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Songs of the Sixties Trivia By John William Tuohy


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Save the Last Dance for Me was first recorded in 1960 by Ben E. King with The Drifters and spent three non-consecutive weeks at number one on the  pop charts and reached number 2 in England. This single was produced by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and their apprentice Phil Spector.

7 O’clock News/Silent Night is the twelfth and final track on Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme from 1966 by Simon and Garfunkel. The track consists of an overdubbing of two contrasting recordings: a simple arrangement of the Christmas carol "Silent Night", and a simulated "7 O’clock News" bulletin of the actual events of 3 August 1966.  The track consists of Simon and Garfunkel singing the first verse twice over, accompanied by Garfunkel on piano. The voice of the newscaster is that of Charlie O'Donnell, then a radio disc jockey. As the track progresses, the song becomes fainter and the news report louder.
Seasons in the Sun was an English-language adaptation of the song Le Moribond by Belgian singer-songwriter Jacques Brel with lyrics by American singer-poet Rod McKuen. It became a worldwide hit in 1974 for Terry Jacks.


Poor Otis Redding. He wrote and recorded Respect as a blues tune but it basically died on delivery in the popular market of 1965.  Producer Jerry Wexler brought the song to Aretha Franklin's attention because he thought it might have crossover hit potential.  In 1967, Franklin recorded the song. (The backup is sung by her sisters Carolyn and Erma) It was a hit on R&B and pop radio and spent two weeks atop the Billboard Pop Singles chart. Otis Redding died in a plane crash at the age of 26, one month before his biggest hit, Sittin on the Dock of the Bay.  (The songs actual title is Dock of the Bay.  Redding considered the song unfinished, having whistled the tune of one verse for which he intended to compose lyrics later) Just before he died Redding said, jokingly, that Respect was the song that little girl done stole from me.  The co-writer of Dock of the Bay was Steve Cooper (Later of Booker T and the MG’s) wrote Otis was one of those kind of guys who had 100 ideas. Anytime he came in to record he always had 10 or 15 different intros or titles, or whatever. He had been at San Francisco playing The Fillmore, and he was staying at a boathouse, which is where he got the idea of the ship coming in. That's about all he had: I watch the ships come in and I watch them roll away again. I took that and finished the lyrics. If you listen to the songs I wrote with Otis, most of the lyrics are about him. He didn't usually write about himself, but I did. Mr. Pitiful, Sad Song (Fa-Fa); they were about Otis' life. Dock of the Bay was exactly that: I left my home in Georgia, headed for the Frisco Bay was all about him going out to San Francisco to perform.

Sloop John B was released by The Beach Boys in 1966 on Capitol Records. It was originally a traditional West Indies folk song, The John B. Sails, taken from a collection by Carl Sandburg (1927). The John B. was an old sponger boat - presumably a sloop - whose crew were in the habit of getting notoriously merry whenever they made port. It was wrecked and sunk at Governor's Harbor in Eleuthera, The Bahamas, in about 1900. The song had already been recorded by the Chanteys And Anthems in 1935, the Weavers (as The Wreck of the John B.) The Kingston Trio's 1958 recording of the song, also under the title The Wreck of the John B., was the direct influence on the Beach Boys' version. Johnny Cash recorded the song in 1959 as I Want To Go Home.

 Smile A Little Smile for Me by the Flying Machine was a British pop band, which was in 1969, renamed from Pinkerton's Assorted Colors. They broke up soon afterwards.

 Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron was, for some, not for me, a novelty song that hit the charts in 1966 when I was eleven years old. I loved that song when I heard it then and I still love it today. In the serious-as-all-hell sixties, we needed this song.  So did everybody else because the song was not only a hit here it was also number 1 in Australia for five weeks in 1967. The Aussie’s censored the word ‘bloody in the song because down there, bloody means Goddamn (From the scared blood of Christ)   The Florida based group who sang the song, The Royal Guardsmen, also blessed us other Snoopy inspired theme songs, including two follow-ups to Snoopy Vs The Red Baron: The Return of The Red Baron and Snoopy's Christmas, together with other tunes such as Snoopy for President. Artist Charles Schulz who created Snoopy, and the mega giant United Media, the world’s largest comic strip distributor  sued the group (The song was released only four weeks after the first comic strip featuring Snoopy fighting the Red Baron appeared) for using the name Snoopy without permission or an advertising license. So, Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron became Mega conglomerate and moderately talented cartoonist versus a bunch of teenage singers.   Not surprisingly the massive corporation and Schultz won the suit and all revenues from the song went to them.  However, they did allow the Guardsmen to write more Snoopy songs. Wow, how generous.

Speedy Gonzales is a song from 1962 made popular by Pat Boone. The song is about  Speedy Gonzales, "the fastest mouse in all Mexico". 

