August 9, 2005

Extravagant music of the sixties.

You may remember that I'm a big fan of the 60s Decade channel on XM satellite radio. In the last couple of days, I've caught a few great examples of overdone recordings from my favorite era. They're all overdone in different ways, but all seem to me to share a kind of exuberance that belongs to the 60s. The songs are:
"Alice's Restaurant" ("Shrink, I want to kill.")

"The Year 2525" ("Everything you think, do, or say/Is in the pill you took today")

"MacArthur Park" ("In love's hot, fevered iron/Like a striped pair of pants")

"In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida" ("In-a-gadda-da-vida, honey,/Don’t you know that I love you?")
And let me add that back in the 60s I saw one -- and only one -- of these songs performed by the original artist. See if you can guess which.

Which is the most fun to hear again today? Oh, they all were deliciously fun!

44 comments:

price said...

Will you please write a 500-word essay on the meaning of MacArthur Park's lyrics? Is it really about divorce, or merely bad pastry caretaking?

Meade said...

I'm thinking Butterfly.

Kathy Herrmann said...

Loved 2525!

Anonymous said...

Loved 2525!

Mark Kaplan said...

It's gotta be Iron Butterfly that you saw.

I think that the long version has some great solos, particularly the organ solo and the drum solo.

PORTSIDER said...

It's tough to beat satellite radio and the oldies. I have Sirius and find myself listening to the 60's Vibrations channel quite often. The channel should only get better with the addition of Cousin Brucie at the end of this month!

Dean said...

I'm gonna guess Arlo.

Goesh said...

Iron Butterfly, of course. Not to be bragging or anything, but I saw Tina Turner in her prime doing Proud Mary when she was with Ike, and I'm wagging my tongue at everyone daring them to beat that.

me said...

When I was six, we would lie on the living room floor of my friend's house and listen to 2525. My friend would play it on his parent's stereo console. As a little kid, the whole theme of the song was a bit scary, but what will be even more scary is turning 63 in the year 2525!!!

Pat Patterson said...

The Iron Butterfly song probably as the lyrics were irrelevant and you could take a girl to the conceert and maybe get lucky.

Scipio said...

Our next hymn is "In the Garden of Eden," by I. Ron Butterfly.

Hmm. This sounds suspiciously like rock and/or roll!

Bruce Hayden said...

For me, it was Iron Butterfly, at Mile High Stadium in Denver. Live, that song went on forever.

Ann Althouse said...

Scipio: That's soooooooooo heavy!

Shane Coffey said...

I would love to know what you guys are talking about, however I was born in 1975. The only music I remember is from 1980 and beyond.

Bruce Hayden said...

Shane,

By 1980, all the good music was over.

Meade said...

If only all the bad music from before 1980 would be over.

Ron said...

what about "Frankenstein" from Edgar and Johnny Winter?

or "Persecution Smith" or "Heavy Music" from Bob Seger?

how's about "We Love You" from the Rolling Stones (with backup vocals from John and Paul)?

or "They're coming to take me away?" from Napoleon XIV?

just suggestions...

Dean said...

"They're coming to take me away?" from Napoleon XIV?

Ahhh, memories. And the flip side of the 45 was the song in reverse.

Mark Daniels said...

The last three songs would have to be included in any collection of "The Worst of the 60s," especially "The Year 2525" and "MacArthur Park," which I loathed back then and still can't imagine listening to beyond the first three bars. (About as fast as I could switch stations.)

"Alice's Restaurant," which you're correct in saying was, like the other three entrants on your list, overdone in a way, was nonetheless fun, artful protest.

"In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida" was pretty much dope music. I always threaten our ensemble at church that we're going to include it in the worship celebration some Sunday, with me using the altar like a bongo on which I play the infamous drum solo.

I'm guessing you saw "The Year 2525" in concert.

I remember was in high school when it came out and a classmate said to me how much he liked it. "Are you kidding?" I asked him. "Those are the dumbest lyrics ever." "Yeah," he said, "but they make you think." "How," I asked, "can dumb lyrics make you think...oh, never mind." If I never hear that song again, it'll be fine with me.

Matt Brown said...

To me, "In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida" is the kind of song a serial killer would listen to as he is doing his deeds. I have to thank the film "Manhunter" for that thought.

