BIRMINGHAM RECORD COLLECTORS
DEDICATED TO THE COLLECTING OF MUSIC, ITS PRESERVATION AND LASTING FRIENDSHIP
THIS MONTH’S MEETING
As the Homewood Library is still closed to the public we will meet again this Sunday, October 11th at the same location we have been using, Fultondale First Baptist Church. We will begin at1:00 (NOT OUR USUAL 2:00 START TIME). The address of the church is 409 Main Street, Fultondale, AL 35068. Bring your mask and continue the social distancing as well. Music, fellowship and some fun to be had by all. At this time we plan on our October meeting same place, same time on November 8th, the second Sunday. Many thanks to Fultondale First Baptist Church for the use of their building and to John McGuirk for setting this up for us.
Bob Friedman will be our speaker this month. Bob has been very instrumental for many decades documenting and preserving the history of Birmingham radio, specifically black radio history. He will be speaking on an incident that took place at WJLD some 45 years ago or so when the DJ’s walked out as a protest over a management decision. I think you will find this a very interesting topic. Make plans to be there.
CELEBRATING THE AUTOMOBILE IN MUSIC – PART 2
Let’s fill the tank, crank up and go for a ride in the car again. Checking out the songs that were written and recorded about that essential machine we used for getting to work, going shopping, heading out on vacations, cruising with friends, searching for members of the opposite sex, getting us to school and sometimes just ‘no particular place to go’.
Looking at what we learned last month it was probably Charlie Ryan’s ‘Hot Rod Lincoln’ that gave credence to the beginning of the car song craze although it was about 2-3 years later when the Beach Boys made the songs a staple of the rock/pop genre. Teenagers now had a car or at least the family car to use and with some money in their pockets cars had become very important to the younger generation. So why not sing about them! Mentioned last time were hits by Ronny & The Daytonas and the Rip Chords. Just to continue that thought, both groups released other songs about cars as did Jackie Brenston. After ‘Rocket 88’, Brenston and the band released ‘My Real Gone Rocket.’
At the closing of last month’s newsletter I mentioned Chuck Berry as doing more than one car song. If asked, what song of his comes to mind that is about cars? Probably ‘Maybellene’ or ‘No Particular Place To Go’ but he had two others that charted between 1955 – 1965 and some that didn’t chart giving Chuck a total of seven car songs. After ‘Maybellene’ there was ‘No Money Down’ (1956 – #8), ‘You Can’t Catch Me’ (1956 n/c), ‘Jaguar And Thunderbird’ (1960 n/c), ‘No Particular Place To Go’ (1964 – #10), ‘Dear Dad’ (1965 – #95) and ‘My Mustang Ford’ (1966 n/c). Chuck did know how to reach the youngsters of the day.
How about the Doo Wop genre. They also cashed in on the car song craze. My Doo Wop mentor, Chi-Town Bill sent me over 35 songs about cars the Doo Wop groups did. And I am sure there are some more out there. Some you may know include ‘Zoom, Zoom, Zoom’ by the Collegians, ‘Flat Tire’ by the Del-Vikings, and ‘Buick ’59’ by Vernon Green & The Medallions. The Medallions had at least six songs about cars. One thing about ‘Buick ’59’ – the song was released in 1954. Were they singing about the future or something else? Many stories about that one. One that I like is called ‘Oh! Oh! Get Out Of The Car’ by Richard Berry. This is the guy who wrote and first recorded ‘Louie Louie’. The Tokens did a whole LP with car songs called ‘Wheels And More Hot Rod Rarities’.
But the Doo Wop connection didn’t stop there. Many groups used the make or model name of a car as their name. The Ramblers, The Corvairs, The Chevies, The Impalas, The Cadillacs, The Corvettes, The Mercury’s, The Galaxies, The T-Birds, The Edsels and the list goes on and on. There could be as many as 100 groups that had car names.
Remember ‘El Paso’, ‘Tom Dooley’, ‘Don’t Take Your Guns To Town’ and maybe the first but for sure one of the earliest teen tragedy songs, ‘Black Denim Trousers And Motorcycle Boots’? That song had someone killed and although a car wasn’t the culprit, the car wasn’t far behind. Motorcycles, drowning, airplanes, and even sharks and a tree limb falling, people sang about death in many songs before tragedy songs killed someone’s boy/girl friend in a car but what was the first car crash tragedy song? Now as far as nationally charted songs go the first may have been Mark Dinning’s ‘Teen Angel’. That was 1959 and right on his heels were ‘Tell Laura I Love Her’ (1959), ‘Last Kiss’ (1960), and ‘Dean Man’s Curve’ (1964). Later in 1978 Paul Evans had a hit in the UK with ‘Hello, This Is Joannie (The Telephone Answering Machine Song)’. Do you know that one? Give it a listen. Now in 1951 comedian Jerry Lewis recorded a song called ‘Sunday Driving’ where he crashes his car but no one is hurt. In 1937 a song titled ‘Wreck On The Highway’ was written about a wreck in Rockingham, NC. When first recorded it was with the title ‘Didn’t Hear Nobody Pray’. Roy Acuff released it as with original title in 1942 but it didn’t chart.