Stand by Me, by Ben E. King (Who had been with the Drifters) was released in 1960 and made it to number four on the charts. The song is based on a 1955 Gospel song of the same name by The Staples Singers and a slight word change made it a rock and roll it (Father, Father Stand by me became Darl’n Darl’n Stand by me)

The 1960 hit Stay by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs is, at 1 minute and 37 seconds, the shortest single to ever reach the top of the US charts. It has sold over 8,000,000 copies since it was recorded in the fall of 1960. The records producers removed the original line in the song Let’s have another smoke because commercial AM Station would refuse to play it if it were left in. (Nobody, and I mean nobody listened to FM in those day) The Zodiacs, once a gospel group, used to be The Royal Charms, The Gladiolas (There were several other groups using the name at the same time, although I can’t imagine why) and the Excellos before settling on the word Zodiac.  Jackson Brown had a hit with the song in 1974. The groups other hits included May I and Little Darlin

The Beach Boys hit the number three spot in 1963 with Surfin' U.S.A which was based on Chuck Berry's 1958 hit Sweet Little Sixteen. The Beach Boys said it was a tribute to Berry, but failed to get his permission to borrow so heavily from his song.  Berry threatened to sue because like virtually everyone else in the music world, he recognized his song within a few lines.  In fairness, when Brian Wilson rewrote the song he was a teenager. The Beach Boys settled by giving Berry most of the royalties and listing him as the song's composer.  Dennis Wilson, by the way, was the only surfer in the Beach Boy. At the time the time that the Beach settled with Berry, he was in prison on charges of transporting a minor across state lines in December of 1959.  The charge was that Berry had sex with a 14-year-old Apache waitress whom he had transported over state lines to work as a hat check girl at his club. After an initial two-week trial in March 1960, Berry was convicted, fined $5,000, and sentenced to five years in prison. He appealed on the grounds that the judge's comments and attitude were racist and prejudiced the jury against him was upheld,  and a second trial was heard in May and June 1961, which resulted in Berry being given a three-year prison sentence. He served one and one half years in prison from February 1962 to October 1963.

Society's Child (Baby I've Been Thinking)" was written in 1965 by Janis Ian. It centered around the then-taboo subject of interracial romance. Ian was 13 years old when she was motivated to write the song and completed it when she was 14. In 1964, Ian lived in East Orange, New Jersey. Her neighborhood was predominantly populated by African-Americans and she was one of very few whites in her school. "I saw it from both ends. I was seeing it from the end of all the civil rights stuff on the television and radio, of white parents being incensed when their daughters would date black men, and I saw it around me when black parents were worried about their sons or daughters dating white girls or boys. I don't think I knew where I was going when I started it, but when I hit the second line, 'face is clean and shining black as night,' it was obvious where the song was going. I don't think I made a conscious decision to have the girl cop out in the end, it just seemed like that would be the logical thing at my age, because how can you buck school and society and your parents, and make yourself an outcast forever?" Leonard Bernstein's producer saw Janis perform "Society's Child" at The Gaslight and scheduled Ian to perform the song on a television special about new pop music. Largely due to Bernstein's efforts, Verve Records started promoting it in trade magazines and many radio stations picked it up.

Softly, as I Leave You was composed by Antonio De Vita (1932–1998), with original Italian lyrics by Giorgio Calabrese.  It was an Italian success in 1960 by Mina, at the Sanremo Music Festival, entitled "Piano" ("Softly.)  The English songwriter Hal Shaper noticed the song and in November 1961 wrote English lyrics to the melody, calling it "Softly, as I Leave You". It is best known in version is by Frank Sinatra (#27 on Billboard Hot 100 in 1964). Other recordings have been made by artists such as Bobby Darin, Andy Williams, Robert Goulet, Doris Day (1964), Shirley Bassey (1968) and Elvis Presley. The Sinatra family announced Frank's death on May 14, 1998 by placing an announcement on their website that was accompanied by a recording of the singer's version of the song.



Sympathy for the Devil is a song by The Rolling Stones which first appeared as the opening track on the band's 1968 album Beggars Banquet. It was written by singer Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards, though the song was largely a Jagger composition. The working title of the song was "The Devil Is My Name” At the time of the release of Beggars Banquet the Rolling Stones had already raised some hackles for sexually forward lyrics such as "Let's Spend the Night Together"  and for allegedly dabbling in Satanism  (their previous album, while containing no direct Satanic references, had been titled Their Satanic Majesties Request), and "Sympathy" brought these concerns to the fore, provoking media rumors and fears among some religious groups that The Rolling Stones were devil-worshippers and a corrupting influence on youth.  It is often mentioned that Marianne Faithfull, Anita Pallenberg, Brian Jones, Charlie Watts, producer Jimmy Miller, Wyman and Richards performed backup vocals. In reality the backup 'whoo whoo' vocals were overdubbed at a later stage in Los Angeles by Richards, Jagger and Jimmy Miller. 

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