Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ruby Anniversary Song of the Week: "Instant Karma" by John Ono Lennon

Lennon's first top ten hit as a "solo" artist, Instant Karma debuted at #64 on Billboard's Hot 100 for the week ending February 28, 1970. It reached #3 and spent a total of 13 weeks on the chart. Notice what Yoko is doing in the video.

Other songs making their debut on the Hot 100 this week.

"Celebrate" by Three Dog Night. (48, 15, 9)
This song quickly jumped out of the blocks but ran out of gas before the top ten finish line.

"Spirit in the Sky" by Norman Greenbaum. (63, 3, 15)
A one-hit wonder that just won't go away. It is, admittedly, a catchy little tune.

"Stir It Up and Serve It" by Tommy Roe. (83, 50, 6)
Roe's hitmaking days are, thankfully, over.

"To the Other Woman" by Doris Duke. (84, 50, 9)
Duke's only appearance on the Hot 100. A little too much soul?

"You're the One" by Little Sister. (86, 22, 11)
It's got that funky, Sly Stone beat. No surprise, he put together the group.

"Long Lonesome Highway" by Michael Parks. (88, 20, 12)
Parks' only appearance on the Hot 100. From the TV show Then Came Bronson, which Retiring Guy managed to miss during the 1969-1970 season, its only year in prime time.

"Rock Island Line" by Johnny Cash. (93, 93, 1)
Originally recorded in 1956.

"Silly, Silly Fool" by Dusty Springfield. (95, 76, 5)
Dusty's last solo appearance on the Hot 100. To her credit, she makes even this piece of soulful fluff sound good. Radio audience at the time, apparently, didn't agree.

"Love, Peace and Happiness" by the Chambers Brothers. (96, 96, 1)
Retiring Guy saw the Chambers Brothers in concert: Clark Gym, University of Buffalo, September 1968. I can't recall if they played this song, but I do remember a very extended version of "Time Has Come Today", complete with cowbell.

"Can't Help Falling in Love with You" by Andy Williams. (97, 88, 3)

"Tennessee Birdwalk" by Jack Blanchard and Misty Morgan. (98, 23, 13)

"Message from a Black Man" by Whatnauts & the Whatnauts Band. (99, 99, 2)

"Sparkle and Shine" by the Clique. (100, 100, 1)
Their minor claim to fame is "Sugar on Sunday", from the fall of 1969.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Golden Anniversary Song of the Week: "This Magic Moment" by the Drifters

Most folks are probably more familiar with the serviceable remake by Jay & the Americans. The Drifters' version debuted at #67 for the week ending February 28, 1960, but reached no higher than #16 and dropped off the Hot 100 after just 11 weeks.

In Retiring Guy's opinion, the group is responsible for two of the most transcendent recordings of the 1960s: "Up On the Roof" and "On Broadway", songs that get airplay on oldies and soul stations -- not to mention SiriusXM's Little Steven's Underground Garage and the Music of Your Life programming format.

Other singles making their first appearance this week:

"(Welcome) New Lovers" by Pat Boone. (60, 18, 12)
After 16 top 10 hits in just over three years (April 1955 to 1958), Pat was well into the twilight of his career by this time.

"String Along" by Fabian. (61, 39, 8)
Not a one-hit, but certainly a one-year, comet-like wonder. After his 3 top 10 hits in 1959 -- "Turn Me Loose", "Tiger", and "Hound Dog Man" -- his career quickly flamed out.

"Puppy Love" by Paul Anka. (62, 2, 14)
His last really big hit until 1974's controversial "(You're) Having My Baby".

"Mama" by Connie Francis. (63, 8, 13)
From her 1959 album, Connie Francis Sings Italian Favorites, which spent 81 weeks on Billboard album chart.

"O Dio Mio" by Annette. (68, 10, 12)
One of her 2 top 10 hits. Like millions of other 10 year olds in 1960, Retiring Guy had a HUGE crush on Annette.

"Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy" by Freddie Cannon. (70, 34, 7)
A dud for the "Boom Boom" guy.

"Don't Fence Me In" by Tommy Edwards. (86, 45, 8)
Tommy's first release, "It's All in the Game", spent 6 weeks at #1 in 1958. None of his subsequent songs came close to the success of his debut effort.

"Lawdy Miss Clawdy" by Gary Stites. (88, 47, 9)
Stites recorded one LP and quite a few singles for the Carlton label, in the late fifties and early sixties. His biggest hit was "Lonely For You" (# 24, spring 1959), the arrangement of which is very similar to Conway Twitty's "It's Only Make Believe"

"Anyway the Wind Blows" by Doris Day. (91, 50, 7)
From the film Please Don't Eat the Daisies. Doris's next-to-last appearance on tbe Hot 100.

