Monday, March 29, 2010

Song of the Day: "Teach Me Tonight" by the DeCastro Sisters

Link to March 29 New York Times obituary, "Cherie DeCastro, Singer with DeCastro Sisters, is Dead at 87".

Oh, what a different world it was back in 1954.

Excerpt:  The sisters made their first recordings on the Tico label with Tito Puente, who had brought them to the Palladium in Manhattan. After Americanizing their sound and signing with Abbott, a country-and-western label, they released “Teach Me Tonight,” a slow, sexy ballad, with lyrics by Sammy Cahn and music by Gene de Paul, backed by a big band.

The record, a throwaway B side to the up-tempo “It’s Love,” caught on with listeners, who thrilled to its risqué lyrics:

Starting with the A B C of it,

Right down to the X Y Z of it,

Help me solve the mys-ter-ee of it,

Teach me tonight.

The song reached No. 2, stayed on the Billboard charts for 20 weeks and inspired cover versions by Jo Stafford and Dinah Washington.

Here's where Retiring Guy lived in 1954.

View Larger Map
112 8th Street North, Great Falls, Montana. The Old Parsonage.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ruby Anniversary Song of the Week: "Get Ready" by Rare Earth

Playing a mixture of rock, funk, and blue-eyed soul, Rare Earth received a good measure of AM and FM radio airplay during the early 1970s.  "Get Ready", their first single, debuted inauspiciously at #91 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending March 14, 1970.  It took 13 weeks for the song to reach the top ten, where it resided for 5 weeks.  Overall it spent an impressive 20 weeks on the chart.

"ABC" by the Jackson 5.  (41, 1, 13)
After their debut single, "I Want You Back", Retiring Guy was never much of a fan.

"Lovin' Livin' Maid (She's Just a Woman)" by Led Zeppelin.  (87, 65, 5)
Led Zeppelin II.  Back in the day, who didn't have this album in their collection?
"Whole Lotta Love" kicked the group into high gear.
Not exactly poetry, but lyrics some of us will never forget.
A-you need coolin'
Woman I ain't foolin'
I'm gonna say it yeah
Go back to schoolin'
A-way down inside
Woman you need love
I'm gonna give ya my love
I'm gonna give ya my love, ohhhhh

"Come Into My Life" by Jimmy Cliff.  (90, 89, 3)
His follow-up to "Wonderful World, Beautiful People".  And his last appearance on the Hot 100.

"My Woman My Woman My Wife" by Marty Robbins.  (92, 42, 8)
Marty's final appearance on the Hot 100.  His best effort:  "El Paso", which spent 2 weeks at #1 in late 1959.  (Retiring Guy thinks that Robbins spent a lot of time in front of a mirror.)

"For the Love of Him" by Bobbi Martin.  (93, 13, 14)
Bobbi puts sense 2 of this definition to music.

Verse 1:
When he opens the door says I'm home
Beware of the look in his eyes
They tell you the mood he's in
What kind of day it's been

For the love of him
Make it your reason for living
Give all the love you can give him
All the love you can

Verse 2:
There'll be little things he forgets to do
Have you told him today I love you
When he reaches out be there
Show him that someone cares,

Would Retiring Guy like this song more if Dusty Springfield sang it?

"Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone" by Charley Pride.  (94, 70, 7)
Although 29 of his singles reached #1 on the country charts, only 9 of them made an appearance on the Hot 100.  Best performer:  "Kiss an Angel Good Morning" reached #21 in early 1972.  (Sidebar:  Retiring Guy has always wondered is 'San Antone' is an outside kinda thing.)

"Reflections of my Life" by Marmalade.  (96, 10, 15)
Retiring Guy wonders why the group changed its name from Dean Ford and the Gaylords to Marmalade.  In their only American hit, they do a decent BeeGees imitation.

"You've Made Me So Very Happy" by Lou Rawls.  (99, 95, 3)
The third and least successful version of this song.  But that voice!

