The Skylab is Falling!

In 1979 I was twelve and hearing on the news that a space workstation named Skylab was falling to earth. It was exciting to me…I was hoping that a piece of it would fall near so I could touch something that had been flying through space.

That didn’t happen because unless I was Australian I was not going to see any debris. In school, our science teacher went over the event and I do remember people wearing Skylab t-shirts, hats, and buttons.

Watching the news…there were some people panicking and…some people partying. This is from Newsweek in 1979

In various parts of the country, wags painted X’s on their neighbors’ roofs or sported T-shirts with targets on the back. Entrepreneurs sold plastic helmets and Skylab survival kits compete with bags for collecting stray parts of the spacecraft and letters suing NASA for damages. “I don’t know how much we’re making, but we’re having fun,” said Steven Danzig, 25, of Bloomington, Ind., who sold more than 20,000 such kits. In Washington, a bar called Mr. Smith’s sold a concoction dubbed the Chicken Little Special.

Around the U.S., there were Skylab parties to coincide with the crash, and betting pools on precisely when or where the debris would come streaking back to earth.

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Skylab was designed to go up but not come back down. It was launched in 1973 and was occupied for almost 24 weeks. There was a lot of time and money spent on how to get it up there but not much time on how to get it down. It only had a 9-year life span, to begin with. In 1979 it was clear that Skylab was rapidly descending orbit.

On July 12, 1979, Skylab came back to earth in the Indian Ocean and in Western Australia. No one was injured by the falling debris.

The San Francisco Examiner offered a $10,000 reward for anyone bringing a part of Skylab to their office. They knew it wasn’t going to hit America so it was a safe bet they would not have to pay…but Stan Thornton…an Australian truck driver heard about the reward, grabbed a piece of debris and jumped on a plane to San Francisco and got the reward.

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Stan Thornton collecting his $10.000

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The Four Seasons – December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)

The song was released in 1975 and peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, UK and the Canadian charts. It was off the album Who Loves You and the title single peaked at #3.

It was written by keyboard player Bob Gaudio and Judy Parker.

From Songfacts

According to the co-writer and longtime group member Bob Gaudio, the song was originally set in 1933 with the title “December 5th, 1933,” and celebrated the repeal of Prohibition. Neither lead singer Frankie Valli nor co-writer (and later, Gaudio’s wife) Judy Parker were thrilled about the lyrics (and Valli objected to parts of the melody) so Gaudio redid the words and Parker redid the melody until all were content with the finished product. It ended up being a nostalgic love song.

“December 1963 (Oh, What A Night)”

Oh, what a night
Late December, back in ’63
What a very special time for me
As I remember, what a night

Oh, what a night
You know, I didn’t even know her name
But I was never gonna be the same
What a lady, what a night

Oh, I 
I got a funny feeling when she walked in the room
Hey, my
As I recall, it ended much too soon

Oh, what a night
Hypnotizing, mesmerizing me
She was everything I dreamed she’d be
Sweet surrender, what a night

And I felt a rush like a rolling bolt of thunder
Spinning my head around and taking my body under
Oh, what a night

Oh, I 
Got a funny feeling when she walked in the room
Hey, my
As I recall, it ended much too soon

Oh, what a night
Why’d it take so long to see the light?
Seemed so wrong, but now it seems so right
What a lady, what a night

Oh, I felt a rush like a rolling bolt of thunder
Spinning my head around and taking my body under
Oh, what a night (Do do do do do, do do do do)
Oh, what a night (Do do do do do, do do do do)
Oh, what a night (Do do do do do, do do do do)
Oh, what a night (Do do do do do, do do do do)
Oh, what a night (Do do do do do, do do do do)
Oh, what a night (Do do do do do, do do do do)
Oh, what a night (Do do do do do, do do do do)

Crabby Appleton – Go Back

I’m reaching into the obscurity bin for this one but it’s a good song.

This band was not exactly a household name but this single is really good. “Go Back” was released in 1970 and it peaked at #36 in the Billboard 100. Lead singer Michael Fennelly went on to an unsuccessful solo career but he did work with Steely Dan on occasion.

