Monday, February 01, 2010

But first, a number

This afternoon, prompted by a Facebook post, I visited the website This Day in Music to find out what song was at the top of the charts the day I was born.  After setting my birthday, it gave me the option of displaying the hit song in the U.S., the U.K. and Australia.

Somehow I thought I would be familiar with the results and give a big nostalgic aww when it popped up on the screen.  Why?  I don't know, except that I think that I should know all songs everywhere at all time.  It's a hazard of the biz, I think.   The results of course, were not at all familiar.  Two of the three I did a total, HUH? and the third, well, to my credit, yes indeed I was familiar with Elvis.

The number one song in the United States was a little ditty called Stranger on the Shore by Mr. Acker Bilk.  Yeah.  Never heard of it.  Or him.  And, Acker?  Well, this hip song was a piece for clarinet and orchestra.  Yes, indeed.  The number one song in the United States on the day I was born was a piece for CLARINET.  Mr. Acker Bilk (nee Bernard Stanley Bilk) was so nicknamed because Acker was British slang (yep, he's a Brit too) for "friend."  He took up the clarinet during his stint in the military, and practiced out of sheer boredom.  Stranger on the Shore was originally called Jenny (after his daughter), but the name was changed when the song was used for a BBC television series.  He's still kicking at 80 years old, and after listening to this tune a couple times, I have to admit, it's very charming.

The number one song in the U.K. was Good Luck Charm by Elvis Presley.  It had hit the top of the charts in the states about a month earlier, and is one of those very middle of the road songs. Not too raucous, not too slow and shmoopy.  My personal opinion is that it's also a little dull too in that musically predictable way, but heck, what wasn't in those days?  Well...maybe a jazz clarinet song by some British guy.  Good point.  It was recorded in 1961 and hit the charts in 1962, which was just about the time Elvis was crafting the image of a movie star that happened to sing instead of a singer who happened to be in movies.

The third and final hit is courtesy of the Australian charts. Leave it to the gang down under to launch to the top a sort of Spanishy Mexicany instrumental piece whose lone lyrics Si Senor are peppered throughout the piece, until the very end when he chooses to end it with what can only be described as possibly unfortunate, probably insensitive and definitely bizarre utterance: I theeenk.  Was he not sure?  Whatever the answer may be, it didn't seem to slow him down any.  He got career advice from Beatles' manager Brian Epstein, he came to the States and starred in episodes of Daniel Boone and Mannix -- an unlikely combo in and of itself.

So there you have it. Three songs as different as they could be. Considering they were all hits on MY birthday, the fact that they are unusual, bizarre, and just plain different should not be surprising whatsoever.

I theeeenk.

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