"Laughin' and Clownin'" by Ray Charles.  (100, 98, 2)
The song was written by Sam Cooke.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Golden Anniversary Song of the Week: "White Silver Sands" by Bill Black's Combo

For the week ending March 13, 1960, on the Billboard Hot 100, we have a relatively mediocre group of newcomers.  Retiring Guy nearly decided to forego the "Song of the Week" honor but, at the last minute, bestowed it upon "White Silver Sands" by Bill Black's Combo, which makes its debut at #70 and peaked at #9 -- its only week in the top 10.  It spent a total of 14 weeks on the chart.  Born in Memphis in 1927, Bill Black was a session musician on Elvis Presley's earliest recordings.

Other songs making their first appearance this week.

"Sink the Bismarck" by Johnny Horton. (69, 3, 18)
Horton specialized in historical story songs and experienced his greatest success with "The Battle of New Orleans", which spent 6 week at #1 in the late spring/early summer of 1959.  The most popular YouTube video of "Sink the Bismarck" has 1,158,159 views.

"I Love the Way You Love" by Marv Johnson. (79, 9, 13)
Produced by Barry Gordy.  For Retiring Guy, the song brings to mind Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.

"Just One Time" by Don Gibson. (80, 29, 11)
More at home on the country charts, Gibson reached the top 10 of the Hot 100 just once, with "Oh Lonesome Me" in the spring of 1958.

"Never Let Me Go" by Lloyd Price. (82, 82, 3)
The "B" side of "Lady Luck", which entered the Hot 100 on February 1, 1960.

"Footsteps" by Steve Lawrence. (84, 7, 13)
The third of three top 10 hits in a row for the man usually mentioned in the same breath with Eydie Gorme.

"Apple Green" by Jane Valli. (89, 29, 13)
June used a win on the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts show as a springboard to a musical career.  Her biggest hit was a 1953 recording of "Crying in the Chapel".

"Closer Walk" by Pete Fountain. (93, 93, 2)
The clarinestist's first of 2 appearance on the Hot 100.

"What'cha Gonna Do" by Nat King Cole. (94, 92, 2)
The "B" side of "Time and the River", which debuted on February 1, 1960.

"Suddenly" by Nick Dematteo. (95, 90, 2)
Another Italian teen from Philadelphia -- 18 at the time this record was released -- Nick makes his only appearance on the Hot 100.

"Jambalaya (On the Bayou)" by Bobby Comstock & the Counts. (99, 90, 4)

"Down by the Riverside" by Les Compangnons de la Chanson. (100, 60, 8)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Jefferson Street, Two Rivers, Wisconsin

December 26, 2009

The View from Owen Park, Madison Wisconsin

March 17, 2010

A Heartfelt Tribute to Alex Chilton

(via Hypebot)

And here he is, with Big Star, at his best.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Knock me over with a feather

With 3:33 remaining in the first half.

Click to enlarge.

And you thought the Badgers played like shit yesterday.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The 2009-2010 AP College Basketball Poll, I'm Guessing

There's a lot of cloudiness in them there crystal balls.

Retiring Guy will also point out that during the 2009-2010 season, the Wisconsin Badgers beat Duke (4), Ohio State (5), Purdue (6), Michigan State (11), and Maryland (19).

Monday, March 8, 2010

"I Think Your Cat is Going Loco, Hon"

“Hey, Boxer!” JoAnna called out in a sing-song voice when we returned home from our walk this morning.

I hadn’t seen her let the cat out of the house.

Boxer seemed very agitated, repeatedly meowing, which she rarely does, and practically pacing back-and-forth as we approached the side door. Usually she runs away whenever I get within a few feet of her. Not today. She held her ground and dashed inside as soon as I opened it.

The meowing and strange behavior continued once we were inside.

“I think your cat is going loco,” I said. “I can’t remember when I’ve seen her so worked up. She must have seen something while we were gone that freaked her out.”

Probably a good guess. JoAnna found Boxer on the futon, looking out one of the bedroom windows into the back yard. Then, her feet moving at fast-forward speed, she padded her way to the family room. Eventually she settled down and went to one of her resting places.

