‘It’s My Birthday, Too . . .’

Originally posted January 29, 2008

Birthdays were a pretty big deal in our house when I was a kid. Oh, the gifts weren’t extravagant; we were pretty solidly in the middle class, and Mom and Dad were pretty crafty with a buck (skills learned during their Great Depression childhoods, I’m sure). We didn’t always get the best, the newest, the most gizmo-laden toys for our birthdays, but we got nice things, whether we got toys and games or practical items like clothes.

Parties? Well, we had smaller get-togethers early on. For me, that generally meant Rick and his sister Julie (Rob was a little older; my friendship with him began a few years later). For our eighth birthdays, my sister and I each had a larger party. When my turn came, I invited about seven other kids. We had hot dogs and ice cream and played games.

One thing that birthdays meant during the school year was treats. During the bulk of the school year at Lincoln Elementary (and I imagine at the other elementary schools in St. Cloud), the birthday boy or girl could bring treats. Generally the treats were homemade cookies or cake; sometimes kids brought store-bought ice cream cups. I don’t know if kids are allowed to bring in homemade treats these days. As it turned out, I never got the chance to bring anything; my birthday is in early September and thus sometimes fell before Labor Day and the start of school. Those years when it fell inside the school year, it seems that the treat-bringing hadn’t been organized for the school year yet.

Well, the readers think. If his birthday is in September, why is he writing about birthdays now? Because I missed this blog’s birthday, that’s why. I wrote in December about the anniversary of having gotten my USB turntable, and a few people extended wishes. But the first post here took place on January 21, 2007, a little more than a week ago, and I missed the anniversary. Over at Groovy Fab, a board I frequent, I mentioned the blog for the first time on January 31. And I installed the counter here on February 1. Any of those three dates would work, and I’m not going to be picky.

So Happy Birthday, Echoes In The Wind!

And since it’s Tuesday, there’s really only one cover song to play, and it’s a One-Hit Wonder at that.

Not a lot of groups and musicians have covered “Birthday,” Lennon & McCartney’s little rocker from The Beatles. Joe Alaskey included it on Bugs and Friends Sing The Beatles, and David Belochio included it on two kid’s records. Who else? John Farnham and a group called Fish. Hair Rave-Up and Alex Harvey. The Inmates and Kevin Max. McCartney himself, on some live albums. Mirth, the Neighbor Kids and Phish. The Retros and Shark Frenzy. Bernie Steinberg and also the Texas Chainsaw Orchestra. (It all sounds like a great festival to me!)

And, of course, there was the Underground Sunshine, a quartet that came out of Montello, Wisconsin, in 1969, according to All-Music Guide, and released a cover of “Birthday” (Intrepid 75002) as its debut single. The record got to No. 26 during a five-week stay in the Top 40, and the group appeared on American Bandstand on August 2, 1969. Another single – penned by David Gates, soon to form Bread – missed the charts later that year, as did two more singles in 1970.

I’ve seen the group’s only LP, Let There Be Light, shared at various blogs over the last year or so, but from what I can tell, it’s never been reissued on CD, nor has “Birthday” shown up on a lot of compilations. So here it is:

Underground Sunshine – “Birthday” [1969]


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