Monday’s Music Moves Me: TV Themes From the ’50’s and ’60’s

There’s an expression in baseball, “threw him one in his wheelhouse,” when a pitcher throws a pitch to a hitter that he can not just hit, but that he can hit a long way. Well, when Alana came up with today’s theme, “TV Themes from your childhood,” she threw one in my wheelhouse. If you go to the search box in my right column and search for “TV themes,” you’ll see all the posts I’ve done with theme songs in them.

I went a little nuts with the theme and stopped myself at 15, not that I couldn’t have gone all night with this. I think I’ve done almost all of these before, so consider this my “greatest hits” list.

  1. Bonanza Sunday night at our house always included Bonanza, starring Lorne Greene, Dan Blocker, Michael Landon and, for a time, Pernell Roberts. This show will live on forever in reruns, for good reason: It was good TV.
  2. Riverboat This is one that I don’t remember running the first time, but which I’ve recently been introduced to by local station 57.2, WATC TOO. This show starred Darren McGavin and, at least for the first season, Burt Reynolds in his first TV role.
  3. Perry Mason (“Park Avenue Beat”) Another classic TV show which starred Raymond Burr, Barbara Hale, William Hopper, Ray Collins and William Talman. I think of Grandma Holton when I see this, because she loved it and we’d watch together sometimes. It was also the favorite TV show of Ayn Rand.
  4. The Man From UNCLE Must-see TV, 1960’s style. Starred Robert Vaughan, David McCallum, and Leo G. Carroll, with a notable list of guest stars.
  5. The Saint Based on the novels of Leslie Charteris and the movies featuring George Sanders as Simon Templar, also known as “The Saint,” it starred Roger Moore in the title role.
  6. The Avengers (original theme) Theme song from the first several seasons, when it starred Ian Hendry (the first season), Patrick Macnee, and the gorgeous Honor Blackman, who left the show to play Pussy Galore in the James Bond film Goldfinger. This theme was written by jazz great Johnny Dankworth.
  7. The Avengers (new theme) ABC (American Broadcasting Company) in the US picked up the show from ABC (Associated British Company) in the UK, filmed the episodes in color and added a new theme, written by Laurie Johnston. Macnee was joined by the lovely Diana Rigg and the equally comely Linda Thorson in the Sixties, and by Gareth Hunt and the amazing Joanna Lumley in the 1976 reboot.
  8. Sciene Fiction Theater This ran from 1955 to 1957 as a syndicated series and WGN in Chicago re-ran it during the Sixties. We really didn’t watch this, but I remember the theme song, which sounds like it should be the theme to a romance or a soap opera.
  9. Alfred Hitchcock Presents The theme was Charles Gounod’s “Danse Macabre,” appropriate for The Master of the Macabre.
  10. Mr. Lucky Like Peter Gunn, this was a Blake Edwards production with music by Henry Mancini. Unlike Peter Gunn, it only lasted one season. Hell of a theme, which Mancini took to #21 and was covered by Vince Guaraldi.
  11. Mister Ed From the sublime to the ridiculous, this Filmways presentation (as they say at the end of the clip) aired in syndication its first season and on CBS thereafter. It starred Alan Young and “Bamboo Harvester” as Ed.
  12. Green Acres A victim of CBS’s “rural purge” in 1971, this show starred Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor and a cast of crazies that included Pat Buttram as the devious Mr. Haney and Hank Patterson, first Barbara Pepper and then Fran Ryan as the Ziffels, who had a pig they treated as a son.
  13. Pistols and Petticoats Another show we didn’t watch frequently, it starred Ann Sheridan, Ruth McDevitt and Douglas Fowley. It was only on for part of the 1966-67 season, which might explain that.
  14. The Real McCoys I remember watching this when we lived in Indianapolis in 1958-1959. It starred Walter Brennan as the family’s patriarch and Richard Crenna as his son and focused on the changing relationship between them.
  15. The Big Valley A show that starred Miss Barbara Stanwyck as the matriarch of the Barkley family, looking more beautiful than she did in her younger days. It also starred Richard Long, Peter Breck, Lee Majors and a young Linda Evans as her adult children.

If you’re really into vintage TV, YouTube user RwDt09 has really done a fantastic job of reconstructing TV schedules and assembling videos that are a composite of the shows’ opens. I can (and have) spent hours watching his videos. Definitely a channel to subscribe to.

That’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for June 18, 2018.

Monday’s Music Moves Me is sponsored by X-Mas Dolly, Callie, Cathy, Alana, Michelle and Stacy, so be sure and visit them, where you can also find the Linky for the other participants.


The Father’s Day 2018 Week That Was

This edition of The Week That Was is brought to you by US Rubber, maker of Keds. Keds, kids, Keds!

Do you call them sneakers or gym shoes? I go with the latter, even though most Keds I owned never saw the inside of a gym. That’s just what we called them.

