The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

22 August 2006

Jingle and/or jangle

One of the most mind-boggling bits of trivia extant, at least according to those to whom I've told it over the years, is that the second publisher of the Paris Review, one of the industrial-strength literary magazines of the last half of the twentieth century, was also the lead vocalist on "Sugar, Sugar."

Ron Dante, Renaissance Man. Darn few pop-music figures even come close to deserving the title. Since it's his birthday (he's 61), and persuaded as I am that anything this man does should be considered news, I thought I'd point you to his MySpace page and let you see (and hear!) what he's been up to lately. Or, what the heck, you can also play "Sugar, Sugar" — or "Tracy," ostensibly by the Cuff Links, Dante's second consecutive top-10 hit under a name other than his own. (His biggest hit as Ron Dante, 1970's "Let Me Bring You Up," topped out at a meager #104.)

Oh, and he has two Tony Awards, too: he produced both Ain't Misbehavin', Best Musical of 1978, and Children of a Lesser God, Best Play of 1980. I'm telling you, Renaissance Man if ever there was one. And we haven't even mentioned his commercials or his work with Barry Manilow yet. (Oops.)

What? My favorite Dante? Probably "Leader of the Laundromat," a Shangri-Las sendup from the end of 1964 recorded by the Detergents, that still makes me giggle. ("Who's that banging on the piano?" "I dunno.") Dante is one of the three hyper-clean voices, the others being Tommy Wynn and Danny Jordan. A subsequent Detergents nonhit, "I Can Never Eat Home Anymore," is currently atop my want list, mostly because Collectables, which did go to the trouble of compiling a Detergents CD in the late 1990s, managed to leave it off, possibly because it was released on a different label originally (Kapp instead of Roulette). And yes, it's more demented than even "Laundromat":

Listen, does this sound familiar?

You wake up every morning
With a hunger pain inside
Your mother makes you breakfast
But you wanna run and hide
You sneak out of the back door
And hang around the street
You know it's time for dinner
But you're afraid to go home and eat
And that's called ... hungry!

As much work as Ron Dante did over the years, he might not even remember this bit of, um, whimsy.

Posted at 7:23 AM to Tongue and Groove