The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson is 80

The Beach Boys AND Brian Wilson are touring, separately

Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys is 80 today. I’ve written about the individual and group quite often. Way back in 2007, I noted 15 Big Ones, an album I have only on vinyl that I had not and have not listened to recently.

In 2010, I noted how Brian raps, sort of.

A decade ago, I indicated my favorite Beach Boys songs. The list hasn’t substantially changed. God Only Knows remains at #1, enhanced every time I watch the end of the 2003 movie Love, Actually. If anything, my love for that song was further improved by the BBC Music version from 2014, which I wrote about here.

I reviewed the movie Love and Mercy here. In that post, I also noted the film I’ll Be Me, about former Beach Boy Glen Campbell’s farewell tour.

My favorite series in this blog might have been the family bands, bands with family members, that I undertook in 2014. Of course, I had to write about the Wilson brothers.

Who ARE the Beach Boys?

I noticed that Chicago and Brian Wilson will be performing at Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, NY on July 17 with founding Beach Boy Al Jardine occasional member Blondie Chaplin.

Meanwhile, the Beach Boys will be at the same venue on August 18, with founding member Mike Love and longtime group participant Bruce Johnston. The opening act is The Temptations, which has a single lineage.

For me, it’s difficult to think about which is the REAL group. The last time there was no question was a decade ago, when Brian Wilson, Love, Jardine, Johnston, and early member David Marks, put out an album That’s Why God Made the Radio. The “Beach Boys break a record by expanding their span of Billboard 200 top 10s to 49 years and one week. They first graced the top 10 with Surfin’ U.S.A. the week of June 15, 1963.” Then they toured for a limited time.

In any case, happy birthday, Brian Wilson. I wonder what he thinks about that Bare Naked Ladies song?

Bubbling Under the Hot 100

Good Morning, Vietnam

Joan Armatrading
Joan Armatrading
One of the many music reference books – yes, I said BOOKS – that I own is Bubbling Under the Billboard Hot 100, 1959-2004. These are songs that didn’t quite make it to the promised land on the primary US singles chart.

There are several reasons. Some were regional hits. Some were B-sides of bigger hits but managed to nearly chart anyway. A few are re-releases that had charted higher in the past.

Since the book is nearly 300 pages long, I’m limiting myself to songs I actually own in physical form, either on compact disc or vinyl. You’ll recognize quite a few, I promise. This will take a while.

New York New York – Ryan Adams, #112 in 2002, filmed 9/7/2001. I put this on a mixed CD in my early blogger days.
Baby Please Don’t Go – Amboy Dukes – #106 in 1968
Show Some Emotion– Joan Armatrading – #110 in 1978; I LOVED her albums of that era
What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong with the Tommy Goodman Orchestra – #116 in 1968; #32 in 1988, due to its inclusion in the movie Good Morning, Vietnam
The Shape I’m In – The Band, #121 in 1973; B-side of Time To Kill (#77 pop)

The Beach Boys

I gave a friend their box set, and when she knew she was dying, she wanted me to take it back
Why Do Fools Fall in Love, 101 in 1964; B-side of Fun, Fun, Fun (#5 pop)
She Knows Me Too Well – 101 in 1964; B-side of hen I Grow Up (To Be A Man) (#9 pop)
Cottonfields – #103 in 1970
Marcella – #110 in 1972
Barbara Ann – #101 in 1975 rerelease; #2 in 1966
Wouldn’t It Be Nice – #103 in 1975 rerelease; #8 in 1966

The Beatles

I have some interest in this group.
From Me To You, #116 in 1963; #41 in 1964
I’m Down, #101 in 1965; B-side of Help! (#1 pop) The only B-side of The Beatles first 21 regular Capitol/Apple releases not to make the Top 100
Boys, #102 in 1965; one of a series of singles released on Capitol’s green label “The Star Line”

I Can’t See Nobody – Bee Gees, #128 in 1967; B-side of New York Mining Disaster 1941 (#14 pop)

David Bowie

I have a fair amount of his output on LPs
Space Oddity, #124 in 1969 on Mercury Records; it hit #15 in 1973 on RCA Victor
Let’s Spend the Night Together, #109 in 1973
D.J., #106 in 1979
Ashes to Ashes, #101 in 1980

It Don’t Matter to the Sun – Garth Brooks as Chris Gaines, a fictional character for a proposed movie, The Lamb, starring Brooks; B-side of Lost in You (#5 pop)
Please, Please, Please -James Brown – #105 in 1960, though #5 on the R&B charts in 1956, and a live version went to #95 pop in 1964

Next time, I’ll get much further into the alphabet.

Music, October 1971: Families of rock stars

Nostalgia could sell quite well,

Clockwise from top left: Zappa, Cocker, Crosby, Clapton
The book Never A Dull Moment by David Hepworth notes a photo display in LIFE magazine in the fall of 1971 called “Rock Stars and their parents.” Among those families represented: the Jackson Five, Frank Zappa, Ginger Baker, Joe Cocker, Grace Slick, and David Crosby.

“Eric Clapton was pictured with his grandmother Rose Clapp, who had raised him on behalf of her sixteen-year-old daughter. There was no mention of his actual birth mother. the public wasn’t ready for the complexity of a nonnuclear family.”

While photographer John Olson noted that the rock stars were “uniformly” well-behaved around their parents, they weren’t temperamentally suited for domestic life, having spent years on the road. Moreover, unannounced fans would try to show up on the doorsteps of Bob Dylan, Pete Townsend and others. Paul McCartney was the exception, as he and Linda lived in rural Scotland.

Often even these musicians of means still thought of themselves as creators first, people with homes second. Among the folks with studios actually in their abodes were George Harrison, James Taylor and Graham Nash. Other musicians were impulsive buyers of eccentric structures. Keith Moon’s house had five pyramids. Jimmy Page and John Lennon both needed others to stay in their residences.

As for musical families, the Kinks put out my favorite of their albums, Muswell Hillbillies, Donny Osmond and his brothers were strong on the charts all year since One Bad Apple copped the style of the Motown family’s J5.

The Beach Boys made the cover of Rolling Stones, a wildly successful singles band in the early ’60s who, aside from Pet Sounds, were not particularly successful album artists in the latter part of the decade. They were perceived as uncool.

Fortunately, they pieced together the often magnificent Surf’s Up, in a way a tribute to the band’s aura. “Van Dyke Park, who had co-written the title song five years earlier correctly predicted if they used that title, they could pre-sell 150,000 extra copies.

Eventually, though, it was the old songs, first with the Who’s 1971 Meaty Big and Bouncy, then the defunct Beatles, followed by the Beach Boys, post 1973’s American Graffiti, that showed that nostalgia could sell quite well, thank you.

Listen to:

Surf’s Up – the Beach Boys
Coat Of Many Colors – Dolly Parton
Superstar – Carpenters
Old Man – Neil Young
Muswell Hillbilly – The Kinks
Peaches En Regalia – Frank Zappa
Will the Circle Be Unbroken – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Tired of Being Alone – Al Green

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Surf’s Up – The Beach Boys

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Musical Throwback Saturday: Count the Days

There are a LOT of songs with counting in them, from Len Berry’s 1-2-3 and Feist’s 1234 to the Jackson Five’s ABC (“easy as 1, 2, 3”) and the Beatles’All Together Now or the end of You Never Give Me Your Money (“1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, All good children go to heaven”). Here’s a Reddit post on the topic, and there are plenty more.

By odd coincidence, I played a couple songs in the category on the same day recently.

13 Question Method by Ry Cooder is a fairly obscure Chuck Berry song. The YouTube description says it was a Berry bootleg in 1957, then released as a legitimate track in 1961.

Count the Days (1-2-3-4-5-6-7), recorded by Gene Pitney, was written by Y. Williams, C. Fox, and B. O’Dell. Pitney’s take, released at the end of 1968, does not appear to have charted. However, a version from about a year earlier, by the brother-and-sister group Charlie and Inez Foxx, went to #17 R&B and #76 pop on the Billboard charts. The duo’s big hit was Mockingbird, later covered by James Taylor and Carly Simon.

I must admit being a sucker for a Beach Boys song in the genre, When I Grow Up (To Be A Man), that starts with age 14 and fades out at 31. It got to #9 in 1964.

Listen to:

13 Question Method (live) – Ry Cooder, with David Lindley
13 Question Method – Chuck Berry (1957)
13 Question Method – Chuck Berry (1961)

Count the Days (1-2-3-4-5-6-7) – Gene Pitney
(1-2-3-4-5-6-7) Count The Days – Charlie and Inez Foxx

When I Grow Up (To Be A Man) – Beach Boys

1-2-3 – Len Berry

1234 – Feist
1234 – Feist, Sesame Street version

All Together Now – Paul McCartney (live in 2013 in Tokyo)

ABC – Jackson Five

1,2,3 Red Light – 1910 Fruitgum Company

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