It was produced by Don Gallucci…formely of the Kingsmen…the drummer Phil Jones played percussion and drums for Tom Petty on every song but one on Full Moon Fever. He has also played with Joe Walsh, Johnny Rivers, and Waddy Wachtel.

The band did release two albums before breaking up in 1971. Bands like this fascinate me. I listened to their debut album and it’s really good…I have to wonder if Electra didn’t push them enough.

I do remember hearing this song in the 70s.

 

Go Back

You don’t hold me so well
And it’s not hard to tell
When you know in your heart
That it’s wrong

‘Cause your thoughts are not here
And you’re making it clear
That the one you love is gone

Well, I can’t tell you your life, no
I can’t tell you what to do
But you know, yes, you know
That’s it’s true

I think you better go back
Go back to your lover, go back
He’s the one you really love
Go back, go back to your bed
I said, go back
He’s the one you’re thinking of

Go back, go back to your bed
I said go back, girl
As fast as you can, go back

Now you look good to me
Still, I can’t help but see
You’ve been thinking of him
All the time

And you know it’s not right
When you kiss me tonight
You pretend his lips are mine

Yeah, I can’t tell you your life, no
I can’t tell you what to do
But you know, yes, you know
That it’s true

I think you better go back
Go back to your lover, go back
He’s the one you really love
Go back, go back to your bed
I said, go back
He’s the one you’re thinking of

Go back, go back to your bed
I said, go back, girl
As fast as you can
Go back, whooooooa
Go back, go back to your lover
Go back
Go back, go back to your bed
I said, go back

 

 

 

The Chambers Brothers – Time Has Come Today

I’ve always liked this song. I will admit I never heard it until 1988 on a great tv series called “Almost Grown” that starred Tim Daly that of course was canceled midway through the first season. It’s a psychedelic rock/soul song. There are four versions…one in 1966 and two trippier versions in 1968..different in length only…and the album version…I prefer the album version (11:06). Any song that uses the word…I guess it’s a word…”psychedelicized” has got my support.

This song has worked extremely well in films and on television as a soundtrack of the sixties. It’s powerful and punchy and doesn’t let up.

It was released in 1968 and peaked at #11 on the Billboard 100. After listening to it I want to wear tie-dye and protest something…anything.

Below is the “brilliance” of record executives…in this case Clive Davis…from Songfacts.

The Chambers Brothers started performing “Time Has Come Today” in 1965. The following year, they signed with Columbia Records, whose label boss Clive Davis surprised them by forbidding them to record it. Willie Chambers told the story in his Songfacts interview:

“After we signed with Columbia Records, there was a big party with all the food and booze and all this stuff. All the important people were there and we got to meet all of the head hogs and Clive was there. He was there for a couple of hours and he says, ‘Well, I must be going, I have other appointments.’ He immediately leans back in the door, ‘Oh, by the way, that song ‘Time Has Come Today’ that you guys do, we won’t be doing that. We won’t do that kind of s–t on this label.’ 

That was it, and he walks away. I looked at my brothers, and we were looking at each other like, ‘What the heck?’ And our producer [David Rubinson], he was in tears now – he was crying. He says, ‘I’ve waited my whole life to record this song, now he’s going to tell us we can’t record it. Why?’

A couple of days went by and our producer came by and said, ‘I don’t give a s–t what he says, we’re going to record that song. When we get our recording date, you guys show up an hour early, we’re going to go in the studio, we’re going to turn on the tape, we’re going to play it live, we’re going to do it like a live performance. We’re going to record it and whatever we get we’re going to have to live with it. We can’t play back, we can’t overdub, we can’t splice, we can’t fix something if there’s a mistake, we’re just going to have to live with it.’ He says, ‘I’m probably going to lose my job, but that’s how important it is to me to record this song.’ 

Later on, Joe and I went to Columbia Records to have a pow-wow with Mr. Davis to have him explain to us just why he thought we shouldn’t record this song. We didn’t have an appointment with him, we just showed up. We were six-feet-four tall, angry black guys. So, we walk in to the receptionist and we say, ‘We need to speak to Mr. Davis.’

‘Do you have an appointment?’

‘No, we don’t but we want to speak to him.’

