Category: single

There’s Old Wave. There’s New Wave. And there’…

There’s Old Wave. There’s New Wave. And there’s David Bowie.

Top, an ad for the album Low. Bottom, the back of the sleeve for the “Beauty And The Beast” single from Heroesboth from 1977.

Billy Preston, 1974.

Billy Preston, 1974.

Holy cow! I’d never seen this before. I’d only seen the heavily edited version used on the picture sleeve of “Nothing From Nothing”, his third #1 single, which spent 18 weeks on the chart in all.

The Doors, “Riders On The Storm,” France, rele…

The Doors, “Riders On The Storm,” France, released June 1971. (Jim was living in Paris by then.)

Aretha Franklin, working up a mighty sweat for…

Aretha Franklin, working up a mighty sweat for “Rock Steady,” released November 26, 1971, from the album Young, Gifted and Black.

American Pie, by Don McLean, released November…

American Pie, by Don McLean, released November, 1971.

Funny thing about this one: the single version is longer than the album version! The album version runs 8:33, but that was too long to fit on one side of a single in 1971. Instead, it’s split into sections of 4:11 (A-side) and 4:31 (B-side), to allow a little overlap when turning the record over.

It’s understandable that people bring up “American Pie” when the anniversary of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper (JP Richardson) comes around every Feb. 3, because that’s where the song starts. After that, though, it goes further into America, politics, religion, fantasy, reality, dreams, and more. As Don McLean said on his website:

Metaphorically the song continues to evolve to the present time. It is not a nostalgia song. American Pie changes as America itself is changing.

…but tumblr folks should also note two things.

1) Don McLean was a huge fan of Buddy Holly in high-school, and had no idea why the rest of the kids in his school didn’t get it. They didn’t even care when Buddy died.

I mean, I went to school and mentioned it and they said, ‘So what?’ So I carried this yearning and longing, if you will, this weird sadness that would overtake me…

Sound familiar? 

2) Maybe it was more than just “weird sadness.” Don has talked about wrestling with depression – which of course is different than being sad. “American Pie” was a huge hit, but that only made things worse. 

The success I got with ‘American Pie’ really threw me off. It just shattered my lifestyle and made me quite neurotic and extremely petulant. I was really prickly for a long time.

If the things you’re doing aren’t increasing your energy and awareness and clarity and enjoyment, then you feel as though you’re moving blindly. That’s what happened to me. I seemed to be in a place where nothing felt like anything, and nothing meant anything.

Literally nothing mattered. It was very hard for me to wake up in the morning and decide why it was I wanted to get up.

Sound familiar?

This really is one of the most amazing pop songs ever recorded, for so many more reasons than most people ever talk about.

David Bowie, “Sweet Thing” single, 1974

David Bowie, “Sweet Thing” single, 1974

The Doors, “Love Her Madly” single, from the a…

The Doors, “Love Her Madly” single, from the album LA Woman. Seen here: the Swedish sleeve, March, 1971. Check the name of the b-side!

The Rolling Stones, “She’s A Rainbow,” from Th…

The Rolling Stones, “She’s A Rainbow,” from Their Satanic Majesties Request

digthe60s: Japanese release of The Who’s singl…

digthe60s:

Japanese release of The Who’s single “Dogs/Circles”, 1968

“There was nothing in my life bigger than beer, excepting you little darling.” A playful nod to The Small Faces’ acid-spiked music hall mini-operas, both anchored and elevated by Keith Moon’s inimitable drumming. The Who have largely disavowed the track, but what the hell do THEY know? LOL

“Sorrow,” David Bowie’s cover of The McCoys 19…

“Sorrow,” David Bowie’s cover of The McCoys 1966 track, was the only UK single released from Pin Ups. The b-side, “Amsterdam” (Jacques Brel, 1964), was recorded in 1971 for Ziggy Stardust, but not released until this 1973 single.