BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “Love of the Common People”


Kip suggested this back in July, and I would have done it last month had it not been for the death of Glen Campbell. The Blogger’s Best Friend tells us this was written by John Hurley and Ronnie Wilkins, eventually released by Hurley in 1970, but it was done in 1969 by The Four Preps. Here’s Hurley’s version.

It’s been covered a bunch of times by a Who’s Who of pop and country artists, including these two.

CONTESTANT #1: The Everly Brothers Their 1967 cover only reached #114 in the US, but #70 in Australia and #4 in Canada.

CONTESTANT #2: Waylon Jennings Waylon released this as the B side of “The Chokin’ Kind” in 1967. His version reached #67 on the Country chart.

You know the drill: listen to both covers, decide which one you like better, and vote by leaving me a comment below, teling me who and why. Then, go visit Stephen T. McCarthy’s “Battle of the Bands” blog, where he has a list of all the current blogs doing a Battle of the Bands, and visit the other bloggers. (This isn’t necessarily a guarantee that you’ll find one there, but they’re the ones most likely to.)

I’ll announce the winner next Friday, September 22, so be sure and get your vote in before. The lines are now open. Good luck to Don & Phil and Waylon!


The Friday 5×2: Body Parts!

Seeing as how my knees have been the focus of my life recently, I started thinking of songs that had the names of body parts in their titles. And there are many, many of them, more than a few with “heart” or “eyes” in them. Here are ten of them, and I just know you’ll come up with many more. I know Kip can probably think of a bunch. Here are my ten.

  1. Little Anthony & The Imperials, “Goin’ Out Of My Head” This reached #6 on the Hot 100, #1 on the Canadian RPM survey, and #8 on the Cash Box survey in 1965.
  2. The Guess Who, “These Eyes” From their 1969 album Wheatfield Soul, written by Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings. It reached #6 on the Hot 100, #4 on the Cash Box survey, and #7 in Canada on the RPM survey in 1969, and was their breakthrough hit.
  3. Blondie, “Heart of Glass” From their third studio album, 1978’s Parallel Lines. It was released in 1979 and reached #1 in the US, Canada, and internationally.
  4. ZZ Top, Legs” From their 1983 album Eliminator, it was released as a single in 1984 and reached #8, and was a staple on MTV, back in the days when the “M” stood for “music.”
  5. Linda Ronstadt, “Heart Like A Wheel” Title track from Ms. Ronstadt’s 1974 album, the last one she recorded for Capitol. Written by Canadian singer-songwriter Anna McGarrigle, who also released it with sister Kate.
  6. Allan Sherman, “Skin” Allan was my favorite recording artists until The Beatles came out. This is a parody of the song “Heart” from Damn Yankees, and was on his 1964 album Allan In Wonderland. Allan is responsible for introducing me to a lot of music, as you’ll see later.
  7. The Supremes, “Back In My Arms Again” Written and produced by the legendary songwriting team Holland, Dozier, and Holland, it was released in 1965 and spent two weeks at the top of the Hot 100 that summer.
  8. The Who, “Behind Blue Eyes” From the band’s 1971 album Who’s Next, it was the second single from the album and reached #34 on the Hot 100 and #24 on the Cash Box survey. One of Mark’s favorites.
  9. Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, “Cheek To Cheek” Written by Irving Berlin for the 1935 Fred & Ginger movie Top Hat, here sung by one of the least-likely duos I can think of. You know what? It worked.
  10. Bob Eberly and Helen O’Connell with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, “Green Eyes” I mentioned that Allan Sherman introduced me to a lot of great music, in an odd sort of way. Another song on Allan In Wonderland was “Green Stamps”, a parody of this song from 1929, originally “Aquellos Ojos Verdes” by Adolfo Utrera and Nilo Menéndez. Eddie Rivera and Eddie Woods wrote the English lyrics in 1931, but it didn’t become a hit until Helen O’Connell and Bob Eberly recorded it with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra in 1941.

And that’s your Friday 5×2 for September 15, 2017.

