September 18, 2006

Unplayable 45s I won't throw out, #3 and #4.

You may have worried that I wouldn't keep up this series. Fear not. Some glitch at Flickr led to the lapse. Suddenly, they were saying I'd used 100% of my bandwidth, which wasn't true, but had me all upset that I'd be photoless here on the blog until October. Quite unsettling! But I've been reset to 0%, so let's revive the old series with a double entry today.

First, we've got "Epistle to Dippy":

Unplayable 45

You can just imagine all the Donovan singles I must have bought if I have "Epistle to Dippy." Come on... who has "Epistle to Dippy"? That's some serious Donovan idolatry. Let's look at the look at the lyrics:
Look on yonder misty mountain
See the young monk meditating rhododendron forest
Over dusty years, I ask you
What's it been like being you ?
Through all levels you've been changing
Getting a little bit better no doubt,
The doctor bit was so far out.
Looking through crystal spectacles,
I can see I had your fun.
Doing us paperback reader
Made the teacher suspicious about insanity,
Fingers always touching girl.
I'm never really sure what Donovan is talking about. Is this teacher suspicious about insanity? No, no, you have to hear it in music. Or wearing crystal spectacles or something. It makes perfect sense. Or, if it doesn't, try changing to another level.

Second, we've got "Lil' Red Riding Hood" -- and don't chide me about the placement of apostrophe. Check it out:

Unplayable 45

This song played all the time on the radio the summer I took all the hundreds of tiny pictures off my bedroom walls and painted the room dark blue. You know, not only were the walls covered in pictures of rock stars clipped from 16 Magazine, but I and my friends had also written all over the walls in pencilled graffiti. Can you believe my parents never criticized me about this? They would actually say -- in 60s lingo -- "Whatever turns you on." They also let me paint my own room and paint it dark blue. Remember when it was suddenly the thing to paint rooms very dark colors? Nearly everyone's parents painted all the rooms in the house white, and then all the 60s hippies discovered liberation and painted everything dark blue and red and green. Wouldn't that freak out the old man? But chez Althouse, not so much. My parents themselves loathed the all-white look that prevailed in those days. I remember the time my father painted the recreation room dark gray and took some delight in saying he really wanted to paint it black. Which would be a good idea for an unplayable 45 song title.

Anyway, back to "Lil' Red Riding Hood." Could this be a mainstream song today? I know they say all kinds of crude things in popular music these days, but look at these lyrics, which, like many songs of the era, show a much older man going after a too-young girl:
Who's that I see walkin' in these woods
Why, it's Little Red Riding Hood
Hey there Little Red Riding Hood
You sure are looking good
You're everything a big bad wolf could want
Listen to me

Little Red Riding Hood
I don't think little big girls should
Go walking in these spooky old woods alone
I think people are too alert about pedophilia to accept this today. Well, maybe you couldn't even get away with "Fingers always touching girl" today, especially if you were also "mad about fourteen."

Last time I did unplayable 45s, people wanted to know what was on the B-side. In today's world, I guess the B-side question seems exotic. The B-side of the Sam the Sham single is almost too boring to mention, "Love Me Like Before." But the B-side of "Epistle to Dippy" is the terrific, very jazzy song "Preachin' Love":
I'm preachin' love
Straight from above
I know what to do, yes I do.
Well, I'm breathing love
Straight from above
I mean about what I said.
Well, I understand my congregation
Is made about the finer sex.
Well, I don't know about any segregation -
Anyone may read the text.
Seems like something Prince would come up with, doesn't it? But there are probably enough religion-is-sex songs to do a "Theme Time Radio Hour" show on the subject.


Ron said...

Jerry Lee Lewis got in enough trouble back then when he married his cousin -- can you imagine what the reaction would be today? Goodness, gracious!

Ron said...

Given last weeks Bra-ha-ha, don't put up your single of "Itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini" just yet...

Doug said...

The theme about the older guy salivating over a young girl would get roundly slammed by both sides, especially on cable news shows. I could see O'Rielly calling for sponsor boycotts and Nancy Grace trying to tie it into the sex predator of the moment.

A local morning show once read the lyrics to Gary Puckett and the Union Gap's "Young Girl". I had never really paid much attention to the lyrics before then, but it has similar creep factor to it as the Riding Hood song

RogerA said...

Ron: you didnt finish it! "Great balls of fire!"

