Tuesday, September 11, 2012

We've Got A Winner!

re: '60's ESSAYS:
The kids' 1960's essays are all about a tie right now after seeing all the Beatles choices. I will see what comes of the next choices. It would have been cool to see one pick another group than the fabs, but I have to admit when I was a 5th grader in 1966, my faves were the fabs. I had yet to choose the Cryan Shames as my fave band to follow, however, "Sugar & Spice" was on my playlist of faves already, so the music of Toad, Hooke & Co. was now growing with every listen. As a fifth grader, I was a veteran of recording on reel to reel DXing stations around the country, especially WLS and KOMA at that point. Here's what MY personal charts I made every looked like Oct.2, 1966. Basically, I did them different every week in style. Often I typed them on a Royal typewriter. 

Anyway, you can see my (make believe) station was KOBI and I located it in Chicago despite growing up in Dodge City, Kansas. 1450 was my frequency -- why? Our local KEDD was 1550 and Lincoln's KLMS was 1480. Maybe a mix of them? 

My actual survey mixed a lot of KOMA and WLS charters. For instance, "In Our Time" and "Reality" were KOMA tapings, while songs like "She Needs Love" (actually by Wayne Fontana & Mindbenders, not the Animals as listed), "Get Away" and "Ashes to Ashes" were likely British Billboard WLS tapings. "Sugar & Spice" and "I'll Go Crazy" represent the Chicago talent from WLS airings. I taped "Mr. Spaceman" off our local KEDD station who was good for new songs, but no great DJs like I wanted to hear. Note that the Monkees are grabbing my attention as well as the Beatles "Revolver" album tracks which were both all over the AM airwaves, unusual to some extent for AM top 40 at the time.

Ahh, to be in MY 5th grade again!!!
Clark Besch / WLS Clark

Here are the WLS and the KOMA charts for that exact same week in 1966 ...

(click charts to enlarge)

I didn't start keeping my own home-made surveys (The Sound 60 Survey, by the way!) until 1967 ... and then it was just a compilation of the combined WLS and WCFL Top 40 Charts, as that was the musical world as I knew it existed back then. I hadn't been exposed to national charts or out-of-the-city stations yet so my whole musical existence was whatever these two powerhouse AM Top 40 stations fed me. Fortunately, there were enough variance between the two stations that, coupled with B-Sides, oldies and "extras", I could come up with a 60 song chart back then!

One very clear childhood memory comes from May of 1965. WCFL hadn't switched over to Top 40 yet so our two local charts consisted of the WLS Silver Dollar Survey and far more encompassing Top Tunes Of Greater Chicago Chart. An assignment was handed down to create our own graph, mapping out an opinion poll and then charting the results of that poll. Between these two surveys, I created a Top Ten Chart ... and then polled all of the students in my class (plus a few friends and family members) as to their favorite songs out of the Top Ten. I then graphed out the results and turned that in as my assignment. I remember it as being early May of '65 because the song that came in #1 as everybody's favorite was "Ticket To Ride" by The Beatles, a position it hadn't yet reached in Chicago. It was followed closely by "Silhouettes" by Herman's Hermits at #2 and "Game Of Love" by Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders at #3. Glancing at the Top Tunes Chart dated May 10th, I see other Top Ten Local Hits were "Mrs. Brown, You've Got A Lovely Daughter" (#1, giving Herman's Hermits TWO Top Ten Hits at the same time!), "I Know A Place" by Petula Clark (#3), "Tired Of Waiting" by The Kinks, "Count Me In" by Gary Lewis and the Playboys, "I'll Never Find Another You" by The Seekers (when's the last time you heard THAT one???), "The Last Time" by The Rolling Stones and "Go Now" by The Moody Blues. All things considered, that Top Ten still holds up pretty well today ... other than The Seekers song, all of these still receive a fair amount of oldies radio airplay today. 

From what I hear, our Fifth Graders are now local celebrities thanks to our column running their essays on the worldwide web. Stay tuned as their fifteen minutes of fame continues ... right here in Forgotten Hits!!! (kk)

Enjoyed reading the 'essays of the 60's' and read that you might like to teach a class like that. There is a Junior College here in the OKC area and about, oh, some 30 years ago, I was asked to teach or speak, whatever word you want to use, to this one particular class which contained some 30 or more students. 

