Songs without words (the follow-up)

A few weeks ago, I mentioned an upcoming three-CD set, to contain every single instrumental track that made the Billboard charts in 1960. That set has now crossed my threshold, and here’s what you need to know.

Complete Pop Instrumental Hits of the Sixties 1960Said Billboard charts contained 100 songs, plus a handful “bubbling under”; more than a dozen of these 81 recordings never made it out of the 90s, and one of them — “Beachcomber,” a jazzy little piano tune (with strings attached) by Bobby Darin — peaked at #100. It is therefore reasonable to assume that you haven’t heard all of these. I hadn’t. I did, however, notice that two tracks are switched on the first disc: “Summer Set” (Monty Kelly) and “Chattanooga Choo Choo” (Ernie Fields). Then again, surely you’d recognize that Choo Choo. (Gracenote, feeding Winamp the titles, has it correct.)

Your next question, perhaps, is “Do I know any of these?” Well, yes. The Ventures’ first hit, a version of Johnny Smith’s “Walk — Don’t Run” that made #2, is here, as is Floyd Cramer’s “Last Date” (also #2), and the biggest record of the year, Percy Faith’s take on Max Steiner’s theme from A Summer Place, which sat at Number One for nine whole weeks. Some lower charters have had great influence, most notably Duane Eddy’s version of Henry Mancini’s theme for Peter Gunn, which you’ll instantly recall long before the third measure.

There was still in 1960 a tendency for cover versions to appear almost simultaneously with originals, so there are, for instance, two versions of “Smokie Part II” (Bill Black’s original, Bill Doggett’s remake — “Part I” never charted), two versions of “La Montana” (which, with English lyrics, became “If She Should Come to You”), and three versions of “Midnight Lace,” the theme from a Doris Day film. (None of the “Lace” versions made it past #84, even Ray Conniff’s, which spilled into a Part 2 on the B-side; interestingly, they sound nothing alike except for that melody line.)

As it turns out, seventy-one instrumentals charted in 1960, so to fill out that third disc, there are ten bonus tracks: late-1959 items, or things which might have too many words to be considered instrumentals — for instance, Al Brown’s “The Madison,” a song about a dance which requires the steps to be called off in sequence. Then again, Ray Bryant’s “Madison Time” is here, and it’s not banished to the back of disc three either.

The sound, breathed upon by the wizards of Eric Records, is generally quite good: most of these tracks are very clean, and none of them sound particularly overcleaned.

I suspect this set will appeal mostly to completists, which explains why I have it in its first month of release. The compilers plan a volume for each decade of the 1960s: next year’s 1961 set, which might fit on two discs — I’m counting 52 tracks that would qualify — should have nifty stuff like “Wonderland by Night,” “Calcutta” and “Apache” (Jørgen Ingmann’s imported-from-Denmark take, not the Shadows’ rowdier English version). About this time next year I expect to be reporting on it.

(Complete track list.)

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When I was fab

My one surviving brother has occasionally used this photo for his Facebook profile, and while he’s not actually in the photo, hey, it’s his dad too.

My father and I circa 1955

The short one with the bad hair? C’est moi. Either this photo has seen better days, or the termites were really bad that year.

I was not quite this bald at twenty-seven, but I was working on it. Dear Old Dad, somewhere around 1999, was told he had at most twelve months to live; he made it almost to the end of 2006, which probably explains much about my own attitudes, if not my hairline. He was seventy-nine, a number I’ll consider myself fortunate to match.

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Full Philment

David Letterman once had a Top Ten list of Ways The World Would Be Different If Everyone Was Named “Phil.” (Personal favorite: “Bond. Phil Bond.”)

Then there’s Phil Campbell, Alabama, named after, um, Phil Campbell:

Campbell was born in Liverpool in 1848. By 1880, he was employed as a railroad construction superintendent in Evansville, Ind. A few years later, he moved to Sheffield, Ala. to supervise the construction of the Birmingham, Sheffield and Tennessee River Railroad.

Campbell eventually became mayor of Sheffield, but he was still workin’ on the railroad:

Mel Allen, a prominent Franklin County merchant, wanted to establish a town in the vicinity of his general store. He informed Campbell that if he would bring the railroad by the new town, it would be named in his honor.

Phil Campbell died in 1932. The town of Phil Campbell took a not-quite-mortal hit in 2011: an EF-5 tornado that devastated the town in late April. So far, nineteen Phil Campbells from across the globe are pitching in on a relief effort, though you don’t have to be named Phil Campbell to help out.

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Well, zxcvbnm to you too

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Hot guys throughout history

At least, through the section of history where some form of semi-instant portraiture existed. It’s called “My Daguerreotype Boyfriend: where early photography meets extreme hotness”.

Gael at Pop Culture Junk Mail pointed me to this shot of Almanzo Wilder, whom the young Laura Ingalls called “Manly.” They were married in 1885.

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Last night’s downtime

It was unusually geographically-specific: a lot of local folks — myself included — could not get through, while traffic kept coming in from the coasts and points beyond. I couldn’t figure it out.

