Goin’ Back

I’ve been listening to the Fifties channel on SiriusXM lately.

Yes, the decade when the saxophone was a legitimate rock and roll instrument. Because really it was a decade in transition. Swing was on the way out, but rock and roll wouldn’t take over the world until the Sixties. There were plenty of cuts that could have been either rock or swing (in fact, there were more than a few early rock releases that had been swing hits.) And, of course, there was a giant market for sentimental pablum*.

* Let’s be clear: every decade has a giant market for sentimental pablum. It’s just that the definition of both “sentimental” and “pablum” changes. But I digress.

Which, of course, meant there was also a market for that unholy (ahem) hybrid known as the religious love song.

Brace yourself and allow me to direct your attention to “One Hundred Pounds of Clay” which is my candidate for The Song Most Likely to Make You Cringe Harder Every Time You Hear It.

I’ve had a lot of practice cringing over this song lately. Specifically, it’s come onto the radio three times in my last four hours of listening–that was spread over two days, so it’s not like you’re guaranteed to hear it if you listen for an hour and a quarter. But still: heavy rotation.

Anyway, I’m not nominating it because of the religious content. Not my cup of fur, but there’s been plenty of good religious music.

Nor is it because the song suggests that women’s only purpose is to be sexual. I beg your pardon? The BBC banned the song for that reason, but I don’t hear that at all.

There’s a sexual element, yes, but the only way I can interpret this song is that women’s only purpose is to shine by her man’s light. That charming only “love, worship, and obey” thing. Take the guy out of the picture, and the gal goes poof as well.

Say, Mike Pence was born in 1959, which means he’d have been two years old when this piece of tripe was at the top of the charts. Psychological scarring anybody?

(The really vexing thing about the song is that it didn’t come out until 1961. Why is it even on the 50s channel? It’s not that Gene McDaniels’ career started in the 50s. Well, his career did, but he didn’t start recording until the 60s. But I digress again.)

So, yes, I do cringe or change the channel–usually both–when it comes on. But there’s enough good stuff on the station to make up for it most of the time.

And, by “good stuff” I mean plenty of silliness and fluff to help you forget that you’re living in trying times, with just enough seriously solid material mixed in to keep you grounded.

Who Put the Bop” (Also from 1961. Win some, lose some.)

Summertime Blues

Only You” (Or darn near anything else The Platters did.)

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting you rush out and subscribe to SiriusXM to get “’50s on 5”. But if you’ve already got the service, give it a listen.

But keep a finger near the power switch, just in case…

3 thoughts on “Goin’ Back

  1. Well, everyone has an opinion. When “Clay” came out, I heard it as a song. Wanna really cringe? Look up Prince Buster (from Jamaica) and “Ten Commandments of Man.” Of course, that was the sixties, but hey.

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    • Yeah, that’s pretty cringe-worthy alright. Is it the most cringeworthy ever? As you say, everyone has an opinion.

      I’ll just note that TCoM peaked at #81 on the US charts, whereas OHPoC made it to #3. And, while PB is cited as a major influence in the development of ska and reggae, one doesn’t (afaik) hear that song much any more, but my pick is apparently in heavy rotation on a national venue.

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      • Yes, it’s the lyrics! Gene McDaniel had a wonderful voice, and the other stuff in the song didn’t affect me. I don’t think it would have today, but who knows. Prince Buster was terrific, but that song! Even tongue in cheek.

        The fifties was a wonderful time for music, but boy howdy, there was misogyny and racism galore. A lot of stuff about “shooting my unfaithful babeh,” and then, of course, there was Pat (yuchh) Boone and “Speedy Gonzales.” And the absolutely wonderful Peggy Lee, with “Manana.”

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