At Least I Didn’t Get Her Nose

Grandma Holton had a very prominent nose (i.e. it was big). She used to joke (and remember, she came from a much different time than we did) that her real name was Reba Cohn. Dad inherited her nose, really the only one of his siblings that did, and before each of us was born, he would pray that none of us got his nose. None of us did, although if I had, I’d have been OK with it. Dad was a good-looking man, at least Mom said so.

Mom was right…

Grandma also suffered from arthritis. She’d have her good days and bad ones, but always knew it was there. Between the arthritis and osteoporosis, she ended up pretty well crippled by the end of her life.

You’re probably wondering what this has to do with the price of eggs…

I’ve been having trouble with my knees. Part of it has to do with a BMI over 50 (no judgments, OK? I know it’s high), but the other day it got so bad that Mary suggested I see an orthopedist. I had my appointment today. Of course, they needed to take x-rays to see what was going on in there. Anyway, the first thing the doctor said when he walked in was “You have the worst arthritis in your knees I’ve seen.”

He gave me cortisone shots in both knees, and it’s made enough of a difference that I can walk pretty well again, and I would guess that it’ll get better over the next 4 to 6 weeks. He did tell me that I needed to get my BMI down to at least 40 before they can consider knee replacement, which I’ll almost certainly need at some point (plus, the weight loss will take lots of pressure off my knees).

Please, keep me in your thoughts and prayers. This ain’t gonna be easy.

Writer’s Workshop: Mighty Fighter of Foo!

A guy I worked with once used the line “Buy ’em books, buy ’em books, all they do is chew the covers off.” I thought it was hilarious, even though I didn’t understand what he meant. I remembered it when I saw the prompt for this week was “books.”

Still not quite getting what it meant some 40 years later, I decided to look it up, and evidently there are two possible explanations.

  • It’s in roughly the same vein as “Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.”
  • It’s about doing something for someone that they don’t fully appreciate.

A slightly different take is “You buy them books and send them to school, and all they do is eat the pages.” Which then reminded someone on a message board who went by the name “Smokey Stover” of a cartoon they had seen years before, where a cannibal chief is saying, “Buy them books, send them to school, and they eat the teacher.”

Which brings me to the true purpose of this essay, Bill Holman, a cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune who drew the cartoon Smokey Stover. I used to read the cartoon every Sunday, and decided the guy was either crazy or on something, maybe both. But I liked it.

Smokey Stover comic book cover, from Wikipedia (Fair Use)

Smokey was a fireman, or in his parlance, a “foo fighter.” (Now you know where the band’s name came from.) His chief, who he referred to as “Chiefy,” was named Cash U. Nutt. The strip was loaded with puns, not necessarily related to the story of the strip; they appeared as a sort of picture-within-the-picture, in part of the comic frame that would otherwise be unoccupied. (An example: a picture might be labeled “Whipped Cream” and depict a cream pitcher being lashed with a cat-o’-nine-tails.) Or a tag might be attached to an item in the picture, such as a dog’s bone bearing the tag “Ca c’est bone.”

In addition to “foo,” Holman always managed to squeeze the phrase “Notary Sojac” into the comic somewhere, on a street sign, a wall, or even as a sheet of paper if he couldn’t find anywhere else to put it. He always explained that it was an approximation of “Nollaig Shona Dhuit,” the Gaelic phrase meaning “Merry Christmas.” For a time, he would also include the phrase “1506 nix nix,” no doubt an inside joke.

The cartoon, many examples of which can be seen on the website, was so unique that, when Holman retired in 1973 after having drawn it for roughly forty years, the strip merely ended. No one took it over, because no one could. It was unique to Holman and his loony sense of humor. It hasn’t totally died, though: the word “foo,” generally in conjunction with the word “bar,” shows up all the time in computer science textbooks, generally as variables, e.g. foo = 1; bar = 2; That, in turn, refers to the military term FUBAR, which politely translates as “badly screwed up.”

To bring this full circle, I checked Amazon for books of Smokey Stover comics, and it appears that most of them are antiques. Seems a shame to let humor like his die out…