March 27, 2017

"I loved [classical music], but once I heard The 4 Seasons, forget it. That sound!"

"And when The Beatles came out, you know, initially, I didn't even care. I was still reeling from having seen The 4 Seasons on 'Ed Sullivan' doing 'Big Girls Don't Cry.' There was something about that sound. The way they looked! We didn't have guys that looked like that... or sounded like that... He was high. They said 'Walk like a man/sing like a girl.' He could get up there. But the whole vocal sound they had was just amazing. You heard the sound of the city. I said Get me down there."

Said Paul Shaffer in the new episode of "WTF with Marc Maron."

Shaffer was listening to the radio in the early 60s, at the same time I had my most intense radio experiences, and I had exactly the same reaction to The 4 Seasons and to the early Beatles. (What was the big deal in a world that already had The 4 Seasons?!). (Paul Shaffer is about a year older than I am... and exactly the same height (5'5").)

Shaffer wanted to get down there, because he was in Canada, in Thunder Bay, whence you had to drive 4 hours just to get to Duluth, the city Bob Dylan had to get down out of. Shaffer was listening to the radio at night so he could get a station in Chicago, and was blown away when "Sherry" came along.

And here's how that "Ed Sullivan" show looked:



That was a big moment for me too. I was 11. Shaffer, 12, wanted to be like Frankie Valli. Now, that is a man. I wanted to marry him.

ADDED: Frankie Valli looks so tiny there. How tall is he? He's in the 5'5" club with me and Paul.

45 comments:

Charlie said...

I was 8 when the Beatles broke, so I'm slightly younger but I could never understand the appeal of The Four Seasons. I still don't get it, over 50 years later.

John said...

I always loved those wireless guitars.

In the 60's.

There is a great book called "The Wrecking Crew" (Buy it through Ann's portal) about the 30 or studio musicians who provided all the music for the famous bands of the 50's and 60's. Glen Campbell and Leon Russell are the 2 most famous alumni.

There is also a pretty good movie (Netflix?) called the Wrecking Crew that has interviews with many of them.

Pretty much no bands did their own music playing.

Bu, yeah, I remember the 4 Seasons in the 60s and was a HUGE fan.

John Henry

rhhardin said...

Mari Samuelsen Four Seasons, Summer.

walter said...

Kinda Trans-formative..

mockturtle said...

When I saw 'The Four Seasons', I naturally thought of Vivaldi.

Portlandmermaid said...

Boy, this takes me back. My first crush was Fabian singing Turn Me Loose.

PB said...

lip syncing

tcrosse said...

I was in high school in North Jersey when Sherry came out. Many of us non-Italian guys gave ourselves hernias trying to sing along.

fivewheels said...

Beatles were a bit before my time. But when I was 14 I played Autumn from the Four Seasons and eventually performed it with my high school at a competition in D.C. Never got around to the other three.

Van Halen was more formative for me at 11.

Lance said...

Marc Maron is unlistenable. He's as bad as the corporate executive that starts every meeting talking about him/herself.

Fernandinande said...

John said...
I always loved those wireless guitars.


And the invisible microphones.

I was in England (with my "Mum")when the Beatles hit the US - "A day late, a dollar short and in the wrong country."

Psota said...

Yes, you just can't hear good male harmony vocals anymore.

Portlandmermaid said...

Fabian singing Tiger, "I'm a tiger and you're my mate," was heady stuff for a young girl.

He had a sexy growl. I'm still a sucker for a sexy growl.

traditionalguy said...

When The Jersey Boys was a big hit on Broadway , we attended on a Saturday night and were surprised to find the audience were nearly all from New Jersey. It is well worth the price to see.

And I was surprised as well by how many of their hits I remembered.A very prolific singing group.

M Jordan said...

I laughed just listening now to Frankie mimicking the cry of a big girl when he gets to to "they don't cry-i-y." I forgot how he had moved from falsetto to satire there.

So funny and so good.

Anthony said...

I adore adore adore Vivaldi but hardly ever listen to The Four Seasons. I much prefer L'estro Armonico. I actually got my start with classical music (apart from being in band in school where I disliked it) with Vivaldi (mostly) on whatever the local public radio station was in Madison in the early 1980s. I was working for an anthropology professor, Aidan Southall, who was very nice to me even though I later learned he was a crazed Marxist, and in the mornings I would set up shop in part of his office and catalog his offprint articles and listen to classical music on my radio-only Walkman.

No, it's not as complex and structured as, say, Beethoven, but it's beautifully flowing, calming, and melts away the stresses of the day.

I was surprised to learn that he was mostly unknown until the early 20th century.

William said...