Several similarly-afflicted individuals were already hitting up the host’s Designated Tweeter, and I joined in. Eventually we arrived at the truth of the matter: almost everyone whose sites appeared to be “down” happened to be using the same ISP, which apparently had forgotten how to get to those sites.

I wonder if this had anything to do with the “computer glitch” that grounded United Airlines last night. Probably not; but everything somehow ends up being connected to everything else.

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Cover girl, kinda sorta

Ostensibly, this is Zooey with her Self cover, but truth be told, the cover photo really doesn’t look like her. It’s like they flattened her cheekbones out or something:

Zooey Deschanel on the cover of Self Magazine

That, at least, can be blamed on Photoshop. This, maybe not so much:

I’m calling it right now: bun in the oven. Don’t laugh, WE’VE BEEN RIGHT BEFORE.

The dress? Like the print, wish it had straps or something. And the dark tights really don’t work here, though I’m starting to believe she had them tattooed on.

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One of the eternal verities

Camaro vs. Mustang. It was a battle royal in the late 1960s, and it’s the same today. (Dodge was number three then, and they’re number three now.) For the moment, the Chevy has pulled ahead:

Ford narrowly lost the crown in 2010 after a 24-year run, and the gap widened this year, with General Motors Co.’s revived Camaro outselling Mustang by 33 percent through May.

The problem for the blue-oval boys, apparently, is that the real profit center is down the road in the truck department:

This year, Mustang sales have suffered because of a short supply of a new V-6 engine that gets 31 miles per gallon on the highway while generating 305 horsepower, [Mustang marketing manager Steve] Ling said. The Mustang shares that engine with the F-150 pickup, the centerpiece of Ford’s top-selling truck line.

As rising fuel prices have driven up demand for the V-6 engine, Ling said Ford has chosen to apportion more supply to the F-150, among its most profitable models.

Meanwhile, the secretary’s ‘Stang starts under $23k, down there among cars with half as much horsepower. You try wangling an F-150 for that kind of money. Then again, the Lincoln MKX — whichever MK that is, no one seems to know — also gets that same Duratec 37, though it can’t possibly be selling enough to disturb Mustang.

Still, this is as the world has always been: Ford or Chevy. One day I was fumbling with a vapor-locked, or something, ’84 Mercury when a couple of yobbos in a farging Monte Carlo, of all things, pulled alongside to remind me that they’d rather push a Chevy than drive a Ford. I can only hope that they one day got their opportunities.

Among the cars I have counted as my own were one Chevrolet, one Ford Mercury, and two Mazdas, which were conceived under the auspices of Ford’s Japanese protectorate, but were actually assembled in Flat Rock, Michigan, alongside various Fords. That same plant today builds the Mustang, and shortly will stop building the Mazda6, which is moving back to Japan, putting Flat Rock’s single shift in jeopardy.

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“Duke Nukem not CoTVing very well,” notes Andrew Ian Dodge in this week’s Carnival of the Vanities, the 426th in the series.

I was going to say something about the 426 years of development hell through which Duke Nukem Forever has recently completed, but this is obviously an exaggeration — couldn’t have been more than three hundred or so — so I’ll confine myself to pointing out that there’s been a mobile version of Duke Nukem, allegedly in 3D, which is downloadable from various sources as a .jar file, and that downloading that file will eat up 426k of your bandwidth allotment.

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Maximum Vangsness

There’s only so much fashion advice up with which Lynn will put, and to prove it, she invokes the name of someone who might scare the Rigidly Tasteful among us:

To be honest, a character I greatly admire for her fashion choices is Penelope Garcia on Criminal Minds. I guess her flamboyant style is supposed to be a joke but I actually think some of her outfits look really good but mostly I like that she wears what she likes and doesn’t try to be proper or fashionable.

Asked about the character’s flamboyance, Kirsten Vangsness, who plays Garcia, responded thusly: “I think Garcia is a fashion genius. I think I’m a fashion… eccentric… I dress like a 7 year old pirate from space.”

Kirsten Vangsness as Penelope GarciaSo apparently the style is no joke: “We both like to express ourselves with clothes, we both like to let our freak flag fly, we both have a healthy shopping addiction, we both are obsessed with Nanette Lepore, we both love color.”

For the sake of completeness, I took a look at some recent Nanette Lepore collections, and to me at least, there’s at least something resembling justification for such an obsession. I actually gave out with a Wow. The spring stuff is, of necessity, jazzier than the fall offerings, but still: wow.

Here’s that interview, complete with lotsa photos, including the one you see to the left, which I had to throw in here simply because it looks to me like she had an enormous amount of fun with this outfit — okay, it’s not Nanette Lepore, but what the hell — and I persist in thinking that if you look like you’re having fun, by definition you look better.

