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Alterkaker Hot 3

June 9, 2017

Think summer, think Beach Boys. But instead of focusing on one of the band’s array of iconic sunshine-themed songs, let’s take a listen to their ironic attempt to shed the surfer image in favor of tunes with a more political flavor: "Don't Go Near the Water" doesn’t invite the listener to grab a surf board, but rather to avoid the environmentally unsound water altogether. The song came out on Surf’s Up, the 17th studio album, in 1971. The Beach Boys have also recorded versions of these next two tunes:

Sly and the Family Stone’s "Hot Fun in the Summertime" was released in the wake of the band's talked-about performance at Woodstock. The song peaked at number 2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 pop chart and number 3 on the U.S. Billboard soul chart in 1969. The band included it on their 1970 Greatest Hits LP. The Beach Boys tracked it on their 1992 album Summer in Paradise.

"Summertime Blues,” co-written and recorded by rockabilly artist Eddie Cochran, was released in August of 1958. The Who recorded a studio version in 1967, but it wasn’t released until 1998, when it appeared on the remastered CD of Odds & Sods. The Who’s first released version, and the one used here, appeared on the 1970 album Live at Leeds. The Beach Boys covered the song on their first album, Surfin’ Safari, in 1962.

Plus a bonus video of Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” (For Summer), which set the mood for the summer of ’72.

Surf's Up, The Beach Boys
Sly & The Family Stone
Live At Leeds, The Who
School's Out, by Alice Cooper
March 10, 2017

These songs serve as a reminder that the notion of the world getting really crazy and things spiraling out of control have been around long before you-know-who.

From Save The Life Of My Child:

"A patrol car passing by
Halted to a stop.
Said officer MacDougal in dismay:
"The force can't do a decent job
'Cause the kids got no respect
For the law today (and blah blah blah)."

Save The Life Of My Child, a commentary on urban living, and Punky’s Dilemma, a spoof of Southern California with a verse on draft dodging, come from Bookends, released in 1968 – S & G’s fourth album, and the one that propelled them to the elite status afforded The Beatles, The Stones and Bob Dylan. The Moog synthesizer on Save The Life Of My Child is being played by Mr. Moog himself.

7 O’Clock News/ Silent Night, from their prior record (Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme) was released in 1966. It’s a sound collage of "Silent Night" and a simulated "7 O'Clock News" bulletin of the events of August 3rd of that year.

From the same album, Scarborough Fair/Canticle is another mash, this one of the folk standard with an anti-war song of Garfunkel's. The video is of the duo performing the tune with Andy Williams on the latter's television show.

Save The Life Of My Child by Simon & Garfunkel
Punky’s Dilemma by Simon & Garfunkel
7 O’Clock News/ Silent Night by Simon & Garfunkel
Scarborough Fair/Canticle by Simon & Garfunkel & Andy Williams
December 25, 2016

One final look at the 2016 election, through music:

Say what you will about Trump – and apparently that’s what everyone is doing – his choice of campaign theme song was genius (whoever thought of it should have been made Chief of Staff). From a Trump voter’s perspective, the title line of the Rolling Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want (from Let It Bleed, 1969) is a thumb-in-the-face to the “entitled” who really really didn’t want Trump to win. “But if you try sometimes well you just might find you get what you need” completes a perfectly Trumpian declaration: You may not want me as President, but you need me.” Even if the lyrics didn’t have any relevance to Trump, it would still be the best tune of the political season because, with the London Bach Choir singing backup, it’s just that good a song.

Dire scenarios of the Trump presidency are being painted day-by-day -- so dire as to predict that America is on the Eve of Destruction. The song of that name, written by P. F. Sloan and recorded by Barry McGuire in July, 1965, was the first (and perhaps only) pure protest song to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Let it serve as inspiration to those hitting the streets. Plus the song is pretty funny in how dated it sounds -- sort of like a parody of protest songs.

“Don't wanna be an American idiot, Don't want a nation under the new media.” The title track from Green Days’ American Idiot (2004), with its notion that mass media has encouraged delusion and idiocy among the masses, speaks to the political landscape in a manner both sides would probably agree on – albeit in very different ways. And the song contains the perfect epitaph for the 2016 presidential campaign:“Now everybody do the propaganda, And sing along to the age of paranoia.”

Finally, a video of Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth (with very young Stephen Stills and Neil Young), recorded in 1967:

“There’s something happening here, What it is ain’t exactly clear.”


You Can't Always Get What You Want, by The Rolling Stones
Eve of Destruction, by Barry McGuire
American Idiot, by Green Day
For What It's Worth, Buffalo Springfield