Play that funky Muzak, white boys

Our memories of Lawrence Welk are so inextricably bound up with that darn television show of his — still in distribution, from a seemingly-unlikely source — that we tend to forget the couple of dozen chart singles with his name on them, the biggest of which was “Calcutta” in 1961, which actually made #1 in Billboard. How much Welk himself actually contributed to the recordings is unclear, and he couldn’t have been paying too much attention to the pop/rock scene, but in the Sixties, a lot of money could be made by middle-of-the-road variations on existing Top 40 themes.

Which explains “Breakwater,” a Welk B-side from mid-1963, which is an actual surf record, kinda sorta:

I have to figure that this was probably irresistible for Randy Wood, who in those days ran Dot Records, Welk’s label; Dot had hit it big with the legendary surf instrumental “Pipeline,” acquired from tiny Downey Records in the L.A. burbs, and the Chantays, who recorded it, had actually appeared on the Welk TV show. “Breakwater” barely dented the charts; the A-side, “Scarlett O’Hara,” didn’t do a whole lot better. Still, the idea of Lawrence Welk surfing — well, I guess it would have helped to have grown up in North Dakota to get the full cultural impact.

(Via Kevin Walsh; title poached from Robin Williams.)

1 comment

  1. ms7168 »

    17 January 2011 · 11:49 am

    I figured that since “Calcutta” was a number one song I would remember it.
    I went to YouTube and played it and yes, I remember it being on the radio circa late 1960 and early 1961.

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