‘Wildwood Days’ by Bobby Rydell is reputed to be the last song that typified the ‘Happy Days’ of innocense and peaceful times of the early 1960s, known to many as the Camelot Era, presided over by President Kennedy until his very untimely death on Nov. 22, 1963.(Continued below)
We’ll examine the music Before & After the November 22nd JFK assassination in 1963 and see if maybe that tragic event had some bearing on the changing musicscene as well as movies, TV and the culture in general- going from a simpler, more melodic phase to a edgier, More dissonant type of music and the arts which perhaps reflected a change in society and culture. Did the loss of a beloved President have such impact or would the Societal /cultural and related music/ arts changes have happened anyway?
Week of Nov 16, 1963- KEWB Top 40 Hits, Oakland , CA music survey (prior to Kennedy Assassination )
Prior to the Kennedy Assassination , Top 40 radio was still dominated by happy, melodic mostly midtempo tunes and ballads such as ‘Wonderful Summer’ and ‘Popsicles, isicles.’ Hardly a clunker in the bunch. It wasn’t the more rocking, rebellious sounds of early rock and roll pioneers like Chuck Berry but it was a nice mix of everything from pop to R and B to jazz to novelty. Great sing-a-long tunes perfect for cruisin the Strand in your T-bird or Chevy with the radio blasting– or on the beach with your transistor radio. It was the third year of Kennedy and Camelot- an extension of the late ’50s positive, post-war era when we lived in optimism with futuristic, streamlined cars and trains, space age architecture and real dreams like landing man on the moon. And a young, dynamic anti-war, likable President perfect for the times. (Note: I was lucky enough to hear Kennedy speak along with 60,000 others at a UC Berkeley Charter Day address, as a 10 year old , in 1962) . Nobody would have imagined thst just a few days later the world would be in a different place- and the Kennedy era a thing of the past.
What were your fave songs from this week in 1963? We like them all except Sugar Shack– not sure how thst went no. 1.’ Since I Fell For You’ was a classic. I especially liked Wonderful Summer and In My Room as well as Night Life among many. What a mix of musical genres we had then. We noticed a sea change in the music soon after the assasination- a somewhat darker, less melodic sound, in general.
Remembering the great KEWB (see survey above from week of Nov 16-22,1963, Oakland CA where Kasey Kasem got his start a nd other notable DJs passed thru such as those pictured here. Courtesy Walt ‘Survey Man’ Hurd
JFK might have changed the world had he lived , or rather , prevented the ‘train wreck’, in our opinion, that followed and continues to this day 60 years later. Below, our great ‘rock and roll’ music this week 60 years ago at KEWB in Oakland CA where Kasey Kasem began his career a year or two earlier and other greats as seen here. Here’s another golden nugget that lives on today alomg with the great Dion https://youtu.be/cR3a2q5zmcE?si=Iyj9lRL7WIzbWZts
- One of a number of somewhat more ‘negative’ or dissonant sounding tunes showed up on radio and surveys even BEFORE the JFK assasination, like this one, DRIP DROP by Dion where Dion complains about his leaky roof and crumbling life. Week of Nov 16, 1963
Remember ‘Point Panic’ by the Surfaris that just squeaked into the Top 40 this week in 1963 on Oaklands KEWB? Like the music, The surfaris live on today, having appeared in Oakland just a few years ago at a tribute to surf legend Dick Dale
POINt PANIC by the Surfaris- If nothing else, the song’s title had an urgency about , perhaps, changes in the offing https://youtu.be/HmfxWN07sww?si=Joci-8ebJa3O-UZH… more at Oldiescountry.com and oldiescountry.blogspot.comhttp://oldiescountry.blogspot.com
We’ll be listening to and looking back at this week in 1963 as well as more before and after we lost JFK Nov. 22, 1963 and noting, perhaps, a Historic sea change . Here’s another of the gems we remember hearing 60s years ago growing up on on KEWB in Oakland
Send this one out to Walt ‘the Survey Man’
at #28, up 11 from # 40 it’s the great Lesley Gore. Again, here’s another song showing negativity , albeit resentment for another girl liking a guy for the wrong reasons.
