I suspected my column on the mystery songs that I’d accumulated over my life as a music lover and record collector would be only of interest to a certain strata of music geek. So for every likely “hoo, boy!” likely generated by the topic, it was gratifying to see how many readers it did resonate with.
Of course, other readers sent me the stories of the songs they needed years to untangle, or never figured out. Then, upon further reflection, I realized I still had a few more songs I was trying to hunt down as well. So here are four more, only one of which has actually been solved.
The One I’m Solving for “A Friend”
In the very early ‘70s, there were still some places that would sell you a bag of ten mystery singles for a dollar. This one, which I’m pretty sure I got on a visit to New York, had two of the same one. A single on an orange label with plain black print and no label name. The artist was named Ace something (which I vaguely remember being a joke unto itself: he was an ace something). One side was called “The Analyst.” The other side was called something like “The Psychiatrist” or “The Psychotherapist.”
With a 7-1/2-year-old’s not-so-firm grasp of the topics, what I remember was two different comedy songs about therapy (meant to contrast the rival versions of the discipline, maybe). I do remember that one side, improbably, was an Irish jig. There was a line about “do a little thinking/do a little drinking.” And that the chorus ended with “and the quality thinking that you do every day/will help you to do your very best.” As with any novelty of the late ‘60s/early ‘70s, I’m not expecting a laugh riot now. But I’d at least like to hear it again now that I’m old enough to understand it.
The One I Did Solve for a Friend
“Of course this column would strike me as one of your best,” wrote Ken Barnes, my longtime editor, friend, and mentor in record collecting. “Mine is still unsolved more than half a century later.” There aren’t many records Ken doesn’t know, but he was looking for an early ‘60s song that he remembered as “Chocolate Record” by early ‘60s pop artist Keith Colley. Barnes’ clue was the song’s final, provocative line about making a chocolate record so that “if you don’t like it, you can eat it!”
Searching the artist and title as Barnes remembered it didn’t produce any results. But I tried that last line by itself. It was “Phonograph Record” by Kelly Gordon, a different journeyman artist of the mid-to-late ‘60s. The person who’d posted about it seemed to think it had been banned by the FCC, and although that was unlikely, I understood why Ken remembered hearing it on L.A. radio, but not for long.
“Phonograph Record” is one of those songs still so obscure that it’s not found on YouTube. Which is too bad, because it’s actually one of those songs that surfaces every now and then about trying to construct a hit song instrument-by-instrument. (The one that actually became a hit was Sly & the Family Stone’s “Dance to the Music.”) The arranger is David Gates, in his pre-Bread days as a studio musician/producer. And there’s actually some melodic and much conceptual similarity to Peter, Paul & Mary’s “I Dig Rock & Roll Music,” which was more than three years later.
The Reader Mystery I Couldn’t Solve
The same column also generated a Facebook message from programming veteran Anita Bonita. For the last 2-1/2 years, she’s been trying to figure out the odd midtempo R&B record that she heard while monitoring WSRB (Soul 106.3) Chicago for Media Monitors. It stumped all the people she worked with at Mediabase. It stumped even the WSRB staff (the logs, she was told had been done externally).
The mystery song is mid-to-uptempo R&B that could be from 1986 or 2016. There are hints of Ray Parker Jr. I also heard the combination of jazziness and contemporary beats that created an industry buzz around Mr. Fiddler (a/k/a Amp Fiddler) in the early ‘90s. But it doesn’t seem to be either of them. The hook is “make my day,” but it’s not the R&B hit by Lakeside and that title doesn’t lead you to much else. So making her day now becomes the readers’ job. Perhaps you can also help with this next one.
The Ultimate Song Mystery
It was a Saturday night in June 1976. We were driving down I-91 between Hartford and New Haven, Conn., still listening to WAQY Springfield, Mass. That station has been Classic Rock for years, but it was then still automated CHR “Wacky 102.” And I believe it was running TM’s Stereo Rock package, although I didn’t know what that was at the time.
There was conversation in the car and the radio was at a volume that permitted it. But the song that got my attention sounded more like the sunshine pop of the mid-to-late ‘60s than anything on the radio at the time, with the sort of harmonies typical of the Association/Spanky & Our Gang era. It was midtempo, but bouncy, and I remember only the hook, the word “together” sung repeatedly.
It might have been a jingle. Longer, almost song-length jingles weren’t unheard of at the time. Whatever it was, my dad asked me about it, and as somebody whose tastes were formed in a pre-rock era, he rarely commented on what was on the radio. The next time I remember him even asking about a song was two years later and it was, no kidding, “In the Bush” by Musique.
WAQY wasn’t one of my local stations, and it wasn’t a trade reporter. (It did publish a printed survey, although the first one I saw was about six months later.) I can’t try to find somebody who was a jock there; there weren’t any. With so little to go on, I figure my best chance of figuring this one out is somebody who grew up in Southern New England, or perhaps somebody who knows TM