Now this was going to be just for one hour. Kent, I can't remember the teacher's name, name of the class or anything or even how they came about getting my name. Anyway, I spoke to them and told them about the music of the fifties-sixties when rock and roll was in its' prime. I made a few notes and basically just told them what I knew about rock and roll music (which is a heck of a lot less than your readers), how it began, some of the earliest influences, etc. Before you knew it, the hour was up.
Larry Neal

I think it would be pretty challenging to come up with a course that really took you through all of the changing styles of the music of the '60's ... even if you had a whole semester to do it, it seems like you'd still have to leave some of the stuff out ... it was just such a creative and inventive time. But what could be more rewarding than watching these kids experience and react to this music for the very first time ... and then falling in love with it just like we did.

Two years after I graduated high school, I signed a recording contract with Cash Records ... I hadn't even had my 20th birthday yet ... and thought that I was absolutely going to fulfill my life-long dream of being rich and famous before the age of 21. Of course NONE of that ever happened ... but my Senior Year Creative Writing Teacher invited me back to talk to her class about how to better express yourself in writing ... whether it be story-telling, poetry or writing a song. It was pretty cool 'cause I even got to bring in some of the tapes I had been working on at the studio at the time. I can only imagine how rewarding it would feel NOW after ALL these years and knowing what I now know. (Oh my God, a job that you actually LOVE and get enjoyment from ... what a dream THAT would be!!!) I think it would be a gas ... and would continue to be because each semester you'd get a brand new bunch of kids to brainwash!!! (lol) kk

In terms of the number of actual votes cast, the overall response to our ten '60's Music Essays was a little less than overwhelming.  More than votes, we got complaints ... primarily that there was SO much more to the music of the '60's than just The British Invasion ... yet virtually every essay ran as a carbon copy, focusing on The Beatles and, to a lesser degree, The Rolling Stones, Herman's Hermits and The Animals ... and that was about it. Not knowing what the actual class itself consisted of, it's impossible for me to say what else may have been covered ... but clearly The British Invasion seems to have been the focal point. 

And while I'll be the first to admit that The British Invasion certainly jump-started the '60's ... especially after some of the bland music hitting the airwaves prior to and leading up to the Kennedy assassination ... there was SO much more that happened that decade, including some of our home-grown sounds like Surf Music, Folk Music, The Girl Group Sound, The Motown Sound (plus the development of classic R&B on the Atlantic and Stax record labels), Psychedelic Music, Bubblegum Music, Heavy Rock and the development of the FM Underground sound ... and generally just some great, classic, catchy, stick-in-your-head forever pop music ... I'm not certain how much these kids were exposed to all of these other varieties that made up the '60's, but I would agree that the essays we ran were very British Invasion oriented.

That being said, we also have to remember that these were written by fifth graders ... ten or eleven year old kids who were most likely being exposed to this "new" music for the very first time. Clearly, it grabbed them and had an impact ... the very power of which we've been preaching for the past 14 years. They also heard music from the '20's, the '30's, the '40's and the '50's as part of this class ... but what they came away with was a new-found affection for '60's music ... OUR music. I'm not so sure the reverse logic would be as successful ... if we were to grab a dozen 60+ year old grand parents, stick them in a room for a week, and have them listen to nothing but rap music ... and then write reviews of what this music meant and made you feel ... my hunch is that THOSE reviews would probably be nowhere near as glowing.

Thanks to your votes, we were able to pick a winner ... so congratulations to #10.

Here are some of the comments that we received (some of which are also going out "blind" ... 'cause turn about is fair play) ... meanwhile, you've got to remember that these are kids here ... and seeing their essay published on our site was a VERY big deal for them ... so I will not allow this to become something that could possibly hurt somebody's feelings ... I think they all did an outstanding job of capturing the spirit of the music we all know and love.

I have read all 11 essays and to be honest if this is the best, I'm not sure I want to see what didn't qualify. Mind you I don't know that I could have written anything better in 5th grade. Hindsight tends to cloud our vision. Perhaps the biggest reason for stating that I'm unimpressed is that EVERY essay reads pretty much the same. If one kid was disqualified for plagiarism, I think all of them should be, unless you can figure out who was being original. Sorry Ms Tufano, the kids meant well. At best, I'm seeing one original and 10 blatant copies. Still I'll gladly contribute a 60s CD to the prize package from the Rock And Roll Never Forgets archives.

