…even after watching Louise Palanker’s absolutely riveting Family Band documentary:
· Susan Claire Cowsill is the youngest human being ever to score a genuine Billboard Top Ten hit.
· John Patrick Cowsill, still the youngest male of the original family band, retains fond memories indeed of drumming four sets a night inside Rhode Island bars and wine cellars as a seven-and-a-half-year-old (“I remember the cops coming and shutting it down. We needed to get special permission from the mayor”).
· A detailed survey of “16” Magazines between January of 1968 and March of 1971 reveals John appeared on the cover the most times – 12, compared with Barry (9), Paul and Susan (tied at 6 apiece) and Bob with only one.
“Yeah, right,” some foreigners still sneer: “What the hell good has ever come out of Canada?!!”
Well, besides the (very early) Guess Who, SCTV, and of course Young Neil, for seventy-seven years there roamed across the Great Wide Northlands a man, a myth – dare I say, a LEGEND who cast a long, black, yet somehow barely perceptible shadow over every guitar lasher who means a half hoot on either side of the dreaded U.S. / Canada border. A man who possessed a wicked tongue, beaver-sharp mind, commanding left leg and, above all, a wit and wisdom before which few others dare even stand, let alone deserve to approach.
That man, that myth, and/or that legend was, and forever shall be…
Stompin’ Tom Connors.
He wrote over three hundred songs, his thirty-four original albums sold over three million copies, and his autobiographies soared high up the best sellers lists. He was the subject of at least one Masters thesis, was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree, received a citation from Queen Elizabeth II as well as the prestigious Order of Canada …why, he even got married live on national television! But yes, chances are 99.9 percent of non-Canadians out there have never heard of, much less heard, Stompin’ Tom Connors. Probably because all of the above achievements took place north of the 49th Parallel, and because Stompin’ Tom Connors was an entertainer who not even once performed outside of Canada – and never had a single record released outside of Canada – throughout his tempestuous fifty-some-odd-year career.
I first became aware of the man in 1970, as composer of what to this very day remains my absolute favorite Three Dog Night tune, “Out In The Country.”
Then, in the years to follow, that same man would somehow become downright ubiquitous upon the 25 living-color inches of the family RCA XL-100. On variety and game shows galore, on The Tonight Show of course (forty-eight times!), even trying to murder Police Woman Angie Dickinson. All as some form of mutant, leisure-suited hybrid of David Cassidy and adorable Cousin Oliver.
Those Beach Boys and Rolling Stones weren’t the only septuagenarian rockers celebrating 50th (give or take) Anniversaries over the past twelve-or-so months, absolutely not. Just about each and every singer/songwriter/guitarist still standing – well, those with lucratively deep catalogues ripe and ready for recycling, that is – had multiple multi-media packages (and, in the Stones’ case, four-figure-plus concert tickets) competing for what remained of a loyal boomer’s nest egg throughout 2012.
So should you feel so inclined, unless you’re still busy searching for the real Bob Dylan via David Dalton’s Book Of The Year “Who Is That Man?” that is, may I wholeheartedly suggest investing in:
“Music is at the core of our being. Can you imagine a woman rearing a child and not humming to it? It's as natural as breathing.”
Just in case you haven’t already been listening over the past sixty-some-odd years, Eagle Rock Entertainment’s grand new Produced By George Martin documentary demonstrates once again, via a wealth of vintage clips and contemporary interviews with clients past (Paul McCartney, Cilla Black, Jeff Beck, Bernard Cribbins even) and protégés present-day (Rick Rubin, T-Bone Burnett) the sheer magnitude of the man’s sonic innovations on, and indelible contributions to, the music industry. Or what remains of it, I should say.
All of which got this Rock and Roll Reporter thinking, for not the first time mind you, what exactly our aural lives would have, could have been like in, dare I even imagine it…
Yes indeed, it goes without saying that Brian Wilson and his familial band full of brothers, cousins and friends have enjoyed a career quite unlike any other across the cuckoo annals of show business.
Scoring a local hit in 1961 straight off the mark with their very first little indie single, then soon after placing a sophomore release into no less than the hallowed Billboard Hot 100 – and all at a time when the majority of the band still had to be home in time to attend class the next morning – The Beach Boys, it could be argued, really started their marathon run at the very tip-top, suicidally crash-dove towards oblivion a few short years later, and only then slowly but surely began their struggle up the ladder of ever-lasting fame, fortune and, ultimately, all-American glory …and just finished touring the globe promoting a new (!!) hit album, need I remind anyone.
It may have taken me over forty years, but on June 16, 2011 I finally got to see one of my all-time favorite rock ‘n’ roll bands in concert.
Sure, at the highly tender age of eight-and-a-half I was undoubtedly, along with at least 73 million others, the ideal candidate to contract a terminal case of Beatlemania when Paul, George, Ringo and “Sorry girls, He’s Married” Britishly invaded The Ed Sullivan Show all those years ago. Instantly, I will admit, all aspirations of becoming an archaeologist and/or Formula One racer forever vanished beneath a monophonic haze of swirling seven-inch Capitol 45’s upon my parents’ hitherto genteel hi-fi console …that is, when I wasn’t Lennon’ing around the basement strumming one of dad’s old tennis racquets attached via kite string to an upturned cardboard washing machine Vox – I mean box.