After I returned home from my class, Boxer started to meow as soon as I pulled back the curtain of the closet in Eddie’s old bedroom – the one he used before Andy went to school in Milwaukee. It’s not unusual to find her holed up there. She goes in cycles as to where she likes to take a nap: on the futon, at the foot of the bed in Andy’s old room, under our bed, under the dining table. Now, apparently, it’s back to the closet.

She mowed repeatedly, as if to say, “You’re letting in too much light!”

“Where are you, Trina?” (That’s my nickname for her.)

She wasn’t in her usual far corner.

All of a sudden she jumped out of the closet, giving me a slight start, and made a dash for the living room.

“Crazy cat!” I muttered.

After changing my clothes, I found her eyeing the front door.

“Do you want go to outside?” I asked.

She meowed in reply. Just once, as is her usual habit.

When I opened the inside door, she approach the entryway cautiously, her head slightly lowered. I then opened storm door and offered her some encouragement.

“It’s a nice day out there, Trina. A little wet with the melting snow, but the temperature’s almost 40˚.

As if sensing danger, she froze once she was four feet from the opening.

“I’m not going to stand here all day, Trina,” I warned, and then promptly let the door slam shut.
I left the inside door open.

While microwaving some leftover spinach and pepper rigatoni – the recipe is found on the back of a box of Morton’s Coarse Kosher Salt – I watched as Boxer padded her way to the front door, this time parking herself at the threshold. She was still there ten minutes later. I offered to let her go outside, but once again she refused. This time, though, she made a half-hearted swiping motion with her right paw.

“You trying to tell me something, Trina?”

While I was in the family room to retrieve my computer lap pad, I noticed that the shade of the large table lamp was askew. And the lamp is placed in front of one of the windows that face west – the same direction as the windows where the futon is positioned.

My guess is that Boxer had a close encounter with a mother raccoon. For the past two years, a raccoon – the same one? – has given birth to kits in a cavity, about 15 feet off the ground, of the silver maple in the middle of our back yard. She has probably returned to claim her private maternity room. I knew I should have done something last fall to make it uninhabitable. Right now, though, I’m not in the mood to see if the space is again occupied.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Ruby Anniversary Song of the Week: "Love or Let Me Be Lonely" by the Friends of Distinction

Should "Love or Let Me Be Lonely" by the Friends of Distinction be a guilty pleasure? Retiring Guy doesn't think so. He thinks it ranks among the best songs of the year.

The song entered the Hot 100 at #82 for the week ending March 7, 1970. It climbed its way into the top 10, peaking at #6, and spent 13 weeks on the chart.

Other songs making their first appearance on the Hot 100.
(Entry position, peak position, weeks on chart.)

"Up the Ladder to the Roof" by the Supremes*. (57, 10, 11)
(*Stormy, why didn't you just call your local public library?)
The first Supremes song without Diana Ross does pretty well for itself.

"Come Together" by Ike & Tina Turner. (78, 57, 8) The Beatles' version had recently finished up a 16-week stay on the Hot 100, spending 1 week at #1.

"Easy to be Free" by Rick Nelson. (80, 48, 6) The former Ricky Nelson is gathering material for his "Garden Party".

"Gonna Give Her All the Love I Got" by Marvin Gaye. (81, 67, 6) A surprising misfire during a period when just about everything Gaye touched turned to gold.

"Let's Give Adam and Eve Another Chance" by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap. (83, 41, 7) After five top 10 hits in two years, radio listeners were not inclined to give Gary Puckett & the Union Gap another chance.

"Who's Your Baby" by the Archies. (87, 40, 7) Bubblegum music was a short-lived phenomenon. Those younger baby boomers ruined everything for the rest of us.

"Add Some Music to Your Day" by the Beach Boys. (90, 64, 5) The Beach Boys spent ten years out of the top 10 -- from "Good Vibrations" in 1966 to "Rock and Roll Music" in 1976.

"Brighton Hill" by Jackie DeShannon. (93, 82, 4) Jackie's two top 10 hits were love songs: "What the World Needs Now is Love" in 1965 and "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" in 1969.

