Revising My Personal Mythology

Originally posted August 18, 2008

Even as I wrote my post for last Tuesday’s Vinyl Record Day, I knew something was wrong. I sorted through the 45s in the two cases I mentioned, finding some interesting things, but there were some things missing.

What, I wondered, had happened to the Trini Lopez single, with “The Hammer Song” on one side and “Unchain My Heart” on the other? Where was the silly John F. Kennedy spoof, “I Really Wanted To Be A ‘Singar’” by Joel Langran? And where was Frank Gari and his “You Better Keep Runnin’”?

The more I thought about it as I prepared my Vinyl Day post, the more I was sure there had to be more 45s somewhere in the apartment. And, indeed, a box came down from the closet shelf Saturday afternoon that had more than a hundred singles in it. As I looked through them that evening, I had the vague memory of sorting through the 45s sometime during my days in south Minneapolis and placing the better ones – both esthetically better and less damaged – in the two cases I’d used for material for my post. I don’t think the post of thirteen singles for last week’s Vinyl Record Day would have altered significantly had I looked in the box from the closet beforehand.

But just as archeological discoveries from time to time make us revise our views of ancient civilizations, so does my closet discovery force me to change my personal mythology. I’ve long said that the first single I remember buying was the 5th Dimension’s “Aquarius/Let The Sun Shine In” in 1969. That still remains the first serious single of music I bought. But the box of records from the closet holds clear evidence, seven-inch vinyl testimony that reminds me that I bought with my own hands and my own cash at least one earlier record.

In the late 1950s and into the 1960s, Dickie Goodman made at least a little money and had a few hits with what Wikipedia says were called “break-in” records:

In 1956, says Wikipedia, “His first song, ‘The Flying Saucer,’ was co-written with partner Bill Buchanan, and featured a description of a news-covered invasion of earth from a Martian space ship. While Goodman asked questions of pedestrians, scientists, and even the Martian himself, their responses were ‘snipped’ from lyrics of popular songs of the day, including tracks from Fats Domino, Elvis Presley and Little Richard.”

Through the Sixties and into the Seventies, the spoof records went on, taking on horror movies, the U.S. Senate, President John F. Kennedy (the spoof by Joel Langran I mentioned above), the Berlin Wall, the television show Bonanza, James Bond, ecology, Watergate, the 1970s energy crisis, the movie Jaws and more.

Along the way, Buchanan left, new sidekick Mickey Shorr came and went, and Goodman went on. And in 1966, he took on one of the biggest pop culture crazes of the time, the television show Batman, a half-hour of satire and mild adventure that ran two evenings a week. Among the recording artists whose records were sampled this time were the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, the Righteous Brothers, Petula Clark, Lou Christie, SSgt. Barry Sadler and – I think – Mrs. Miller.*

And having heard it, most likely on WJON, I took advantage of a trip to Crossroads mall, where I went to Musicland and laid down my coins for Goodman’s latest creation, “Batman & His Grandmother,” the first record I ever bought.

*After I originally posted this, friend and reader Yah Shure informed me that the vocal gymnastics I thought were from Mrs. Miller were actually pulled from the Peels’ exercise in comedy and pastiche, “Juanita Banana,” which went to No. 59 in 1966. Note added July 27, 2011.

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2 Responses to “Revising My Personal Mythology”

  1. Grab Bag No. 1 « Echoes In The Wind Archives Says:

    […] resurrected the grab bag this week. I wrote in August about finding in a closet a boxful of 45s I’d more or less forgotten I had. Since settling into […]

  2. In The Singles Bin « Echoes In The Wind Archives Says:

    […] the Sunshine In” turns out not to have been the first single I ever bought. As noted in a later post, my first 45 I purchased was actually Dickie Goodman’s 1966 opus “Batman & His […]

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