The Way Things Were!
Do you remember the pre-cell ‘phone days – not so long ago – when every major airport had lines of telephone booths? You’d press on the individual doors which would then fold open and you’d step inside and sit on a small stool before dialing a number. The convenience that smart ‘phones provide has changed so many things. You used to be able to shop in a store where people only spoke to other people whereas these days, folks walk up and down aisles in supermarkets carrying on conversations with friends and relatives who are probably miles away!
Thinking back to the days of old-style landline telephones, I was once at the Beverly Hills Hotel’s Polo Lounge meeting with Mel Tormé and remember thinking how chic it was that when somebody rang him, the waiter brought a telephone over to the booth and plugged it in for Mel to take the call!
Do you also remember the days when you rang a company and spoke to an actual human being? Those real-life voices belonged to what were usually referred to as switchboard operators (as pictured above) and they connected you with the person or department you were calling. Of course, they have long since been replaced by pre-recorded voices which give you a menu to choose from (e.g: “Press 1 for the accounts office”) or you’re invited to press “the first three letters of the person you are calling”. By the way, in England, switchboard operators were called ‘telephonists’.
A further way in which the human voice has been replaced in the telephone industry is that before answering machines, there were answering services: a person or persons who you paid to personally answer your calls while you were away; therefore, when somebody rang you while you were out, an actual person would answer the call and take a message for you.
Another mode of communication which has undergone a major transformation is of course letter writing. There is now a generation who have not grown up automatically putting pen to paper in order to mail a letter; in fact, there are those who never go near a post office. Emailing and texting have not only displaced physical letters and postcards for a growing segment of the world’s population but they’ve been responsible for partly creating a new shorthand language of abbreviations and symbols. I guess the old Joe Young/Fred E. Ahlert song that was popularized in the 1930’s by Fats Waller would have to be re-worded today – “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and text myself a message” — ouch!
R.I.P.: Harvey Fuqua (1929-2010)
The obits which ran recently on the former Motown legend Harvey Fuqua understandably outlined his achievements as an artist (particularly as one of the lead singers of The Moonglows), producer, label owner and his shepherding of Marvin Gaye to initial stardom. Harvey was also an accomplished songwriter and I thought that this would be a perfect opportunity to list my favorite Fuqua compositions.
Most memorable of all his songs was the anthemic “Someday We’ll Be Together”*which he co-authored with Johnny Bristol and Jackey Beavers. Messrs Bristol & Beavers recorded the original version of that song; they were billed as Johnny & Jackey and it was released in late 1961 on Harvey’s Tri-Phi label.
Here’s my list:
A Long Time” (Harvey Fuqua/The Quails)
By The Five Quails (Harvey: 1961)
“Cleo’s Mood” (Harvey Fuqua/Autry DeWalt/Willie Woods)
By Jr. Walker & The All Stars (Soul: 1965)
“Come On And See Me” (Harvey Fuqua/Johnny Bristol)
By Tammi Terrell (Motown: 1966)
“If I Could Build My Whole World Around You” (Harvey Fuqua/Johnny Bristol/Vernon Bullock)
By Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (Tamla: 1967)
“Mr. Engineer (Bring Her Back To Me)” (Harvey Fuqua)
By The Moonglows (Chess: 1957)
“Most Of All” (Harvey Fuqua/Alan Freed)
By The Moonglows (Chess: 1955)
“My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me)” (Harvey Fuqua/Johnny Bristol/Pamela Sawyer/James Roach)
By David Ruffin (Motown: 1969)
“Nobody Loves You (Like Me)” (Harvey Fuqua/Gwen Gordy)
By Etta James (United: 1961)
*“Someday We’ll Be Together” (Harvey Fuqua/Johnny Bristol/Jackey Beavers)
By Diana Ross & The Supremes (Motown: 1968) – a 1969 #1 R&B and Pop hit; sampled in Janet Jackson’s 1993 hit “If”
“That’s What Girls Are Made For” (Harvey Fuqua/Gwen Gordy)
By The Spinners (Tri-Phi: 1961)
“These Things Will Keep Me Loving You” (Harvey Fuqua/Johnny Bristol/Sylvia Moy)
By The Velvelettes (Soul: 1966)
“Twenty-Five Miles” (Harvey Fuqua/Johnny Bristol/Edwin Starr/Gerald Wexler/Bert Russell)
By Edwin Starr (Gordy: 1969)
“What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)” (Harvey Fuqua/Johnny Bristol/Vernon Bullock)
By Jr. Walker & The All Stars (Soul: 1969) – revived by Kenny G in 1986
“What Good Am I Without You” (Harvey Fuqua/Johnny Bristol/Sylvia Moy)
By Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston (Tamla: 1964)
Classic Rock Songs
“Abraham, Martin And John” (Dick Holler)
Evocative folk-rock anthem written as a tribute to Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and John Kennedy. It marked a comeback (and a return to his original record label) for Dion (Di Mucci), formerly of Dion & The Belmonts. The song (which was authored by the same writer as the very different “Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron” by The Royal Guardsmen on Laurie two years earlier) also charted for Smokey Robinson & The Miracles and by African American comedienne Moms Mabley. It was later integrated into a Top 10 medley single (along with “What The World Needs Now Is Love”) by disc-jockey Tom Clay narrating between portions of the two songs sung by The Blackberries, namely Clydie King, Venetta Fields and Billie Barnum. Revived in 1991 by UK singer Lavine Hudson on Virgin’s 10 label.
