High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The 200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell Part 1 (#200 to #191)

FF to the mid 70s. Now a proud Shady Dell alumnus, I often found myself flashing back to the good old days ten years earlier, remembering all of the fun we had dancing and romancing in the barn, and remembering all of the soul-stirring music that played nightly on the jukebox.

While memories of the Dell were still fresh in my mind, I decided to make a list of the 200 greatest Dell songs. Although I had visited the Dell off and on for six years, I narrowed the scope of the survey to encompass only the period from December 1965 through September 1967. Those were the 22 months during which I visited the Dell most frequently - practically every day - and logged an estimated 1,000 or more hours of first hand observation and mental note taking in the dance hall.

Limiting my list to the 200 greatest songs wasn't easy. There were dozens of worthy contenders that failed to make the cut. I was also faced with the difficult task of ranking the songs in order of "greatness." I had to think back and remember which songs had the most profound impact on the Dell crowd. Countless revisions were made before I was finally satisfied that my list truly represented the 200 Greatest Hits Of The Shady Dell for the mid 60s. I will now begin publishing the list in blocks of 10 songs at a time, counting down from #200 to #1.

Do you enjoy testing your
musical knowledge?
Of course, you do!
If you wanna play
name that tune,
see if you can identify
all 10 songs in this week's
countdown just by looking
at a few of the lyrics.

Here are the clues to the first 10 songs:

Once I was a hollow man
In which a lonely heart did dwell
Then love came sneaking up on me
Bringing hope to an empty shell

Worn out phrases and longing gazes
Won’t get you where you want to go

Just one look in your eye
And my temperature goes skyhigh

'mr judge,' I said, 'won't you please be kind
Have pity on me, a poor orphan child? '
Mr judge he says with a long mean frown
'orphan or not, you're going down!'
Well I screamed on my knees in the witness box,
'lord have mercy on my golden locks.'
The judge I could see that he was snide
He says, 'the only kind of blonde you are's a peroxide!'

I'll find you anywhere you go,
I'm gonna look high and low.
You can't escape this love of mine anytime.

Beware of pretty faces that you find
A pretty face can hide an evil mind

Roll over on your back
I like it like that

Everyday things change
And the world puts on a new face
Certain things rearrange
And this whole world seems like a new place

(listen to me when i'm
speakin','cause you know the
words i'm thinkin')
(and i know that you've been
cheatin', oh, i hope that
we'll be

You're here today and gone tomorrow
Leave this heart of mine in sorrow
Then you come around every now and then
Long enough to hurt me then you're gone again

(end of clues)

As my top 200 countdown progresses with each new post, the songs on the list will become more exclusively “Dell songs.” They are linked in my memory more with the Dell than with the “outside world.” By the time the survey breaks into the Top 100, the hardcore Dell songs are revealed. These are the songs that stand out in my mind as an inexorable part of my Dell experience.

When the countdown reaches the Top 40, the significance of the songs makes a quantum leap. The magnitude of each song's impact increases exponentially, just as the measured strength of earthquakes is multiplied at each numbered increment along the Richter scale. The highest ranking songs on my list, therefore, are the ones that epitomize the time, the place, the people, the mood, the attitude - everything that was the Shady Dell of the mid 60s. These special songs seem to have magic Dell dust sprinkled all over them and they trigger my most powerful Shady Dell memories.

Some of the songs on my Dell survey were big national hits, while others generated only limited regional or local interest. Yet, several of the records that were virtually unknown outside of central Pennsylvania became monster hits at the Dell!

As a practical matter, I eliminated from the survey a few of the usual suspects - the more obvious nationwide hits that were popular during this period. I needed to disqualify those widely known chart toppers in order to make room in the top 200 for the esoteric "Dell songs" that I wanted to acknowledge.

As I noted elswehere, some records remained popular at the Dell for years before finally being retired from the jukebox. A few of the songs in my countdown were already oldies by the time I arrived on the scene in 1965 but were still being played regularly. That's why those older songs are included in the survey.

I used the following criteria to rank each of the songs in my countdown:

1. Popularity - Regardless of a record's ranking on the Billboard or top 40 radio charts, a song was ranked higher on my survey if it was popular and played heavily at the Dell.

2. Longevity - Bonus points were given to a song if it lasted a long time before being yanked from the Dell's jukebox.

3. Obscurity-to-Popularity Ratio – Extra merit was awarded if a song enjoyed only regional or local appeal beyond the Shady Dell. Special consideration was also given to so-called 'Killer Bees' - B-sides of records that were ignored by radio stations but nevertheless became big hits with the Dell crowd. As it turned out, our friends across the pond shared our love of Killer Bees. Disregarding the intent of label execs and promoters, savvy deejays at the Twisted Wheel and other northern soul palaces across Europe often flipped records by American artists, making the B-side song the more requested and heavily played.

Okay, I've stalled long enough. It's time to find out which songs got Dell dancers up on their feet and out on the floor. Which songs made them laugh...made them cry...gave them chills and fever? Which Dell songs were the bona fide barnburners of the mid 60s?

Let's begin the countdown of the 200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell (December 1965 thru September 1967)

200. "(I Wanna) Testify" - Parliaments (July '67)

199. "Words Of Love" - Mamas & Papas (December '66)

198. "B-A-B-Y" - Carla Thomas (August '66)

197. "Lime Street Blues" - Procol Harum (July '67)

196. "Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie" - Jay & The Techniques (July '67)

195. "Secret Agent Man" - Johnny Rivers (March '66)

194. "Land Of 1000 Dances" - Wilson Pickett (August '66)

193. "The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game" - Marvelettes (February '67)

192. "Kind Of A Drag" - Buckinghams (January '67)

191. "You Keep Running Away" - Four Tops (September '67)

Well, how many
songs did you
correctly guess
from the lyric clues?

Refer to the
grading system
below to determine
your musical I.Q.

All 10 right – Congratulations! You’ve been appointed dean of the College of Musical Knowledge

7-9 right – Licensed lyric lover

4-6 right - Lyrically challenged

1-3 right – Sign up for remedial classes at the School of Rock

0 right – You just dance and hum along!

Do you have a Shady Dell Top Tunes list of your own that you would like to share? I'd love to see it, especially if it covers a different period of Dell history. It doesn't have to contain 200 songs; even a Top 10 would be interesting and instructive. Submit your Dell's Greatest Hits list in the form of a comment and I'll get it posted.

Have a Shady day!

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