Ann--Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs were a wonderful group as was your choice of 45s--Alas, I think that was their career high point.

And as for salacious lyrics in 1950s music, "standing on the corner watching all the girls go by," (Dean Martin I think) was right up there with this line: "Brother they can't put you in jail for what you are thinking...."

Thanks for reminding me of Sam the Sham

ignacio said...

Lou Reed was, in 1976 or so, attempting to stick up for David Bowie to all-time rock critic Lester Bangs.

"He writes good songs."

"SONGS. Anyone can write good songs," Bangs replied. "Has he ever written anything as good as 'Woolly Bully'?"

Anonymous said...

At least Donovan didn't convert to Islam and change his name....

...Otherwise "Wear Your Love Like Heaven" (a truly lush lusty romantic song)...

would be about a girl in a burka...

Ann Althouse said...

At least Gary Puckett knew his desires were "way out of line." The other one I think of is the Lovin' Spoonful song "Younger Girl" (which was a hit by The Critters):

And should I hang around, acting like her brother
In a few more years, they'd call us right for each other
And why
If I wait I'll just die, yeah...

The attitude today would be, yeah, you should die, creep.

Truly said...

You seem to have a problem with something taking bites out of your LPs. Perhaps the squirrels are staging a comeback? Could this be the prelude to a full-scale invasion?

XWL said...

You should contact Mr. Bob Dylan and suggest a playlist for one of his shows.

It could be the, "Songs about men giving inappropriate attention to much younger women" show.

Between songs he could describe his admiration for Alicia Keys.

(then it would be up to the audience to figure out, Irony or Confession?)

And Donovan still rocks, I don't care what anybody says.

(plus, his daughter is still pretty damn hot, I had such a strong unrequited and unspoken crush on her in junior high (but in this case an age appropriate one, given we were just one grade apart, with lockers nearly touching))

Drew W said...

Last Friday night, after posting here led me think way too much about my 45 collection, I pulled down my box of singles, cleared the debris off the turntable and spun some old favorites. My collection has a lot of oldies in it, the result of working in an NYC record store in 1983 that still sold singles, old and new. (We were one of the last outposts in the City for 45s, and various bartenders would stop by to keep their jukeboxes stocked with the latest hits.) But my personal 45 collection consists mostly of singles made by indie pop bands in the late '70s/early '80s. The 45 was perfect for the DIY, anti-corporate ethos of the punk/new wave era: REM's "Radio Free Europe" (with the B-side "Sitting Still," probably their best song IMHO); the Go-Go's "We Got The Beat" (on Stiff, before they signed to IRS, with the excellent B-side "How Much More") and Husker Du's "Makes No Sense At All" (with the unexpected B-side of the "Mary Tyler Moore Show" themesong "Love Is All Around") . . . to name just a few. That indie-rock era was the end of the line for singles, and for vinyl itself, as CDs would start to flood the market by the mid-'80s.

And, as I'm always on the hunt for contradictory perspectives, I racked my brain for any pop-musical examples of women who express lustful thoughts for younger men. The best I could do was the fine late-period Jefferson Airplane song "Lawman." The song's writer and singer was the Grace Slick, of course, and given the song's release date of 1971, she expressed a typically Airplane-ish, Weather Underground-wannabe viewpoint. The gist of the song (as I always heard it) is this: You look kind of cute in that uniform there, rookie. I could shoot you or I could have sex with you -- your choice.

Law man--I'm afraid you just walked in here at the wrong time
My old man's gun has never been fired, but there's a first time
And this could be . . . this could be the first time

Law man
You know you look to be a lot younger than me
And I'd hate to shoot a baby
You've got a long way to go before you're old & slow
And it could be . . . it could be a good time.
If you change your mind
Well I'm tired and sweet from making love
And it's just too late
You'll have to wait . . . bring your business around here in the morning

Goatwhacker said...

Given last weeks Bra-ha-ha, don't put up your single of "Itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini" just yet...

My suggestion would be "Boobs a Lot" by the Holy Modal Rounders, a favorite of all us Dr. Demento listeners from the 70's. It's actually a very catchy song. I think he played Little Red Riding Hood a fair amount too.

I am starting to become ashamed all of my recent posts have to do with breasts.

Clay Spinuzzi said...

Drew W:

Stevie Nicks, "Edge of Seventeen."

XWL said...

Speaking of Prince, he did a song on his latest album, 3121, that's the antithesis of Li'l Red Riding Hood.

In the song Lolita, he sings about not being enticed into a liaison with a women too young for himself.

XWL said...

Come to think of it, one of the last great B-Side artists is Prince.

From Erotic City, to She's Always in My Hair, to You Don't Call Me Anymore, to La La La Hee Hee Hee, to Another Lonely Christmas, he released fantastic b-sides throughout the 80s (collected on the third disc of his career retrospective).

But my favorite b-side will always be B-Side Baby, by Adam & the Ants.

Joe said...

God, are you ever bringing me back to my youth today...
BTW I thought "Boobs a lot" was by the NY underground band the Fugs, originally... Ed Sanders, I think...

Joe T said...

20 or so years ago when I first heard it I thought "Epistle to Dippy" was about Timothy Leary, but now I can't remember why.

MadisonMan said...

But my favorite b-side will always be B-Side Baby, by Adam & the Ants.

Pink Cadillac, Bruce Springsteen.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

XWL: I had no idea that Ione Skye was Donovan's daughter.

The original lover of Lloyd Dobler. Wow.

Christy said...

Eleanor Rigby/ Yellow Submarine is the best flip side duo in my book.

When I was 16 I moved to the basement, painted the walls black, and blasted Country Joe and The Fish full volume. How did I turn out to be a warmonger?

Goatwhacker said...

BTW I thought "Boobs a lot" was by the NY underground band the Fugs, originally... Ed Sanders, I think...

Indeed, the Holy Modal Rounders also were members of the Fugs. I'm pretty sure Dr. Demento played the Holy Modal Rounders version, though.

I'm Full of Soup said...


I did that too - except for the part about moving to the basement and painting the walls black.

Now that was an album- Woodstock.

Thomas said...

My copies of Epistle to Dippy (still have the original picture sleeve) and Little Red Riding Hood still play great. Although a copy of Bill Hayes singing the Ballad of Davy Crockett is darn near unplayable.

John Stodder said...

Epistle to Dippy wasn't on the charts long enough for me to buy it. It came out summer of '67 while my family was away for a month. It fell a bit short of being a hit. My search for this weird song was finally rewarded a few years ago when I picked up Donavan's Greatest Hits, on which it appears.

Like "Hurdy Gurdy Man" and "Season of the Witch," "Epistle to Dippy" used some of rock's greatest musicians as sidemen. His songs of this era are Donavan + Led Zeppelin, more or less.

chsw10605 said...

Ann & Doug,

"Young Girl" is about the underage girl pursuing the man and the man pushing her away.

"Get out of here
before I have the time
to change my mind..."

Also, high on the creep factor - one of PP&M (I forget whether it was Peter or Paul) was actually convicted of inappropriate contact with a minor in the early 1970's.


David53 said...


Why do you think "Lil' Red Riding Hood" shows a much older man going after a too-young girl? After all she is a “little big girl.” The image of the big bad wolf that forms in my head is that of Bluto from the early Popeye cartoons who is so enamored of Olive Oyl he literally turns into a wolf until Popeye belts him. I always though of a wolf as a man of any age who was a Bluto-type cad.

Ann Althouse said...

chsw10605, I realize that but it still has him saying that he will give in and do what he should not. He's warning that she'd "better run." That's no defense.

Terrie said...

Ann, thanks for the opportunity to reminisce. I was 10 years old when Epistle to Dippy arrived on the AM airwaves and it became my favorite Donovan record.

Even then I was always much more fascinated by musical arrangement and production than the lyrics. I was too young to know or care about the rivalry between Leitch, whose musicality was a match for his whimsical lyrics, and Dylan, who was the better storyteller but less interesting musician.

I especially liked Epistle's poppy yet bittersweet strings, which foreshadowed the British shoegazer movement circa 1990 (Blur, Ride, Inspiral Carpets, Stone Roses, et al) that inspired a new generation of fans to discover Donovan, including my 33 year old nephew who still owns Donovan on vinyl, too.

The title Epistle to Dippy is one of those unforgettable souvenirs of 1960s Jabberwocky that pop back into my head periodically -- and apparently not only my head.

Someone posted a video for Epistle to Dippy ten days ago here:

Drew W said...

Some time in the '90s, a Radio Disney station went on the air in New York. I never listened to it, but I remember reading a scathing review of its programming choices, with special scorn reserved for whoever thought that Sam The Sham's "Little Red Riding Hood" was appropriate fare for a kids' station.

