Crash & Heartbreak

Record companies, not to mention insurance companies, have long recognized the link between motor vehicles, teenage operators, and unfortunate results.  For the insurance guys this has resulted in higher rates & claims.  For the record industry it’s led to a bunch of hit records, particularly in the late ‘50s & early ‘60s.

For oldies aficionados, few names evoke a more immediate response than J. Frank Wilson – “the Last Kiss guy”.  Not much of a recording career, but when you place #2 on the Billboard Top 100 for 1964, who cares – this song is the KING of the ‘Crash & Heartbreak’ segment forever.  BTW, the line “I gotta be good so I can see my baby when I leave this world” has always frightened me a lot – jeez, I hope that’s not how it works.  Anyway, here’s J. Frank and his biggest hit:

The next selection is designed to wring every ounce of teenage angst out of the listeners and it clearly succeeded because when it was released in 1959 it was actually banned on a host of radio stations because it was “too sad”.  It eventually fought its way through to the top of the Billboard Charts but wow, “too sad” to play???  Speaks to the era, I guess.

Teen Angel is a simple story song with a tragic plot: car stalls on the railroad tracks, boy & girl make it out safely, girl gets creamed when she goes back to fetch his HS ring.  Hey look, people die all the time trying to save pets, so who are we to judge her motive (I’m sure it would have taken months to get the ring replaced & by then – who knows – he might have moved on).  Anyway, grab some tissues and listen up:

Although it’s clear that guys are always driving (I mean, we’re talking ‘50s-‘60s) so far it’s been the girls who’ve paid the price.  Now it’s time to turn the tables with the Shangri Las’ ballad about that bad boy, The Leader of the Pack.

Pretty thin story line but it’s tough to convert a modern-day tragic tale (good girl, motorcycle hood, dad hates him, skid, crash) into Romeo & Juliette…UNLESS someone has overlaid the song onto video from Marlon Brando’s Wild One movie.  The song’s still a top pick but the video makes it better (listen but don’t watch if you’re a purist):

Pick 3 From Jay & The Americans

Interesting history of Jay & The Americans… it does not matter which Jay you are talking about (there were three of them), the vocals of this group have been rated with the very best in the history of rock and roll. Cara Mia has always been a fan favorite as Jay holds that famous high note to cheering audiences.

Originally, John “Jay” Traynor started the group, but he left before the group had their biggest hits. David Black came in to replace him and changed his stage name to “Jay” Black and led the group to several megahits. Finally in 2006, John “Jay” Reincke joined the group and did a lot of touring with the group. Jay Black also tours singing the hits he made famous!

I got to see these guys at a corporate Holiday party and they led off with Roy Orbison’s Crying (my favorite song), which they did to perfection. They continued to impress throughout the entire show…BTW, the horn section was outstanding!

My first pick from Jay & The Americans should be no surprise… Walking in the Rain. Everyone knows the lyrics and is ready to sing along, without much prompting needed. It is fun, light and romantic. What’s not to like? I hope you’ll enjoy this song.

My second pick is another of the group’s classic hits,,, This Magic Moment. This song from 1969 was their last top ten hit. Jay Black continues to sing this in his live appearances, but the original recorded version is still the very best.

My third pick may be a surprise… Some Enchanted Evening, originally from the Broadway & Hollywood classic, South Pacific. I really enjoy Jay’s rendition of this song and the accompanying video has some scenes that capture the essence of the lyrics. Once again the vocals of this group carry the day. I think you’ll love this version, especially if you’ve ever seen the play or movie!

Any write up about Jay & The Americans would be incomplete without a mention of their other super songs, Cara Mia, She Cried and Come a Little Bit Closer. All classics and fun to hear and sing along with, anytime!

Enjoy these Oldies!