Leslie Gore starts asserting herself , no longer the compliant girl we once knew, with ‘She’s A Fool’ #28 week of Nov 16, 1963-again, a week BEFORE the assasination.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY/WEEK CAN MAKE? OR, WERE CHANGES ALEADY HAPPENING?
Taking a look at the week of Nov 23, right after the assasination 60 years ago (1963) -debuting at #50 on KRLA, Los Angeles is Keith Colley – Queridita mia (1963), a Spanish version of ‘Lil Darlin’ that perhaps fit the LA market better because it didn’t even make it to KEWB in the Oakland- Bay Area. Note the music is already becoming a tad bit edgier the day after the Kennedy assasination or it could have been the LA market as compared to last week’s KEWB Oakland survey (though not sure whether the survey was actually formulated before or after the tragic day).
Hardly a controversial song , though Some might say the music was already Changing beforehand, with songs like Louie Louie in the can, but only debuting in cities like LA AFTER the assasination.
The ‘garage sound’ of Louie Louie was something unlike anything before- with almost unitelligable lyrics some said were lewd and crude, though the song had been released years earlier as a Simple R and B love song ,of sorts, by Richard Berry. Louie Louie had already climbed to #5 in Oakland , KEWB, the week BEFORE the assasination giving more credence to the theory that the CHANGE was already in the offing. But the assasination may have been the key ingredient that may have accelerated the change . Soon after we would have direct ‘action’ songs like ‘Change is Going to Come’ by Sam Cooke in February 1964 and ‘People Get Ready’ by the IMPRESSIONS in 1965 and others.
Was the music already changing before the JFK assasination- or just after with somewhat ‘dissonant’ records like ‘ Be Mad Little Girl’ by Bobby Darin , debuting at #45 on KRLA, Los Angeles.? We’ll continue to explore this topic
BE MAD LITTLE GIRL was a departure for Bobby Darin from his teen idol days with a darker sound than we were used to. Darin would continue to delve into new musical arenas Including folk, country and political. Debut a week after assasination at #45 on KRLA, Los Angeles
on a National Scale ….
MUSIC AFTER THE JFK ASSASSINATION
- ‘Todays Teardrops ‘ is just one of many melancholy songs climbing or debuting on the surveys following the more than tragic assassination of JFK, Nov 22,1963. TEARDROPS by Rick Nelson, written by Roy Orbison, debuted at 94 on Billboard – reflecting, perhaps, a changing music scene ignited by the tragic Day- some say the second time ‘the day the music died’ > https://youtu.be/T_yfkXvJGY8?si=boSvViDTM4YrYQ4s
WILDWOOD DAYS -End of an Era
MORE ‘Change Is Going to Come’
Sam Cooke sang as early as 1962 about a new era to come, but I doubt he intended it to result out of assassinations ( not just JFK but brother Robert in 1965 and, In 1968 Martin Luther King) . Society would feel the impact and much of the positivity of the esrly-60s had vanished-and the culture and arts that were reflected in the times. Judging by history and the music and culture that reflected the pos t-1963 period to now, that good time feeling, music and movies and more hasn’t returned I the intervening 60 years and probably never will. YOUR THOUGHTS? COMMENT OM THIS PAGE OR AT FACEBOOK.COM/OLDIESCOUNTY OR [email protected]
60 Years Later, JFK’s Interrupted Dream Remains Unfulfilled – How One Man Made A Difference
Lots of good extraneous material on the Kennedy era and ‘What if…’ such as that of Jeff Greenfield …
Summary: you will have to make thst decision whether the JFK assasination contributed to the changing music scene and culture. Or was America ready for something new like the Beatles, stones, psychedelic, heavy metal and rigjt up to rap of today?