Hamsun56 said...

It'd be a kick to hear any of these songs as I remember them all well and haven't heard them in years. 2525 always stuck me as being a bit pretenious. Alice's R. was a fun novelty record - fun to hear once in a blue moon but not often. I owned the Iron B. record and played it repeatedly, attaining a dope-like stupor before I ever had smoked dope.
Of the 4, MacArthur Park would be the one I'd most like to hear again - it's high ironic camp always made me smile.

Jim Lindgren said...

I saw Iron Butterfly at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, with opening acts of Howlin' Wolf and the Steve Miller Band (which was largely unknown then). Iron Butterfly was just terrible (bombastic, talentless, and stupid), but Steve Miller was great.

As for memorable concerts, Goesh, I saw the unknown groups Led Zeppelin and Jethro Tull together for $5 in early February, 1969. Chicago was the third city on Tull’s first US tour and I saw them in their very first concert after their first album was released in the US on Feb. 3, 1969. Led Zeppelin had been in the US for a few weeks on their first tour, with their first album released in the US in mid-January 1969. I sat on the floor about 10 feet in front of the stage in a room holding (as I remember) only a few hundred people (the Kinetic Playground). Both groups were fabulous! Alice Cooper, who shared the bill with Zeppelin in LA on the same tour remembered, "We played with Led Zeppelin at the Whisky. It was Alice Cooper and Led Zeppelin, and we had about 100 people there. Nobody had ever heard of either one of us." It was amazing to me that the groups were so intense and so good and they had new albums out, but as Alice Cooper said, almost no one knew of them. The monopoly of Top 40 radio was surprising, considering there were some alternatives.

(I just found the original 1969 poster for 6 weeks of concerts at the Kinetic Playground online, including the night I saw them. Ain’t the internet cool! http://pyzeppelin.free.fr/photos/affiches/69-02-07&08.jpg. Of the 19 groups on the poster, I saw at least 14 of them in that era, perhaps more.)

The Zeppelin/Tull concert was my 2d favorite. Even more memorable were 4th row seats for Cream in Oct. 1968 on their last tour. When Clapton stepped forward to play the wah wah pedal, . . . .

I was fortunate enough to see Hendrix 3 times, the Doors, Janis Joplin (a week before her final concert) and many, many others.

As for 70s groups, Cheap Trick played at my 5th high school reunion in 1975 for about a hundred people! And REO Speedwagon played about 2 proms or dances a year at my high school in 1967-70. At the rest of the HS dances were the precursor groups to Cheap Trick.

Now all high school kids usually get at a dance is a DJ!

My 18-year-old daughter is going to see Green Day tonight, which is perhaps her first big concert. I hope to get some vicarious thrills.

Jim Lindgren
volokh.com

Bruce Hayden said...

'"In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida" was pretty much dope music.'

I think that describes it pretty well. But at the time, it would have been pretty hard not to be stoned at one of their live concerts from the contact high from all the weed being smoked.

You are right though, that objectively, it is pretty stupid.

Goesh said...

I concede to Jim Lindgren - I should probably wash and wax the car of anyone who saw Hendrix 3 times just to be in the vacinity of that person. As far as raw energy and sexuality goes, Tina still has 'em all beat though.....

Flamen Dialis said...

Wow. I was gonna post, but then Lindgren posted and blew any fantastic claims I was gonna make right outta the water. Zep and Cooper on the same bill? Killjoy...

The only 60s act I can lay claim to even coming close to seeing was when I missed Hendrix warming up for The Monkees when they played my hometown! Hell, my first live concert ever was Uriah Heep in about '73 or '74, and I was too damned young to be there even then...

I had 2525 on single. When I was a kid back in the 60s a good friend of my dad's serviced jukeboxes in our area, and whenever he made his runs replacing the discs, he would drop by the house and have a few beers with my dad (I guess in those days having a brew or two in the middle of a work day was no big deal!) He'd go out to his van and bring in a big box of discs and sleeves for me. Normally they would just trash all those old discs, but this guy knew that I dug 'em, so he would save them for me. I would match up the record sleeves to the discs the best I could, but oftentimes I had extra sleeves left over. Some of the discs were whipped, but a lot of them were still in perfect condition, having only been handled by the seating mechanisms of the jukeboxes. I would play both sides of every single record, and organize them into stacks of what I would repeat playing. It was my earliest pop music education and started my path to what turned out to be a mostly lifelong record collecting obsession. I guess I was lucky. When all my friends were spinning their Jackson 5 and 3 Dog Night records, I was playing my Blues Magoos and Tiny Tim singles...

