Songs in the Key of Lawrence

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(Pictured: Lawrence Welk, onstage in 1980. Considering the appearance of his musicians, he’d come to terms with longer hair by then.)

Clearly we need another Links and Notes post, because a lot of stuff that’s worth your time has been spinning through my Twitter feed too quickly to keep track.

From The 1976 Project: this interview with Candy Clark, who co-starred with David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth, released that year (and re-released this year). Bowie is rumored to have worked on some music for the soundtrack, but it was never released. The actual soundtrack was written and performed by a celebrated 60s figure you may never guess.

This month is the 40th anniversary of ELO’s A New World Record, which is probably my #2 or #3 favorite album of all time, and Ultimate Classic Rock remembered it. FWIW, my #1 album is Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy; George Harrison’s Thirty Three and 1/3 is either #3 or #2.In the summer of ’76, just months before the release of the latter, George was found guilty of unconsciously plagiarizing his most famous solo hit, although the legal decision didn’t mark the end of anything: litigation continued for another 22 years, nearly to the end of his life.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary later this month: Songs in the Key of Life, the subject of a retrospective at Pitchfork.

Pitchfork also published a good, broad overview of the music from the summer of 1976, but perpetuated an error I have seen elsewhere this summer, one that drives me crazy: talking about ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” as part of the 1976 landscape. That’s only in the UK, where it was #1 late in the summer. “Dancing Queen” didn’t hit American radio in a big way until December, and it reached #1 in April 1977, so it’s simply wrong to lump it with the influential American hits of 1976.

On September 16, 1976, Larry Lujack returned to the morning show on WLS after six months spent playing elevator music on WCFL. The day before, he and WLS colleague Bob Sirott appeared on a Chicago TV morning show.

An aircheck from WCFL on September 8, 1971, features longtime Chicago jock Dex Card dropping the needle on a brand-new song by John Lennon, one day before his new album’s official release. You can hear Card play “Imagine’ at the 6:15 mark if you go here. If you listen to the whole thing, you will hear him play many other fine songs popular on that long ago late summer/early fall day.

Friend of the blog Tom Nawrocki told the story of Toni Basil, whose career involves far more than just making “Mickey.”

Another interesting story you may not know involves the husband-and-wife duo Nu Shooz and how “I Can’t Wait” became a hit 30 years ago this summer.  (I could not have loathed that record more back then, but I’m over it.)

I blogged recently on topics from David Hepworth’s book about the music of 1971; now British author Jon Savage has published a book about the music of 1966. Robert Christgau recently reviewed it.

Also from 1966: Rebeat Magazine remembered when Frank Sinatra hit #1 on the singles chart with “Strangers in the Night,” a song he didn’t like—and one proving that however explosive rock was in 1966, the old guard was still powerful, and popular.

There’s a new autobiography of Leiber and Stoller, and Jim Booth reviewed that. Leiber and Stoller’s great contemporary, Sam Phillips, was the subject of an Esquire piece on how he got the unique sound of the records he produced.

If you have attended a sporting event, major league or minor league, in the last 40 years, you have probably seen the Famous Chicken, who started as the San Diego Chicken back in the 70s. The man in the suit, Ted Giannoulas, is retiring, and looking back.

Also retiring is veteran sportscaster Dick Enberg.

Block out the weekend to read this: Vulture’s ranking of all 314 Bruce Springsteen songs, worst to best.

Carole King’s demos for the Monkees’ “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and other hits are every bit as good as you’d expect. Hear ’em here.

King and her songwriting partners over the year always found the right words for the melody. Many of today’s songwriters don’t bother.

Rolling Stone put together a list of 20 songs that defined the early 70s, and they do.

It’s About TV looked inside the 1970 Fall Preview edition of TV Guide.

In the fall of 1969, Lawrence Welk opened his new TV season with a new look. Video like this really makes drugs unnecessary.

To see more in a timelier fashion, follow me on Twitter.

2 thoughts on “Songs in the Key of Lawrence

  1. Very late getting here, but I should say I love these posts. And I love this one more than most because of the link to the Springsteen rankings (a fact that won’t surprise you). Thanks!

  2. Andy

    As a San Diego native, I can assure you that the famous chicken mascot began, and was known for years, as the “KGB Chicken”, because he was an employee of KGB, a pair of local radio stations (KGB-AM was Top 40, KGB-FM was progressive/AOR). At some point, I’m not sure when or why, he and KGB parted company, he got to keep the chicken suit, and became known as the San Diego Chicken. He was hugely popular locally, he even wrote an autobiography, which I stood in line to get signed as a birthday present for my mom, who was a fan. (He signed it “To Paula, my little chickadee”).

    As a side note that seems related to this blog, for about 5 or 6 years or so, KGB put out a series of albums called “Homegrown”. Local singers and bands would write and record songs about San Diego, and the songs would get played on the FM station. The best/most popular songs would get selected for that year’s album. The first couple of albums sold like crazy, but they seemed to get less and less popular with each year after that.

    One local artist submitted a tune that didn’t make the cut. A few years later, signed to a major label and recording his first album, he re-recorded the rejected song, removing the San Diego references. It was released as the second single from his album and became a big hit. The singer was one Stephen Bishop, the song was “On and On”.

    By far, the two best-remembered local “hits” to come off the “Homegrown” albums were:

    “Chula Vista” by Rose and the Arrangement, from the original 1973 “Homegrown”:

    and “Black’s Beach” by Island, from the 1974 “Homegrown II”:

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