Friday, November 28, 2008

'66: Rolling Stones, Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs

The Rolling Stones -- 19th Nervous Breakdown

Even when I was a kid, when this came on the radio I knew right away what gave Mick the idea for the title: those Excedrin pain reliever commercials that numbered and documented headaches: Number 39, Number 24 etc. That's my idea, anyway. Here's a couple of them on youtube. Recognize that voice? The unmistakable Dick Cavett. 

The Stones performed the song live on the Ed Sullivan Show, well before the boys had a falling out with the impresario over a lyric in "Let's Spend the Night Together" that Ed wanted changed and Mick obliged, changing the words to "some time together," lifting his eyes to the ceiling mockingly. "Breakdown" concerns one of Mick's girlfriends who was acting pompous and conceited. The lyrics mention a couple of things recently outdated in 1966 that might engender blank stares these days: "Your father's still perfecting ways of making sealing wax." Before envelopes were mass-produced with sealer, for centuries wax was used to keep a letter closed and, with an impression as from a seal, identified the sender. Some firms still produce it, but usage is now more for ceremony or effect. Sealing wax was previously mentioned in lyrics of Peter, Paul and Mary's 1963 smash "Puff The Magic Dragon" which also made #2 Billboard.

"Breakdown," at 3:57, is rather long for a single in 1966. Listen for Keith's "divebombing" licks as the song ends. The song peaked at #2 on March 19, 1966, not being able to get past Sergeant Barry Sadler's "Ballad of the Green Berets."

Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs -- Li'l Red Riding Hood

Domingo "Sam The Sham" Samudio and the Pharaohs had some trouble following up their 1965 #2 smash "Woolly Bully" -- "Ju Ju Hand," "Rang Dang Doo" and "Red Hot" had stiffed in late '65 and early '66 --  and they turned to the storybooks for songwriter Ronald Blackwell's "L'l Red Riding Hood" which did the trick, vaulting them to #2 once again. The followup, "The Hair on My Chinny Chin Chin," was a taunt by the Three Little Pigs.

Fantasist Roald Dahl rewrote the "Riding Hood" story, telling it his way:

In Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, the wolf enters the grandmother's house and devours her before putting on her clothes in order to eat Little Red Riding Hood next. Riding Hood is not disturbed, however, and calmly pulls a pistol out of her knickers and shoots the wolf ("The small girl smiles/Her eyelid flickers/She whips a pistol from her knickers/She aims it at the creature's head and BANG! BANG! BANG! she shoots him... dead.") - yielding her a new wolfskin coat. --wikipedia


Sebastian said...

Slight mixup there - the Stones did in fact go along with Ed's request to sing "Let's Spend Some Time Together." It was Jim Morrison who defied Ed by singing "girl, we couldn't get much HIGHER." Oh, Ed. Otherwise, great blog!

Kevin Walsh said...

You're absolutely right...will fix

Anonymous said...

I believe that is Bill Wyman's "divebombing" bass guitar at the end of "Breakdown".

Anonymous said...

The Stones are still the greatest...