The Week That Was

First, Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there, particularly to my brothers and cousins and cousins-in-law (what do you call your cousins’ spouses?) who are fathers. A special wish for a Happy Heavenly Father’s Day to my dad, Bill Holton, my stepfather, Jack “Tex” Christian, my father-in-law, Joe Kacka, and all my male relatives who were dads.

That said, here’s the summary for last week.

Had trouble coming up with a topic for Monday, so I did a survey post: From WJJD in Chicago, their very first survey from 1956. It was interesting, because although rock & roll had been a big deal for about a year, there were only a couple of rock songs in the Top 10.

I was surprised to see that I hadn’t done Bobby Darin yet, so he was the featured artist.

This week’s one-liner was a first line (okay, two lines) that I came up with a number of years ago that I thought would be a good beginning to a story. I never used it, so if you can, knock yourself out. Maybe I should run a contest with it, though I don’t have anything to give a way in the way of prizes… what do you think?

The prompt “bright” brought to mind a book that was in my Dad’s collection, Bright Leaf, which made me think of how I never read any of his books because I was afraid I’d get in trouble. Kip thinks it was because I drew an escape plan in one of them (long story). He’s probably not wrong, but I think that was just part of it.

Since I had already done a survey post this week, and because someone revived what has turned out to be my most-popular post of all time, I posted a playlist of ten more songs with “ain’t” in the title.

The prompt “reservation” made me think of all the travel arrangements I ever made, including one trip where the travel agent got it backwards.

I’m not planning anything exciting for the coming week, but you never know what could happen.

Thanks to:

And that’s it for this edition of The Week That Was. See you in the funny papers!

I Have My Reservations… #socs

First, an oldie from Paul Revere & The Raiders.

I used to travel a lot, and I would have to call and make all my own reservations. Usually, I’d call a travel agent and have them set everything up, and usually everything was fine. This one week, though, I set up a trip, leaving on Sunday, returning on Friday, with a car and hotel at my destination. It was one of those weeks where I had to go to the office on a Saturday to turn in my paperwork and pick up my tickets to leave Sunday. I didn’t want to spend my afternoon at the office, so I left my paperwork in my manager’s mailbox, grabbed the tickets from my mailbox and tossed them in my briefcase, and left.

The next day, I got to the airport, stand in line for twenty minutes and stand in line for twenty minutes or so. When it’s my turn, I go to the agent and give her the tickets.

She looks at them for a minute and asks, “Where are you going?”

“Minneapolis.” (I’m not sure if that was the destination, but I went there a lot, so let’s go with it.)

“Well, not according to this.” She hands me back my ticket. One look told me I was in trouble. While my travel agent booked my car and hotel in Minneapolis, she got the flight arrangements backward. She had booked the flight on Sunday to leave from Minneapolis to Chicago, and the one on Friday to return to Minneapolis from Chicago.

Fortunately, this was in the freewheeling days before airlines charged to change arrangements. I had to fly out later than I had expected, but at least the tickets I had were for the right itinerary. I asked the agent if they could take the travel agent’s commission. She just laughed. Needless to say, I had words with my travel agent on Monday morning.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week at this time by Linda Hill and this station. Now a short message from Robert Hall!

The Friday 5×2: Ten More “Ain’t” Songs

Almost three years ago, I did a post that featured ten songs that had the word (or non-word, depending on how you look at it) “ain’t” in the title. I think it’s probably the most popular post I have, and apparently DuckDuckGo thinks so, too…

#1 on DuckDuckGo, baby!

So yesterday, Milo commented on it and suggested another “ain’t” song, and I decided it was time to do another post on the topic. I had several suggestions from you, a couple more that I thought of, and the two from the post that started the whole brouhaha *, and had ten. That’s a playlist for me.

