What happens when a girl changes
from bobby sox to stockings?
"Bobby Sox to Stockings" - Frankie Avalon
(July 1959, highest chart position #8)
What happens to a boy?
"Next Door to an Angel" - Neil Sedaka
(November 1962, highest chart position #5)
FACT: Girls mature at an earlier age
"The Girl Can't Help It" - Little Richard
(February 1957, highest chart position #49)
What's a guy to do?
What happens when Venus and Mars
collide on the dance floor?
I'll be exploring that touchy topic
in this post and the next.
In February of 1964 the Monarchs, a doo-wop vocal group
based in Louisville, Kentucky, released their rendition of
"Look Homeward Angel," a ballad that had been recorded in 1956 by the Four Esquires and in 1957 by Johnny Ray. The timing wasn't the greatest. The Beatles were red hot. So were other emerging British bands. During the early months of 1964 there wasn't much of a market for Eisenhower era doo-wop. As a result, the Monarchs' excellent single spent 13 weeks trying to gain traction on the Billboard chart but only made it to the halfway point. Had it been released a
few years earlier it surely would have made the top 10 and perhaps would have gone all the way to number one.
"Look Homeward Angel" - Monarchs
(April 1964, highest chart position #47)
and punctuate it with a few of my favorite doo-wop oldies.
I made arrangements with Billy to reprint a portion of his column. Here, courtesy of Billy Reed Enterprises LLC and billyreedsays.com are some of Billy's astute observations.
Even in winter, a lion is
still a lion, if you get my
drift, and that music –
the 1950s and ‘60s stuff
the Monarchs do better
than just about anybody
– always revives bitter-
sweet memories of what
it was like to be young
and clumsy and not
exactly sure of what to
make of this amazing
creature with whom you
happened to be slow-
dancing on the polished
floor of a dim auditorium
at the high school or the
VFW post or the neighbor-
"You Were Mine" - Fireflies
(November 1959, highest chart
In my mind, she always had big, luminous eyes and thick,
lustrous hair and – yes! – a sweet soft body that felt so
light in my arms. Maybe her name was Betty or Alice or
Martha. Maybe, if you were lucky, she would snuggle up
so close you were sure your heart was going to pound
right out of your chest.
"Why Don't You Believe Me" - Duprees
(September 1963, highest chart
And you prayed:
God, please don’t let me step on her feet…please don’t let
me break out into a sweat…please let this song last forever
so I can keep smelling her hair and hugging her waist and
feeling her breasts up against me.
"Have You Heard" - Duprees
(December 1963, highest chart
When my friend Leon Middleton, who has been the
Monarchs’ sax player for a mere 46 years, told me
about the group’s new gig, I knew immediately that it
was a stroke of genius. He told me they were going to
put together a show that would pay tribute to Doo-Wop.
"One Summer Night" - Danleers
(August 1958, highest chart position #7)
Now if I have to explain what Doo-Wop is, it probably
means you’re either very young, very culturally deprived,
or very unworthy of serious conversation. In brief, Doo-
Wop is what the Belmonts did behind Dion...what the
Teenagers did behind Frankie Lymon...and what the
Imperials did behind Little Anthony.
"I'm on the Outside (Looking in)"
- Little Anthony and the Imperials
(September 1964, highest chart
Doo-Wop is the background music, in other words, that
usually is accompanied by synchronized movements. For
example, when the Capris did their 1961 classic There’s A
Moon Out Tonight (Wuh-huh-ho-ho), the Doo-Wop guys,
in unison, would slowly point upward, as if at the moon,
before moving their arms slowly downward, also in unison.
That’s a classic Doo-Wop move.
"There's a Moon Out Tonight" - Capris
(March 1961, highest chart position #3)
It’s tough to find Doo-Wop these days and, frankly, I think
that’s a major reason the world is in such a mess. Because,
you see, Doo-Wop is good for the soul. Doo-Wop makes
you mellow and romantic. Doo-Wop makes you want to
smile and sing-along and wink at your life’s partner –
or maybe just your partner for the night.
"Since I Don't Have You" - Skyliners
(April 1959, highest chart position #12)
Thanks, Billy Reed.
You nailed it!
Your description of what it was like for a young man to hold a girl in his arms and sway to doo-wop sounds hit home. It brought back powerful, wistful memories of my very first slow dance. My true story is coming up in the next post.
Have a Shady day!