We were persistent. So, she calls his office and says, ‘The Chambers Brothers are here, and they say it’s important, they need to talk to you.’

He says, ‘Well, I’m very busy, I don’t have time.’

I said, ‘You’re going to take time.’

So, we kind of forced our way into his office and we said to him, ‘Why can’t we record this song?’ He says, ‘It’s not the kind of music that black guys produce or play.’

Clive says, ‘You’re four black guys, you’re going to be sending up that stream into the world, ‘Time Has Come Today.’ It’s too profound of a statement for four black guys to be saying to the world.’

That was his reason. He says, ‘We’ll get a white artist to record the song, it’s not your kind of music.’ My brother Joe says, ‘What do you mean it’s not our kind of music? We wrote this.’

So, after having that conversation with him, we were ready to do whatever the producer said. We were going to record it anyway.

When we got our moment, we went in the studio and did it in one take. ‘Time Has Come Today’ was done in one take. There was no listening back – we couldn’t listen back. When we came to the end of it, we had no idea where it was going to go. Once we ended it, we shut down the machines and then we left the studio and came back at the time we were supposed to. 

Clive Davis didn’t find out about it until it had been mixed, prepped and released. When he found out, he fired everybody he could. He fired our producer, I think he fired the guy that opened the door for us. He fired everybody that got involved with recording that song.”

The Ramones do a GREAT version of this also…

 

Time Has Come Today

Time has come today
Young hearts can go their way
Can’t put it off another day
I don’t care what others say
They say we don’t listen anyway
Time has come today
(Hey)

Oh
The rules have changed today (Hey)
I have no place to stay (Hey)
I’m thinking about the subway (Hey)
My love has flown away (Hey)
My tears have come and gone (Hey)
Oh my Lord, I have to roam (Hey)
I have no home (Hey)
I have no home (Hey)

Now the time has come (Time)
There’s no place to run (Time)
I might get burned up by the sun (Time)
But I had my fun (Time)
I’ve been loved and put aside (Time)
I’ve been crushed by the tumbling tide (Time)
And my soul has been psychedelicized (Time)

(Time)
Now the time has come (Time)
There are things to realize (Time)
Time has come today (Time)
Time has come today (Time)

Time [x11]

Oh
Now the time has come (Time)
There’s no place to run (Time)
I might get burned up by the sun (Time)
But I had my fun (Time)
I’ve been loved and put aside (Time)
I’ve been crushed by tumbling tide (Time)
And my soul has been psychedelicized (Time)

(Time)
Now the time has come (Time)
There are things to realize (Time)
Time has come today (Time)
Time has come today (Time)

Time [x4]
Yeah

Alice Cooper – Under My Wheels

This song was off the Killer album. It peaked at #59 in the Billboard 100. One of my favorites of Alice Cooper. The song wasn’t a giant success but it has remained in Alice’s set since it was released in 1971.

From Songfacts. 

This track was written by the group’s guitarist Michael Bruce and bass player Dennis Dunaway along with producer Bob Ezrin. Bruce and Dunaway also co-wrote “School’s Out” and “I’m Eighteen.”

Dennis Dunaway about writing the song.

This was another song that I wrote. I remember singing the song to Glen Buxton about this guy who’s just bought a brand new car and he’s going over to pick up his girlfriend and take her to the movies. Glen was like, ‘We don’t do girl songs!’ And I was like, ‘No, the guy runs over the girl.’ So he said, ‘Oh, OK.’ Ha ha! Anyway, Under My Wheels is about a guy who accidentally runs over his girlfriend, who he’s trying to impress with his new car. It was a fairly decent hit in America, and we also plugged it in Britain. We did a Killer tour over there when the single had just been released.