Wave Maker said...

LOL at Blues Magoos --- Ann didn't you know this was going to turn into a bunch of 50-somethings recounting their concert attendances?

If I knew where you were in the 60's I might guess differently, but I'm say Arlo (cuz you seem like you'd have been more of a "coffee house" type).

Richard Fagin said...

Hmmm, run off and smoke dope music? How about "Itchycoo Park" by Small Faces. The lyrics were nearly explicit about that. The 45 is in my living room somewhere.....

Ann Althouse said...

Wave Maker: Don't you know the whole vision of the Althouse blog is to make it seem incredibly cool to be in your 50s?

Ann Althouse said...

Hey, Lindgren is winning this comments section! I need to list my best concerts ever and try to beat him, but I never saw Hendrix even once, so I should give up.

Goesh said...

Jefferson Airplane and the almost mystical voice of Grace Slick singing White Rabbit, drawing one back to the center, Haight-Ashbury, luring and powerful - oh God! reefer madness pulls at me again, I feel my hair down on the middle of my back, I want to just walk away from everything and hit the road again and not give a damn about taxes and war and inflation and the neighbor's damn barking dog, I want to be able to spit on my portfolio, corrupted with the greed of insecurity and self-doubts, to be able to accept everybody and everything on face value once more. I'm afraid to buy that tune and its been a good year or so since I've heard it, I can't be trusted around it, my wife got a very subtle but concerned look on her face the last time I listend to it - a woman's instincts, seldom wrong....

Ann Althouse said...

Dean: I heard "They're Coming to Take Me Away" on the 60s channel just this week.

Goesh said...

- not only is it incredibly cool to be in the 50s age bracket, we have significant political and financial clout as well, and we don't have to abide any sass from youngsters - that counts for something, don't it?

Kathy Herrmann said...

My late 50-something aunt gave my sibs and I one of the best presents ever in the 60s. A stack of 45s about 3-4 inches high. She went to the records store and they picked 'em out for her. Great mix!

Ron said...

Those in the '50's: Not officially Geezerized yet, but we don't get all Emo over Coldplay...

Ann, you are a market trailblazer...

DB said...

Mr. Lindgren,

You mention that Howlin' Wolf was on a triple bill with Iron Butterfly and the SMB but don't mention his performance. As he is the only one on the Bill I would kill to see, why no mention of his performance? Just curious.

John McCrarey said...

Alice's Restaurant is a song I play once per year, on Thanksgiving.

Sorry, but I think MacArthur's Park is a fine song by a great songwriter, Jimmy Webb. I won the heart of my wife when I sang it to her. She is a big fan of the song and when I demonstrated I knew ALL the words, she was mine!

I'm guessing it was Iron Butterfly that Ann saw live.

wayne said...

Ahhh MacArthur Park!! That brings back some good memories...

One of the few things I ever enjoyed about high school was being in the band. From time to time we stood in for the UW Madison band at basketball and hockey games when they were playing out of town. Our Band Director ws one of Mike Leckrones' assistants so we got a lot of their music and Mac Park was one of the best arrangements.

The most fun episode was when we were playing at the Fieldhouse and About halfway thru the game the UW folks returned from their out of town gig and we all had a jam session during and after the game that about brought down the building. Talk about some phenominal jamming.

Those were the days...

Flamen Dialis said...

>>Ann said:
Hey, Lindgren is winning this comments section! I need to list my best concerts ever and try to beat him, but I never saw Hendrix even once, so I should give up.<<

I'm with ya on that, Ann. However, I can crow like a rooster when it comes to a lot more contemporary bands. I've seen lots of bands on their very first tours, or when they were absolute nobodies, like REM, U2, The Police, The Clash, etc., although I despise a lot of them today. Of course I wish I could go back in time and catch lots of bands - Howlin' Wolf would be one (maybe I'd see DB there) and lots of blues luminaries that I never got to see perform before they passed away (Muddy, Albert King, Freddy King, Lightnin' Hopkins, etc.) but also about a zillion 60s & 70s bands as well. In fact, I might trade off the experience of the hundreds of live shows I've witnessed for one shot at seeing The Chocolate Watchband or The 13th Floor Elevators (or Frank Zappa's band circa 1974/1975 with George Duke, the Brecker Bros, Nappy Brock, etc.). I'm really lucky to have seen all the performances that I have, but I also really envy those who had to opportunity to see a lot of the greats like Hendrix and early Floyd & Zeppelin. I'm not exactly 50ish, but I'm in my mid 40s so I was still a little too young to have seen a lot of the 60s bands that I love today.

Flamen Dialis said...

Maybe I'll retract that last statement. These days I think I'd almost trade them all in if I could only go back to 1974 and re-experience the Emerson, Lake & Palmer show I saw - The Brain Salad Surgery tour. The best show I've probably ever seen (with the possible exception of The Clash in 1978 or the Minutemen/Feelies show I caught on my birthday back in the early 80s...)

phillywalker said...

The first rock concert I saw was Herman's Hermits in Chicago. I was in seventh or eighth grade, and this is what I remember most:

1. Other girls MY AGE were wearing miniskirts, go-go boots, white lipstick and long, ironed hair! I was overcome with jealousy, and I vowed on the spot to metamorphose from a little kid to a sophisticated sixties teen. Suddenly, it seemed, anything was possible.

2. Everyone screamed the entire time; I could not hear anything from the stage. But I did learn how much fun it is to jump and scream with thousands of other people.

3. The Hermits' opening act was an unknown band from England called The Who. Yes, that Who. This seemed so peculiar to me later that I sometimes thought I must have dreamed it. Then I finally looked it up in a big, definitive history of The Who. They did indeed tour the states with the Hermits during those years, and they were at the time almost unknown. The teen and preteen girls who came to see the Hermits had very little appreciation of the Who, who had a fairly rotten time on this tour.

knoxgirl said...

I'm not a boomer, but I'm old enough to remember the song "One Tin Soldier." I think of it as pretty quintessentially 60s and overdone both. It's pretty fun, too. If making you want to projectile vomit is fun.

Chrees said...

As far as seeing someone in their prime, I saw Elton John in 1976. I don't even recognize the lounge act he's had for the past decade.

But I think the most enjoyable acts I've seen over the past decade have been at The Bridge School Benefit that Neil Young puts on each year. The performances are (almost) all acoustic, which is fun to see someone totally out of their element and how they respond.

Performances that I can remember off the top of my head that I really enjoyed:
David Bowie, grinning like a kid in the candy store, loving the acoustic performance.
Patti Smith ad libbing verses to "Helpless" at the group performace at the end of a show.
Metallica acoustic. I still can't wrap my head around it.
Ditto Smashing Pumpkins, with Marilyn Manson.
Pete Townshend as a surprise guest, doing a small set solo (with interesting patter in between songs, talking about how he came to write several of them).
Lou Reed... damn, the list is getting longer the more I think about it...

Jim Lindgren said...

DB,

I didn't mention Howlin' Wolf's performance because he was obviously uncomfortable and Iron Butterfly fans weren't attentive enough for him to make much of an impact (I had one of his albums at the time).

Flamen,

You certainly saw some great late 70s/early 80s groups before they were popular. The one bluesman that I most wish that I had seen was Muddy Waters (I was always a big fan). Although I listened to a lot of blues then, unfortunately I tended to go to see only those bluesmen who played at rock or folk venues: BB King (5 times), Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry, Paul Butterfield, John Mayall. (BB King borrowed and played my harmonica once, but that is another story.) You mentioned wanting to have seen Zappa ca. 1974/75, with George Duke and others in the band. I saw Zappa in 1970 -- with Duke but not the others you mentioned.

Goesh,

I got my daughter interested in Jefferson Airplane a couple years ago. White Rabbit was her favorite. It's on her IPOD. Is it really THAT dangerous?!

Jim Lindgren
volokh.com

Kev said...

As the resident jazz musician here, I guess I'm fortunate enough to be able to enjoy MacArthur Park without the lyrics; Maynard Ferguson does a fine instrumental version of it.

However, I have been known to attend rock shows every now and then, and many of my teenaged music students become quite jealous when they find out that I saw Nirvana live.