Not only is pop music transient and ephemeral, but so is one's taste in music. You can't step in the same river twice, and you can't be the same person who stepped in that river.....Rock music celebrated the libidinal energy of youth. That's a fine thing to celebrate, but the moment passes. There are other genres and other urges and other moments......Nowadays I'm more inclined to mourn rather than celebrate my youth, and my libido can go fuck off. I've got other irons in the fire.

mezzrow said...

Look up Bob Crewe. He produced most of those big 4 Seasons hits.

I happened to rewatch Barbarella for the first time in almost fifty years (just for the plot, of course) and found that the person responsible for the amazingly dead on period 60's music was the same Bob Crewe. The only way I can describe what that background music was like would be to say that it was to music what the "Googie" style is to architecture. I think I'll dance about Frank Zappa next.

Unknown said...

It's interesting to wonder what the 60s would have been like if the Beatles hadn't landed, and the Four Seasons & The Beach Boys kept fighting over the top of the charts. In the event, both groups ultimately tried to make a "Sgt. Pepper"-esque concept album and it broke them both. The Seasons actually did release "Genunie Imitation Life Gazette", but it went nowhere and the Beach Boys famously did *not* release "Smile", but the effort broke Brian Wilson.

J2 said...

Such a hallmark for me: my first ever purchase of a single "Sherry" 1962. I was eleven. Second - "Heatwave".

Bill Peschel said...

I rather appreciated Valli's cover of "A Day in the Life" for "All This and World War II," a movie that married Beatles songs with newsreel footage. He couldn't hit the highs of "Big Girls," but some of it's still there.

https://youtu.be/mbHKwynq86o

But after seeing that Sullivan clip, I wondered what was happening on the other side of the color barrier. There was James Brown Live at the Apollo album.

https://youtu.be/cabWLyM2Mgc

Given the two, and Shaffer tunes into Valli? He must be Canadian.

exiledonmainstreet said...

"Rock music celebrated the libidinal energy of youth. That's a fine thing to celebrate, but the moment passes."

That's it. I started listening to classical music more once it struck me that I was a bit tired of listening to music which is basically geared to adolescents. It used to be fun to turn on the radio and hear an old song which took me back to, say, the summer of '75, but now that you can look up just about any old clip on You Tube and listen to oldies while you shop for lettuce in Whole Foods, the "specialness" of such experiences have faded. "Paint It, Black" (since the early, pre-Beatles '60's stuff never appealed to me) was thrilling the first time I heard it. Now that I've heard it about 20,000 times - not so much.

Kathryn51 said...

Frankie Valli and the "new" Four Seasons (4 very young guys) appeared last summer in the Seattle area. It was a large outdoor venue and threatened rain all night. They skipped the 1/2 hour scheduled break and I was amazed that Valli was able to sing non-stop. About 2 minutes after they ended, the downpour began in earnest.

It was a great concert, full of aging Boomers and GenXers.

Greek Donkey said...

From a recent episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend:

https://youtu.be/Z4qvpHZzZGI

Lovernios said...

I'm a few years younger (63) than you, Ann. I'm also 5'5". But I remember listening to Top 40 Radio: Arnie "Woo Woo" Ginsburg on WMEX 1510 in Boston. My older brother by 4 years has a small transistor radio and we'd listen at night after we'd been sent to bed. We had bunk beds; I was on the bottom, Pete on top.

I still can hear my old man yelling, "You better turn off that goddamn radio or I'm coming in there!" We'd turn it down until he passed out drunk, then turn it back up.

Frankie Valli, Gene Pittney, Little Eva, Freddy Cannon, Dion, Mary Wells, Neil Sedaka, Brenda Lee, the Shirelles.

My brother's gone a few years now, but the memories remain.

dwick said...

(What was the big deal in a world that already had The 4 Seasons?!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jenWdylTtzs

I recently finished reading Mark Lewisohn's excellent Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years. If you can't immediately see/hear/feel the difference, there's no explaining it to you.

David Baker said...

mockturtle said..."When I saw 'The Four Seasons', I naturally thought of Vivaldi."

Me too. Especially "Winter."

I'll never forget the first time I heard Vivaldi's "Winter" (by Pinchas Zukerman). I was living in a rooming-house (described here), when a downstair neighbor and friend told me to be sure and tune in Channel 2 (PBS-NYC) at 9 o'clock. It was "Masterpiece Theater," and they were showing a movie called "The Seven Samurai." The Masterpiece theme at that time (c.1967) was Vivaldi's "Winter." Both the music and movie were entirely new to me, and I can hardly describe the incredible impact both the music and movie had on me - that humans could create such beauty. For me.

John Christopher said...