Cover of Cover of Please Don't Eat the Daisies

"Angela Jones" by Johnny Ferguson. (92, 27, 15)
Freguson's only appearance on the Hot 100.

"Sleepy Lagoon" by the Platters. (93, 65, 5)
The "B" side of "Harbor Lights". Very classy tune, which probably deserved to step out on its own.

"Greenfields" by the Brothers Four. (94, 2, 20)
Fraternity brothers at University of Washington when they started. Of their 7 singles that charted, this is the only one that came anywhere near the top 10.

"Alvin's Orchestra" by David Seville and the Chipmunks. (98, 33, 5)
This song has an interesting chart history: 98, 71, 33, 33, 60. It's as though America's radio-listening audience suddenly woke up from a bad dream and said "Get that shit off the air." One of the major scourges of popular culture. But then what does Retiring Guy know. Their latest movie has grossed $215,581,073 as of February 21, 2010.

"El Matador" by the Kingston Trio. (99, 32, 11)
Surprisingly -- at least in retrospect -- the Kingston Trio had just 2 top 10 hits: "Tom Dooley" (1958) and "Reverend Mr. Black" (1963). Retiring Guy always found the group a little too earnest for his tastes.

"Let Them Talk" by Little Willie John. (100, 100, 1)
Thumbnail biography. R&B singer. Born William Edgar John on November 15, 1937, in Cullendale, Arkansas, raised in Detroit. Brother of Mabel John of the Raelets, Ray Charles' back-up singer. Convicted of manslaughter in 1966. Died of a heart attack in Washington State Prison on May 26, 1968. Elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ruby Anniversary Song of the Week: "Comin' Home" by Delaney, Bonnie & Friends

Delaney & Bonnie. Forgotten now. Underappreciated then.

If this jam session sounds familiar, well.... it should, dammit! The "Friends" include Eric Clapton, Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle, and Jim Gordon. Later in 1970, this foursome released an double album as Derek & the Dominoes. (Retiring Guy is sure you've heard of it.)

The two remaining "Friends" also deserve mention: George Harrison and Billy Preston. Yowsah! What a gathering.

This version of "Comin' Home" certainly wasn 't the one released as a single, but it certainly deserved better than a three-week stay on Billboard's Hot 100, running out of gas at #84.

Other songs making their debut for the week ending February 21, 1970.

"Gotta Hold on to this Feeling" by Jr. Walker & the All-Stars. (64, 21, 10)
Of the group's 21 singles that charted, only 2 reached the top 10. This one definitely should have been the third. It was all downhill from this point.

"Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)" by Edison Lighthouse. (68, 5, 13)
It's one-hit wonder time again. Retiring Guy has never understood the initial and continuing appeal of this song.

"Gotta Get Back to You" by Tommy James & the Shondells. (79, 45, 8)
With 7 of their 8 top ten hits behind them, the group is looking forward to the oldies circuit.

"The Declaration" by the Fifth Dimension. (80, 64, 5)
Perhaps they should have recorded another Laura Nyro song.

"Until It's Time for You to Go" by Neil Diamond. (87, 53, 6)
I guess radio listeners and record buyers decided they wanted just one Neil Diamond hit at a time. Advantage: "Shilo".

"Take a Look Around" by Smith. (88, 43, 7)
Smith's vigorous reworking of the "Baby It's You", originally recorded by the Shirelles (and the version that Retiring Guy much prefers), was a huge hit in the fall of 1969 and is the group's only claim to fame.

"The Cat Walk" by the Village Soul Choir. (91, 55, 10)
The group's only appearance on the Hot 100.

"California Girl" by Eddie Floyd. (93, 45, 12)
Best known for soul classic "Knock on Wood", his first single, which never charted higher than #28 in 1966, Floyd makes his final appearance on the Hot 100.

"Just Seventeen" by the Raiders. (94, 82, 3)
No Paul Revere? On his own, Mark Lindsay had just scored a major hit with "Arizona", but the song would pretty much prove to be the beginning and end of his solo career.

"Baby Make It Soon" by the Flying Machine. (95, 87, 2)
By this time, the one-hit wonder is indeed "in pieces on the ground".

"Temma Harbour" by Mary Hopkin. (97, 39, 8)
The third of Hopkin's singles to reach the Hot 100. Here's their peak positions in chronological order: 2, 13, 39, 77, 87, 92. Goodbye.
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Van Hise Hall From Various Angles

Hummer needs new shocks?

From today's Capital Times website:
Retiring Guy would prefer more public transportation options.

