16 Great Performances
There are a lot of records I own which I can't recall obtaining, but this one I remember clearly. You may recall when Shannon Hoon died, but I didn't hear about it until I read an item in Time. Aghast at my complete lack of with-it-ness, I remarked to my parents, "Man, am I out of touch; you're supposed to hear about rock star deaths on MTV or the like." To which my mother replied, "You think you're out of touch; I go in a record store and when I look at an album I don't know which word is the band's name and which is the album title." So then I decided to write a song for the Pseudonyms which would have the same effect, and for reasons that escape me now, chose "The Andrews Sisters" as the title of my new song. If you want, I'll send you a copy of our cassette single with "The Pseudonyms" and "The Andrews Sisters" labeled indistinguishably on the front.
Anyway, I didn't know anything about said Andrew Sisters, so I naturally had to hustle out and buy one of their albums. The one I picked up, 16 Great Performances (on MCA), appears to be a rerecording, as it's in stereo and features the same small combo on the all the tracks (too cheap to hire a trumpeter, they have a sax play reveille on "The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B.") Along with a little library research, this album provided me with enough info to write a moderately lame song about the Andrews Sisters, and I still occasionally dust off the album, but it keeps getting worse every time I hear it.
If you don't know, the Andrews Sisters (Patty, Maxine, and Laverne) were one of the most popular musical acts of the 1940's, climbing the charts again and again and making several USO tours to entertain the troops - in fact, they were almost killed by a stray German shell in the winter of 1944. Their voices have an eerie similarity, so that I find it impossible to distinguish between them, but the timbre they share is brassy and strident. That tone was probably perfect for cutting 78's and appearing on AM radio, but it grates on my accustomed-to-high-fidelity ears.
As to the tunes (all composed by professional songwriters), I can only say, thank God rock and roll came along, because another fifty years of this drivel would have surely destroyed the minds of several generations. Seriously, a couple of the songs are almost purely nonsense ("shrimps and rice, very nice, have a snack, you want some seafood?") but others are well-crafted romantic ballads ("I'll be with you in apple blossom time/ To change your name to mine") or simply high-spirited fun ("Bei mir bist du schoen / Please let me explain / Bei mir bist du schoen means you're grand"). And to my pleasant surprise, I learned that "In the Mood" has lyrics ("Who's the lovin' daddy with the beautiful eyes / What a pair of hips, I'd like to try 'em for size"). The melodies are usually pretty snappy but largely unremarkable: those folks who complained about rock and roll destroying the melodic content of pop music can't have been paying too much attention to the simple intervals of "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree" or "Beat Me Daddy Eight to the Bar."
I suppose true aficionados of 40's music (if any of them read this site) will blast me for rating the Andrews Sisters instead of Bing Crosby or whomever (it may be like judging the 70's based on the Partridge Family) but I don't really know any better. The Andrews Sisters are good for a few kicks but there's not a lot of substance behind the blare.
(guy) Who's the living dolly with the beautiful eyes,
What a pair of lips I'd like to try em for size,
I'll just tell her baby won't you swing it with me,
Hope she tells me maybe, what a wing it would be.
So I said politely, darling, may I intrude,
She said, don't keep me waiting when I'm in the mood.
(girl) First he held me lightly and we started to dance,
Then he held me tightly what a dreamy romance,
Finally he said, baby, it's a quarter to three
There's a mess of moonlight, won't you share it with me.
So I told him darling, don't you know that it's rude
To keep my two lips waiting when they're in the mood.
(both) In the mood (hoy-doy) that's what s/he told me,
in the mood, and when s/he told me
In the mood, my heart was skipping
Didn't take me long to say I'm in the mood.
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