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Quote of the week

KingShamus reminds us that Mother Gaia, far from being that delicate flower of too much bad Sixties (and later) poetry, can be a Super King Kamehameha Byotch:

Tsunamis, hurricanes, outbreaks of tornados, earthquakes: Mother Nature has thrown just about every kind of weapon she has in her Arsenal of Killing The Shit Out Of Us. Yet even with all that, the enviro-dorks insist that the Earth is a delicate flower in need of constant protection, impossibly light footsteps and — most importantly — lots of freedom hating human-unfriendly big government solutions to keep Terra safe from the evil predations of Mankind.

Wrong. Earth is not a vestal virgin in need of a socialist chastity belt to keep her pure. Instead, the world is a smoking hot yet incredibly moody ex-wife on an eternal meth binge, armed with a loaded MAC-10 and just waiting for you to say something about her thighs so she has an excuse to pump a few rounds into your sorry ass. There’s nothing you can do to change her mind about your uselessness. You know that at some point she’s going to shoot you. It’s just a matter of when and what extremity she decides to hit.

On the other hand, you might want to keep those footfalls on the light side anyway, just in case she’s listening. Because, you know, she probably is.

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Friday no more?

After something like eleventy bazillion views, YouTube says that the “Friday” video is no longer available “due to a copyright claim by Rebecca Black.”

Which isn’t actually the weirdest thing that happened to it this week:

Earlier this week it seemed like the video had been set up as a YouTube Rental by ARK [Music Factory], and then not so much. Is this latest drama due to an attempt by ARK to capitalize on the young star’s Internet fame?

What I want to know is this: did any of the 47 people on the planet who hadn’t seen “Friday” actually part with $2.99 to see it? YouTube, for its part, does not comment on individual videos. And certainly I don’t have access to the behind-the-scenes machinations at ARK. As it turns out, this was an outcropping of the existing dispute between Black and ARK over who controls the girl’s image (see here for background).

I did wonder, though, if ARK had ever produced anything else as accidentally catchy as “Friday,” and in the interest of research, I sat through several of their other offerings. This one, I think, had some redeeming social value:

Still too much Auto-Tune, but not too bad an arrangement, and at least she don’t wanna rush this. On the other hand, she grabs at her hair as though she knew she had to return it to Macy’s the following morning.

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Assuming I’m bribable

This mostly-incomprehensible comment came in Wednesday night:

Hello there! Your subject material serve me acquire an outstanding rate and I say thanks to you for that. Do you own a kind of donation box where I can deliver donation in PayPal?

The Yeah-Right-O-Meter went into full deflection at that.

For those served by the subject material, this is the official word from the OAQ File:

Unless this site suddenly becomes a lot more popular, or unless I fall on hard times, I don’t need the bucks. There are plenty of deserving bloggers with huge online expenses who do; see to their needs first, wouldja please? A chap named Ravenwood perhaps says it best: “If you want to help me out, vote to lower my tax rate.” If you still feel like sending me a few bucks, I have a PayPal account under chaz at

I just wish I had something as amusing as old ScrappleFace himself, Scott Ott, who once vowed that all contributions would go to “the National Endowment for the Otts.”

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The perfect spokesperson

Fritinancy offers a brief history of Selz Shoes, including what may have been the cheekiest celebrity endorsement of the era: “Shoeless Joe” Jackson wearing Selz shoes.

You have to jump all the way forward to 1984 to find an ad with that kind of nerve:

Even today, it makes me smile. (And yes, I bought the product; still have one today, in fact.)

Background: “20 years of LaserDisc,” from 1998.

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Somewhere over the line

Edmond and Oklahoma City, both born in the 1889 Land Run, have grown toward each other over the years, to the extent that some people can’t tell north Oklahoma City from south Edmond, and by “some people” I mean whoever wrote the caption for yesterday’s Oklahoman:

Corner of Vermejo and NW 179th Circle

Although the real issue here is that the Oklahoma City post office doesn’t deliver to anywhere beyond 150th; the poor waterlogged fellow in the picture may have his mail delivered by the Edmond P.O., but he’s a resident of OKC.

Where the hell they came up with “Vermejo” as a street name, I’ll never know: there’s a geological formation by that name straddling the New Mexico-Colorado line, which this area in no way resembles. I note that this location is in the Palo Verde (“green stick”) subdivision, and before it was developed back in the Nineties, it was probably pretty green and out in the sticks, so at least that name works.

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No intent to needle

So I’m reading HelloGiggles, because — well, just because, okay? — and this startling revelation comes across the screen:

You are never too old to own Hello Kitty products. I have a Hello Kitty credit card, Zooey has a Hello Kitty sewing machine and Molly has Hello Kitty earphones.

Now how hard is it to find a Hello Kitty sewing machine? For the below-average Googler, it takes all of 500 milliseconds:

Hello Kitty sewing machine by Janome

This obviously isn’t a Bernina-class machine — I used to own something like this, in a mundane Nineties PC beige — but what the heck. (I actually did some minor stitchery on a Bernina, back when I was married; she got custody of the machine, which cost nearly as much as the children.) I will not ask when Zooey has time to sew.

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