  1. Bon Jovi, “This Ain’t A Love Song” Annalisa suggested this one. It was the lead single from Bon Jovi’s 1995 album These Days, and reached #14 on the Hot 100, #11 on the Mainstream Rock chart, and #6 in the UK.
  2. Weezer, “Say It Ain’t So” This was suggested by Sabina. It’s the final single from their eponymous 1994 album, and it reached #7 on the Mainstream Rock chart and #6 in Canada. Rolling Stone ranks it as #72 on their “The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs” list.
  3. Louis Armstrong, “Ain’t Misbehavin'” A classic jazz tune by Fats Waller from 1929. Satchmo’s 1929 recording reached #7 on the charts that year, and practically everyone who’s anyone has done it. Dan suggested this.
  4. Bachman-Turner Overdrive, “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” Dan also suggested this BTO classic. It was from their third album, 1974’s Not Fragile. It reached #1 in the US and Canada in November of that year, and #2 in the UK, their first and and only hit there.
  5. “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More” Jim suggested this one. The song was “written” by “The Red-Headed Music Maker,” Wendell Hall, in 1923, but the song goes back to at least the 1870’s, according to Carl Sandburg. Hall probably took the verses from all the different variations of the song and made it “his.” This “follow the bouncing ball” version is from 1949.
  6. The Winans with Anita Baker, “Ain’t No Need To Worry” This is the one Milo suggested. The “quiet storm” meets gospel music in this 1987 song from The Winans’ Decisions album, and it reached #15 on the R&B chart.
  7. The Walker Brothers, “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)” One of the two new ones I came up with. The Walker Brothers were an American trio that was based in the UK. This topped the charts in the UK in 1966, and it reached #15 in the US.
  8. Dean Martin, “Ain’t That A Kick In The Head” Written by Jimmy Van Heusen with lyrics by Sammy Cahn for the original Ocean’s 11, considered to be “the quintessential Rat Pack film.” Dino recorded this with Nelson Riddle and His Orchestra in 1960. It never had much chart success, but it’s so closely associated with Martin that it’s appeared on many of his “greatest hits” albums.
  9. The Beatles, “Ain’t She Sweet” Written in 1927 by Milton Ager with lyrics by Jack Yellen. From The Fab Four’s Anthology 1 album, it might feature Pete Best on the drums. No doubt it’s one of those songs they picked up to help them fill the eight hours they played nightly in Hamburg.
  10. Fats Domino, “Ain’t That A Shame” Recorded by Fats in 1955, it sold over a million copies and went to #1 on the R&B chart and #10 on the pop chart. It was (in)famously recorded by Pat Boone, who suggested the lyrics be changed to “Isn’t That A Shame.” Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed.

And that’s the Friday 5×2 for June 15, 2018.

* Because I know it’ll come up: “Brouhaha? Ha ha ha ha ha…”

Writer’s Workshop: Dad’s Books

When I was growing up, we had a modest book collection, many of which were ones that Dad had read. I always had the impression that I wasn’t to touch them. I don’t know why; I guess it was the idea that they were his books, and that, if he wanted me to read them, he’d let me know it was okay. He died before he got around to that.

So, anyway, the books sat on the shelves in the living room, and I would look at them sitting there, but never had the nerve to pull them down off the shelf and read them. I didn’t think I was supposed to. So I would see the books like Moss Hart’s Act One, John Gunther’s Inside Russia Today, Bleak House by Charles Dickens, Elick Moll’s Seidman & Son, Allen Drury’s A Shade of Difference, and one whose name I was sure was Bright Ieaf, because that was what was on the spine. I had no idea what an “Ieaf” was. I didn’t even know how to pronounce it.

One day, I screwed up the courage to pull that one off the shelf, and discovered that the book was Bright Leaf, by Foster Fitz-Simmons. The gold leaf had worn off the horizontal stroke on the L, I guess.

Bright Leaf, by Foster Fitz-Simmons, the edition my father had.

Fitz-Simmons was a dancer by profession, and taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, deep in the heart of Tobacco Road. Bright Leaf was his one major work as an author (maybe even his only work as an author). It was loosely based on the life of the Duke family, who were big in the tobacco industry. They put up the funding of what became Duke University in Durham, NC. It was made into a movie in 1950 which starred Gary Cooper, Lauren Bacall, and Patricia Neal.

Of course, I didn’t know any of that at the time. Once I learned the real name of the book, I quickly put it back on the shelf. I didn’t want to get caught reading Dad’s books, as though they had a curse on them. Actually, I was scared that I’d get in trouble. I remembered the summer that Mom read Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger, which had been turned into a movie that year. I asked her if I could read it after her, and she was emphatic. “No, you my not! It’s an adult book!” Naturally, I thought that extended to all the books in the house except for the ones that we were specifically told we could read, or that were assigned to us at school.

The books made the move from Chicago to Northfield with us, where they were placed in the bookshelves in the living room. And they sat there as well. I’m sure it wouldn’t have been an issue to read them by then, but I was never sure wth Mom.

A couple of years before she died, I was in Chicago for business, and Mom said “Do you want any of your Dad’s books?”

I was dumbfounded. She had never said anything about them. “Really?”

“Of course. Why?”

“Well, I’ve looked at them all my life, but I thought reading them was off limits.”

“Oh, for God’s sake, Johnny! I wish you had read them. Your Dad loved them, and he would have been thrilled to know you wanted to read them. Take a few home with you, and read them, and when you’re done, pass them on. They’re just things.”

I picked a bunch of them, but Bright Leaf wasn’t one of them. And I read them, then donated them to the library. They were definitely a product of the times in which they were written, but were still good reads.

The moral of the story: make sure your kids know it’s okay to read the books you do as soon as they’re ready for them. In fact, put the books in their hands.