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

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Touched By an Angel (Make That Plural)

"I've always loved the power

of the spoken word."

So said Wink Martindale, the popular radio
deejay and television game show host.

I was just turning 10 years of age when Wink's
inspirational recitation "Deck of Cards" became
one of the most popular records in the land.

 "Deck of Cards" - Wink Martindale 
 (November 1959, highest chart position #7) 

In the spring of 1962 the Shirelles topped the chart
with "Soldier Boy," a girl's pledge to be faithful to
her man while he is off serving his country.

 "Soldier Boy" - The Shirelles 
 (May 1962, highest chart position #1) 

In 1964, Philadelphia thrush Diane Renay made us smile
when she sang about her steady boy joining the Navy
("Navy Blue") and welcoming him with kisses when he
returned home on weekend leave ("Kiss Me Sailor").

Bobby Vinton brought tears to our eyes the same
year with a song that expressed a soldier's p.o.v.
"away from home through no wish of my own." Bobby
co-wrote "Mr. Lonely" while serving in the U.S. Army.

 "Mr. Lonely" - Bobby Vinton 
 (December 1964, highest chart position #1) 

Another common theme in early 60s girl pop was
how peachy keen life was going to be now that
"my b.f. is back in town," presumably home from
his tour of duty in the military.

The Peggy Santiglia led girl group, the Angels,
had a smash hit with "My Boyfriend's Back," a
"returning home" themed record that spent three
weeks at #1 in the late summer of 1963.

 "My Boyfriend's Back" - The Angels 
 (August/September 1963, highest chart position #1) 

Apparently it didn't do any good to warn the stalker
that "My Boyfriend's Back." Seems he can't take a hint
and continues to pursue the lady. Bewildered, she is
left asking, "Why Don't the Boy Leave Me Alone?"

 "Why Don't the Boy Leave Me Alone" - The Angels 
 (track from 1963 album My Boyfriend's Back

Next we have another great recording released around
the time of the JFK assassination. (There were many.)
With this single, the Angels fell victim to the record
industry phenomenon known as split-play. The B side
vastly outperformed the A side, preventing either
song from becoming the hit that it deserved to be.

The designated A side, "Thank You and Good Night,"
entered the pop chart more than a month after the
B side, "I Adore Him." A sweet, innocent girl group
ballad, "Thank You and Good Night" struggled for three
short weeks before dying on the vine at #84. Even so,
the song became a popular girl group concert closer.

 "Thank You and Good Night" - The Angels 
 (December 1963, highest chart position #84) 

When you bought this Angels 45 you got a two-fer,
two exceptional girl group sounds for the price of one.
The original B side, "I Adore Him" is an up tempo song
with elements of "Please Mr. Postman" in the melody.
It outperformed "Thank You and Goodnight," finishing
in the top 30. This is as good as Girl Group gets!

 "I Adore Him" - The Angels 
 (November 1963, highest chart position #25, 
 B side of "Thank You and Goodnight") 

In November of 1964 The Angels released 
"World Without Love," a ballad not to be mistaken 
for the up tempo song recorded by Peter and Gordon 
and covered by Bobby Rydell. The flip side is a genuine
killer bee which will remind you of Ray Anthony and 
Henry Mancini's "Peter Gunn Theme." The Angels 
turn surprisingly tough on this one and sound more 
like the Shangs! I.B. Lovinit!

 "The Boy From Crosstown" - The Angels 
 (November 1964, B side of "World Without Love") 

Finally, let's press rewind and go back to the original
Angels lineup with Linda Jankowski (Jansen) on lead.

In the fall of 1961 the Angels scored their first hit record with the ballad "'Til" which went to #14. The group followed up a few months later with another ballad that I liked even more, "Cry Baby Cry."

 "Cry Baby Cry" - The Angels 
 (March 1962, highest chart position #38) 

 I think you'll agree. 

 When you listen to the Angels 

 you're in girl group heaven! 

Have a Shady day!


  1. I did not know that about Wink Martindale! I only knew him as an engaging game show host.

    Your picks are all top notch. One of your comments got me to thinking about how differently some of these songs would be viewed today, with what we know now about stalking, obsessions, etc. Kind of sad we've had to lose the innocence, so to speak, of those older times.

