New Yorker, New Yorker

The only print magazine I still get in the mail is The New Yorker. Here are a couple of articles. First, Jeffrey Toobin’s excellent analysis of Antonin Scalia’s three decades on the supreme bench…

… and a retro piece, from 1965, about about the relationship between radio and Rock and Roll. It’s recommended by Herb Oscar Anderson, or HOA as he was known when he was the Morning Mayor on 77 WABC in the 1960’s.

A Kind of a Hush

Deep Purple’s recording of Joe South’s “Hush” is one of those songs that takes me back to powerful memories from a particular point in my life. “There’s a Kind of a Hush All Over the World” by Herman’s Hermits it wasn’t! I’d just finished an extremely difficult year in the 7th grade, and “Hush” really excited and grabbed me.

EVERYTHING WAS CHANGING SO FAST! Not just for me as a kid on the cusp of turning thirteen, but for the world. LBJ wasn’t running for re-election, MLK and RFK had been assassinated, etc. And to top it off, a month after “Hush” peaked on the charts my family up and moved from Connecticut to Massachusetts.

Jon Lord of Deep Purple has died. “Hush”, with Lord’s incredible keyboard sound, is one of the last songs that is indelibly associated in my mind with 77 WABC Musicradio in New York. It’s my assumption that Herb Oscar Anderson’s departure from WABC was due to songs like this one.

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Rewound the years

You say you want oldies, but you’re tired of hearing the same songs over and over on your local station? You want the fun and surprises of hearing EVERYthing from the first 20 years of Pop-Rock music? You want Rewound Radio. Brought to you by the folks who run musicradio77, a tribute to the world’s greatest Top 40 radio station, 77 WABC in New York.

It’s a ’65-’74 no repeat Columbus Day weekend on Rewound Radio. They say “Turn it on and… Leave it on all holiday weekend!” and that’s exactly what I’m doing. Click here for a complete list of online listening options.

A Freed man

BBC Radio 2 has a Listen Again (podcast) documentary about pioneering Rock and Roll DJ Alan Freed. I was going to listen to just a few minutes and finish it later, but instead sat through the whole show in one sitting. I think it should be available until next week.

“I know it’s America here… I’ve noticed.”

The Beatles flood continues. In a perfect world, when the Beatles arrived in the United States for the first time they would have been followed by a film crew. What’s that? They were?? Incredible!

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There’s a lot more footage available on YouTube, but here are ten interesting minutes I’ve edited, starting with their arrival on Friday, and ending when they left the Plaza Hotel suite on Sunday for CBS studios, and their famous appearance on Ed Sullivan’s variety show.

  • At the airport press conference John says “we need money first” before they can sing. Later, Paul and Ringo seem to have no recollection of John’s quip.
  • The reporters took the Beatles as a joke. It seems silly now that their hair was such a big deal.
  • The boys appeared excited seeing themselves on TV.
  • Walter Cronkite can be heard closing his CBS broadcast with news of the Beatles’ visit. Cronkite was one of the first American newscasters to feature the Beatles in 1963.
  • The boys seemed genuinely tired from jet lag, discussing the time difference and the prospect of going out later. A hard day’s night.
  • John really was very cutting when he felt he was suffering fools. Murray “the K” Kaufman, with his toupee, had no idea that “wacker” meant “a stupid person.”
  • “Cyn” is, of course, John’s wife Cynthia. She’s told to watch Channel 2 at 8.
  • John plays around with a mouth organ. Three years later, the tune would become the opening to “Strawberry Fields Forever.”
  • Love the Pepsi transistor radios.

Monty Python’s Boston Radio Connection

Another Monty Python Record

On January 1, 1967, an FCC ruling went into effect that required major market radio stations — those with an FM frequency that was simulcasting their AM signal — to broadcast alternative programming at least half the time on FM. What resulted was a sweeping change in the radio business. From the late 60’s into the early 70’s, there was a shift from singles played on AM, to albums on FM.

In a way, it was timely that my family moved from Connecticut to Massachusetts only a few weeks after Herb Oscar Anderson quit 77 WABC in September, 1968, because the times had indeed a’changed. (Note: HOA’s site auto-plays audio.) Anderson was still #1 in New York, but songs such as this one drove HOA away.

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“Fire”, a top 10 hit on AM radio in Sept. ’68, was the first song I heard on WBCN-FM in Boston, which had switched formats from Classical to Underground music six months prior to my arrival in Massachusetts. Four years later, in 1972, I heard a record on WBCN that had a huge effect on me. This is exactly the point where I picked it up…

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… and after that bit I heard “The Argument Clinic” and I was hooked. Eric Idle’s Money song pre-dates the Euro, but it correctly predicted that “everyone must hanker for the butchness of a banker,” because that’s the world we had until last September.

That was the first time I encountered Monty Python, and I felt as though a bullet had hit me between my ears. I LOVED those guys. And I mean I LOVED them, like they were the Beatles. But I was lucky to have heard them, because ‘BCN was just about the only place where Python had a home in America at the time. There’s an excellent little documentary called “Monty Python Conquers America” that tells of WBCN’s role in paving the way for Python. I’ve stitched together the pertinent bits.

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I didn’t look all that different from that young DJ in the stock footage, and I know that Gates control console well from my own radio days, but it couldn’t have been BCN’s, because it’s monaural.

Something that isn’t pointed out is that before Monty Python, WBCN had played Firesign Theatre records, and I think those guys deserve credit for creating a new generation of comedy record fans. Not only that, Firesign Theatre albums were intricate and fully produced, as were the Python records, making them eminently re-listenable, like a Rock record.