Well, Turkey Day is here again, and it’s been some time since I last posted about Thanksgiving. This year is obviously different. This virus has complicated so many things about our way of life. Not just here in the US, but all around the world. Thanksgiving is a family event, and most of us won’t have our family with us.
This year son-the-elder is hosting our little gathering. It will be family only, so people we are in contact with on a regular basis. While this isn’t true isolation, it is safe enough for me. If things get too crazy, and people I don’t know start showing up, I’ll give my thanks to everyone and have to leave. Everyone understands that, so if it happens, it happens.
Today’s entry is Chester Williams Powers, Jr. Never heard of him? Not surprising since he didn’t preform under his birth name. In fact, he not only used a stage name, Dino Valenti (sometimes Valente), he wrote under a different name, Jesse Oris Farrow. As confusing as some of my family tree has turned out to be.
So just who is this guy, or maybe it’s “these guys”?
You would know him best from the psychedelic 60’s and 70’s group Quicksilver Messenger Service. Their biggest hit was “Fresh Air” which I thought I’ve already linked here on the blog, but I can’t find it. But that’s okay, since I’m not using that song anyway.
While listening to Earle Bailey on the Deep Tracks channel this morning, he played the song I will use. He also talked about how Chet (at least that’s what his Wiki page says he calls himself) had the different names. Naturally, I had to go and check. The next obvious step was to write this post so I might be able to educate you, my wonderful reader(s).
One thing I did learn was that Chet wrote “Let’s Get Together”, or as it’s more widely known “Get Together”. I may or may not have already posted Jessie Colin Young and the Youngbloods’ cover of that tune here. That version made it to number 5 in 1967.
After an arrest for possession of marijuana, he was searched again by police (who found more marijuana and amphetamines in his apartment) while awaiting trial. He received a one-to-ten-year sentence served in part at Folsom State Prison. To raise money for his defense, he sold the publishing rights for “Get Together” to Frank Werber, the manager of The Kingston Trio.
So sometime around 3 AM this morning this popped into my head and woke me up. Not sure why, maybe it’s that stupid tropical storm that’s been threatening us on and off for the last few days. Maybe it’s the constant back pain, or more likely the meds I’m taking for the pain that keeps me up.
But maybe, just maybe it’s kismet that the song came to me the way the title came to Tommy James;
The title, “Crimson and Clover”, was decided before a song had been written for it. The combination of unknown meaning came to James as he was waking up, comprising his favorite color – crimson – and his favorite flower – clover.
In any case, this has always been one of favorite songs. As a youngster the effects are what caught my attention. But as I grew older (I still refuse to grow up) how those effects were accomplished is what kept me listening to the track.
I will admit that all I know of Tommy James and the Shondells are their singles. I didn’t know that the album version of tis track is two minutes longer. I’m not surprised, it never occurred to me that there would be an album as well. Ah, the obliviousness of youth!
This track has been covered by Prince and more famously by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. The original reached number one on 1 February 1969, Joan’s cover made it to number 7 in 1982. Other songs that the group gave us that made it big are “I Think We’re Alone Now” covered by Tiffany and “Mony Mony” by Billy Idol. Both of which hit number one in November of 1987. “Crystal Blue Persuasion” is another track I always enjoyed. I do have a bit of a psychedelia streak in me (see here, here, here, and here).
“Crimson and Clover” entered the U.S. charts on December 14, where it stayed for 16 weeks on Billboard Hot 100 and 15 weeks on Cash Box Top 100. Following a performance of the song on The Ed Sullivan Show on January 26, it became number one on February 1, 1969, a position held for one week on Cash Box Top 100 and two weeks on both Billboard Hot 100 and Record World 100 Top Pops. Internationally, the song reached number one in Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, and Switzerland. It also charted in Austria, Brazil, France, Holland, Italy, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, and Puerto Rico. Despite this, the song did not chart in the United Kingdom.
And to even out the music spectrum, they also gave us the bubblegum “Hanky Panky”. Mother nature may abhor a straight line, but she does enjoy balance.
P.S. I’ve got a new genealogy blog now. The link is down below!