 

“Under My Wheels”

The telephone is ringing you got me on the run I’m driving in my car now anticipating fun
I’m driving right up to you babe I guess that you couldn’t see yeah yeah 
But you were under my wheels why don’t you let me be
’cause when you call me on the telephone saying take me to the show
And then I say honey I just can’t go old lady’s sick and I can’t leave her home
The telephone is ringing you got me on the run I’m driving in my car now
I got you under my wheels I got you under my wheels I got you under my wheels 
Got you under my wheels yeah yeah I got you under my wheels
Aah the telephone is ringing you got me on the run I’m driving in my car now anticipating fun
I’m driving right up to you babe I guess that you couldn’t see yeah yeah
But you were under my wheels why don’t you let me be
Yeah yeah got you under my wheels yeah yeah I got you under my wheels 
I got you under my wheels got you got you got you got you
Under my wheels got you under my wheels wheels wheels wheels

PONG

I had board games when I was a kid like Monopoly, Break the Ice, Sorry, Trouble (with new and improved the Pop -O- Matic Bubble!) and Pay Day. Board games were a part of life when friends came over or at family events. We would either have fun or a fight over the games.

In 1977 that I got my first video game. That would be Pong. I loved it and spent hours playing the version of paddling the ball against the wall when a friend was not around to play. This was a new concept entirely to plug this console into our Curtis Mathes television and start playing table tennis on the tv screen.

This didn’t stop the board games but it did mark a change that was coming. In the next couple of years, I would go to the “Pizza Hangout” and play Space Invaders, Asteroids, and Defender after school with friends. By the 80s video games were everywhere…and this simple black and white digital ping-pong game helped push it along.

Pong was invented by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney that worked at Atari. Pong was commercially first released in 1972. It was a black and white screen with paddles and the objective was pretty clear… You would have to go to an arcade to play it.

Atari released Home Pong in a limited release in 1975 that you could get through Sears. It sold around 150,000 units that Christmas season.

Because of the success, other companies came out with consoles. Magnavox rereleased their Odyssey, also Coleco, and soon Nintendo.

For more on Pong

http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/det/4007/Atari-PONG/

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The Monkees – Pleasant Valley Sunday

This song was written by Goffin and King about suburbia, The Monkees started to play their own instruments on the Headquarters. Pleasant Valley Sunday was released off the album and peaked at #3 in the Billboard 100, #11 in the UK and #1 in Canada in 1967.

The Monkees were hot in 1967. They outsold The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Their show was on the air from 1966 to 1968. The opening guitar lick of this song was based off The Beatles “I Want To Tell You.”

I grew up with reruns of their show. They influenced at least a couple of generations of musicians. This song is a very good pop song.

From Songfacts

Guitarist Mike Nesmith and drummer Micky Dolenz handled the vocals on this track (Dolenz also sang on “I’m A Believer”). Peter Tork of The Monkees explained to Bruce Pollack in 1982: “A notion of mine that I was real pleased with took over at one point, and that was having two guys sing in unison rather than one guy doubling his own voice. So you’ve got Mike, who was really a hard-nosed character, and Micky, who’s a real baby face, and these two voices blended and lent each other qualities. It’s not two separate voices singing together, it’s really a melding of the two voices. Listening to that record later on was a joy.”

Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork both cited this as their favorite Monkees song in a 1997 interview with Mojo.

 

“Pleasant Valley Sunday”

The local rock group down the street
Is trying hard to learn their song
They serenade the weekend squire
Who just came out to mow his lawn
Another pleasant valley Sunday
Charcoal burning everywhere
Rows of houses that are all the same
And no one seems to careSee Mrs. Gray, she’s proud today
Because her roses are in bloom
And Mr. Green, he’s so serene
He’s got a TV in every room
Another pleasant valley Sunday
Here in status symbol land
Mothers complain about how hard life is
And the kids just don’t understandCreature comfort goals, they only numb my soul
And make it hard for me to see
(Ah ah ah) ah thoughts all seem to stray to places far away
I need a change of sceneryTa ta ta ta, ta ta ta ta
Ta ta ta ta, ta ta ta taAnother pleasant valley Sunday
Charcoal burning everywhere
Another pleasant valley Sunday
Here in status symbol land
Another pleasant valley Sunday (a pleasant valley Sunday)
Another pleasant valley Sunday (a pleasant valley Sunday)
Another pleasant valley Sunday (a pleasant valley Sunday)
Another pleasant valley Sunday (a pleasant valley Sunday)
Another pleasant valley Sunday (a pleasant valley Sunday)