Retiring Guy would like to ride a rail/bus system that gets him from Middleton to the Wisconsin Library Association headquarters on the far east side in relatively trouble-free fashion, for example.

Retiring Guy would like his sons to be able to travel by train between Madison and Milwaukee and Madison and Stevens Point, for example. Hell, for now, he'd even settle for bus service between Madison and Stevens Point.

Retiring Guy hopes that some folks will soon find a cure for their "auto"-eroticism.
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Do of the Day

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Another World: Walking Shorewood Hills

The Luthgren Family, Springfield, Massachusetts (1910)

That's my Grandpa Luthgren at the right.
100 years ago!

Photo from Images of America: Springfield, Volume 1 by Ginger Cruickshank.

Adolph Luthgren is my maternal grandfather. He was 19 or 20 when this picture was taken.

His first wife, whom he married in 1912, died in childbirth in 1915. (When my Aunt Mildred, always known as "Millie" was born.) An older daughter, my Aunt Edna, was born in 1913.

My grandfather remarried and two more daughters were added to the family: Marion (that would be my mom -- in 1920) and Madeline Genevieve (1922), whom my siblings and I always referred to as Auntie Gen when we were growing up. She's the only "Auntie" we ever had. LIke Edna and Millie, my dad's 5 sisters were simply "Aunts" to us.

(Now I'm wondering if Edna is a middle name. Maybe her first name begins with "M". That's not what I recall from the 1920 and 1930 census records, though.)

Thanks to Kim Luthgren, grand-daughter of Oscar Luthgren and a second cousin I never knew I had until 2 weeks ago. She contacted me via Facebook and led me to this wonderful family photo which I'd never seen.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Golden Anniversary Song of the Week: "Let the Little Girl Dance" by Billy Bland

"Let the Little Girl Dance" by Billy Bland
. (99, 7, 20)
A one-hit wonder, but a song with a lot of staying power. It spent 20 weeks on the Hot 100, a feat only a handful of songs accomplished in 1960.

Other singles appearing on the Hot 100 for the first time.
(Entry position, peak position, weeks on chart)

"Beatnik Fly" by Johnny and the Hurricanes. (69, 15, 13)
Surf instrumental version of "Blue Tail Fly", a.k.a. "Jimmy Crack Corn". Annoying, push-button ditty.

"Outside my Window" by the Fleetwoods. (74, 28, 9)
Another sweet bit o' fluff from the trio.

"Too Pooped to Pop" by Chuck Berry. (78, 42, 6)
A song that lives down to its name.

"Teensville" by Chet Atkins. (79, 73, 3)
The B side of "One Mint Julip", which struggled to reach #82. Atkins was more at home on the country charts.

"Mumblin' Mosie" by Johnny Otis. (80, 80, 2)

"Baby What Do You Want Me To Do" by Jimmy Reed. (82, 37, 14)
Influential blues singer and harmonica player who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991,.,

"Forever" by Billy Walker. (83, 83, 1)
Although this is Walker's only appearance on the Hot 100 -- one measly week -- "The Tall Texan" charted more than 50 singles on Billboard's country chart -- 16 of them reaching the top 10.

"(Do the) Mashed Potatoes" by Nat Kendrick & the Swans. (84, 84, 2)
The groups is also known as the JB's, James Browns' backing band. As Nat Kendrick & the Swans, this is their only appearance on the Hot 100.

"Just a Little Bit" by Roscoe Gordon. (85, 64, 7)
The R&B singer/guitarist/pianist's only appearance on the Hot 100. (Is there an echo in here?) Elvis recorded a respectable cover of this song.

"You're My Baby" by Sarah Vaughan. (87, 87, 2)
The B side of "Eternally", which entered the chart a week earlier.

"What's Happening" by Wade Flemons. (97, 94, 2)
This song deserved better but must not have clicked with listeners at the time. Flemons was the electric pianist in Salty Peppers, Maurice White's pre-Earth, Wind & Fire group. (There's a hint, a very small one, of Brook Benton in his voice.)

"If You Need Me" by Fats Domino. (98, 98, 1)
The B side of "Country Boy", which entered the chart two weeks earlier.

"Paradise" by Sammy Turner. (100, 46, 11)
The 5 songs of his that reached the Hot 100 were all produced by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Boogie Oogie Oogie

Thank you, Nancy. Now Retiring Guy finally understands the 70s.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Ruby Anniversary Song of the Week: "Heartbreaker" by Grand Funk Railroad

Not bound for glory, "Heartbreaker" entered Billboard's Hot 100 at #93 for the week ending February 14, 1970. It reached as high as #72 and exited after 6 weeks. In the late 60s/early 70s, Grand Funk also didn't get much respect on FM radio, though I suspect the Youngstown/Warren Ohio area, not too far from where I grew up, was one of a number of notable exceptions. Cleveland may rock, but these two solidly blue-collar towns have always managed to kick it up a few notches from there. But then Grand Funk didn't have to worry about radio airplay. They built up a fan(atical) base through extensive touring and intensive advertising.



