Saturday, March 7, 2009

American City Suite

One of the songs that has ALWAYS received a good response here in Forgotten Hits is "American City Suite" by Cashman and West. Despite the fact that this was not a big hit record, it got a TON of airplay on the soft-rock stations here in Chicago in the early '70's ... particularly the end piece, "A Friend Is Dying," which was often edited and played as a stand-alone tune. "American City Suite" peaked at #27 on both of the National Charts in 1972 and was strung together as a medley of sorts ... (thus the "suite" idea) ... three very distinct, separate tunes: "Sweet City Song", "All Around The Town" and "A Friend Is Dying".

Listening to the lyrics of the "A Friend Is Dying" segment, it's hard to grasp at first that this is not a song written about a personal friend who is dying ... but, in fact, it was actually about their concerns regarding the deteriorating state of New York City in the early '70's. In effect, Cashman and West were declaring their love for the city (in an almost "Be all that you can be" sort of way!) In view of all that has happened to this great city in the nearly 40 years that have passed since this song was first released, it makes for some pretty poignant and interesting listening today. Despite anything you may have thought about The Big Apple in the past, the city certainly has pulled itself together after facing one of its greatest tragedies ... compounded all that much more in these post 9/11 days.

Terry Cashman and Tommy West first tasted chart success in the late '60's as members of The Buchanan Brothers. (Their hit "Medicine Man" was one of our earliest Forgotten Hits features way back in 1999!) Terry Cashman, a former baseball player who went on to write and record several tributes to the sport (as well as write the Top Ten Spanky and Our Gang hit "Sunday Will Never Be The Same), adopted his stage name while still a member of The Chevrons in the late '50's. (His real name is Dennis Minogue.) Tommy West's real name is Thomas Picardo, Jr. Together, they produced ALL of Jim Croce's chart hits and even started their own record label (Lifesong).

American City Suite was a HUGE hit in the Boston area. I have their album, and have always loved this song. Moving around the country, it seemed like nobody else had ever heard this song! I used to request it on the radio, but nobody had ever heard of it! I'm glad you chose this song-I certainly haven't forgotten it!

Although it's not all that well known (and is RARELY if ever heard on the oldies stations anymore), American City Suite hit #21 here in Chicago, too, but I can't really remember ever hearing it on the AM dial...WBBM FM (our soft-rock station) played the hell out of it, however. (kk)

I don't live in NYC, but my daughter and I visit this magnificent place as often as we can. We were in the city, about a month after 911. It tore our hearts apart ... watching those people standing there, waiting for some word; the church with all the signs, flowers, ribbons and pictures; the odor in the air (they tried to cover it up with some perfumey stuff, which, to me, made it even worse), the peep holes, the cameras from the TV News, the sound of the firemen and other workers digging, all the police and service men, and those poor dogs, with bandaged paws ... and the smoldering buildings, still untouched. The food stands for all the workers, the veterinarians (my vet being one of them) ... such a sad waste of lives. Now, when we go to NYC, we see a big difference. The people walk at a slower pace ... they aren't in such a big hurry any more; they smile, and talk ... offer a chair, they will stop, and give directions, instead of turning away. These people have learned to SEE what they look at, and HEAR what others say. The men shake hands, and the women aren't afraid to hug. What a terrific place NYC is!!

I had always wanted to visit NYC, but never had a chance until a few months after 9/11/01. Several of us from my office at United Airlines took a day trip to try and get the feel of what the city was experiencing post 9/11. We went directly to Ground Zero, and the debris was nearly gone. However, the surrounding buildings were draped in black and American flags. It was hard not to be emotional at such a sight. The NY'ers were very helpful in explaining the wall erected around the platform used to view Ground Zero. The wall was filled with mementos, scrawled epitaphs and messages, stuffed bears, flowers, blankets, etc. Even the street hucksters kept their business at a distance. I hope that the next time I visit is a pleasure trip with you, hon. We will go and visit Ping and see a coupla shows :)

It's a date ... I'd love to go to New York with you ... see the shows on Broadway ... visit Ping (and listen to him complain about Joe Cocker ruining his favorite Julie London song!!!) lol (kk)