Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The apple of our eye

Within a month of relocating here to Wisconsin in 2009 we found occasion to write about O.C. Smith's gem "Little Green Apples," which had the misfortune of charting at the same time (fall of 1968) as "Hey Jude." Now here we are again because today would have been O.C.'s 79th birthday and, well, we just dig that song and the man who sang it.

With "Hey Jude" spending eight weeks atop of the Billboard chart there simply was no room for contenders. The Beatles essentially denied O.C. a chance for his only No. 1 hit.  What we didn't realize until our crack research team informed us: "Little Green Apples" also stalled at No. 2 on the R&B chart, blocked by the six-week run of James Brown's "Say It Loud -- I'm Black and Proud."  How you gonna mess with that?

O.C. himself was black and proud, but he didn't easily fit into the R&B niche. He recorded a lot of traditional songs that just happened to find airplay on R&B and Adult Contemporary radio stations. He was fed songs like "That's Life," and "Baby I Need Your Loving" and there was nothing wrong with them, but it wasn't like anybody was going to outsing Sinatra or the Four Tops.  And despite a great God-given voice, O.C. was hampered by some regrettable recording arrangements (check out "Wichita Lineman" on YouTube at your own peril).

But "Little Green Apples" was a different deal altogether. Give it a listen today, and hoist a glass to O.C. and the members of today's Birthday Band:

O.C. Smith (1932-2001): Singer
Little Green Apples, Daddy's Little Man, The Son of Hickory Holler's Tramp

Ray Davies (1944): Singer/songwriter, Kinks
You Really Got Me, Well Respected Man, Lola

Miguel Vicens (1944): Bass, Los Bravos
Black Is Black

Joey Molland (1948): Guitar/Keyboards, Badfinger
Come and Get It, No Matter What, Baby Blue

Greg Munford (1949): Vocals, Strawberry Alarm Clock
Incense and Peppermints

Joey Kramer (1950): Drums, Aerosmith
Walk This Way, Sweet Emotion, Dream On

Nils Lofgren (1951): Guitar/keyboards, E Street Band
Played on Springstreen's Born in the USA tour

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