Every Minute, Every Hour, Every Day

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This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. ~Psalm 118:24

I want a Sunday kind of love
A love to last past Saturday night
And I’d like to know
It’s more than love at first sight
And I want a Sunday kind of love
Oh yeah, yeah

Now I’m not exactly categorizing Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons as “classic rock”, but I think we can all agree that doo-wop influenced the heart and soul of many of the great rock artists to follow, including Billy Joel, Elton John, Steve Perry, Jon Bon Jovi and many, many more.

fourseasonsgroup

And, after finally seeing the biopic, Jersey Boys, I just had to include at least one of their songs in UTRS. “Sherry” was the first song by Frankie and the boys that I can remember making an impact on my rock conscience, bursting off the speakers in 1962. Even as a young boy, I could tell this was something special, something very different from every other sound out there.

I want a love that’s on the square
Can’t seem to find somebody
Someone to care
And I’m on a lonely road
That leads to nowhere
I need a Sunday kind of love

With their huge catalog of hits – even though a lot of their early hits sounded a lot alike – spanning two decades, there were a lot of songs I could pick from, but after seeing the movie, their take on “Sunday Kind Of Love” really spoke to me.

I think many of us can identify with the kind of love that continues past the excitement of Friday or Saturday night dates and on into Sunday. I can remember moving past that first stage in relationships and it seemed like the Sundays spent together, maybe at a family gathering, a quiet walk and picnic in the park, or – heaven forbid – attending church together, always took things to a higher level of closeness. There was just something extra special about a Sunday date.

I do my Sunday dreaming, oh yeah
And all my Sunday scheming
Every minute, every hour, every day
Oh, I’m hoping to discover
A certain kind of lover
Who will show me the way

“Sunday Kind Of Love” was first released in November 1946 by the Claude Thornhill Orchestra and became the signature song for his lead singer, Fran (Frances) Warren. It has been covered dozens of times over since – most notably by the amazing Etta James – and it only seems fitting that one Francis Castelluchio would later choose the song for his new group, The Four Seasons.

And my arms need someone
Someone to enfold
To keep me warm when Mondays and Tuesdays grow cold
Love for all my life to have and to hold
Oh and I want a Sunday kind of love
Oh yeah, yeah, yeah

Yes, we all long for a love that lasts, one that’s permanent. Unfortunately, in this world, that kind of love can be very, very hard to find. But for a long stretch in the mid 60’s, there were a lot of folks out there falling in love to – and with – the songs penned by Bob Gaudio and sung in the one and only Frankie Valli’s falsetto. Between 1962-1975, Frankie and the boys from Jersey scored twenty-nine Top 40 hits including five #1’s (“Sherry”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Walk Like A Man”, “Rag Doll” and the cherry on top, 1975’s “December 1963 (Oh What A Night)”. And, just when you thought he was done, Frankie came back with a killer job on the Bee Gee’s penned title track for the blockbuster movie and stage play “Grease”.

I don’t want a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday
Or Thursday, Friday or Saturday
Oh nothing but Sunday, oh yeah
I want a Sunday Sunday
I want a Sunday kind of love, oh yeah
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday kind of love

If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend seeing Jersey Boys, which is largely fact based and reveals a lot about the group that most people – including their record label – didn’t know. Here’s just a few bits of interest from the film that are true to life:

  • Three of the band members had been in prison or jail, most notably Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi. Tommy had been in 7-8 times.
  • They took the name “The Four Seasons” off a Union, New Jersey, bowling alley cocktail lounge sign.
  • Future movie star, Joe Pesci, who happened to be a close boyhood friend on Tommy DeVito’s actually introduced Bob Gaudio to the group.
  • The group really did get arrested in Ohio for skipping out on a $375 hotel bill. Check out Frankie’s mug shot below:

valli mugshot

So settle back and ready yourself for some classic doo-wop by one of the best of the genre. “Sunday Kind Of Love” wasn’t one of the groups bigger hits, but I’ve always held it as one of mine.

