Monday, October 17, 2005

History Lesson: Ringo's Rental

October 17, 2000: A townhouse once owned by Ringo Starr goes on the market in London. Ringo was apparently a landlord for a while: Other residents of the place included John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Paul McCartney, and Jimi Hendrix. Asking price: 575,000 pounds. On the same day, George Michael pays almost three times that much for the piano on which Lennon composed "Imagine."

October 17, 1979: Fleetwood Mac's Tusk is released in the United States ahead of schedule, after several tracks mysteriously show up on radio stations. A few days later, when it arrives at my college station, I track the entire album on the "Virgin Vinyl" segment of my Tuesday-night show. The primary reason I am working Tuesday nights that semester is because the girl assigned to read news that night is smokin' hot, and I want to get to know her better. (I have been married to her for 22 years.)

October 17, 1968: Bob Marley gets his last haircut. (He would live, remember, until 1981.) On the same day--and I don't know whether there's any relationship between the two events--his son Ziggy is born.

October 17, 1962: The Beatles make their first appearance on television, singing "Love Me Do" on a British program.

Birthdays Today:
Jim Seals is 64. He's half of Seals and Crofts, and has spent the last 25 years running a coffee plantation in Costa Rica. S&C released a new album last year, updating several of their 70s hits. It wasn't exactly a smash.

Floyd Cramer would be 72, had he not died in 1997. As the house pianist at RCA in Nashville, he played on more famous sessions than most of us have had hot dinners. Under his own name, he enjoyed a few instrumental hits, most famous of which was "Last Date" in 1960. You may not know it by title, but you've probably heard it, especially if you were a radio listener in the 1960s and 70s, when it was frequently used by DJs to "take us up to news time." (Find a taste of it here.)

Number One Songs on This Date:
1981: "Arthur's Theme (The Best That You Can Do)"/Christopher Cross.
Back then, we didn't find anything wrong with laughing at a movie about the humorous life of an alcoholic. We also didn't realize that "If you get caught between the moon and New York City/the best that you can do is fall in love" would live on as some of the dumbest lines in music history.

1976: "Disco Duck"/Rick Dees and His Cast of Idiots. I appreciate trash a lot more than most people, but even I have to draw the line somewhere. In a photo-finish with "My Ding-a-Ling," "Rock Me Amadeus," and "Baby Got Back," this is the worst Number One record of all time.

1975: "Bad Blood"/Neil Sedaka with Elton John.
In which Sedaka's terminal whiteness is briefly overcome by a funky backing track. Said track cannot obscure the misogyny of the lyrics, however: "Woman was born to lie . . ./The bitch is in the smile/the lie is on her lips/such an evil child."

1965: "Yesterday"/The Beatles. Just the thing to blot out the aftertaste of "Disco Duck"--or any other bad record you've ever heard.
1939: "Over the Rainbow"/Glenn Miller Orchestra.
Although this song is forever associated with Judy Garland, hers was not the most popular version of it when The Wizard of Oz first appeared in theaters. Big-band versions by Miller and Bob Crosby charted higher; Miller's version and one by Larry Clinton's band actually charted before Garland's did.


At 12:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Somewhere, between the moon and New York City, there's a duck with VD singing a song about Rick Dees, Christopher Cross, Elton John, and Neil Sedaka. -Shark


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