IGNORED OBSCURED RESTORED
Good music is good music. How’s that for profundity? I make that point because today’s song of the week may seem to be a very unlikely choice to many of you. It is “Houston” by Dean Martin.
This song is just cool. It is rock and roll. Not in a purist way, but in the same way that James Dean or the Firesign Theater were – and they weren’t even musicians (at least in the main). It’s all about the attitude! Martin and the rest of his Rat Packers had it in spades.
“Houston” was written by Lee Hazelwood, who is most famous for his work with Nancy Sinatra – he wrote and produced “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” – including their duet on “Some Velvet Morning.” “Houston” made it to #21 on the Billboard pop charts in 1965, a year that was still dominated by the British Invasion groups and Motown.
Lyrically the song is about a good natured guy despite being down on his luck and unable to catch a break.
I got holes in both of my shoes
Well I’m a walking case of the blues
Saw a dollar yesterday
But the wind blew it away
Goin’ back to Houston, Houston, Houston
Good music is good music – no matter where it comes from.
Enjoy… until next week.
Poor rock ‘n’ roll. Always bending over. Always having to accept. Always apologizing to any and every other musical genre.
Why don’t we call anything that’s cool soul, or jazz or country?
Good music may indeed be good music. But that don’t make it rock ‘n’ roll.
Well, aside from the fact that Steve is, as usual ignorant (no one said this is rock, but at the time it was on the pop music charts which pretty much lumped pop and rock together with anything else that crossed over) I love this song.
But, remember contextually Houston was a year removed from the Beatles and, for example, No Particular Place to Go (both in t’64) and pop music and related charts were just starting to migrate from Peggy Lee and Bobby Vee and the Four Seasons (who began appearing with instruments after 1965 to make them seem cooler?) dominated to the more band-based singer songwriter platform it has become.
It came out the same summer as Like a Rollingstone (1965) and evokes one of the few times in my life I have “nice” thoughts about my brother and mother.
We were on vacation in Monterey that July, and my dad was on active duty all day which meant my mother was stuck with my asshole brother and me and for some reason we were allowed to play the pop station on the radio during the day as we toddled around the area looking for things to do.
Since my mother loved the Dean Martin Show, of course she loved this song, which really is pretty rockin’ for Dino (I can still see my brother using a comb to play “air harmonica” in the back seat of the car).
I can also hear Ann singing “Baby Baby” to Where Did Our Love go (released a year earlier, but still getting play) and the following summer, when Sunny Afternoon came out, Ann would yell “I beg your pardon” when Ray Davies would sing “I got a big fat mama.” Do understand that Ann was always dressed to nines, having won the best dressed woman in Sacramento County for ten straight years, though I was never sure just who created or distributed that award.
As for Dino and Frank and Lee Hazelwood and their ilk, all of whom recorded on Reprise (which I think Frank might have owned a share of?) this was what was on the charts at the time. It was the transition period for the radio when the generation of the Rat Pack et al were losing their grip on the charts and bands began to take over Billboard and pop music.
But, if we think historically, the album that dominated the Billboard charts before Dark Side of the Moon made its run? Johnny Mathis Greatest Hits (released in 1958), which was on the Billboard Top 100 for 490 Weeks, and is still second all time for weeks on the charts to Dark Side of the Moon (927 weeks).
As for me, I have so few memories of anything happy or congenial from the years 1963-69, my Jr. High and HIgh School years, where I was brutally illl (my average height and weight those six years was 60 pounds and 5’2″ and I spent roughly 6-8 weeks in the hospital each year with no diagnosis, let alone cure for the Crohns in sight) are few.
So, moments where Peter was not torturing me, or Ann and Rudy even paid attention (two years earlier they dropped me off at the hospital on the way to vacation) are fleeting.
Of course, Lawr should reference the second sentence of the second paragraph. But that would require coherence.