CLOSE YOUR EYES. TAKE A DEEP BREATH. OPEN YOUR HEART.

SHADY DEL KNIGHT, ADMINISTRATOR

SHADY DEL KNIGHT, ADMINISTRATOR
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
HELLO STRANGER ... IT SEEMS LIKE A MIGHTY LONG TIME!

Friday, November 21, 2008

On the Record: A Tale of Two Ditties, Part 1

Two songs simultaneously climbed toward the upper reaches of the record chart in November, 1963. Their trajectories met at a crossroads, a critical juncture on the timeline of American history. “Wonderful Summer” by one-hit-wonder Robin Ward...

...and “Louie Louie” by the Kingsmen, formed a musical bridge that carried us, for all intents and purposes, from the 1950s into the 1960s.

In my experience, when people refer to popular music of the 50s, they are usually talking about the period from the mid 50s, when "Rock Around the Clock" took the country by storm, through the end of 1963, just before the Beatles invaded America. By the same token, most 60s music played on oldies radio was released after the Beatles phenomenon began in 1964.

The wholesome teen ballad "Wonderful Summer" epitomizes the innocent 50s era that was drawing to a close by the end of 1963, while the wildly provocative "Louie Louie" helped usher in the tumultuous 60s.

With its lush string orchestration, overdubbed vocals, and atmospheric sounds of sea birds and crashing waves, Robin Ward's "Wonderful Summer" is a wistful, evocative classic of the girl group genre.

The record began climbing the chart the first week of November. For those of us who lived north of the Mason-Dixon, "Wonderful Summer" made us yearn for those warm, carefree days of summer when life's only concern was strolling the beach with that special someone.



By mid November, "Wonderful Summer" had reached its chart zenith at #14.

One week later, our bittersweet dreams of a casual summer romance were shattered and we awakened to the cold, harsh reality that our charismatic young president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, had been taken from us by an assassin’s bullet. The sense of safety, security and order that our generation had enjoyed up to that point was suddenly, brutally and permanently violated on November 22nd, 1963. That date, 45 years ago this week, marked the end of innocence and idealism in America and the beginning of an age of cynicism and irreverence that persists to this day.

"Wonderful Summer" is forever linked in my memory to the slaying of the president. The soothing sounds of terns and tides are now contaminated by the maddening, relentless beat of muffled drums across the Potomac.

(to be continued)

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