Check out the original here:

Great live version here:

Etta James version:

Sources for this post included:

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankie_Valli

History vs. Hollywood: http://www.historyvshollywood.com/reelfaces/jersey-boys/

Every Word Rings True

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And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. – Acts 2:4

The boys were singing shing-a-ling
The summer night we met
You were tan and seventeen
O how could I forget
When every star from near and far
Was watching from above
Watching two teenagers fall in love

What a picture these lyrics paint and definitely one I can remember from my own teenage years. I was seventeen and, yes, she was very tan. I had just moved to Atlanta and was trying to meet and make new friends in the summer of 1974 and she was the step-sister of one of my coworkers. He called her up to get a ride home one night after we closed and when she arrived, he introduced us. There must have been a little magic in the night air because, after a few minutes of conversation, he got his ride home and I got a date with her the next day.

The way we danced was not a dance
But more a long embrace
We held on to each other and
We floated there in space
And I was shy to kiss you while
The whole wide world could see
So shing-a-ling said everything for me

The movie Grease was still a few years away from reminding us of a time when the sounds of doo-wop ruled, but there were still a few songs rolling out of the speakers in my 1970 Chevy that could carry you back to those days. Ringo Starr was singing “You’re Sixteen” by Johnny Burdette, Grand Funk had a hit with Little Eva’s “Loco-Motion” and The Guess Who had us all singing along to “Clap For The Wolfman”.

And oh the poor old, old folks
They thought we’d lost our minds
They could not make heads or tails
Of the young folks’ funny rhymes
But you and I knew all the words
And we always sang along to
Oh sham-a-ling-dong-ding
Sham-a-ling-dang-dong

Every generation has a hard time understanding some of the musical styles and preferences of the next – and vice versa- but I think the translations from some of the great old doo-wop songs and their trademark nonsensical lyrics had to be hard for the generations on either side to fathom.

“Shama-lama” and it’s cousin “Rama-lama”, “Sh-boom”, “Rat da tat tat”, “Shinga ling”, “Bomp bomp ba bomp”, “Dip-de-dip-de-dip”, “Oo-wah, oo-wah” and even “Doo-wop” itself are just a few examples of the lyrical style incorporated in the genre.

It may have sounded like gibberish to some, but young hearts in love instinctively understood every word.

So after years and after tears
And after summers past
The old folks tried to warn us
How our love would never last

And so intense that romantic swell must have been, just as those who are filled with the love of the Holy Spirit also sometimes burst out into languages that no one can understand.

I’ve never seen anyone “speaking in tongues” firsthand, but I know folks who have. If you ever want to experience it for yourself, just check out your local Pentecostal church and ask them when they are going to have their next Revival. It’s not my usual taste in worship style, but I do think it might be invigorating every now and then!

And oh the poor old, old folks
They smile and walk away
But I bet they did some
Sham-a-lama-ding-dong in their day

Jesse Winchester was a southern born and bred singer-songwriter who I believe could have been every bit as influential on the 70’s music scene as James Taylor, if not for his having left the country for Canada to avoid service in the Vietnam war. Branded a “draft dodger” and prohibited from playing in the U.S., he never achieved a high level of popularity as a performer, but his work as a songwriter flourished nonetheless.

Jesse’s songs were recorded by countless artists as diverse as George Strait, Patti Page, Elvis Costello, Jimmy Buffett, Reba McEntire, Emmylou Harris, Wilson Pickett, The Everly Brothers, Nicolette Larson and many, many more.

Elvis Costello included Jesse Winchester’s 1970 debut album in his “500 Albums You Need” list created in Vanity Fair in 2000.

Oh those sweet old love songs
Every word rings true
Sham-a-ling-dong-ding means sweetheart
Sham-a-ling-dang-dong does too
And it means that right here in my arms
That’s where you belong
And it means sham-a-ling-dong-ding
Sham-a-ling-dang-dong

Jesse, along with many others who left for other parts of the world to avoid the war, was granted amnesty by President Jimmy Carter in 1976. His first U.S. concert was sold out in Burlington, Vermont and was covered by Rolling Stone magazine who dubbed him “the greatest voice of the decade”.

“Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding” was on Jesse’s final album Love Filling Station in 2009 and quite fittingly was featured that same year on Elvis Costello’s Spectacle TV series. I think it showcases not only his tremendous gift songwriting and vocal style but his great talent as a guitar player, as well.

Jesse lost his battle with cancer and passed away at his home in Virginia earlier this year, but his gift lives on through the many hit songs he penned for others.

So, young or old, and even though we might not understand exactly what some of those old doo-wop lyrics meant, just as Jesse sang, I’m sure we’ve all  experienced a little “Sham-A-Lama” of our own sometime throughout our days.

Listen to Jesse live on Spectacle here: