Wednesday, August 25, 2010
The big squeeze
We checked our reference book and, sure enough, there were no accordions leading the hit parade at the time. Here was the Billboard Top 5:
1. Hello, I Love You, Doors
2. Classical Gas, Mason Williams
3. Stoned Soul Picnic, Fifth Dimension
4. Grazing in the Grass, Hugh Masekela
5. Hurdy Gurdy Man, Donovan
Now you could argue that the Doors' music was driven by the electric keyboards of Ray Manzarek. "Classical Gas" was classical guitar -- not exactly what Royko was writing about. The Fifth Dimension were a vocal group. "Grazing in the Grass" was an instrumental on which Hugh Masekela played his chosen instrument, the trumpet. And while "Hurdy Gurdy Man" showcased some cool psychedelic-sounding guitar licks, there remains some disagreement over who laid down the track. It wasn't Donovan. Jimmy Page? Alan Parker?
No matter. Royko had it right. The accordion was being squeezed out and guitars were indeed taking over, leaving us with, as the columnist put it, "millions of little John Lennons making our music."
Which wasn't a bad thing. It could have been millions of little Lawrence Welks.