Dion (Laurie: 1968) US Pop hit
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles (Tamla: 1969) US R&B and Pop hit
Moms Mabley (Mercury: 1969) US R&B and Pop hit
Marvin Gaye (Tamla: 1970) UK hit
Tom Clay [Medley w/”What The World Needs Now Is Love” (Bacharach/David)] (MoWest: 1971) US R&B and Pop hit
Other versions include: Harry Belafonte (RCA), Charles Brown (Galaxy), Ray Charles (ABC), Cliff Richard (UK Columbia),
Kenny Rogers(Liberty), Andy Williams (Columbia)
(Updated entry from my book “Who Sang What In Rock ‘n’ Roll” published by Blandford/Cassell, London in 1990)
R.I.P.: Hank Cochran (1935-2010)
Hank Cochran (right) with Merle Haggard in 2009 Photo: BMI
Nashville lost a member of its songwriting royalty last week when the enormously successful Hank Cochran passed away at his home in Hendersonville, Tennessee. His most profitable copyrights include such legendary songs as “I Fall To Pieces” (written with Harlan Howard) which was a #1 hit for Patsy Cline in 1961, “Make The World Go Away” which charted initially for Ray Price in 1963 and then for Eddy Arnold in ’65, “She’s Got You”: another #1 for Patsy Cline this time in ’62, “It’s Not Love (But It’s Not Bad)” which topped the country charts in 1972 for Merle Haggard and “The Chair” (co-authored with Dean Dillon) which gave George Strait a #1 single in December ‘85. Hank also wrote two songs which were major pop hits by folk singer Burl Ives: “A Little Bitty Tear” in 1961 and “Funny Way Of Laughin’” in ’62.
Additional Hank Cochran chart hits included: “Don’t Touch Me” by Jeannie Sealy (the former Mrs. Hank Cochran) in 1966, “Don’t You Ever Get Tired Of Hurting Me” by Ray Price in ’66 and by Ronnie Milsap in ‘89, “I Want To Go With You” by Eddy Arnold in ’66 and “That’s All That Matters” by Mickey Gilley in 1980.
In his early days, Hank Cochran teamed up with singer/guitarist Eddie Cochran and, though they weren’t related, they toured as The Cochran Brothers in the days before Eddie went solo and turned into a rock ‘n’ roll legend. As a recording artist, Hank had initial success on Liberty with a single of Harlan Howard’s “Sally Was A Good Old Girl” produced by Joe Allison in 1962. Joe also cut a session with Hank for Dot, Fred Foster produced him at Monument, Chet Atkins cut him at RCA including a fine LP in 1965 called “Hits From The Heart”(illustrated above), Tommy Allsup produced him for Liberty and over at Capitol in 1978, Merlin Littlefield and Glen Martin were in the producer’s chair for Hank’s memorable duet with Merle Haggard on “Ain’t Life Hell”, another Cochran original. Hank also re-cut “Make The World Go Away” for Elektra in 1980 which he co-produced himself along with Chuck Howard and Rock Killough.
Movie Quote of Yesteryear:
“Look at that – Look how she moves! Just like Jello on springs. She’s got some sort of built-in motor or something. I tell ya it’s a whole different sex!” Spoken by Jack Lemmon to Tony Curtis about Marilyn Monroe walking along a railroad platform in “Some Like It Hot” (United Artists: 1959).
Thanks to everyone who commented on my Summer Song list (“Door To Yesterday #26) . Former Sonet Records man Alan Whaley wrote to remind me of “Seaside Shuffle” by Terry Dactyl & The Dinosaurs, that label’s first hit which rose to #2 in the UK in the summer of ’72. When I passed this information on to the curator of cool, Gene Sculatti, he shot back a knowing comment that “They beat T. Rex to dinosaur-rock— but did they beat the Piltdown Men?”!
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