Welcome Back! To a time when rock and roll meant the Beatles, garage bands and Motown, and a 5000 watt AM station in Dearborn, Michigan transformed Detroit radio. Return with us now to experience again the sights, sounds and culture surrounding Detroit's number one '60s rock-radio phenomenon. Explore Keener13.com and celebrate the legend!
My favorite jukebox, at the original Mr. Joe’s on Northwestern Highway in Southfield, was loaded with rock, pop, country, and American Songbook classics. And for a number of years in the early 70’s, and especially during the holidays, we would inevitably gather at Mr. Joe’s, for stories, both true and false, cold beers, burgers and laughs.
Equally inevitable was one of us deciding it was time for our favorite song.
I think it was #116. Based on the amount of quarters we fed Mr. Joe’s jukebox, it should have been Number One!
Written by Holland-Dozier-Holland, with Sylvia Moy( co-writer of Uptight, I Was Made To Love Her, It Takes Two and others), there’s just something about that song.
The original version, by The Isley Brothers, had me cranking up Keener while driving down 13 Mile Road. Two and a half decades later, driving around West Michigan, the car radio was just as loud for Rod Stewart’s “This Old Heart”!
But for the life of me, I can’t tell you which is my favorite. Thus a Keener Friday Song “Double Shot”.
Released in the January of 1966, “This Old Heart Of Mine” gave The Isleys their only major hit for Motown, going straight to the Top Ten. Give another listen to a stellar lead vocal by Ronnie Isley, backed by one of the classic tracks of The Funk Brothers (and the DSO strings!)
Some 23 years later, Rod Stewart released his second version (a previous single in ’75 got minor airplay) of “This Old Heart”, and this time he brought in the big gun, Ronnie Isley! The R&R duet, produced by Bernard Edwardsof Chic and Trevor Horn(Yes, The Buggles), went Top Ten in the summer of 1989, and proved that Ronnie Isley had lost nothing ‘off his fastball”.
Lyrics, “…someone left a cake out out in the rain…” that are at once allusive and elusive. A song-poetry, really, built in 4 sections, or movements, much like a classical composition. And, it was 7 minutes long in it’s original form.
And yet, Jimmy Webb’s “MacArthur Park”, for all it’s contrarian Top 40 radio characteristics, has twice been a smash.
At the height of her success, her 4 minute single was Number One for the week of November 12, 1978, on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Dance charts. And, at the same time, she was #1 on the albums charts, with her album Live and More, featuring the eighteen minute “MacArthur Park Suite“.
We at Keener13.com mourn the passing of Allen Toussaint, and celebrate his life with a Top 5 overview of his music. Rest In Peace, knowing we are forever grateful for the good times you have left for the ages.
In 1975, be it at the roller rink, the dance floor, house party on on the radio, you could not miss the unmistakable sound of Patti Labelle, with a #1 song written by Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan, and produced by Mr. Toussaint.
Number One in 1961, written and produced my Allen Toussaint, here’s Ernie K-Doe.
Inspired by his childhood memories of nights in Louisiana, Mr. Toussaint’s “Southern Nights” resonated with Glen Campbell, who hit # 1 on three different charts in 1977.
Another smash from The Big Easy, Lee Dorsey was Top 10 in 1966, with another song written and produced by Allen Toussaint.
And, you save (one of) the best of the best for last. This one we remember (more) from driving with our Dads, listening to “their” stations. NOLA jazz great Al Hirt, with a Top 5 song written by Mr. Toussaint (and produced by the great Chet Atkins), from 1964.
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Nearly every member of the Keener Generation can vividly recall the opening of Gordon Lightfoot’s most successful recording, a cautionary tale about the awesome power of Mother Nature and the fate that befell the 29 men who were caught in her turbulent grasp 40 years ago today.
Edward Sherman, then a young man in Door County, Wisconsin, remembered the weather that day. “It was a lot like the hurricanes that I later experienced in Florida.” The storm would become one of the worst to be recorded in the history of Lake Superior, sending what was then the biggest ever vessel that traversed her to the bottom.
It’s been 4 decades since the S. S. Edmund Fitzgeraldslipped beneath the churning waves. It happened shortly after 7:10pm, near Superior’s southernmost point, only a few miles away from the safety of Whitefish Bay.
She was the pride of the shipbuilders at the Great Lakes Engineering Works in River Rouge when she was christened in 1958. Chris Gillcrist, Executive Director of the National Museum of the Great Lakes, told Toledo, Ohio’s abc13, “They built bigger boats after her but she continued to break seasonal tonage records because she ran long and she carried a lot. She started work early in the season and she was never laid up.”
The sheer size of the Edmund Fitzgerald made her a tourist attraction. “I can still picture it sitting here being overwhelmed by its size,” remembers former Toledo Blade editor, Tom Walton. “It was longer, bigger and faster than any other ship out there.”
