Wednesday, October 27, 2004

History Lesson: There Is a Rose in Spanish Harlem

October 27, 1975: Bruce Springsteen appears simultaneously on the covers of Time and Newsweek as "Born to Run" blasts from radios. Springsteen is said to have walked around for two days after he wrote it wondering who he stole it from; critic Greil Marcus coined the best description when he called it "a '57 Chevy running on melted-down Crystals records."

October 27, 1970: Jesus Christ Superstar is released on LP. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice deliver a lecture on the album at a church in New York City--a scene that would be repeated in countless churches across the land as people tried to figure out, in true 60s fashion, whether this music was blasphemous, or whether the kids had something worthwhile to say.

October 27, 1960: Ex-Drifters singer Ben E. King records his first two singles, "Spanish Harlem" and "Stand By Me." That's a full, rich day.

Birthdays Today: Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots is 37. I mention this only because "Stone Temple Pilots" was, and remains, the coolest band name of the 1990s. Simon LeBon of Duran Duran is 46. With much fanfare, the first video-driven megastars returned earlier this fall with a new album and tour. Whether they'll be as big now that they're not quite so pretty remains to be seen.

Number One Songs on This Date:
1999: "Mambo Number 5"/Lou Bega.
Gee, I hope he invested the money.
1974: "Then Came You"/Dionne Warwick and the Spinners. One of the slowest climbers ever to Number One. It took three months to ascend the summit, and then stayed only a week.
1970: "I'll Be There"/Jackson Five. Another example of the difference between album versions and single versions. The album version is the one you hear everywhere now, but the single version, which was the one that spent five weeks at Number One, has a dreamy quality the album version lacks.
1962: "Monster Mash"/Bobby "Boris" Pickett. This Halloween novelty resurfaced in 1973 and made the Top Ten--in the middle of the summer, which tells you a lot about the 1970s. (Pickett has rerecorded a parody of it this year, as an anti-Bush, pro-environment message for the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund and Campaign to Protect America's Lands; thanks to Willie for the link.)
1929: "Tiptoe Through the Tulips"/Nick Lucas. Another artifact of the ukulele music craze of the late 20s. This is the same song Tiny Tim made famous in the 1960s, but I'm guessing you don't really need to hear either one right now.


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