1. “This Diamond Ring”
Gary Lewis & the Playboys
Cowritten by our Lefsetz favorite, Al Kooper. However, Al was horrified by this take until the royalty checks started piling in. Al saw it as a soul number. And I’m including Al’s take from his 1977 album “Act Like Nothing’s Wrong,” check it out.
But Gary Lewis’s version was different. Haunting, very sixties.
Let’s see, February 1965. We were one year into the British Invasion, long enough for the hysteria to die down and allow American acts onto the chart.
And this week I spent with my parents at the Concord, in Kiamesha Lake, New York. Sick from a rained-out Christmas in Vermont, they wanted to take no chances, the Concord had a ski area, however minimal.
It also had entertainment. That week Neil Sedaka. I was too young to know “Calendar Girl” when it was a hit, but I remember hearing Neil perform it that evening, and banging the knockers on the table instead of clapping…that’s what you did.
Who wants to buy this diamond ring
She took it off her finger now it doesn’t mean a thing
How different from today, where everybody’s a winner, not only in rap but pop. What did Pink sing…that the party could finally start because she arrived? Make me puke.
Life is full of losses. Big ones and little ones. And when you experience discomfort, you turn to the tunes.
And you saved them up for when they were necessary. I’m not sure I’d been rejected when I first heard “This Diamond Ring,” but I certainly have been since!
How did you pronounce it? “Pet” like the animal or “Petch”? I’m still not sure. But I’m absolutely positive this was a huge smash that winter. My little sister bought the single.
Although British, this was a respite from the usual male stuff. We had no idea that Petula had been at it for years, was not brand new, this was back before the internet provided all the answers.
Brings you right back. This track was made for the listener only, even if you were listening in a group.
So GO DOWNTOWN
Where all the lights are bright
Waiting for you tonight
You’re gonna be all right now…
3. “Eight Days A Week”
You know it by heart, doesn’t everybody?
Obviously not on Spotify, but just click the chip in your brain and you’ll hear it.
From my favorite Beatles album, “Beatles For Sale,” but I didn’t know that until the CDs came out in America in their proper form decades later.
The way the song comes over the hill, the way it gets louder, John Lennon’s vocal, the handclaps, the bridge…a stone cold smash. Then, now and forevermore.
4. “My Girl”
I was just too young.
I’d had my first girlfriend. I even looked her up online, took me years, positively horrifying, never mess with your memories.
But, I hadn’t had enough love experience to fully understand “My Girl.” Of course it’s a masterpiece, but I’ve recognized this more as the years have gone by, sometimes you hear something so many times it seems less than special, but in this case that is wrong, it doesn’t get much better than this.
5. “The Name Game”
Okay, let’s do CHUCK!
The funny thing is this song gets little airplay, but every baby boomer can sing its complicated lyrics.
Arnold, Arnold bo Barnold Bonana fanna fo Farnold
Fee fy mo Marnold, Arnold!
Remember when they flipped over the pool table and there was a model of Fort Knox?!
“Goldfinger” was the movie that ensconced James Bond in the public consciousness, it was the one with the tricked-out Aston Martin they exhibited at the New York World’s Fair.
One can argue the film’s predecessor, “From Russia With Love,” was superior, but “Goldfinger” was in your face, it had Pussy Galore, it had this track.
The girl was literally painted gold. Story was they left part of her skin unpainted, otherwise she would have died.
Nothing like the British Invasion numbers, this was still from the island nation and its bombast was foreign enough to stop us in our tracks and mesmerize us.
7. “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'”
The Righteous Brothers
Nearly Phil Spector’s last hurrah. A throwback to what had come before…before the Beatles, who ultimately used Spector themselves.
To say this was overplayed… It was ubiquitous, it made me yearn for more British Invasion stuff on the radio. Like “My Girl,” I’ve come to love it as time has gone by. You know what turned me? Bill Medley’s duet with Jennifer Warnes on “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” from the “Dirty Dancing” soundtrack.
There used to be movies like this, that the whole nation rallied around because they captured the zeitgeist from years gone by. Stuff like “American Graffiti” and “Dirty Dancing.” It wasn’t real, but in some way it was. I refused to see “Dirty Dancing” in the theatre, but my then wife and I rented the videotape and couldn’t stop watching it for the twenty four hours until we returned it. And hearing Bill Medley’s voice connected me to this classic track from ’64 and I came to love it, just like everybody else.
8. “Stop! In The Name Of Love”
My favorite is “Come See About Me,” but I always loved this.
Imagine, there were two camps competing for our attention, England and Michigan. Two different sounds, that came from the same roots but were oh-so-different.
And the Wrecking Crew in L.A., creating the Brian Wilson classics.
It was a golden era.
9. “The Boy From New York City”
The Ad Libs
This is why I’m writing this list… I heard this on Sirius XM this afternoon and it made my day.
I disliked this way back when… It seemed like a cheesy throwback. But all these years later, it’s just COOL!
Do kids know this? Does Kidz Bop do a cover?
They should, it’s infectious in any incarnation.
10. “Hurt So Bad”
Little Anthony and the Imperials
My favorite is “Goin’ Out Of My Head,” but this ethereal number resonates too.
A winter song, no one is this depressed, no one is this interior during the summer.
That’s one great thing about living on the east coast, the miserable weather, having you playing board games and listening to the radio and your records daydreaming…about both the pitfalls and the way life can be.