studio album, Let It Be.

There is term for the techniques The Beatles used in arranging the final chords of this song: Deceptive Cadence. Glen Burtnik, who was a member of Styx and was also in a popular Beatles tribute band, told us: “It’s an instance where the listener assumes the next chord, or melody note, will go somewhere it doesn’t. Even though all the indications lead you to expecting a certain outcome, the writer/arranger intentionally surprises you by going someplace else musically. Not sure it’s simple to understand, as you’re conditioned to being used to the outcome.”

Peter Asher, who worked for The Beatles at Apple Records and produced the biggest hits of James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt, considers this the greatest Beatles song from a production standpoint. “‘A Day In The Life’ certainly combined Beatle ideas and George Martin ideas very effectively,” he told Songfacts.

Keith Richards named his second son Tara after Tara Brown, the Guinness heir who smashes his car in Lennon’s first verse. Richard’s son was premature and died soon after birth.

A Day In The Life

I read the news today oh boy
About a lucky man who made the grade
And though the news was rather sad
Well I just had to laugh

I saw the photograph
He blew his mind out in a car
He didn’t notice that the lights had changed
A crowd of people stood and stared
They’d seen his face before
Nobody was really sure
If he was from the House of Lords

I saw a film today oh boy
The English army had just won the war
A crowd of people turned away
But I just had to look
Having read the book
I’d love to turn you on

Woke up, fell out of bed
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup
And looking up I noticed I was late
Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in seconds flat
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke
Somebody spoke and I went into a dream

I read the news today oh boy
Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire
And though the holes were rather small
They had to count them all
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall
I’d love to turn you on

Buddy Holly – Oh, Boy!

This was recorded June 29-July 1, 1957 at Petty Studios in Clovis, New Mexico. Oh Boy was written by Sunny West, Bill Tilghman, and Norman Petty. Norman was Holly’s producer and owned the studio where this was recorded.

This song played live is very powerful along with Buddy’s other songs. In the 90s I saw a musical play called Buddy that was touring the country. In the musical, there was just “Buddy”, a bass player and a drummer and the songs exploded off the stage. Buddy arranged these songs to sound so big with just a few instruments.

This rocker is a simple song but there is so much going on in the background. From the Crickets backups to the pounding drums of Jerry Allison. Buddy’s Strat comes through clear as he plays against the drums.

The song peaked at #19 in the US Hot 100 and #3 in the UK. This song was paired with the “b” side Not Fade Away…which later became very popular when the Rolling Stones covered it in 1964.

From Songfacts

Background vocals were added later by The Picks (Bill & John Pickering, Bob Lapham).

This was released as a single with “Not Fade Away” as the B-side. While this song did fade away, the B-side has become one of Holly’s well-known songs. It got a boost when it was covered by The Rolling Stones in 1964.

This was credited to The Crickets, who were Holly’s band.

Holly and The Crickets performed this on their second and final Ed Sullivan Show appearance on January 26, 1958. Sullivan was not happy with the song selection, as he considered it too raunchy, but Holly insisted on performing it. Possibly in retaliation, Sullivan introduced him as “Buddy Hollet,” and Holly can be seen trying to turn up his guitar, which had been set too low. While most musical guests were given 2 songs, Holly got just the one. 

Buick spun this into the jingle “Oh, Buick!” for a 1987 commercial.

Oh Boy

All of my love
All of my kissin’
You don’t know what you’ve been a-missin’
Oh boy, when you’re with me
Oh boy, the world can see
That you, were meant, for me

All of my life
I’ve been a-waitin’
Tonight there’ll be no, hesitatin’
Oh boy, when you’re with me
Oh boy, the world can see
That you, were meant, for me

Stars appear and shadows a-falling
You can hear my heart a-calling
A little bit a-lovin’ makes everything right
And I’m gonna see my baby tonight

All of my love
All of my kissin’
You don’t know what you’ve been a-missin’
Oh boy, when you’re with me
Oh boy, the world can see
That you, were meant, for me

All of my love
All of my kissin’
You don’t know what you’ve been a-missin’
Oh boy, when you’re with me
Oh boy, the world can see
That you, were meant, for me

All of my life
I’ve been a-waitin’
Tonight there’ll be no, hesitatin’
Oh boy, when you’re with me
Oh boy, the world can see
That you, were meant, for me

Stars appear and shadows a-falling
You can hear my heart a-calling
A little bit a-lovin’ makes everything right
I’m gonna see my baby tonight

All of my love
All of my kissin’
You don’t know what you’ve been a-missin’
Oh boy, when you’re with me
Oh boy, the world can see
That you, were meant, for me

Powerpop Friday – Big Star – In The Street

Most people today know this song as the theme to That 70s Show. They never used Big Star’s version for some reason. Todd Griffin covered it the first season and by the second season, Cheap Trick’s version was used. Big Star’s drummer Jody Stephens said, “I don’t know if the general population even knows that Big Star had anything to do with it.” …that is unfortunately true. The general population doesn’t know Big Star which is a crime.

The song was on their great debut album named #1 Record which was released in August of 1972. Billboard went as far as to say, “Every cut could be a single”On the picture above it says “Distributed by Stax Records”…unfortunately it WASN’T… They did a tour and no one could find the album because many record stores didn’t have it. Stax was not equipped to distribute rock records.

By the second album, this was going to be resolved. Columbia was gonna distribute Stax, and then they would have got Big Star into big-box retail outlets. But what happened was Clive Davis, who’s huge in the music world, was the one who brokered that deal… and then he was fired. So the whole thing fell apart after that. America lost out on one of the best bands it ever produced. I would recommend to anyone the documentary on Big Star called…Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me

The song has a great riff and wonderful teenage seventies lyrics.

 

From Songfacts

Stephens played in a band called Golden Smog with Jeff Tweedy, and when Tweedy’s band Wilco came to Memphis, Jody sat in with the group. “We played ‘In The Street’ together – I sat in on drums and Glenn Kotche played the cowbell part and John Stirratt sang lead,” he recounts. “My wife was in the audience and she said when we started playing ‘In The Street,’ somebody sitting in back of her said, ‘Why are they playing That ’70s Show song?'”

In what he described as “ironic” in a 2000 Rolling Stone interview, Alex Chilton received $70 in royalty payments every time That ’70s Show was broadcast.

Cheap Trick’s cover features the lyrics “We’re all all right,” an allusion to their 1978 hit “Surrender” from the album Heaven Tonight. Perhaps a chirpy re-interpretation to suit a primetime network sitcom, the inclusion undermines the ambiguity of the original, which evokes adolescent boredom without either romanticizing or condemning it.

This ambiguity is perfectly encapsulated in the lyric, “wish we had a joint so bad” (also absent from the theme tune, although pot smoking was a recurring theme on the show), the double meaning of which can be read as meaning the protagonist’s craving to get high or for a place to go with his friends. There is certainly a theme of being disposed that runs throughout the deceptively simple lyrics, which is juxtaposed with the major key Power-Pop music.

Chilton has said that along with “When My Baby’s Beside Me,” “In The Street” is the best song he ever wrote

In The Street

Hanging out, down the street
The same old thing we did last week
Not a thing to do
But talk to you

Steal your car, and bring it down
Pick me up, we’ll drive around
Wish we had
A joint so bad

Pass the street light
Out past midnight

Hanging out, down the street
The same old thing we did last week
Not a thing to do
But talk to you

Powerpop Friday – Raspberries – I Wanna Be With You

The Raspberries were a powerpop band out of Chicago.  I Wanna Be With You peaked at #16 in the Billboard 100 in 1973.  It was their first single release from their second LP, Fresh.[It became their second greatest US hit.

What a great time for powerpop… Badfinger, Big Star, and The Raspberries were out at the same time in this period. All of them had more influence than success. Badfinger and the Raspberries did hit the top twenty a few times but Big Star didn’t even make that…which is a crime.

I remember first hearing this song on AM radio walking into my sister’s wood paneling room. It was on a station called WMAK…disc Jockey was Coyote McCloud one of the most popular Disc Jockeys in Nashville. Funny I can remember that but hardly yesterday.

Alex Chilton of Big Star on hearing the Raspberries: “I remember when I first heard the Raspberries,” he said. “Big Star was in a van traveling around doing some dates and we heard Go All the Way on the radio, and we said, ‘Wow, those guys are really doing it!’ I thought that was a great song.”

 

I Wanna Be With You

If we were older
We wouldn’t have to
Be worried tonight

(CHORUS)
Baby, oh, I wanna be with you
So bad (yeah, I wanna be with you)
Oh, baby (oh, I wanna be with you)
Oh, yeah (yeah, I wanna be with you)

Well tonight’s
(Tonight) the night
We always knew it
Would feel so right
So come on, baby
I just wanna be with you

Well tonight’s
(Tonight) the night
We always knew it
Would feel so right
So come on, baby
I just wanna be with you

Oh, I wanna be with you
So bad (yeah, I wanna be with you)
Oh, baby (oh, I wanna be with you)
Oh, yeah (yeah, I wanna be with you)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, baby
So bad (yeah, I wanna be with you)
Oh, darling (oh, I wanna be with you)
Oh, yeah…

 

Powerpop Friday – The Records – Starry Eyes

Every Friday I’m going to attempt to live up to the blog’s name and post a few powerpop songs…by known and unknown artists. So get ready for jangly guitars, harmonizing vocals, and more pop hooks than you can shake a stick at.

The Records were an English powerpop band formed in 1978. This song peaked at #59 in the Billboard 100 in 1979. The song was off their debut album Shades in Bed. The band included John Wicks – rhythm guitar, vocals, Huw Gower – lead guitar, vocals, Phil Brown – bass guitar, vocals, and Will Birch – drums, vocals.

Starry Nights would end up being their best-known song. Robert John “Mutt” Lange produced this album for the Records. The Records split up in 1982 but John Wicks went on to success working with other artists. The songs of Wicks and his lyricist partner, Will Birch, have been recorded by The Searchers, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Too Much Joy, Michael Monroe, and numerous other artists…a great powerpop song.

 

Better quality version below

Starry Eyes

While you were off in France, we were stranded in the British Isles
Left to fall apart amongst your passports and your files
We never asked for miracles, but they were our concern
Did you really think we’d sit it out and wait for your return?

I don’t want to argue, I ain’t gonna budge
Won’t you take this number down
Before you call up the judge?
I don’t want to argue, there’s nothing to say
Get me out of your starry eyes and be on your way

While you were on the beach
Were you dreaming all about your share?
Planning to invest it all to cover wear and tear?
We paid for all the phone calls, the money’s off the shelf
Don’t you know that while you’re gone away
I’ve got to help myself?

I don’t want to argue, I ain’t gonna budge
Won’t you take this number down
Before you call up the judge?
I don’t want to argue, there’s nothing to say
Get me out of your starry eyes and be on your way

While you were in the pool
We were meeting with the boys upstairs
Talking to the money men and carrying out affairs
We had no time for cocktails or working up a tan
The boys have all been spoken to
The writ has hit the fan

So I don’t want to argue, I ain’t gonna budge
Won’t you take this number down
Before you call up the judge?
‘Cause I don’t want to argue, there’s nothing to say
Get me out of your starry eyes and be on your way

No I don’t want to argue, there’s nothing to say
Just get me out of your starry eyes and be on your way
You get me out of your starry eyes and be on your way