    Thank you, my friend, for another great morning of terrific music!

    1. Hello, dear Shelly! Yes, Wink Martindale had a big hit with his religious, spoken recording and I well remember when it was first released and played on my local radio station. (Gangsta rap was still light years away.) You made a good point. "Stalking," as it is called today, was once depicted in many movies, television programs and pop songs as, at worst, annoying, but just as often as flattering. Those were the days when we were led to believe that when a girl says "no" she actually means "yes." Much has changed since the early 60s in our perception of obsessive and controlling behaviors. At the same time it is sad that we have lost the innocence of the pre-Beatles era, the romance, the formality, the attention to rules, manners, etiquette, etc. Thank you very much for coming by, dear friend Shelly, and have a happy Tuesday!

  2. That was a very touching hit "record" that Wink recorded. I only knew of him as a game show host, I think it was Tic Tac Dough? My favorite song on this blog was the very familiar , "My Boyfriends Back". That was funny how you put those 2 songs together (about the stalker that can't take a hint). I enjoyed your clever post, Shady!

    1. Hi, Toni! In the late 50s and early 60s you could find a vast array of music in the top 40: novelty songs including those "break-in" records made by the late Dickie Goodman, big band and WWII style pop, country & western, instrumentals, and spoken word records like this one by Wink. It seems unlikely that a spoken record with a religious theme such as "Deck of Cards" could become a hit in this day and age. You are correct. Wink Martindale hosted Tic Tac Dough along with Gambit, High Rollers, Trivial Pursuit, Joker's Wild and other TV game shows. The stalking song "Why Don't the Boy Leave Me Alone?" was a track on the Angels 1963 album. I'm sure it was written to continue the storyline of their big hit, perhaps with the intention that it would be released as the follow-up single. It wasn't but I think it should have been because it's another great girl group recording! Thank you very much for stopping in for a visit and for your kind comments, dear friend Toni!

  3. Ah, "My Boyfriend's Back" - one of my favorite oldies! I never get tired of hearing that one. I agree with everyone else - these songs have an innocence and charm that, sadly, will never be back. We didn't know about a lot of the dark underbelly of society back then because we were so innocent ourselves. Maybe it's a good thing that we're a little more savvy, but I still miss the etiquette and sense of propriety that were a part of my growing up years.

    1. Right you, are dear karen! There's a lot to be said for the Dear Abby/Ann Landers era when most people actually cared about the proper way of doing things. I think we befitted from the extra measure of discipline and structure we had in our youth. Look how you and I turned out, right? (LOL) karen, as always I am delighted to see you. I thank you very much for your visit and intelligent comments, dear friend, and wish you a happy Tuesday!

  4. One of my friends shared a very feminist blog with me awhile back. Most of the commentary doesn't pertain to this, but the author dissected the song "Baby It's Cold Outside" as a guy making unwanted advances on a girl. I agree with the comments above, older songs had such a sense of innocence. I didn't grow up in innocent times but even now I think society is more hyper-aware of all the bad stuff that can and does happen.

    1. Hi, Ashton! I am very happy that you, one of my youngest followers, has weighed in on this topic. I am sure some of the songwriters who penned "stalking songs" in the 20th century feel embarrassed and apologetic about some of the more blatant ones. Even so, you can't blame the scribe because songs like that were a product of their time, a time when society tolerated and even glorified such behavior. Thank you very much for expressing your opinion on this matter, dear friend Ashton. I hope you also enjoyed the musical matinee while you were here. Take care!

  5. Hallo dear Tom. Oh, I loved this post, with so many favourite tunes of mine. I always loved that Wink Martindale record, Deck of Cards. It's actually very clever how it was done. Bobby Vinton and The Shirelles were always real favourites of mine. Songs of the 60's (and before of course) really were so innocent, weren't they, and I think we were all the better for it. I so agree with your reply to Shelly, in that it really is so sad that we seem to have lost all thaqt 'goodness', especially good manners. I am so thrilled to see how manners have to play such an important part in my grandchildrens' lives. Smooches to you my friend.

