Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I am the Stupidest Person on the Planet (An Occasional Series)

A cautionary tale, and make of it what you will.

So. On May 16, I was being tortured at the House of Pain that is the Friday New York Times crossword puzzle (Friday, of late, being the most difficult puzzle of the week) when I chanced upon this clue on 38 Across.

1959 hit with the lyric "One day I feel so happy, next day I feel so sad"

And I was immediately gobsmacked -- I mean, I knew what it was, but for the life of me I couldn't nail it exactly.

So, after hours and hours of pondering, on Saturday I finally had one of those AHA moments, and I realized that it was this.

And then, of course, it dawned on me that -- no, of course not, it wasn't.

For one thing, the Velvets song was from 1969. For another thing, Lou sings "Sometimes I feel so happy, sometimes I feel so sad." Not "One day" etc.

So anyway, finally, I had no recourse but to cheat over at the crossword solving site of the incomparable REX PARKER...

...and realized the mystery song was the thoroughly obscure 0NOT) "A Teenager in Love." By the totally unknown (heh) Dion and the Belmonts.

Here's the bottom line -- I'm a huge Dion fan, and how many fricking times over the years have I heard "Teenager in Love"?



buzzbabyjesus said...

I went through the same thought process while reading. I thought of the Velvets right away, but knew it was the wrong decade. It gets worse. A lot of the music played at my house is a big playlist shuffled on my phone. "Teenager In Love" plays almost every day.

FD13NYC said...

Just a little confusion over lyrics, it happens. I'm sure if it were, here's my story, sad but true, about a girl that I once knew. You would have gotten it. Have faith!

Anonymous said...

Lou Reed sang background on Teenager in Love when Dion played a benefit at MSG in the 1980's. So there is also that Velvets connection.

Did Lou unconsciously or consciously borrow from Dion for the rather manic-depressive line in Pale Blue Eyes? Anyone know?

Doing crosswords on Friday, Steve? Has it come to that?

Still down in Baja on a mild, breezy Ensenada day,

Vickie Rock

Brooklyn Girl said...

And this is after seeing Dion last summer (which I would do again in a heartbeat). The Sinatra of Doo-Wop, and I mean that in a good way.

Mark said...

It was a Spring morning in 1959. I was an eight year-old living in Riverhead, New York, where my family had moved from Hicksville, NY, after living in Brooklyn for the first seven years of my life. In Riverhead, I woke up early, went downstairs to the family console radio, and listened to the great NYC radio stations that played pop and rock and roll, like WINS, WMGM, WABC and WMCA. I wrote down the names of songs that I liked, and imagined that my grandmother, Lena, who died before I was born in 1951, sat with me. Children who sing along with pop songs become singers and musicians. Children who write down song titles become critics. I liked The Drifters, the Coasters, Dion, the Platters, Fats Domino, and Brook Benton, but I didn’t like Elvis Presley, but I don’t recall why. I also learned that some songs were called “Oldies,” and were held in a higher status, not unlike my grandmother, Lena. When Buddy Holly’s EVERYDAY came on, I thought of my grandmother.

I learned from my father, a cake baker, that popular songs could be purchased on discs, not unlike the children’s records and novelty records that I owned, like Jim Backus’ I WAS A TEENAGE REINDEER/THE OFFICE PARTY. I worked on weekends at my father’s bakery in Riverhead, The American Eagle Bakery, so I had some money, and I begged my mother, Lena’s daughter, to take me to a record store to buy what would become my first record. I had already used my money to buy baseball cards, and in fact saw it pointless to buy packs of cards at five cents each, so I found a distributor in Riverhead who would sell me boxes of five cent packs, 24 to a box, for one dollar. Eight year olds who buy baseball cards become poor, quickly. Eight year olds who buy boxes of cards and keep the cards in good condition turn a major profit when they need money 25 years later.

My mother thought buying records was a waste of money, but she realized that the money I earned from working in my Dad’s bakery, was not allowance money – my parents didn’t give my brothers or me allowances; we worked for the little money we got – so she agreed to take me to an independent record store to buy a record. The streets of Riverhead were poorly paved, and winds would often whip up clouds of dust while we walked, and in the dust I could see the history of the small town kicked up in all of its pre-LIE end-of-the-line-for-migrant-farmers glory. And on this day, I can recall walking with my Mom, and entering a small shop, and looking over either a Cashbox or Record World Top 100 chart, which corresponded with slots in what was to me, a magic holder with discs that corresponded to the records on the charts. Each record was 39 cents. The time came. I knew what I wanted. Dion’s TEENAGER IN LOVE, with something called I’VE CRIED BEFORE on the flip side. Hell, I didn’t even know that the records played on radio HAD two sides, just like the few children’s records I owned.