"Don't Worry Baby" by the Tokens. (95, 95, 2) The one-hit wonder ("The Lion Sleeps Tonight" reached #1 in early 1962) makes their final appearance on the Hot 100.

"Mighty Joe" by the Shocking Blue. (96, 43, 7) "Venus", the group's only hit, falls out of the top ten this week, after having spent 1 week at #1 in early February.

"Mississippi Mama" by Owen B. (99, 97, 2). Who the hell is Owen B. Apparently, not even Joel Whitburn knows. It's Owen's only appearance on the Hot 100.

"Run Sally Run" by the Cuff Links. (100, 76, 6) The one-hit wonders -- the execrable "Tracy" -- make a final appearance on the Hot 100.

Golden Anniversary Song of the Week: "Werewolf" by the Frantics

Retiring Guy is a sucker for surf-guitar instrumentals, which makes it so amazing that he's never heard of the Frantics, though he's sure Little Steven has. Not that this Seattle group tore up the charts with this song, though I suspect they had a loyal regional following.

"Werewolf" entered the Billboard Hot 100 at #83 for the week ending March 7, 1960. It then spent another week at the same position before going bye-bye.

Other songs making their first appearance.

"About This Thing Called Love" by Fabian. (53, 31, 7)
The "B" side of "String Along".

"Teddy" by Connie Francis. (77, 17, 11)
The "B" side of "Mama".

"Summer Set" by Monty Kelly. (82, 30, 11)
His only Hot 100 appearance. Luxuria Music must certainly have this song on its playlist, if only the strength of the kitschy album cover.

"Starbright" by Johnny Mathis. (84, 25, 11) Typically lush and pretty song from the easy-listening master, who scored 3 top 10 hits in 1957 -- "It's Not For Me To Say", "Chances Are", and "The Twelfth of Never" -- but hasn't since this territory since then.

"Chattanooga Choo Choo" by Ernie Fields. (85, 54, 8)
Two songs with "Chattanooga" enter the Hot 100 in consecutive weeks. What's with that?

"The Same Old Me" by Guy Mitchell. (89, 51, 6)
In late 1956/early 1957, Mitchell's "Singing the Blues" spent an amazing 10 weeks at #1 and 26 weeks on the Hot 100 overall.

"Step by Step" by the Crests. (90, 14, 15)
This infectious song, which almost reached the top 10, should eliminate the Crests from being considered a one-hit wonder. Most folks, however, know the group via "16 Candles", which reached #2 on the Hot 100 in early 1959.

"You Don't Know Me" by Lennie Welch. (95, 45, 13)
Three-and-a-half years later, as Lenny Welch, he enjoyed the biggest hit of his career, "Since I Fell for You". Yes, this is the same song that Ray Charles remade two years later, effectively making this version disposable.

"Mountain of Love" by Harold Dorman. (96, 21, 19)
Dorman's only visit to the Hot 100 resulted in a 19-week stay. Remade by Johnny Rivers in 1964.

"Road Runner" by Bo Diddley. (97, 75, 6)
Although "Bo Diddley" is #62 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, Bo Diddley's signature, self-referential song never appeared on Billboard's Hot 100. It did, however, spend 18 weeks, two at #1, on R&B chart.

"Old Payola Roll Blues" by Stan Freberg & Jesse White. (99, 99, 1)
The satirist's final appearance on the Hot 100.

"Just Give Me a Ring" by Clyde McPhatter. (100, 96, 2)
Of his 21 singles that charted, only 2 of them reached the top 10. Both have "lover" in their titles: "A Lover's Question" (1958) and "Lover Please" (1962).

Friday, March 5, 2010

Song of the Day: "Summer Madness" by Kool and the Gang

This song was part of my iPod shuffle this morning, the perfect accompaniment for a walk as the sky begins to lighten in the east.

Thirty-five years ago, Retiring Guy nearly wore out the grooves of this album cut. It's from the most excellent Light of Worlds LP, released in 1974.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Karl Rove Has a Crush on George Bush

The song floating around in Karl Rove's head.

Why do birds suddenly appear
Every time you are near?