The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

24 August 2003

They don't write 'em like that anymore

Jay Solo was going through the playground of his mind when he started picking up bits of "moldy, perhaps obscenely mellow" background music, which is of couse a subject near and dear to my heart, especially since he worked in a reference to "My Cup Runneth Over", a song from the musical I Do! I Do! that became an enormous hit for Ed Ames in 1967, a year otherwise given over to second-generation Britrock and psychedelia.

Your average oldies station has already decided that catering to the buffs isn't as profitable as recycling the same 400 or so songs, so there are a lot of tunes from my past (and possibly yours) that are seldom heard anymore. Some of them have been killed off by the evil that is political correctness: Ray Stevens couldn't get "Ahab the Arab" released into today's world order, and contemporary women presumably would find Ginny Arnell's "Dumb Head" ("I'm a stupid little girl") insufficiently empowering. But a lot of great records have disappeared simply because no one cares to fish them out of the vault.

Consider the case of Linda Scott, who charted a dozen records (including some she wrote, highly unusual in the pre-Beatles era), but who today is treated as a one-hit wonder. It was a great hit — the Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein standard, "I've Told Ev'ry Little Star", redone as a bouncy pop tune — but you're lucky to hear even that on Oldies 98 Point 6. Scott's followup, the self-penned "Don't Bet Money Honey", as pointed as anything Alanis Morissette ever did, made the Top Ten, but is virtually unknown today.

I could go on, and at some point I probably will, but you get the general idea.

Posted at 8:32 PM to Tongue and Groove

OMG. I actually have a snippet of the chorus of that Ed Ames tune in the more cobweb-festooned back rooms of my memory.

Back in those days my parents preferred a radio station that played songs like that and "Something Stupid" and "Baby Elephant Walk" -- I don't know what that format would be called. Did formats have names in those days?

Posted by: McGehee at 7:30 AM on 25 August 2003

Two formats covered this genre: "middle-of-the-road" (usually styled simply "MOR") and "beautiful music"; the difference, generally, was that the latter was predominantly instrumental.

A few stations (none near me) are continuing with so-called "pop standards" formats.

Posted by: CGHill at 9:23 AM on 25 August 2003