I remember my Mom looking at the flip side, and saying that she thought that I’VE CRIED BEFORE may have been a song that she knew from some time in the far distant past. While she spoke, I slowly floated off the ground and touched each of the slots where the records were kept, and was surprised that some were empty. In one slot I saw an image of Nelson Rockefeller, who at the time was NY’s Governor, and who in 1960 or 1961 came to Riverhead, where I stood with my schoolmates waving flags to greet our Governor. The next thing I remember was walking back home with my Mom, and feeling all kinds of goofy, which I later found out from Lena was my very first instance of engaging in adult behavior.

Even so, I would not have recognized the lyrics to TEENAGER IN LOVE to help you out Steve, but I do know now that I must visit Lena who resides with my grandfather, my Mom, my Dad, and my two younger brothers at Beth Israel Cemetery in Woodbridge, NJ.

Gabriel Garcia Markrosenblatt

Anonymous said...

Dion is a great show! I've seen him numerous times, many of which were in Rock 'N' Roll Revival Shows during late 1960's and 1970's. I also saw him at the Troubadour a couple of times during his Warner Brothers period.

But two shows really stand out. One was at the La Vida Cantina, a biker bar out in Carbon Canyon. And when I say biker bar, this was the real deal. Lots of dangerous and interesting people about.

I was a regular circa 1980's and 1990's. I lived right around the corner in Sleepy Hollow. The canyon village was not unlike Laurel Canyon except the Hollow had far more outlaws to go along with the artistic types. It was in an unincorporated area between Orange and San Bernardino counties and the heat pretty much let us "Do What Thou Wilt."

I loved La Vida. Bikers can be some of the nicest and most loyal people in the world if you are on their good side. They really took me under their wing. If I ever got fucked around, they saw to it that the perpetrator deeply regretted it. We were family.

The waitresses were some of the most gorgeous biker chicks I've ever seen. They had attitude galore. I remember once I ordered a salad for an appetizer and the waitress asked me "Bleu Cheese or Thousand?"

When I asked if they had Italian, she rolled her eyes and said, "Whaddaya think this is? The fuckin' Ritz-Carlton?"

I instantly loved her.

When I saw Dion there he was co-billed with Rick Derringer. The blues-rock Buddah Heads were the openers. Thank god I taped all the acts because they were all tremendous.

The Buddah Heads [who then were at their live peak] began in the late afternoon and played two 90 minute sets. After their first set, Rick Derringer and his drummer drove up in a Cadillac Seville. Derringer popped open his trunk and grabbed his guitar. He came to check out the Buddah Heads' gear and plugged in. After a few guitar run throughs and the drummer's close inspection of the drum kit, they decided it would be fine to play through the Buddah Heads gear.

I said hello with my eyes as they walked toward my booth. Surprisingly Rick sat next to me and asked me what was good on the menu. They shared a meal and nachos with us [my girlfriend Sandy was with me] and asked if we wanted to come to their hotel, which was in Brea just outside the canyon.

We declined. At this stage, Rick was pretty flabby, his hair was cut really short. He looked like an aging munchkin. Besides, I had five kilos of "the kind" perico in the trunk and was waiting for the buyer and those envelopes full of cash. I didn't mind being my boyfriend's mule if I could skim large sums of money as payment to myself for taking the risk.

I had heard Derringer was "born again," and straightened up his act. Maybe they invited us to their hotel to read Bible verses and be witnesses for the Lord. One way or another, those guys were planning on doing some testifying.

Dion was amazing that night, the best I'd ever seen him. He covered a lot of bases and styles very effectively with great stage banter between songs. His age didn’t hamper his performance one bit. He was dynamite.

Honestly, that night at La Vida was magic. All three acts were the best I’d ever seen them, before and since. It’s one of my all-time greatest shows and I’ve been to a lot of shows. Since the 1980’s I average about 150 shows a year. I have binders and binders of ticket stubs, passes and the like.

I also saw Dion recently on one of those Blues Cruises. My husband bought the tickets and took me and Sandy along. I didn’t think I was gonna like it at all. But we had ourselves a real good time. Dion was one of many acts, but for me he was the highlight of the cruise. Lots of originals and lots of covers and always entertaining. Talk about aging gracefully, I think he’s doing that better than Sinatra.

Vickie Rock

Brooklyn Girl said...

Gabriel Garcia Markrosenblatt

Lovely story. Thanks.