Thursday, December 4, 2008

'66: Lovin' Spoonful

Lovin' Spoonful: Daydream

Though they first broke through in the summer of '65 with "Do You Believe in Magic," 1966 was the Lovin' Spoonful's annus mirabilis, as the New York-based folk-rock group led by John Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky were, perhaps, the hottest band in the world, enjoying five Top Ten hits including a #1, "Summer In The City " and the two #2 hits discussed in today's post. Indeed, no single they released after 1966 made the Top Ten again.

The song, which hit #2 April 9, is a gentle reverie in which Sebastian daydreams about his girlfriend and muses about what would happen if everyone did the same. The song started a sort of a nostalgia movement in pop, picked up on by the New Vaudeville Band ("Winchester Cathedral" in October) and inveterate nostalgist Paul McCartney grabbed the vibe for "Good Day Sunshine."

Lovin' Spoonful -- Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind

According to legend,  John Sebastian was at summer camp one year and met two sisters he was attracted to, and turned the experience into this #2 hit in June '66. Recorded the same year, The Monkees' "Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)" by Neil Diamond mines the same vein. Sebastian wrote the song in the back of a cab en route to the recording studio. 


Joe Hedio said...

You're right Kevin, the Lovin' Spoonful were hotter than a pistol in the Top 40 from 1965-67. "Summer In The City" is one of the great summer songs that came from the summer of '66 along w/"Summertime" by Billy Stewart. It certainly made quite the impression in my then 4-yr. old brainpan. One of the fun things watching old clips of the Spoonful is seeing Zally (R.I.P.) upstage Sebastian w/his zany antics.

John Sebastian actually played here in the Witch City some nine yrs. ago @ an outdoor concert at Derby Wharf. He was doing a set of mostly old jugband music done Storyteller style w/very little Spoonful stuff.

Finally, two fun John Sebastian facts: 1. He worked at Hood Sailmakers in Marblehead, MA in the pre-Spoonful days & 2. His father was a classical harmonica player who was friends w/the novelist Anthony Burgess of "Clockwork Orange" fame.

Kevin Walsh said...

I've been to Marblehead twice, actually.

Joe Hedio said...

Wow, Kevin, how did you make it past the border guards? ;-) I'm just kidding, it's just that Marblehead is kind of like someplace on L.I. or Westchester County down your way. Both Marblehead & Beverly on the other side of me (Salem) both claim to be the birthplace of the U.S. Navy. People from Salem don't care.