Perhaps the easiest way to explain this month’s Fab Five is to enlist the longtime marketing slogan for Sara Lee baked goods. You of course remember, “Everybody doesn’t like something, but nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee”. Yeah, it’s a little twisted, but it perfectly describes this moth’s Fab Five song’s that NOBODY doesn’t like! Five songs that whenever any one of them should come up in conversation it initiates a passionate “Oh! I love that song!” No matter where or when each of these titles always receives a unanimous thumbs up And it’s been going on for 60 years! Are you with us?.
So! Let’s begin with:
Many of you became familiar with this unique and incredible song from Disney’s Lion King films, but for most of us, we fell in love with the song when the American Doo Wop group The Tokens recorded and released it in 1961, when it immediately shot to number one dominating top 40 radio in the U.S. and the U.K. The Tokens recording was considered a “sing along record” yet ironically the only part of the song most of us could sing along with was “Aweem away Aweem away Aweem Away Aweem away,” something like that! Nothing more, NOBODY could match The Token’s lead vocalist Jay Siegel’s stratospheric soprano and tongue waggling yodel! But we all rode around in the car all day content to just proudly join the chorus and Aweem Away’d our brains out! And don’t deny that you did too! Nobody didn’t sing along and nobody didn’t like The Lion Sleeps Tonight in 1961 or 2020!
Dion Dimucci was already a familiar voice when Runaround Sue swooped into The Top 40 in 1961 Prior to “Sue” Dion was part of The Belmonts! A Doo Wop group from The Bronx who all lived on Belmont Avenue.. But most importantly, in the late 50’s The Belmont’s went from singing in on Street corners to having hits! Remember I Wonder Why and Teenager In Love? Dion, the unofficial lead singer for the group quickly grew bored with the “Finger Poppin Doo wop” sound, when he met songwriter record producer Ernie Maresca and together they came up with Runaround Sue! A record that’s all hand claps background singers with Dion’s incredible voice soaring and swinging thru an irresistible song about a girl who likes to play around! Sue shot to number one in the U.S. and was Top Ten around the world! For us Runaround Sue holds a particular significance. In 1961 portable Transistor Radio’s had just become all the rage and after some serious begging my mom bought me my first Transistor radio. I was so excited my tiny 11 year old hand trembled as I eagerly plugged in the odd looking rectangular 9 volt battery and all of a sudden Runaround Sue blasted out of my new toy! As it ended I vowed not to put my little radio down til I heard it one thousand times! My hopes were fulfilled seemingly in a matter of hours. In hindsight it seems like I heard Runaround Sue 24/7 in 1961 and I snapped my fingers and sang along doing my very best Dion, as I still do every time I hear this remarkable record that NOBODY doesn’t like. Are you with us so far?
It is not by choice or mere coincidence, that our first three songs, including Runaway were all released in 1961. It does however indicate Rock and Roll’s evolution and it’s producers and innovators developing an understanding of their audience and their preferences. If there is a transitional record that incorporated Rock’s early beginning’s while setting a higher bar for Rock’s future, not to mention The British Invasion, it has to be Del Shannon’s powerful and prophetic Runaway co-written and produced with Del’s Keyboardist Max Crook. Runaway was released in January ’61 and was number one by April of the year. Runaway was a unique and distinctive record and a big part of it’s attraction was the instrumental bridge performed by Max on an instrument he called a Musitron – an electric keyboard also known as a Clavoline which actually was a very early version of a synthesizer! The Musitron had a very unusual sound for 1961 and it was the topic of conversation every time we heard Runaway, and even when we didn’t!
One thing all five of our Fab songs have in common is multiple cover versions crossing every genre of music, And, in that regard Runaway leads the pack! Just a cursory look at artists who have performed or recorded Runaway includes Elvis, Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow, Small Faces, The Traveling Wilburys and, get this, Lawrence Welk! Truly a song that nobody doesn’t like!
Along Comes Mary
The Association, a folk group turned Folk/Rock band in L.A. in 1964 and spent two years working the L.A. club circuit to great reviews, quickly signing on as the house band at The Troubadour and the Ice House in Pasadena They soon became the talk of the town releasing numerous singles on various small independent labels. The Association was the classic case of a band whose live shows were undeniable but, no one cared about their records. There were no serious songwriters in the band so they covered song’s like Led Zep’s Babe I’m Gonna Leave You and Dylan’s One Too Many Mornings. They all failed until along came Along Comes Mary. The song was an instant hit in 1966! A curious and powerful arrangement that took everyone by surprise who had previously heard this Folk/Rock vocal group The song peaked at number seven on the Billboard charts. A lot of people believe it missed the number one spot for two reason’s, with the first being, in 1966 ‘mary’ was a street name for marijuana, and that scared off a lot of disc jockeys and radio stations. The other reason is lead singer, Terry Kirkman tended to mumble a bit as he sang and the lyrics to Mary are plentiful and go by rapidly! The only words we clearly heard were the last four: “Sweet as the punch”. However in spite of these minor downsides we couldn’t get enough of Along Comes Mary, we felt like we were in on the ‘mary’ joke which made us cool and there was a constant competition among us to determine just exactly what Kirkman was saying! We still debate the topic today, it’s easy cuz nobody didn’t like Along Comes Mary.
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
From their fourth album Out Of Our Heads in 1965, It was the band’s first number one in the U.S! The Stones had already established themselves as the second biggest band in the world, they were on their way to being revered as the greatest Rock n Roll band in history and Satisfaction opened that door a whole lot wider. At this point in time there was still a certain rivalry in the minds of the fans where if you were a true Beatle fan, There was nothing The Stones could do to completely garner your favor, until Satisfaction! Lyrically we all loved the double negative “I can’t get No!” it was a clever mix of sexual frustration and crass commercialism, but what we just couldn’t get enough of was the one two punch of Keith’s repetitive fuzz guitar line, which was intended to be replaced by horns playing the same line! But aren’t you glad they didn’t? The second punch was Charlie Watts’ simple drum break at the end of each verse: “I can’t get no, a no no no” 1, 2, 3, and 4. 1, 2, 3, and 4… We often say it’s the little things, and in this case, all of Satisfaction’s little things created a Rolling Stones masterpiece, and our number one song, that….say it with us now “NOBODY DOESN’T LIKE” !
But now! What do YOU think? Did we get it right? Or are you going to tell us you hate one of our Fab Five, and ruin our day? Most importantly, do you have a song that you believe “Nobody doesn’t like” ? Well, we want to hear all about it! The more details the better! We’re eager to hear your thoughts and are certain Nobody won’t like what you have to say!