These weren't "the ten best" ... they were the only ten ... and, unfortunately, I was not given an opportunity to read any of them prior to agreeing to run the series ... I just thought it would offer a unique perspective ... a bunch of kids discovering what to them is brand new music from what must seem to them to be an ancient time period ... I used the analogy above that if we took the opposite approach ... and put ten 60-something grand parents into a room and made them listen to nothing but rap music for two weeks ... I doubt that they would come away with anywhere near as much affection for the genre. But I certainly do appreciate the donation offer ... let me get back to you on that! (kk)

Good point.  Can you imagine sitting thru a course on the music from 1910 - 1920 when we were growing up in the 60s? Listening to Scott Joplin stuff would have been OK, I guess. I can't recall the big opera singer from then. Mario Lanza redid all his stuff.
Our long-time buddy Jack Levin has donated a copy of The Monkees' second album "More Of The Monkees" to our prize package.  It's one of their best ... and shows you again just how much fun music was in the '60's.  (And kids ... if you get the chance to catch some of the old Monkees TV shows in reruns on your local cable channels, check 'em out ... my guess is you'll be singing along with these songs in no time!)  kk

I think it is nice that Shelley is teaching students in 5th grade about 60's music, but it sounds like she is featuring British music mostly. Outside of a comment on the Beach Boys and Janis Joplin, there is nothing on American born artists and nothing on early 60's or later 60's, but almost exclusively on the British Invasion. Maybe that was what they were supposed to feature, but that is not what I got from your opening comments. Granted, I was a bit more into music in the 60's than most of my peers, but there are a few things these kids should understand. They need to have Top 40 RADIO explained to them. 

RADIO is where kids used to hear these songs they might or might not go out and purchase with their allowance weekly. If you were teens in Chicago, you MIGHT go see the disc jockeys with local bands or, if you were really lucky, the Beatles! WLS gave away a dinner with the stars (Peter Noone in 1967) occasionally or taking a bus ride around with Sonny & Cher if you were a lucky winner. They should be taught a bit about the teen magazines. Certainly, listening to a small transistor radio would be a key element of kids' 60's music experience. Art Roberts' top 3 countdown nightly IF you were allowed (or not allowed) to stay up with that transistor under your pillow and be able to stay awake to hear the number one request OR the song YOU called in and voted for. Maybe you could be one of the lucky volunteer vote takers at the station or the guest teen disc jockey that got to PLAY the top 3 on the air on Saturday night! RADIO created the excitement of the British Invasion, not Ed Sullivan. Ed Sullivan started Beatlemania in many ways, but RADIO presented the British Invasion. RADIO presented kids a wide variety of music, not just Brit Invasion.

If you post my 5th grade year personal survey, it certainly shows what influenced my music tastes. I am sending the KOMA Oklahoma City and WLS Chicago radio charts for the same week. Both of these show how I gleaned music from both stations (and others) to decide what MY faves were. OKC and Chitown certainly had similarities with #1 and 2 being the same on both stations (but because I did not like "96 Tears" at the time, I did not treat it well), but if you observe closely, you will find a more American artist chart in the heartland of OKC than the Brit Invasion influenced Chicago. That was great about local AM radio. You heard different music from area to area and you could also listen to distant stations if you wished. Today, it's not as easy as tuning a dial, you have to surf the web and MAYBE find something listenable, but on radio, it is the same songs for months. Note that my chart had songs often near the top that were new on WLS or KOMA. That was how fast music changed in the 60's. A song was great and then quickly an oldie.

The disc jockeys played exclusives that we fans drueled over until we could hold the plastic in our hands weeks later. We did not have computer games. 

We actually WATCHED the cool record label spin while singing along with the 45 on a little record player, not a turntable. We put nickels on our tone arms when we had mistreated a 45 we overplayed or left lying over the heater or in a desk drawer.

We had those incredible DJ's. On WLS, Ron Riley at night, Dex Card playing the Silver Dollar Survey or Art Roberts playing the top 3 requested of the day. On KOMA, we had Dale "Viva Le" Wehba playing the Sing-a-Long Survey (All American Survey by 1966) and Charlie Tuna (YES, THAT Charlie Tuna, originally from Kearney, Nebraska!). KOMA gave us John Peel (as John Ravenscroft) in 1965, who would become a leader in BBC British radio DJ's later!

Anyway, long story short, RADIO was a HUGE key to teen listening and buying and thus, how the Hot 100 came to have Donovan, Sandy Posey, Roger Miller, ? and Mysterians, Johnny Rivers, Carla Thomas, Arbors, Elvis, Walter Wanderley,Trolls and all the varied sounds of Top 40 available to ears of all ages. Clark Besch / WLS Clark

Actually, that's a GREAT idea ... radio had a HUGE impact on us growing up in the '60's ... it was our "lifeline" ... so I'm going to include a copy of the "Airplay" DVD in the "prize package", too ... so the winner can see how cool radio used to be back in the '50's, '60's and '70's. (Ah, yes ... remember the days when each station was allowed to have their own brain ... and they actually USED it!!!)  Another big part of what made the '60's so exciting musically was the playing of local and regional hits ... and the ability years later to discover another part of the nation's local hits as well.  Today you're going to hear the very same 200-300 songs no matter where you go or how much you travel.  I long for the days of originality ... where the deejay did more than just announce the title and artist of a song ... and were allowed ... and encouraged ... to let their personality shine through.  THAT's what made us fall in love with the radio ... and was a HUGE part of why we listened.  (kk)

