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Posts Tagged ‘Neil Sedaka’

Answer Records Vol. 4

February 23rd, 2010 12 comments

Three new answer songs, though one is more a case on expanding on the story of the original. The first answer song here is one of the funniest in the genre. The Carol in the title of Neil Sedaka’s song was his high-school girlfriend Carole King, though we should not be deceived to believe that this was some kind of soul-baring singer-songwriter moment. After Oh Carol became a hit, the budding songwriter, still all of 18 years old, responded with a pretty funny response. Alas, it was not a hit. The third featured song here is the excellent Harper Valley P.T.A., a country song that has crossed over into soul music. Look out on Friday for a version by the great Vivian Reed.

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Love is reciprocated after all

Act 1: Neil Sedaka – Oh, Carol (1959).mp3
Poor Neil, he loves Carol, but Carol acts like she doesn’t love him. “You hurt me and you made me cry,” he whine. But he vows to keep on taking her shit because “if you leave me I will surely die” (there is no time for understatement when you’re in love). Evidently Neil has not heard of George Constanza’s theory of The Hand, because he keeps on begging: “I will always want you for my sweetheart, no matter what you do.”

Act 2: Carole King – Oh, Neil (1960).mp3
Ah, relief. Carol, who (in the song) hails from Tennessee, is hot for Neil too, and has been for a long time; ever since she saw him at square dance, in fact. And when she saw him, something skipped a beat. It may be a misheard lyric, but her “bowel skipped a beat” and her “heart felt so heavy like I had too much to eat”. In the obligatory spoken bit, Carol promises to go as far as giving up “a month’s supply of chewing tobacco” if this is going to make her be known as “Mrs Neil Sedakee”, her murderous Sedaka music-hating gran’pappy notwithstanding. And at the end, gran’pappy makes his climactic cameo.

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On a point of pop evolution

Act 1: Barry Mann – Who Put The Bomp (1961).mp3
Sedaka and King had a Brill Building colleague in Barry Mann, who with King’s future husband Gerry Goffin pondered pop’s perennial point of pedantic philosophy: “Who put the bomp in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp?” It seems urgent that the brains arrive at an answer soon, because Barry would like to thank that man, for these words let Barry dip da dip da dip his rama lama ding dong in his girl’s boogity boogity shoo.

Act 2: The Fabulous Marcels – I Put The Bomp (1961).mp3
Ah, look no further, Barry, it was The Fabulous Marcels (in particular the bass singer) who put the bomp in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp, and they would appreciate your shaking their hands in gratitude — preferably after you’ve washed them having done the dip da dip da dip with your rama lama ding dong. Personally, I think The Fabulous Marcels, for all their doo wop chops and the dang-a-dang-ding-donging of the Marcel’s (of whom these guys may be an extension, cousins or impostors) Blue Moon, are presenting a false picture of pop music’s evolution. Genesis, which provides us with an incontestably complete account of all creation, teaches us that God completed the rama lama ding dong, having cut a ram from the dong, as dusk fell on the sixth day, saw it was indeed good, and said: “Let there be Saturday Night Fever disco light”. Or that’s what I learned in Sunday school.

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The gossip you sow…

Act 1: Jeannie C Riley – Harper Valley P.T.A. (1968).mp3
Don’t y’all be talking trash behine mah back! Well, that’s what the Parent-Teacher Association did to the widow Johnson, accusing her in a letter delivered via her daughter of social and sartorial misconduct so severe as to render her unfit for parenthood. Perhaps the P.T.A. worthies believed that Mrs Johnson was too preoccupied with drunken promiscuity to notice their flaws. They certainly underestimated the victim of their own hypocrisy. At the next P.T.A. meeting — the same night, as it happens — Mrs Johnson turns up in her mini-skirt, and dishes the dirt about adultery and alcoholism and lack of discretion within the respectable nomenclature of local school politics. You can feel Bobby Taylor squirm as Mrs Johnson reveals how many times he has asked her for a date, and his wife quickly dousing the fires of her indignation at her husband’s betrayal as the meeting learns about her liberal use of ice. Mrs Johnson threw all the stones cast by the hypocrites back at them.

Act 2: Effie Smith – Harper Valley P.T.A. Gossip (1968).mp3
And don’t think that the ass-kicking which Mrs Johnson administered to the pharisees of the P.T.A. will remain privileged information. Effie Smith (a veteran of the Big Band scene now turning seriously funky) gets on the phone to her friend Mabel (of course!) as soon as she hears, doubtless lamenting that the invention of Facebook is still four decades away. From Effie we learn about the cause of Mrs Johnson’s widowhood as she refers to the gossip-buster as: “Clyde Johnson who drank himself to death’s wife”. And so it continues as Effie dishes the scandals with absolute glee. Such as the P.T.A.’s secretary, signatory of the note that started all this, who had to leave town twice under clouds of scandal. Effie evidently has no high opinion of the P.T.A.’s dignitaries. Teacher Shirley Thompson, she of the gin-breath, apparently she has “bird legs…looking like matchsticks walking on a loaf of bread”. So, does anyone have any juicy beef on Effie Smith?

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