Monday, February 16, 2009

'66 -- Simon and Garfunkel, The Happenings



Simon and Garfunkel -- I Am A Rock

Paul Simon paints a rather grim portrait here of a loner who has given up on life and love, living alone, without friends, with only his "books and my poetry to protect me." It's quite likely that Simon was writing completely ironically here, telling us that this isn't the way to go. It's also possible that he wrote it during a particularly bleak period and these were indeed his opinions at the time. (The same ambivalence can be seen in John Lennon's "Nowhere Man" from the same period -- is he writing about himself, or someone else?) 

The song was first recorded by Simon alone in a solo version that appeared only in the UK, on The Paul Simon Songbook. Simon had spent a couple of years in England in the early 1960s before reuniting with Art Garfunkel after returning to the USA. The rerecorded duo version is the closing track on Side Two of the Sounds of Silence LP. The B-side, "Flowers Never Bend With The Rainfall" appeared on the follow-up LP, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.  "Rock" has been covered most notably by The Hollies the same year, and by the Australian band The Church in 1981. 

I couldn't find a live take of the song, but I did find a video that shows the lads clambering on rocks in lower Manhattan by the FDR Drive and Brooklyn Bridge. 

The song was S&G's third consecutive Top Ten hit in 1966, but they hit something of a slump thereafter, reaching #1 again after a 2-year absence in 1968 with "Mrs. Robinson." "Rock" debuted in the Hot 100 on May 7, 1966 and spent a total of 11 weeks in the chart, topping off at #3.

The Happenings -- See You in September

The Happenings were a four-part vocal group from Paterson, NJ featuring Bob Miranda (lead), Tom Giuliano (tenor), Ralph DiVito (baritone) and Dave Libert (bass). All their hits were released on B.T. Puppy, the label founded by The Tokens' Hank Medress. For their debut recording, a song that was a hit in 1959 for another 4-man vocal group, the Tempos (from Pittsburgh, PA), "See You In September," composed by Sid Wayne and Sherman Edwards, was selected. The Happenings sped up the original cha-cha version somewhat and added a rock arrangement. "September" turned out to be The Happenings' biggest hit, entering the Hot 100 on July 9, 1966 and ascending to #3.

Bob Miranda talks about the Happenings' formation in this interview on classicbands.com.



6 comments:

ElQuesoPicante said...

Welcome back! I really enjoy ConPop, and am happy to see new updates.

Kevin Walsh said...

I will try to post more often...

Joe Hedio said...

Dittos on the welcome back & also the Paul Simon Songbook came out on CD in the US several years ago.

Denis J. said...

There is a live-vocal,over a backing track version of "I Am A Rock".It was inserted into the 7/??/66 rerun of the Ed Sullivan Show.It's 'around'...(On the original,live broadcast they did 'Sound Of Silence',they inserted their new single for the rerun.)

sessal said...

Here is a nice "live" version. Two voices, one acoustic guitar, vintage S&G performance.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=My9I8q-iJCI

cerdiloba said...

I think The Happenings were the same band that played "Impatient Girl", a gorgeous, sunshine-y 60s song. I wish I could find more info on this band. Thanks for the link to the interview.