Althouse, while I can't be sure, I think the feelings I have for my favorite band, King's X, are similar to how you feel about Dylan. (Here's where people can get mad because love for Dylan--or Springsteen and a few others--is supposed to be different than love for other artists.

I loved them as a teenager, but still do 20 years later.

I bring this up because Paul was a fan of the band as well, and they earned a nice little bump in income from CBS as Paul's band played their songs coming in and out of commercial breaks.

rhhardin said...

Cum Dederit is more impressive than Four Seasons, written by Vivaldi especially for Spectre.

rhhardin said...

Spectre's closed captions described it as "women singing opera."

Henry said...

The first time I read the headline, I thought Paul was referring to Vivaldi's Four Seasons. As in: "I loved classical music, but once I heard Vivaldi, forget it! That aaaagh."

tcrosse said...

It used to be common to call Vivaldi the Dixieland of Classical Music.

Carter Wood said...

From "Jersey Boys: The Curtain Call For Two Copyright Claims," by Meagen K. Monahan, from Foley Hoag.

"For a variety of reasons, members of The Four Seasons came and left. Yet in 1990, the original members were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Today, Frankie Valli remains the sole performer with Bob Gaudio as songwriter."

Two nights at the Warner Theatre in D.C. in early April. With respect, I'll pass.

surfed said...

Nobody's plugged in. Fakery. Common in 1962. The Beatles changed that. They WERE plugged in. In fact the Fab Four spent some time in the CBS control during sound check to make sure the CBS got the spund the tey wanted. One of the engineers said that it was unprecedented for the talent to do that in 1964. But there was payback. When the Beatles launched into "I Want to Hold Your Hand" one of the engineers dropped John Lennon's vocal from the mix. If you go back at watch the tapes John was singing into a dead mic. Without stage monitors the Beatles never knew...

Lovernios said...

Was listening to some of Vivaldi's other concertos yesterday at breakfast. I especially like the concerto for Bassoon and violin. Not many written for that instrument. I learned that Vivaldi was quite popular in his time for his many operas. Unfortunately, his operas and a lot of other works were lost in a fire and he dwelt in obscurity until rediscovered in the early 20th century.

exiledonmainstreet said...

tcrosse said...
It used to be common to call Vivaldi the Dixieland of Classical Music."

Well, yes, but for some of us, "The Four Seasons" and pieces like "Eine Kleine Nacht Musik" were our introduction to classical music and cherished for that reason, even after we had moved on to other things.

chuck said...

My big radio experiance was when I spent extended time in the hospital at age eleven. I listened to the soaps, The Long Ranger, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, etc. Popular music never made an impression.

Sebastian said...

OK, cute stuff for kids. But why would an aspiring musician "forget" about classical music after hearing it?

khematite said...

Did anybody really wonder who when this came out?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KryO3-XnCq4

In any event, even before the Four Seasons, there'd been the voices of Frankie Lymon, Roy Orbison, Del Shannon, and Lou Christie.

Livermoron said...

One of the many blessings in my life is the fact that I got to live in Germany in the very early 60's. I could hear the Four Seasons on AFN and listen to Radio Luxembourg playing the hits in Europe. I was listening to the Beatles at least a year in advance of the kids in the US. Come to think of it, my radio luck has been pretty great; I also got to listen to KFAT out of Gilroy, CA.

I'm 6'4" and have been blessed with a startling falsetto. I still sing Del Shannon and Frankie Valli parts at some gigs. Waaay fun.

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gadfly said...

When the dust had settled, now one listened to The Four Seasons and everybody bought records labeled Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons began filling the air with love and romance way back in the 60s. They scored 29 Top 40 hits, one Top 40 hit under The Four Seasons’ alias ‘The Wonder Who?’, and nine Top 40 hits for Frankie Valli as a solo artist. They marked the seasons with their biggest hits like ”Sherry” (1962), “Big Girls Don’t Cry” (1962), “Walk Like a Man” (1963), “Rag Doll” (1964) and “December 1963 (Oh, What A Night)” (1975). “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”, which reached number two in 1967, is one of their best-loved hits. As a solo artist, Frankie Valli released his number one hit — “My Eyes Adored You” (1974) and “Grease” (1978).

gadfly said...

Frankie Valli is amazing. Listen to him him at age 82, last summer.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Must be an east coast thing. We had the Beach Boys-- now, that's music.

Mike Smith said...

This evening, because nothing else was on, I watched most of a 2016 movie, "How to Be Single." While the movie was so-so, throughout the movie "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" is wrapped around various scenes. It even includes a rap version of CTMEOY.

Question: Which groups' music has been more enduring? The Four Seasons or The Beatles? I believe there is little doubt as to the answer to that question.