Monthly Archives: July 2014

Krystals, Cigs, and WFAT

I mentioned in an earlier post or maybe in the comments that I spent some time around a radio station in my youth, so now the onus is upon me to explain myself. First of all, to be clear, I did nothing of any value whatsoever while at the radio station. Well, that’s not strictly true. I fulfilled a number of functions, none of which had anything to do with radio broadcasting. My main job was to run out for Krystal burgers (for those of you in White Castle territory, Krystals are the southern equivalent thereof) and cigarettes. And to smuggle in beer in my purse.  Impressed? Of course you are.  Everything to do with radio in those days was glamorous. But this wasn’t a cool radio station – it wasn’t even close to being cool. The cool radio station in town was WZZQ.

wzzq

WZZQ was one of the first of its kind in the country – a free-format, anything-goes, bad ass album rock radio station, and it was where I learned about music. It was the station I listened to on my little Panasonic transistor. It was the station of “Nantucket Sleighride” and “Mississippi Queen”.  If you are interested in radio history, this is a fascinating story, because all this took place in ultra-conservative Jackson, MS. You can read about WZZQ here and here.

But like I said, this wasn’t WZZQ. It was more of a fly by night operation that took place in an old house on the edge of town. Since everyone there was scarfing down fast food, guzzling beer, and smoking like a fiend, let’s just call it WFAT. Or we could go with WYUK. WBIG. WCIG. WSUD. You get the picture. Anyway, I met this guy at W.C. Don’s (Remember? Home of big-arm-dancing and where my friend hit on Michael Stipe?), and he told me he was a deejay at WFAT and could get me an internship (um…unpaid) for the summer. WOW! I was so excited! I wasn’t too impressed with the easy listnin’ music they played, but what the heck, it was RADIO!

So I showed up, all eager, ready to learn the ropes and picturing myself as one of those ultra-cool female deejays with the deep, sultry voices. Not that I have a deep, sultry voice, but I thought maybe I could develop one. Imagine the let down when I was instructed to take the order for the first round of Krystals. And the Benson and Hedges. And the Budweiser and so forth. And when that was done, there was nothing else for me to do, except try to avoid the other female that worked there, because she seemed to hate me with a burning passion.  I guess there was only room for one female deejay per radio station, and she was there before me, so I was an interloper and a potential threat to her radio stardom. Anyway, I’m sure she rejoiced greatly when the summer ended and I was relieved of my duties to return to college. I know I did.

A deejay story by the great Harry Chapin…

And not only did we have a kick-ass radio station, but the founder of MTV, Robert Pittman, was born in Jackson and grew up down the road in Brookhaven, Mississippi. That’s between Jackson and Granny’s swamp. Here’s the first song played on MTV, and a fitting one it was, too.

 Questions? Comments? Please Share!

And a shout out to Vis – thanks for reading! But the answer is no – I’m not in the study board biz anymore. lololol…

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Filed under Memoir, Music, Uncategorized

Hysterical, Screaming Girl Fans: An Analysis

Since I got a Facebook account, which is called “Annie Rich”, and by the way, please be my friend if you are on Facebook because my low number of friends is embarrassing, I’ve taken my YouTubing to an even higher plane, because I follow all these 60s and 70s pages or whatever they are and I click on almost every music link they send out. Which is a lot.

I was watching a clip of  The Beatles’ version of “You Really Got Me”, which prompted me to watch the original Smokey Robinson version. I realized with a sinking feeling that Smokey’s version was much better. I say “sinking feeling” because I am a Beatles fan and don’t like to diss them in any way, but I speak only the truth, and the truth is that they sucked all the soul and sexiness out of the song.  You’ll see what I mean if you watch this…it just doesn’t get any smoother than Smokey Robinson. Unless it is Sam Cooke, then sometimes it does. I love the lyrics in this song – what a perfect anthem for obsession! You treat me badly; I love you madly. Oh, the humanity…

You may have noted that this clip has a lot of hysterical girl-screaming in the background, as do a lot of live performances from the early years of rock and roll.  Somewhat understandable what with Smooth Smokey and his thinly veiled “tight hold” references, but still. The crying. The sweating, flushed faces. The high-pitched, panicky screaming. The peeing in the pants. The fainting. I mean, what was up with all that, right?

