31 Days, Day 21: I Think I Love You by The Partridge Family

I Think I Love You by The Partridge Family

I know, I know: the whole Partridge Family got credit for the song, but let’s face it:  David Cassidy was the main attraction.  David starred alongside his stepmother, Shirley Jones, who was already a big star on Broadway.  Although it only ran for four seasons, somehow it has lived on in the memories of those who grew up in the early 70’s. And oh, that pretty pretty hair!  I think I may have had that haircut myself in fourth grade but mine wasn’t nearly as fluffy.

Just to be fair, here’s the whole crew:

Photo Credit: lancasteronline.com

Photo Credit: lancasteronline.com

Back in those days, girls fell into either of two groups:  “Donny” or “David”.  I was firmly in the “Donny” camp but even so, you can’t deny that David Cassidy was a dreamboat.  I think our age difference would have been a problem so I hedged my bets and went with the one who was at least a little closer to my own age.  David was already 20 years old when the first episode of The Partridge Family aired, although Keith Partridge was supposed to be a teenager.

After, and even during, the Partridge Family’s TV series run, David embarked on a solo career, recording and touring.  According to reports, he inspired a mass hysteria reminiscent of Beatlemania. News agencies referred to it as…Cassidymania.  Seriously.  In 1974 a young girl died from injuries received when she was accidentally crushed at one of his concerts.  That will take the shine off a career in a hurry, I’m sure.  I think even David got tired of hearing about and seeing himself everywhere and in an effort to escape his squeaky-clean image he posed nude for the cover of Rolling Stone in 1972.  Whaaaat?  Well, I was only 8 that year so clearly that was off my radar screen.

David hasn’t aged as well as Donny and has had to deal with some embarrassing DUI arrests in the past few years.  It really is a mystery to me that some young stars struggle so hard against substance abuse and others seem to keep it together.  I wonder what the defining factor is.  Does anyone have any insight to share?

31 Days, Day 20: Puppy Love by Donny Osmond

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Puppy Love by Donny Osmond

And now we get to the teen idol portion of our program.  I’ve got two words for you:  Tiger Beat.  And also its somewhat less interesting cousin, Teen Beat.  Those magazines were catnip to this young girl and I read every single word of them, just sure that I was going to gain the little tidbit of knowledge that would drive my latest celebrity crush straight into my arms.

But Donny was my first crush.  He held my tender 7-year-old heart in the palms of his hands and thankfully he was gentle with it.  He didn’t get his feelings hurt when I moved on from him to the next big thing, but there’s always going to be a teeny little part of my heart that belongs to Donny Osmond.

For many years I had a big poster of Donny with his brothers on the wall at the foot of my bed so I could see it when I first woke up.  You can see his brothers being his Pips on the video. Donny’s favorite color was purple – did you know that?  You might also know that Puppy Love was a remake of a song originally recorded and written by Paul Anka, who wrote it for his very own puppy love, Annette Funicello.

Puppy Love was a record that I shared with my younger sister and we played it over and over and over again.  We’d sing along in full sob until the “help me, help me, please” part, when we’d throw ourselves dramatically on the bed giggling our heads off.  Then we’d get up and start the record all over again.

The flip side was a song called Let My People Go, about Moses and the Israelites, which was a strange choice for a pop act but kind of prophetic considering Donny starred in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat a couple of decades later.  Different characters, I know, but both Biblical.

And can we just talk about how long Donny has been in show business?  (For the record, it’s over five decades) He appeared on The Andy Williams Show (remember him?  I do.) when he was around 5 and he’s still at it today.  In between he’s recorded music, had his own TV show with sister Marie, worked on the Disney movie Mulan, acted on Broadway, won Dancing With the Stars, worked as a TV correspondent and host, and performed live.  In fact, he’s still performing in Vegas now, along with sister Marie.  He’s been married to the same woman for 36 years and has somehow avoided scandal, or if there’s been any involving him I don’t know about them.

And then can we talk about his teeth?  How in the world does a person have teeth that perfect?  And what kind of deal did he make with the devil to stay looking that young?  If you haven’t noticed he still looks quite handsome, then you just haven’t been paying attention.

photo credit: vegasnews.com

photo credit: vegasnews.com

The rest of this week I’ll be taking a look at some of the Tiger Beat stars from the 1970s who made their way into my collection of 45s.  Alert your inner fangirl because this is going to be good!

31 Days, Day 19: When I Need You by Leo Sayer

leosayer

When I Need You by Leo Sayer

Hey, Leo!  The 70s called…they want their hair back!  Actually, I believe my Uncle Don had hair just like that when I was little.

I thought long and hard about using Leo’s biggest hit for this post but in the end I decided to go with my favorite of his songs.  You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, by the way, was recorded as a kind of joke during a jam session.  It’s cool how he switches from falsetto to his normal voice and vice versa.

I did not know that he was British, and during my research I discovered that he worked with Roger Daltrey of The Who early on.  Also, when he first started his singing career, he dressed up in a Pierrot costume to match the mood of his songs.  I kid you not:

leosayer2

Thankfully he dropped that little detail from his act, because some people are scared, or at least unnerved, by clowns.  No one we know, of course.

Anyway, I love, love, loved this sweet ballad about being apart from the one you love, or lost love, or something like that.

Fun little tidbit:  Mr. Sayer’s name was originally Gerry, but he was nicknamed “Leo” by a friend because of his leonine mane.  And rightly so, I’d say.  I’ll take the afro over the sad clown look any day.

31 Days, Day 18: Just the Way You Are by Billy Joel

billy-joel-wallpapeR_Just the Way You Are by Billy Joel

This song takes me right back to 8th grade, to the halls of my junior high school and Home Ec class.  I don’t know why Home Ec, but there you go.  Back then the girls took Home Ec and the boys took Shop, except for those few girls who liked to rebel against societal expectations and took Shop instead.  Nowadays they call it Independent Living or something like that instead of Home Ec.

