The Dixie Cups, Ain’t That Nice and Thank You Mama, Thank You Papa

When I worked in midtown in the early 80s I’d visit the various discount record stores and buy cut out records for a buck or two based on a track or a name that I recognized from something I’d read or heard about on the radio. That’s how I found the Dixie Cups Chapel of Love and Iko Iko. Two of the great cuts of the 60s. Today I found on Google Music an album called the Dixie Cups versus the Shangri Las. Now, apart from the fact that this is a bogus contest, because of it I found a bunch of Dixie Cups songs I don’t think I’d ever heard before. Are the Dixie Cups greater than the Shangri Las? Here’re two songs to go with their big hits that make me say, maybe!

God Help the Girl, God Help the Girl

Stuart Murdoch, the lead singer and songwriter for the excellent Scottish band Belle and Sebastian, wrote and directed a movie some years back. The movie is called God Help the Girl. And this clip is a song called God Help the Girl performed by the band in the movie called God Help the Girl. God Help the Girl! If you want to watch the movie on Kanopy, here’s the link: https://bklynlibrary.kanopy.com/video/god-help-girl. I’m sure it’s available elsewhere, too. Here’s a video that should give you all the information you need to decide if this movie is for you. I’m charmed by it all, this is the Scotland of Bill Forsythe and the Vaselines, but more mature now. And more innocent, too. Your mileage may vary, but I highly recommend it.

Song of the Week – Goin’ Back & Wasn’t Born to Follow, The Byrds

Ignored           Obscured            Restored

Carole King and Gerry Goffin were one of the most successful songwriting teams of the early 60s.  As part of the Brill Building songwriting stable, they worked alongside the teams of Barry Mann-Cynthia Weil and Ellie Greenwich-Jeff Barry, and solo songwriters like Neil Diamond and Shadow Morton.

You already know most of the hits written by Goffin-King, but I’ll list a few anyway:

Chains – Cookies (covered by The Beatles)

Go Away Little Girl – Steve Lawrence

I’m Into Something Good – Herman’s Hermits

Locomotion – Little Eva

One Fine Day — Chiffons

Up On the Roof – Drifters

Take Good Care of My Baby – Bobby Vee

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow – Shirelles

(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman – Aretha Franklin

But by the mid-‘60s the times had changed and pop/rock music had moved on from teen pop written by specialist songwriters to self-contained bands that wrote their own music with more adult themed lyrics.

By 1967, the duo reacted to these trends and embraced some of the trappings of the hippie culture.  They rejected suburban life and wrote “Pleasant Valley Sunday” to express their new values.

Around this time they also wrote two of my favorite recordings by The Byrds – “Goin’ Back” and “Wasn’t Born to Follow.”

Both songs were on the outstanding album, The Notorious Byrd Brothers (1968).  The drama during the recording of The Notorious Byrd Brothers may match the well-documented soap opera that surrounded the production of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.

David Crosby and Michael Clarke quit the band during the album sessions, leaving only Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman in the band.  (The recently deceased session drummer Hal Blaine replaced Clarke on some of the tracks.)  When Crosby left, McGuinn rehired one of the original, founding Byrds – Gene Clark – to come back on board, but that lasted for only a matter of weeks.

Still, the album stands up today and so do “Goin’ Back” and “Wasn’t Born to Follow.”

“Goin Back” reflects on the theme of exchanging adult responsibilities for the innocence of childhood.

Let everyone debate the true reality,
I’d rather see the world the way it used to be
A little bit of freedom’s all we’re lack
So catch me if you can
I’m goin’ back

In his review of “Wasn’t Born to Follow” on AllMusic, Thomas Ward writes:

Sung by Roger McGuinn, the song is a lovely moment in The Notorious Byrd Brothers, and it reflects the group’s more rural influence which has dated far less than their more psychedelic leanings. The lyrics are tremendous, commenting on the need for escape and independence.

By 1969 Goffin and King were divorced, but the legacy of their songwriting partnership will never be broken.

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – Fresh Air, Quicksilver & Before the Water Gets Too High, Parquet Courts

Ignored           Obscured            Restored

April 22, 1970, was the date of the first Earth Day.  It has been celebrated every April 22nd ever since.  Long before we understood the impact of greenhouse gasses or coined the terms “climate change” or “global warming,” the environment was being polluted by gas-guzzling cars using leaded petrol and factories were spewing toxic gasses and smoke into the air.

Musicians took up the cause and wrote songs about it.  The earliest one I recall was “Out in the Country” (written by Paul Williams and Roger Nichols) from Three Dog Night’s album It Ain’t Easy (1970).

About the same time, Quicksilver Messenger Service released “Fresh Air.”

“Fresh Air” was written by Dino Valenti (aka Dino Valente, Chet Powers, and Jesse Farrow).  He also wrote the hippie anthem “Get Together” which was a major hit for Jesse Colin Young and The Youngbloods.

Throughout the years many other songs that touch the issue of the environment have been recorded by major stars.  A few examples (and there are many more) include:

Mercy, Mercy Me (the Ecology) – Marvin Gaye

Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell

Fall on Me – REM

My City Was Gone – The Pretenders

Beds Are Burning – Midnight Oil

Still, very recently, this issue was addressed by Parquet Courts in their song “Before the Water Gets Too High” on 2018’s Wide Awaaaaake!

State TV helps the public explain
Broadcast beamed into the dry terrain
Images of drenched survival
Without hope but soaked with pain
Consequences of reality felt
All conditions of humanity built
On the bridges
Tent villages waiting for the state to help

Before the water gets too high

This brings back the memories of the trauma left behind in post-Katrina New Orleans and 2017’s Maria in Puerto Rico.

Almost 50 years after the first Earth Day there is still more work to be done!

Enjoy… until next week.