Here’s a good example from an Elvis concert in 1957. This one hits close to home because these are Mississippi girls – the concert was just up the road in Elvis’s home town of Tupelo.

Now for some Beatlemania…

You may ask, “So Marie, why did girls act like that? And why don’t they do this anymore?’ And I could give an answer to these questions, and would gladly do so, but it would take us into the deep, murky waters of psychology and sociology. I’m sure this must have been studied and analyzed by someone, somewhere, but the things that showed up in my Google search didn’t really answer the question to my satisfaction, so what the hell. Let’s go there.

I could just be lazy and shy, say “sexual repression”, link another song and be done, but it’s much more complex than that and deserves a closer look.  There were a number of causal factors that led to the girl-fan-hysteria that was so widespread during the era – the main one probably being an increasing awareness and awakening of female sexuality on the heels of  1953’s The Kinsey Report on Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, which alerted the world to the fact that women are in fact, sexual beings. It was a real shocker, apparently, and the report was roundly criticized and condemned, but you better believe the news leaked out. It was academic trickle down to the common man. And woman. But at the same time, if you recall, there were extremely strict social parameters of sexual behavior for women – to be labelled a slut was the kiss of death. Thus, we had a powder keg situation – an increasing awareness and understanding of female sexuality combined with music that spurred it on, but tightly controlled by strict social mores and expectations and religious beliefs. Girls, if they wanted to be good and nice and not get a bad rep, had to push all those feelings down deep, which of course meant that they came out in unusual, unexpected ways – like having a weird melt down at a concert where songs with vaguely sexual lyrics were being performed by cute boys, for example.

Over time, the powder keg was slowly defused. The birth control pill. More access to education and careers. 1971’s Our Bodies, Ourselves, which continued to increase knowledge and understanding of female sexuality. Societal attitudes toward women and the rules regarding their behavior started to change, ever so slowly, but steadily. By the time I started going to rock concerts in the late 70s, there was no more hysteria among the girls – those days were over. Of course, there was plenty of drooling over Paul Rodgers and so forth, but it was a more normal level of idolatry. Not hysteria. Nobody fainted, for example.

There are other explanations, naturally, such as the effect of music on the brain and the nervous system, group dynamics, female emotional tendencies, etc. But if that’s all it was, why doesn’t this happen today? No, those elements, while I’m sure they were contributing factors, are incomplete as explanations. It was a phenomenon specific to the times in which it occurred and it’s not likely to happen again, which is a good thing. I would hate to go to a concert ruined by a bunch of out 0f control, pitifully repressed females.  Oh, that high-pitched screeching! Terrible.  But I’m still proud to be a woman. From 1962, with change blowin’ in the wind…tell ’em about it, Peggy…

Questions? Comments? Please Share!

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Filed under Art and Literature, Music, Sociology, Uncategorized, Women

The Interconnectedness of All Things

Hello, bloggerville!  Have you missed me? Yes? No? Well, let’s just pretend that you pined away miserably while I was off lying in the sun on a sugar-white beach in south Alabama.  So dry your virtual eyes and bury those feelings down deep where they will later cause you to burst into tears at a Bruce Springsteen song like me.

I just listened to both versions of “Brother Louie”. I like the original version by Hot Chocolate, but I really dig that hoarse, Steve Marriottish sound from Ian Lloyd of Stories. And by the way, the keyboardist for Stories, Michael Brown, had previously led, wrote, and performed with his band, The Left Banke, who did one of my favorite songs of the sixties. Ah, the interconnectedness of all things blows my mind without end.

Here’s the original by Hot Chocolate…

Here’s another little ditty by Hot Chocolate that you might remember. Where ya from, you sexy thing?

Now the saga of Louie from the Small Faces, I mean Humble Pie, I mean the Black Crowes. Ha! Silly me! I mean Stories, of course. With a cringe-worthy introduction by Jose Feliciano. Nothin’ bad, it was good…

And now for one of my favorite songs from the sixties. Just walk away, Renee. You won’t see me follow you…

And as a special treat, since I’m sure it seemed that I was a thousand miles away and never coming back, here’s a sweet little salve for your hurt feelings, complete with scenes from one of my favorite movies. This is one of those songs that makes me feel all melty inside. It may be on a Sunday morning, it may be on a Tuesday afternoon…

Questions? Comments? Please Share!

 

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Filed under Blogging, Music, Uncategorized