Other singles making their debut on the Hot 100.

"It's a New Day" by James Brown. (83, 32, 8)

"Keep on Doin'" by the Isley Brothers. (84, 75, 5)
Treading water between "It's Your Thing" and "That Lady"

"Something's Burning" by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. (85, 11, 16)
The song was written by Mac Davis.

"Walking Through the Country" by the Grass Roots. (86, 44, 8)
Sometimes when you stumble across the title of a long-forgotten song, the tune immediately pops into your head. Not the case here. Definitely one of their forgettable efforts.

"A Friend in the City" by Andy Kim. (90, 90, 2)

"Ticket to Ride" by the Carpenters. (92, 54, 12)
An inauspicious debut for the duo. Their next 6 singles, however, all reached the top 3 of the Hot 100, a string of hits that extended into early 1972. (Very weird video. The close-up of Karen's mouth at the 3-minute mark -- yeah, I actually lasted that long -- is more than I can handle.)

"All I Have to do is Dream" by Bobbie Gentry & Glen Campbell. (95, 27, 10)
The Everly Brothers original spent 5 weeks at #1 in 1958. An uninspired, by-the-numbers remake.

"Kentucky Rain" by Elvis Presley. (96, 16, 9)
The first song of Elvis's to reach the Hot 100 in the 1970s. The 112th of his career.

"If You've Got a Heart" by Bobby Bland. (97, 96, 2)

"Rag Mama Rag" by the Band. (98, 57, 8)
In their 9-year career, the Band's songs spent very little time on the Hot 100. Of the 8 that charted, "Up on Cripple Creek" was the best performer. It reached as high as #25. They were more at home on Billboard's Top 200 albums chart.

"Take It Off Him and Put It on Me" by Clarence Carter. (99, 94, 4)

"The Fightin' Side of Me" by Merle Haggard & the Strangers. (100, 92, 3)
Singer-songwriter Nick Gravenites, who worked with many San Francisco area bands back in the day, penned a little ditty to Haggard -- "I'll Change Your Flat Tire, Merle". The chorus goes as follows: Oh I'll change your flat tire, Merle/Don't you get your sweet country picking fingers/ All covered with oil/You're a honky I know, but Merle, you got soul/So I'll change your flat tire, Merle.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Golden Anniversary Song of the Week: "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying" by Ray Charles

Only 8 new songs -- and one "accounting" error -- on Billboard's Hot 100 for the week ending February 14, 1960. None of them made an impact.

The same title, though not the same song, as Gerry and the Pacemakers' first big U.S. hit record. This tender, beautifully rendered Ray Charles song is the "B" side of "Let the Good Times Roll", which entered the Hot 100 during the first week of 1960. Just one listen tells you that it was much too sophisticated for AM radio 50 years ago. No surprise then that it spent only 2 weeks on the chart, entering at #95 and "setting" at #93.

Other songs making their first appearance this week.

"Eternally" by Sarah Vaughan. (61, 41, 8)
This cover of a Charlie Chaplin tune, complete with lush strings, probably did much better with an easy-listening audience. Retiring Guy's favorite Vaughan song, "Broken Hearted Melody" was a big hit in the later summer/early fall of 1959.

"Delaware" by Perry Como. (71, 22, 11)
Without a doubt, the lamest song that Como every recorded. Ay-yi-yi!

"I Was Such a Fool" by the Flamingoes. (94, --, 72, 71, 76, 74, 100)
This single entered the Hot 100 at #94 two weeks earlier, a fact not indicated on this week's chart.

"Bad Boy" by Marty Wilde. (90, 45, 8)
Wilde's only appearance on the Hot 100.

"Closer Walk" by Pete Fountain. (94, 93, 3)
One of two singles by the New Orleans clarinetist that reached the Hot 100.

"I Know What God Is" by Perry Como. (95, 81, 2)
The "B" side of "Delaware".

"Honey Love" by Narvel Felts. (99, 90, 2)
A most unnecessary remake of the 1954 R&B hit by the Drifters.

"Clementine" by Jan & Dean. (100, 65, 6)
1960 was an arid year for this duo. They somehow lost their way and drove their woody to the desert. It's the same oh-my-darling-oh-my-darling-oh-my-darling folk ballad you remember from grade school -- done up surf style. Definitely not one of their greatest hits.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Beatitudes: The Greatest Sermon Jesus Ever Preached

Letter is a 'head-scratcher' for reader.

What about Matthew 5:9?

And as Jesus says in summary, Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19)

Folks can cherry-pick Bible verses to their hearts' delight, but the pure essence of Jesus' gospel is found here.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

By Popular Demand: Peanutty Candy Bars Recipe


* 4 cups quick-cooking oats
* 1 cup packed brown sugar
* 2/3 cup butter, melted
* 1/2 cup plus 2/3 cup peanut butter, divided
* 1/2 cup light corn syrup
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 package (11 ounces) butterscotch chips
* 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
* 1 cup chopped salted peanuts


* In a large bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, butter, 1/2 cup peanut butter, corn syrup and vanilla. Press into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Bake at 375° for 12-14 minutes or until mixture is bubbly around the edges.

* In a microwave-safe bowl, melt butterscotch and chocolate chips; stir until smooth. Stir in peanuts and remaining peanut butter; spread over the oat mixture. Cool for 10 minutes; chill until set. Yield: 2 dozen.

Nutrition Facts
: 1 bar equals 362 calories, 21 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 13 mg cholesterol, 136 mg sodium, 40 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 8 g protein.

Source: Peanutty Candy Bars published in Taste of Home June/July 2009, p74. (Thanks, Mom!)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Monday, February 1, 2010

Golden Anniversary Record of the Week: "Wild One" by Bobby Rydell

The Teen Idol Holy Trinity, circa 1960.
  • Bobby Rydell. Born Robert Ridarelli on April 26, 1942, in Philadelphia.
  • Frankie Avalon. Born Francis Avallone on September 18, 1939, in Philadelphia.
  • Fabian. Born Fabiano Forte on February 2, 1943, in Philadelphia.

  • Top 10 records.

  • Rydell. 6. (None reached #1.)
  • Avalon. 7. (2 reached #1.)
  • Fabian. 3. (None reached #1.)

  • Rank among Top Artists. (As determined in Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles, 1955-1990.
  • Rydell. #90
  • Avalon. #108
  • Fabian. #418

  • Number of appearances on American Bandstand. (According to imdb. These numbers should be double-checked.)
  • Rydell. 6.
  • Avalon. 3.
  • Fabian. 7.

  • Notable Hollywood movies.
  • Rydell (Bye Bye Birdie)
  • Frankie Avalon (The Alamo, Beach Party, I'll Take Sweden)
  • Fabian (North to Alaska, The Longest Day, Ride the Wild Surf)

  • "Wild One", Bobby Rydell's highest-charting single, entered the Hot 100 at #72 for the week ending February 7, 1960. It reached #2 and spent 16 weeks on the chart.

    Other songs that debuted the same week.
    (Entry position, peak position, weeks on chart)

    "Country Boy" by Fats Domino. (61, 25, 10)
    Eleven of the Fat Man's 66 singles reach the top 10 -- all but one of them from 1955 to 1959. "Blueberry Hill" is his best chart performer. In 1956, it spent 27 weeks on the Hot 100, peaking at #2.

    "China Doll" by the Ames Brothers. (70, 38, 13.)
    Their last song to reach the Hot 100.

    "Lady Luck" by Lloyd Price. (71, 14, 13)
    Best known for "Stagger Lee" and "Personality", two of the most popular songs of 1959.

    "Let It Rock" by Chuck Berry. (81, 60, 4)

    "Time and the River" by Nat King Cole. (83, 30, 8)

    "That Old Feeling" by Kitty Kallen. (85, 55, 5)
    Kitty started singing with big bands in 1936.

    "Little Bitty Girl" by Bobby Rydell. (86, 19, 15)
    The "B" side of "Wild One".

    "Sixteen Reasons" by Connie Stevens. (89, 3, 24)
    Her follow-up to "Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb". Those were the days.

    "Tall Oak Tree" by Dorsey Burnette. (92, 23, 15)

    "Money" by Barrett Strong. (95, 23, 17)
    Strong is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

    "Peace of Mind" by Teresa Brewer. (96, 66, 4)
    Teresa had 4 top 10 hits in the mid-1950s: "Let Me Go, Lover!", "A Tear Fell", "A Sweet Old Fashioned Girl", and "You Send Me".

    "Fanny Mae" by Buster Brown. (97, 38, 17)

    "Hully Gully" by the Olympics. (98, 72, 7)
    Learn to do the dance.

    "Whiffenpoof Song" by Bob Crewe. (100, 96, 2)