    1. Hallo, dear Thisisme! If you are saying that your grandchildren are routinely taught proper manners then I am elated to know it, although certainly not surprised in your case. How many parents and grandparents today possess enough discipline themselves to bother to pass such traits on to younger generations of their families? Not many! Not nearly enough! You know I love heavy metal and I ask your indulgence as I present the last two posts in that particular series. At the same time I want you to know that I left my heart, not in San Francisco, but in the 50s and early 60s. When I listen to the kind of music I presented in this post I feel most at home and at peace with the world, most like "the real me." I'm sure you understand what I'm driving at. I am very pleased to know that you remember "Deck of Cards" as well as I do. It is a clever story and always brings a tear to my eye. If you get on YouTube you will find a mature Wink Martindale reciting "Deck of Cards" to a live audience in recent years. Thank you very much, dear friend Thisisme, for brightening my day with your visit and kind comments! SMOOCHES!!!

  6. Many of these great tunes I remember...some are new to me. I was just really getting into music around '63 when the Beatles came and stole my heart! But my brothers were really into Mo-Town and many other sounds of that time. In surgery we have sirus and can put whatever music the Docs or the patients want. The 50's and 60's are popular, then it's on to "Big Hair" or AC/DC! The innocence many have commented on is so true. Now the stalkers that we think are OK are vampires or werewolves! I remember Wink Martindale as a TV host but I enjoyed listening to his recording. Very tender thoughts. Thanks for bringing a little innocence to the day today!

    1. Hi, YaYa! These are wonderful remarks from you, dear friend. I am definitely thrilled to be getting to know you. I, too, was just coming of age in 1963/64 when the Beatles exploded onto the scene. I have never experienced a more exciting time and I'm sure you remember what it was like as that wave of excitement we called Beatlemania spread across the Western world.

      If you read my reply to Thisisme (above) you realize that I am in the middle of a four part series saluting big hair bands of the 80s and 90s including AC/DC. If you can tolerate a smattering of heavy metal now and then on my blog w/o unfriending me then I will be very grateful. If you actually enjoy that type of music then I am ecstatic. Either way I just wanted to forewarn you that two more such posts are coming soon along with 60s Motown, Philly, NYC and Chicago soul, Southern R&B, mainstream pop, folk-rock, sunshine pop, garage, psychedelic, acid rock, 50s doo-wop - a little something for every taste including my own eclectic taste which embraces them all.

      I appreciate your observation that vampires and werewolves are the quintessential stalkers/predators and yet they are more popular today than ever before.

      What fun it is to have you over, YaYa! Thank you very much for coming, stay warm up there and enjoy the rest of your week!

  7. Hi Shady...what a post! You know, I don't remember the name Wink Martindale, but when I listened to your record, I did recognize it. It hits you in the heart! Oh, 'My Boyfriend's Back'! One of my favorite tunes-just love the song! But, whoa is me...I did not recognize any of the the other songs you featured by the Angels. Looks like I only paid attention to the one 'tough girl' song, 'My Boyfriend's Back', lol! But the Shirelles were great, there were so many great girl groups-I don't know how I could pick a favorite group. A clear, clean sound of the Shirelles did earn them a number #1 spot. Everyone loved 'Soldier Boy' I believe.

    Bobby Vinton, 'Mr.Lonely'...well, we swooned, and vowed that he wouldn't be lonely long, lol!

    Good stuff, Mr. Knight! Hope the middle of the week is seeing you well, with decent weather. I'm still happy to report cool weather in did get into the 70's today, and promises to be pretty over the weekend, we get to have Scootie over for and Easter egg hunt-he'll love it!

    Thank you for this fun post, and, for recognizing us Angels...oops! I mean The Angels! Haha! See you later-Happy Easter!♫

    1. Hi, Suzanne! I'm happy to know you remembered "Deck of Cards" as did Thisisme. One part of that story in particular stuck with me through the years. It was when the young soldier was brought before the Provost Marshall who was ready to severely punish him for playing cards in church. The soldier said to the Marshall, "I hope to satisfy you, Sir, with the purity of my intentions." I remembered those words for decades after Wink's record faded from the chart and I try each day to come from purity of intention. Another way of expressing it is a universal love frame. Hey, if you like girl groups, and who doesn't, then you will be glad to know that I am saluting many more of them in the coming months, the well known hit makers as well as obscure groups that never reached the chart but deserved to. Thanks for your visit, dear Suzanne. Say hello to Karo, Scootie and that other Suzanne (you're an angel and she's a little devil) and have a safe and happy Easter!

