I saw a meme the other day that said the song that was #1 on your 14th birthday defines you. The sources I consulted in my incorrigible curiosity revealed the #1 song on January 30, 1968, was “Green Tambourine” by the Lemon Pipers.
I remember the song. I even remember liking it when it played on the radio. In retrospect, I’m not crazy about the fact that it’s considered the first bubblegum-pop smash. But that’s not what bothers me most.
I haven’t pondered very deeply the ways in which the song may or may not define me. I do, however, take exception to some of the lyrics, particularly to the accuracy as they pertain to me. Here are just a few examples:
- “Give me pennies. I’ll play anything.” I may be cheap, but I’m not easy. And I’m positive I can’t play anything. I don’t know the first things about Canasta, Backgammon, or Australian Rules Football. On the other hand, I do enjoy a spirited game of Spin the Bottle.
- “Watch my jingle-jangle start to shine.” I’m not precisely sure what my jingle-jangle is. But I’m fairly certain it’s not starting to shine. If it were, I can only hope my wife would have told me about it before now.
- “Drop a dime before I walk away.” This can refer to one of two things, neither of which applies to me. It can refer to a vernacular expression for making a call from a payphone in the days before such calls went up to five bucks before pay phones went out of existence. Most popularly, it was a cliché in bad movies or TV shows about tipping off the cops. “Ya better watch out, Roscoe. Somebody might drop a dime on ya.” It also can refer to a particular package of any number of illicit drugs:
I only got a nickel. Got to score myself a dime.
Gotta make it till tomorrow, buy a little more time.
I’m not saying I’m above any such thing. But never in my life has anyone ever dropped a dime on me. I’ve always had to pay for it.
My grandmother loved to say, “I was born 30 years too soon.” I don’t know if I’d apply her sentiment to myself in this context. The #1 song on January 30, 1998, was “Together Again” by Janet Jackson.
I guess it’s a pleasant enough song. I just can’t imagine myself being that upbeat, dancing, or hanging around in the desert with a bunch of elephants for a dead person. Maybe it’s just me.
On second thought, I might be happier with “Green Tambourine” than I initially thought. At least, as a capitalist, I can be happy with this: “Money feeds my music machine.”
Money would feed my music machine, too … if I had one.
The number one song in America for May 13, 1972 was “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” by Roberta Flack. It’s a wonderful soulful song, but I was hoping for something a bit more offbeat. But it works, and I can’t change it. There are a tremendous number of much more worser songs that I could’ve been nailed with. I do like that when I was a year old, “Mack the Knife” by Bobby Darin was number one, though not on my birthday… “the cement is there, just for the weight dear…”
“Could it be that our boy’s done something rash?” Yes, I have done something rash… now that song will be in my noodle until the weekend.
In 1970, “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum reached #1 in the US Cash Box Top 100. I always liked that song. I think part of my fascination with it was that Greenbaum, who was raised in an Orthodox Jewish household and attended Hebrew school at Congregation Beth Israel, wrote a song about Jesus. I also wondered if he influenced the song, “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore”, by Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys:
On the other hand, what the hell do I know?
I think I’ll listen to “Spirit in the Sky” today, if for no other reason than to marvel at how Norman Greenbaum got a stock Fender Telecaster to make that amazing sound with a cheap fuzz tone pedal made by one of his buddies. That’s worth the price of admission right there: