Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Girls Are Back In Town

I am not about to harsh anyone's mellow with today's post. Back in the summer of 1974 I was between my college freshman and sophomore year, living on my own, and hanging with a new crop of friends. On occasion we would boogie up US 81 to Wichita to hit the bars and spend Sunday afternoons at the city park along the Little Arkansas River.

David was one of my buddies and he drove a hot orange muscle car. I vividly remember one Sunday afternoon on a return trip home. He had his swanky car stereo radio tuned to a top 40 station and three songs by female vocalists were played consecutively. All three were to be big hits. In the case of today's tune, it was that artist's biggest radio hit.

So what were the songs? I love them all but fully expect some groans related to at least one. First was Anne Murray's version of the Beatle's You Won't See Me. Believe it or not I was unfamiliar with that great McCartney tune from Rubber Soul. Ms. Murray's version pales in comparison, but the arrangement really isn't too bad and she had a nice voice that suited it well. Next up was Maria Muldaur and Midnight At the Oasis. The lyrics are as corny as all get-out but I have a real soft spot for this song. Maria has an unmistakable voice and her odd phrasing is frankly quite sexy. Plus the short guitar solo is quite tasty.

So my favorite of the batch? Hands down - Help Me by Joni Mitchell. Joni was entering a very jazz-inflected phase and the amazing procession of odd tunings and 11th chords ushered this song right up into the top ten. This was my introduction to her work and soon afterwards I had worked my way back through her catalog. Certainly not the Canadian folky sound of her earlier work, but it was a breath of fresh air in that summer of '74 and still brings a big smile to my face whenever I listen to it.

1 comment:

Holly A Hughes said...

Hunh. Of the three, my pick woulda been Muldaur -- Midnight at the Oasis led me to a little cluster of really tasty tracks she did, that have remained part of my mental repetoire. My Joni period was earlier. This is what I love about music blogs -- it's not just about the songs themselves, but the time when you heard it and all that baggage as well.