And, since it seemed to play a large part in their learning and appreciation of the Music of the '60's, might I also suggest that Shelley's students may enjoy a trip over to The Forgotten Hits Website at www.forgottenhits.com ... where they can read WHO PLAYED THE VERY FIRST BEATLES RECORD IN AMERICA, our exclusive interview with Peter Noone and our recap of The Ed Sullivan Show ... as well as tons of other fun and fascinating facts about the music of the '60's. (kk)

Speaking of our piece on The Ed Sullivan Show, we got this email from Tommy James' manager last week after she read our piece (which now includes Tommy's memories, too):

Wow, this is terrific ... great to read all the comments ... thanks!

You can check it out, too, at the forgottenhits.com link above.

Now on to more of your essay comments ...

My vote for best essay goes to essay #9. The summary really says it all for me:
"Music is really fun to learn about. Music has a lot of ways to connect to your life. It can take you anywhere."
Nice work.

Despite the lack of promoting almost anybody but the Beatles, I choose essay #10 as the winner because they seemed to get the feel for the excitement of hearing 60's music.

I vote for Essay 10 - most solid, well-written, focused essay with a unique edge.

Number 10 gets my vote. I do, however, find it hard to believe that a fifth grader wrote this. Well thought out sentences, excellent grammar and good content. All of the kids did a pretty good job. Most of the letters made me feel that the kids were really excited about what they had learned ... good job, teacher.

>>>Looks to me like THIS student may have been a little "influenced" by his teacher's "noonatic"-like obsession with a certain charismatic young British pop star!?!?!? Then again, maybe he's smarter than all of us ... and just figured that this was simply the quickest and easiest way to earn an "A" on his paper!!! lol (kk)
You cad ... hahahahahaha
My principal has had similar comments. NOBODY (I use a word I tell my students not to) will believe me, but I kept my opinions / connections to myself during the entire decade, trying not to influence. After all of the essays had been handed in, I held a "press conference", answering all questions "no holds barred". There was total shock and silence when they were done interrogating me. They heard about Shea Stadium with my Dad eating hot dogs in the parking lot and meeting the Beatles and entourage while I paid to go in and sit in a nose-bleed section; up to my present concert weekends. BELIEVE IT OR NOT.

Ryan DeMarco of Milford, CT       (#10)
And it was a pretty clear-cut victory, too ... Ryan outscored the other essays by better than 3-to-1.
(I asked Shelley if his paper also received the highest grade in her class, considering that she was judging by a completely different criteria)

Your readers nailed it! There were a couple other "A's", but Ryan's was, by far, the best using personal connections and similes, along with strong vocab in details and evidence.

And check out this prize package we've been able to put together for him ...


As mentioned, the "More Of The Monkees" CD (courtesy of Jack Levin and Rock And Roll Never Forgets) ... as well as The Beatles' "1" CD, a collection of all of their #1 Records from the '60's ... a copy of the "Airplay: The Rise And Fall Of Rock Radio" DVD, a history of popular radio from the '50's and '60's through today ... and how about an autographed copy of "The Original Hits", by Peter Noone and Herman's Hermits ... signed by Peter Noone himself!  And, to round things out, a Motown and a Beach Boys CD, too.  (This gives our winner some of the very best of The British Invasion that he loved as well as some good old, home-grown American '60's music, too!)  Not a bad little prize package if I do say so myself!)  WTG, Ryan!  (kk)

Here's what his teacher tells us about him:

Ryan is a hockey player; he is also learning the trombone and is a "middle child".

Here is the thank note he wrote me at the end of the year:

Mrs. Tufano,
I loved having you as a reading teacher. You made me realize that all the pop mumbo jumbo people listen to now is not really music. You also gave me two more favorite bands. Buddy Holly and the Crickets and the Beatles.
Ryan D

Two other important things Ryan told me:

"I hate to lose."
"I hate to get in trouble."

The other essays we published were written and submitted by (in alphabetical order):

Patrick Cleary
Joey Federico
Joe Fletcher
Maddie Heine
Zach Mindlin
Shivangi Patel
Henil Rathod
Jenica Riley
Rhane Scott-Purdy

Thank you all for sharing your essays with our readers ... this was fun!  (And, if you REALLY love the music of the '60's, be sure to check out our Forgotten Hits website from time to time ... it's what we live for!)

Thank you Kent Kotal and Forgotten Hits for this opportunity.
Shelley J. Sweet-Tufano