ArtView January 2016 - Page 35

"Tiptoe Through the Tulips” by Tiny Tim "The Twist" by Chubby Checker "Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon "Yakety Yak" by The Coasters The Twist was not merely a song but a social phenomenon of the 60s. It was also the first dance that many of us could actually do! Photo by Rennie Ellis All the above titles were just memorable songs. All of them were outside of the main market fodder of their time. Good on them that they didn‘t fit into some cookie-cutter slot. To me that is the whole POINT of writing. To create something original. Something out-of-the-box. A self-contained world of colour and uniqueness. Some bone-headed music industry critics, who have never written a REAL song in their life, and who use these shallow terms to describe unique musical ideas remind me of those monkeys jumping around that big black obelisk in the movie 2001. Hoo hoo hoo. What dat? Poke poke. Dat ain‘t no banana. Hoo hoo hoo. Anyway, it is always a matter of context as to whether a song is even perceived by the myopic music press as novelty or not. Just about everything little kids are entertained by would be classified as novelty in the adult context. The Purple People Eater Yellow Submarine Bob the Builder If you asked small children to check off which of the above was a novelty song - they wouldn‘t know what you were talking about. Kids either like and understand something - or they don‘t. They don‘t pigeonhole what inspires them. Actually, truth be told, most adults are like that, too. I personally never referred to any of the great songs I grew up listening to as novelty songs. I didn‘t even know what that term meant. The Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, Alley Oop, The Monster Mash, Little Red Riding Hood, Wooly Bully. To me they were just great songs. And I still remember their titles to this day. And their tunes. Which is more than I can say about most of the so-called serious pop music fodder that was on the radio at the time. Does anyone recall the memorable songs of these big 60s acts: The Dells, The Contours, Darlene Love, The Sonics, Tammi Terrell, Johnnie Taylor, Archie Bell & The Drells, Dyke & The Blazers, Gary Lewis & The Playboys, Hank Ballard & Midnighters, Rufus Thomas, Jimmy Hughes, Joey Dee & The Starliters? Wait a minute – I remember! Joey Dee & The Starliters released Peppermint Twist. (The Twist again. Hah! I rest my case.) We actually need more songs that stick in the memory longer than a few months. Not more disposable market fodder sickening emotive sameness. Not more breathless little girls whispering sweet nothings. Give me some more strange sour somethings! If the Beatles had only released the quirky Yellow Submarine and nothing else, it would be classified as a novelty song. On the other hand, my own international Number One hit song, Shaddap You Face, was classified as a novelty song by the local music press, but, get this: it was also covered by US black hip hop legend, KRSONE whose version went into the hip-hop category in radio programming land – NOT the novelty song slot. This is what I mean by context. Yellow Submarine, in context of the Beatles’ catalogue, is just another Beatles’ song. Shaddap You Face, in the context of KRS-ONE’s catalogue, is just another hip-hop song. The context determines the programming category. Not the song. Remember, the term novelty record, as a category, was invented by radio station disc jockeys and music programmers. Radio stations have to separate records