Another car crash gets us started in this next section – girls and cars. Only one car crash song comes to mind when I think about the girls and their songs. Cobey Carson released a song called ‘Too Young To Be A Widow’. Married only ‘one short week’ is how the song starts and you know the rest. But fortunately the others listed here are happier songs. The girls did their part to get behind the car song craze at the time. One of the best is ‘Black And White Thunderbird’ by the Delicates. Fun teener song about the car from 1959. FYI: Don’t get this girl confused with another girl group with the same name. One was a white group and one black. Another girl group sang ‘Get Your Daddy’s Car Tonight’. This was from 1960 by the Petites. Did you guys ever have a girl ask this of you? Pretty cool, huh? One thing I found interesting about this group is the name. Thinking the name came from being a bunch of small girls it turns out the name came from the girls’ last name – Pettit. There is also Carol & Cheryl singing their song, ‘Go, Go GTO’. From 1965 on the Colpix label it is a real fun song with a slower (but not too slow) Beach Boy sound. Watch out for these gals, they sing about their GTO doing 104 MPH. Daddy’s car is also brought back in 1995 when a group called the Cardigans recorded ‘My Daddy’s Car’. This Swedish group is all male except for the female singer so I’ll count that as a female car song. They sing about getting daddy’s car and taking a long trip around European towns. I hope daddy’s not footing the fuel bill as well.
Before I get into having to do a part 3 let me quickly mention a few other trivial offerings involving car songs. Without doing a lot of research on the topic I don’t remember or believe there were a lot of car songs that came with the British Invasion. At least not releases on 45’s. I do know that in 1965 The Beatles recorded ‘Drive My Car.’ Let me know if you have others. In 1973 a Dutch band, Golden Earring recorded the iconic car song of the guitar rock era with ‘Radar Love’. Listening to it I can see a dark road with the headlights projecting the grassy road side with electric poles going by, the white line diving the lanes zooming by and the glow of the dashboard lights lighting up the radio as some ‘forgotten song’ is being played. He’s in a hurry trying to get home to see his girl. Speaking of the dashboard lights, does Meatloaf’s ‘Paradise By The Dashboard Light’ fall into the car song category? Why not. One car song I really enjoy listening to is Eddie Cochran’s ‘Something Else’ – love the lyrics ‘there’s a car made just for me’ and ‘it’s a ’41 Ford not a ’59’. Are you familiar with Bo Diddley’s ‘Ride On Josephine’? Great song and it is about a car that belongs to a girl and she sure knows her stuff. She drives a ‘hot rod Ford’, it’s got twin carburetor, twin exhausts – ‘Ride On Josephine’. But also give George Thorogood’s cover a listen as well. Both are great rockers. One last thing, the Collins Kids recorded a song titled, ‘Hot Rod’. From what I know it was never released as a 45 but I think it should have been. In the lyrics they say their car has ‘a little bit of Von Dutch.’ Are you familiar with Von Dutch? Years ago when I first heard the song I wasn’t familiar with the name but after checking into it I found out what it was. It’s a apparel company today but began when Kenny Howard did pin-striping in the early 50’s. Being from the West Coast his work was much more popular in the beginning out there but it was something the Collins Kids, who were from the L.A. area probably knew about. Thus singing about an type engine, transmission, tires, etc was a must in some care songs but here a particular person’s pin-striping is mentioned. That’s being pretty well known.
A special CD box came out in 1999 called Hot Rods and Custom Classics. A 4 CD set, decals and even a pair of fuzzy dice for your rear view mirror. Loaded with over 86 songs about cars. Another CD is called 30 Classic Car Tunes. Both of these will give you a lot of fun music entertainment.
What did I leave out? Lots!! But I gotta head on down the road. Thanks for taking a ride with me Hey! That reminds me. C.L. & The Pictures released a 45 called ‘Let’s Take A Ride’.
Don’t forget to check out all the new internet radio shows the club has on its website. Go to http://www.birminghamrecord.com/brc/ and click on ‘RADIO’. New shows added weekly.