Recently, I played an oldies tape for my 11-year-old daughter, and "Little Red Riding Hood" was on it. I felt a vague concern about that, but its suggestivity seemed to go over her head (as far as she was letting on, anyway). Ultimately, it's a lot less worrisome than 20,000 or so other songs I could name.

Last single comment (you should hope): When I was cleaning apartments to accommodate my rock-critic lifestyle 25 years ago, one of the people I cleaned for had a treasure-trove of good condition mid-'60s 45s. (She'd kept them all in one of those cute little singles boxes with the handle on the top.) She told me that her father ran a restaurant, and when the guy came to put new 45s in the jukebox, he'd give her the ones that got nudged out. It was a glorious collection, most of which I borrowed and taped (surely unable to imagine that one day I'd be playing them for my own little girl). Aside from such rarities as "A Question Of Temperature" by The Balloon Farm, she had the original 45 of The Beatles’ “She Loves You” on Swan Records, which had the words “DON’T DROP OUT” printed on the label.

Ann Althouse said...

Terrie: Thanks for the YouTube link. I hadn't heard the record in a long time (even though I have a CD box set of Donovan and could dig it out). It really is quite interesting, with all those strings. And there's something quite charming about his phrasing.

J. Peden said...

Jimmy Reed was my top choice of all recording artists, until he died and Bob Dylan came along. Both sing, play the harmonica, and the guitar. I sometimes wonder.

Around 1962 Jimmy sang one song about school girls, which on the face of it today could be seen as "salacious", but I don't think he meant it that way at all:

I met a little girl on her way to school
I met a little girl, she ain't nobody's fool
Well go on, baby, don't be nobody's fool
I'll see you in the morning on your way to school

You got your reading and writing and 'rithmetic
You know the teacher's 'bout to make you sick
Well go on, baby, don't be nobody's fool
I'll see you in the morning on your way to school...."

Jimmy was quite a realist, though he always sounded somewhat like he was drunk, which could have been the case.

On the other hand, Junior Wells sang a song later about school girls, in a deep, menacing voice:

Good morning little school girl
Can I go home with you
Tell your Mama and your Papa, I'm a little schoolboy, too"

Junior also plays the harmonica very well.

I don't have the 45's of those songs, but I do have, "and I just want to know, 'Can You Jerk Like Me?'" The Contours. And "Whip It On Me" three times. The Impalas These songs were about dancing, believe it or not.

One great sounding 1962's 45 I've got is Bobby Womack/Valentinos', "Looking For a Love", which would probably prompt Congress now-a-days to take action:

Someone to get up in the morning and rub my head
Someone to fix my breakfast and bring it to my bed
Someone to do a lot of housework, and pamper me again
Lots of hugs and kisses, but people until then
I'm looking for a love to call my own.

I'm going looking
For a love
I'm looking
yeah, for a love"

Ah, the good old days.

Sasha Amorosa said...

Interesting thread about music from the 60s; I was born in America in the 60s and have never once listened to 60s music at home; my parents who are immigrants offered a different blend of music, namely, Peruvian Indians' instrumentals, and Polish Polkas; it's no small wonder I married a European German, and play the Akkordeon. Would be thrilled to see a list of 60s' artists that are now available on CD.

About the room being painted dark blue . . . . that was the first thing I did when we moved to Germany, I painted my room dark blue, and the color was amazing, juxtaposed with my embroidered curtains with a dark blue/light blue motif, right out of a Pottery Barn catalog. My nieces had never seen anything like it before. We later moved from that house into a home in the downtown area, and now we sport all white walls due to our building being built in the 1600s with arched ceilings ~

And Doug, you state, "I could see O'Rielly calling for sponsor boycotts and Nancy Grace trying to tie it into the sex predator of the moment."

Watch it man, Nancy is my sorority sister and I have great respect for her.

Auf Wiedersehen from Deutschland!

grace said...

Back to the booby issue - it won't go away... EVER!

Lady, you have some real issues. Clearly you have a real problem accepting that women have bodies that are different than men. You also seem to have a real problem accepting that women can be intelligent, thoughtful beings, and yet still have boobs.

Grow up, get counseling or something. You certainly need it.

Ann Althouse said...

Grace, I think you just walked into the wrong party. Why not go somewhere where you'll be happy? We're talking about music, you miserable little scold.