Her ultimate destination was the Detroit Ironworks on Zug Island, near Ford’s mammoth River Rouge complex. Her cargoes were forged into automobiles, construction material and the sturdy iron skeletons of enduring edifices that could stand tall against the worst of Superior’s legendary squalls.
But on that November night, as “the ship’s bell rang.” nothing could protect The Edmund Fitzgerald from her inexorable fate.
The weather forecasts that day predicted 10 foot waves and winds peaking at a manageable 36 knots. But then, as now, divining the behavior of the swirling pressure systems that spawn “the gales of November” was was in inexact science. Captain Ernest McSorley had no reason to believe the trip would be any different from the dozens of November runs he had made during his career.
As the morning of November 10th dawned, the weather service upgraded the forecast, the Soo Locks were closed and ships on the big lake were encouraged to seek shelter.
The storm had shut down the navigational aids at Whitefish Bay. The powerful winds, the worst that Captain McSorley had ever experienced, disabled both of the Edmund Fitzgerald’s radar systems, torw a railing from it’s moorings and destroyed two crucial vent covers. The heavy seas flowing over her decks made it impossible for the ships 6 bilge pumps to keep ahead of the water that was pouring in.
Throughout the storm, Captain McSorley had been in contact with another vessel, the Arthur M. Anderson. It’s skipper, Bernie Cooper, made the last radio contact with McSorley. With wind gusts now raging near 80 knots, the doomed Captain reported, “We are holding our own.”
Just minutes later, the great ship disappeared from the Anderson’s radar screens. No distress signal was ever received.
One year later, Captain McSorley’s step daughter was driving through Toledo, Ohio, when she heard Gordon Lightfoot’s classic composition for the first time. “I had to pull off the road,” Nancy Ulrich told the Toledo Blade. “I was so overcome with emotion. I think it’s beautiful, a tribute to dad, to all the men on the ship and to their families.” Soon thereafter, a package appeared on Ms. Ulrich’s front porch. It was a copy of the album, with a personal message from Lightfoot himself.
May the souls of the 29 Rest In Peace, honored by a generation’s love for the artistry of a Canadian folksinger and forever a part of the eternal splendor of the Great Lakes.
Berlin’s mega-hit from the great Top Gun soundtrack, “Take My Breath Away” went to Number One for the first of four weeks.
Sure, the song was helped by a terrific script, co-written by Michigan State professor and good friend, the late Jim Cash and his writing partner Jack Epps Jr. And yeah, there was great casting. Kelly McGillis buttoned-up smart blonde, until she kicked in the afterburners. Tom Cruise showing off his now all-too-familiar (see picture at left) sullen intensity.
But, man. When this song kicked in, and the sparks flew, you knew from note one that “Take My Breath Away” was a smash.
And, all credit to the filmmakers. They didn’t use the song for the volleyball scene!
Enjoy Sunday Brunch on Keener. Careful for the afterburners!
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“A man walks in a bar, hears a really cool tune, thinks that has to go on the Keener blog”.
Recurring theme, sounds like the beginning of a bad joke. Hey, it’s just part of my life!
And so it was last Monday, when I stopped at one of my favorite haunts, The Brown Boxer in Mad Beach, Florida, for the Monday Burger Special. (No fries, broccoli, please.) And while I’m waiting for lunch, Stax/Volt Records Dynamic Duo comes blazing over the speaker.
Suffice to say “The Locomotion“, takes second chair to none of those songs, and the fact it did go hit the Top Five in three different decades perhaps defines it as their most successful song. So for Throw Back Thursday on Keener, a celebration of “The Locomotion”, beginning with the original, #1 in the summer of 1962, it’s Little Eva on Shindig!
12 years later, Flint’s Grand Funk hit #1 in the summer of 1974. Here’s live version, with help from Wet Willie.
And finally, 14 years later in the summer (again!) of ’88, Australia’s Kylie Minogue‘s “Locomotion” went to Number Three, while hitting #1 on the international charts.
(1930) Actor Robert Wagner is born in Detroit.
(1939) Bobby 'Boris' Pickett is born.
(1949) Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman opens at NY's Morosco Theater.
(1972) BBC bans Give Ireland Back to the Irish by Wings. Keener's Michael Stevens features the song on his program.
Number one on Keener this week in..
(1965) The Birds & The Bees, Jewel Akens
(1966) Ballad of the Green Beret, SSgt Barry Sadler
(1967) Kind of a Drag, Buckinghams
(1968) Love is Blue, Paul Mauriat
(1969) Build Me Up Buttercup, Foundations
(1970) Everybody is a Star/Thank You, Sly & The Family Stone
(1971) One Bad Apple, Osmonds
(1972) I Gotcha, Joe Tex