Saturday, January 24, 2009

So good you could smell it

If you were a kid forty-four winters ago you probably fell asleep at night listening to songs like the Zombies' "She's Not There'' and the Searchers' "Love Potion Number Nine'' that were receiving heavy airplay on "night stations'' like Chicago's colossal WLS -- our link in rural Wisconsin to the strange, seductive new beats of that matchless era. This sweet music was transported directly to our brains via the earplug from a tiny six-transistor radio positioned near our pillows.

The Billboard Top 5 at the time:
1. Downtown, Petula Clark
2. You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin', Righteous Brothers
3. Love Potion Number Nine, Searchers
4. I Feel Fine, Beatles
5. Come See About Me, Supremes

I remember buying the "Love Potion Number Nine'' 45 RPM with a paper dust jacket that proudly proclaimed the Searchers as "The Group that knocked the Beatles out of No. 1 in England!''

Meanwhile, the stubborn jukebox at the Corner Cafe in Whitehall seemed to refuse pocket change for any song but Bobby Vinton's sad ballad "Mr. Lonely,'' that distinctive yellow Epic label spinning endlessly through the night after basketball games (more often than not a Norsemen victory.)

The boys weren't saps -- they were just trying to find a way to get under the girls' warm, soft sweaters. So they kept feeding that box to hear Vinton croon ...

Lonely, I'm Mr. Lonely
I have nobody for my own
I'm so lonely, I'm Mr. Lonely
wish I had someone
to call on the phone...

You didn't even need to dance! Just lean in lightly, follow her lead, and nuzzle up for a whiff of Heaven Scent or Chanel No. 5. Meanwhile, the boys were sloshing on heavy doses of English Leather or Jade East and hoping -- and groping -- for some luck. For a discussion on the colognes of the day, go to

Donovan's "Wear Your Love Like Heaven'', in addition to making his Greatest Hits album, served as the ditty for eau de cologne. Check out the video at

The music back then was so good you could smell it ...

1 comment:

  1. So good you could smell it...Too
    Vince's for lime phospates, pinball, and eyeing the coveted corner table. Then cruising Main St. Whitehall; stopping at the allies; ordering a Cherry Hump...more music. Music that we were going to hear latter on clear channel WLS because LaCrosse and EauClaire radio just didn't "get it." Then we'd buy that one special 45 as soon as we could. Everyone wanted to be a guitar player in a band. Bought my first in '65 and about a dozen or so since. Now, those tunes ring through my strings and I want a new challenge. Let's try a ukelele. Too easy, and my wife sensed it so now I'm deep into my mandolin she lovingly gave me a year ago. At an old age, I'm lucky to be part of that garage band we never had in Whitehall. And we get lost in the new and the old; and it makes me mellow, happy, sad. The sound of the mandolin filling in the right spots just like when I learned to ride a bike on the sidewalk on Abram St. Still, it's not good enough. I look at one of my friends lost in a jam and I still can't do that...but he needs a solid second so their I am. Again, those old 45s ringing through my Martin six and 12, mandolin...and an occassional thumb piano.
    Yeah, we traded 45s back in Whitehall. Then, we went on to LPs. Then we all left Whitehall and all got lost in our lives we went out and made for ourselves.
    Tonight, from those memories to Green Bay where I now live, there's a concert at the Riverside. They are celebrating 50+ years since Buddy Holly, Richie Vallens and the Big Bopper were here. The infamous, "second to the last" concert before the ending in an Iowa farm field. If you ever have the chance to see Bobby Vee and the Crickets live, take it. They were at Bigtop in Bayfield last summer and it was the real deal. Not some young stand-ins; it was the old guys minus Buddy. It's hard to get a lime phosphate in Bayfield.
    A great site to listen to good streaming tunes is KPIG out of Freedom,CA. ""