  8. I'm so happy I was able to crank up the volume and listen to all your spins on the hit parade. I thought Wink Martindale was excellent and a good way to teach children the importance of God (and a deck of cards). I'd never heard that before, I wonder why? Maybe New Orleans was too busy dealing the cards instead of studying them...
    You have some goodies for sure with all your Angel songs. What girl doesn't love 'My Boyfriends Back'? I remember 'Til' and will admit I used to play those 45's and lift up the arm and put it back down until I memorized all the words to many of your tunes you spun today. Now we just hit the back button???
    Happy Easter dear Tom and I hope you have a joyous holiday.

    1. Thank you, dear Sush! I'm happy to know you were touched by the angels in this post. As I mentioned to Suzanne, above, I will be focusing a lot of attention on girl group sounds the rest of this year and into next. There are dozens of great recordings most of us never knew and I am eager to share them with you. The Angels were sometimes "too good for their own good." They (their record company) placed great songs on both sides of their singles. That can do more harm than good, and I happen to know you are familiar with the principle "first do no harm." :) "Thank You and Good Night" and "I Adore Him" were both good enough to attain hit status on their own, but when released back-to-back on the same platter they competed against each other for radio play and chart position and canceled each other out. The fatal blow for the record was the timing of its release which came at the worst possible moment, just before the assassination of President Kennedy. A nation in shock and mourning is not in a record buying mood and I am finding many fine singles released in November 1963 that sold poorly. Thank you again for looking and listening, dear friend Sush, and happy Easter to you and your entire family!

  9. I enjoyed being introduced to "The Angels" today. The only song I knew was 'My Boyfriend's Back' one of my all time favorites. The trio had beautiful voices and I liked their songs so much. I'm going to go to youtube and listen to 'Til'.

    'Mr. Lonely' still moves me. Bobbie Vinton's voice is so wonderful. Thanks for the fun today, Shady!

    1. Hi, dear Belle! For decades I was unaware of how many great sides the Angels recorded, both with Linda on lead and later with Peggy. Some of their B sides and album tracks were good enough to be A sides. Even so, the times were changing rapidly and traditional sweet, innocent girl group sounds were becoming old hat. Girl groups and female soloists with attitude, a tougher look and sound, were the hot new trend. These included the Ronettes, the Shangri-Las and Nancy Sinatra. I always get misty when I listen to Bobby Vinton's "Mr. Lonely." It's my favorite song by him. Thank you very much for coming to call, dear friend Belle, and have a safe and happy weekend!

  10. Hi Shady! These ladies really did have the voices of angels. I remember "My Boyfriend's Back." That one never gets old! All the rest of them were new to me. I love "The Boy From Crosstown."

    That first recording you shared, Deck of Cards, was so touching. I will never look at a, seemingly 'ordinary', deck of cards the same way again. Thank you for sharing that and for expanding my mind once again, my friend. I hope you're having a lovely weekend, Shady!

    1. Hi, Jenn June! Yay!!! I'm so glad somebody mentioned "Crosstown" and it makes sense that it would be you, dear friend, because I know you appreciate, as do I, the bolder sounds. The song has an undercurrent of danger that I find very appealing. On the other end of the spectrum is "Deck of Cards" and I'm very happy to know you also appreciate that one which I thought appropriate for the Easter holiday weekend. The record influenced me as a boy and still does today as an "older boy." You are such a sweet friend, Jenn, and I thank you very much for coming over for a visit. I wish you and your men a very happy Easter!

  11. Fantastic post, thank you for taking us back...I love The Shirelles and Bobby Vinton!

    1. Hi, Caramella! I'm glad you know these performers, no doubt through your mother's experiences, and I'm happy that you enjoyed these music selections today. Please come back again soon, dear friend!


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