I always thought Billy Joel looked like my Uncle Wendell, and as they both get older the resemblance is even more striking.  I don’t know why I thought you needed to know that.

Billy Joel was the one who showed me that a saxophone could sound like it belonged in a pop song.  I grew up with parents who were country and gospel fans so I didn’t hear much saxophone in the music played in our house.  I didn’t really get financially invested in his music until the Glass Houses album came out, but I played that one incessantly for a while.  And then when he fell in love and married Christie Brinkley, I fell in love with him all over again, possibly because it was during the era when I was getting married for the first time (I was very young) and I related to all the love songs he was singing.  And who doesn’t want to be told that you’re loved just the way you are?

I saw him in concert during the early 80s right after he and Christie Brinkley split up and he didn’t sing a single song he wrote for or about her.  It was a little disappointing but having gone through a divorce myself I could sort of understand his feelings about it.

Fun fact:  Billy doesn’t have any bone in his left thumb because of a motorcycle accident he had as a teenager.  I wonder how that affects his piano playing.

What’s your favorite Billy Joel song?

31 Days, Day 17: Annie’s Song by John Denver

John_Denver_1973

Annie’s Song by John Denver

And now we’re back to the soul-soothing sounds of softer pop music after that little foray into slightly harder rock.

Ah, John Denver.  He wore Harry Potter glasses long before Harry was even a gleam in J.K. Rowling’s eye.  It’s hard to even tell what he looks like behind those glasses and all that hair but he does have a nice smile.

johndenverOh, there he is!  He was a nice looking fellow – reminds me of Steve Irwin a little. The link above is kind of boring to look at but it’s the “official” video.  Here is a live version.  And here is a link to another good JD song, Take Me Home, Country Roads.  I remember singing that one to myself a lot on a 6th grade camping trip to where else?  The mountains.

I don’t think John Denver ever released a song I didn’t like.  I love that he plays guitar and he has a folksy style about him.  I like that he sings a lot about mountains, since I grew up in the foothills of some pretty well-known mountains, but I don’t think he ever sang about MY mountains: The Great Smokies.  I think he has a very warm and comforting voice.  I would say that it’s warm and sweet and rich like maple syrup but I’m pretty sure I’ve used that analogy once this series.

He had a TV special back in 1975, which is when I learned he was born Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr.  Small wonder he changed his name. He also did a lot of work with the Muppets, which totally endeared me to him because I LOVED The Muppet Show.

John wrote Annie’s Song for his then-wife Annie, from whom he was later divorced, and by all reports it was not an amicable split.  I wonder how it felt for him to sing that song in concert after the marriage ended so bitterly.  But the song itself is beautiful and the story is that he wrote it in 10 minutes while riding on a ski lift.

John Denver was an avid skier and outdoorsman, and he made his home in Colorado, where he was involved in environmental causes.  He is yet another one who died too soon.  I’m starting to wonder if I could have done a whole 31 Days on 70s musicians who died at relatively young ages.

31 Days, Day 16: Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen

queenBohemian Rhapsody by Queen

Could any compendium of 1970s music be considered complete with this gem by Freddie Mercury and Company?  I think not.

I will readily admit this song makes zero sense to me, yet I know every note and every word of it by heart.  It has to be one of the most unique songs in the entire history of music.  I did a little research and found out that lots of people have plenty of ideas about the subject matter and/or the reasoning behind the lyrics.  Freddie himself is said to have told someone that it was just a bunch of “random rhyming nonsense”, which I’m inclined to believe.

It had something for everyone:  a little ballad, a little guitar solo, a little opera, and was a looooong for a pop/rock song at more than 6 minutes.  Queen recorded layer upon layer of vocal tracks and stacked them so it sounded like a huge choir.  And they made what was then called a “pop promo” video to promote the song.  Nowadays we call that a “music video”.  Clearly they were ahead of their time, but I think we already knew that.

Did you know Freddie Mercury had roots in India?  His father worked for the British government in India and then in Zanzibar (Tanzania).  Freddie had piano lessons as a child but never any formal vocal training.  That’s pretty surprising when you consider he had a four-octave range!

The song enjoyed a resurgence when it was featured in Wayne’s World in the early 90s, but truly it’s never been very far away from the world’s musical consciousness.  I bet you know every word, don’t you?  My favorite part is the piano part that starts right after the a cappella intro, which by the way is all Freddie Mercury’s voice laid track over track (the other guys are lip syncing).  What’s yours?

31 Days, Day 15: Beth by Kiss

kiss-band-photoBeth by Kiss

If you have small children you might want to turn the screen around.  These guys can look a little scary!  Also if you yourself happen to have coulrophobia (fear of clowns.  You’re welcome.) you might want to skip along to the next post.

In honor of my best friend from high school, whose birthday is today, I’m putting Kiss on my list (my apologies to Hall & Oates).  Sorry I can’t type it in all caps in the same font their logo, but there you go.  This is for you.  You know who you are.

To be honest, this is probably my favorite Kiss song and pretty much the only one I would listen to on a regular basis.  If I was feeling rowdy I might get my groove on to “Rock ‘n’ Roll All Night” but otherwise they just weren’t my style.  You probably already figured that out.  But I do love a good power ballad.

If you want to have a little giggle, check out this live version where the orchestra all has made-up faces.

Glee covered this song and did a bang-up job of it.  You can see their version here.

And I saved the best for last.  I saw someone’s idea of how the song was written and it’s both hilarious and sad.  Watch it here. (warning: there’s a little language)