History Lesson: And I Cannot Lie
July 13, 1985: Live Aid is held in London and Philadelphia. I don't realize how big it's going to be until that day, and I spend much of that Saturday afternoon at my radio station running reports from the venues. That night, the Mrs. and I set up a second TV set in our crummy little one-bedroom apartment so we can watch the live MTV broadcast on cable and the rebroadcast highlights of the day on ABC. Best moment: the Led Zeppelin reunion. Worst moment: MTV letting the VJs sing along on "We Are the World."
July 13, 1973: The Everly Brothers break up on stage in California, mid-show, as Don says "The Everly Brothers died ten years ago" and Phil smashes his guitar and walks off. Like many musical divorces, this one isn't permanent. The boys reform in 1983 and return to the road; in 1984, they record EB84, featuring Paul McCartney's lovely "On the Wings of a Nightingale."
July 13, 1969: It's reported that over 100 radio stations have banned the Beatles' "The Ballad of John and Yoko" because of the line, "Christ you know it ain't easy." It goes to Number 8 in America anyhow.
July 13, 1963: The Rolling Stones play their first gig outside of London, opening for the Hollies in Middlesbrough, Yorkshire.
Birthdays Today: Roger McGuinn of the Byrds is 63. Born Jim, changed it to Roger for religious reasons. (I have no idea.) It was his jangly guitar that made the Byrds the Byrds. Cheech Marin is 59. Cheech and Tommy Chong might have been the biggest rock stars in the country for a brief moment in late 1973 and early 1974, when their "hard rock comedy" was more compelling than a lot of the music being released.
Number One Songs on This Date:
1991: "Baby Got Back"/Sir Mix-a-Lott. The first time, it's shocking. The second time, it's kind of funny. The third time and beyond, it's offensive. The moment at which American popular music jumped the shark.
1989: "Good Thing"/Fine Young Cannibals. Three straight Number-One songs, each with a single week at the top: "Good Thing," the Simply Red cover of "If You Don't Know Me By Now" and "Express Yourself" by Madonna. Not a bad musical summer. Of course there was also Milli Vanilli, Richard Marx, and New Kids on the Block, so everything's relative.
1974: "Rock Your Baby"/George McCrae. It dethroned "Rock the Boat" by the Hues Corporation from the top spot, so I think we can safely say the disco era began sometime in July 1974.
1962: "The Stripper"/David Rose. Oh, those lascivious trombones.
1937: "The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down"/Russ Morgan. Five different versions of this charted in the summer of 1937; Morgan and Shep Fields would reach the top, Eddy Duchin would get to Number 2 at about the same time. You know this tune, by the way. It's the theme song from the Bugs Bunny cartoons.
(Late correction: "The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down" is actually the theme song to the Looney Tunes series; some of the Bugs Bunny cartoons, especially the oft-repeated ones from the 1950s, used another theme. If we can't be historically accurate when we're discussing cartoons, then what the hell's the use?)
(PS: Still looking for answers to the question of why we listen to our old records. How come we don't throw them away like old magazines? What do we get from them that's enough to keep us hauling them around all our lives? If you've got an opinion, click Comments or e-mail me.)