In addition to its healing and mood-lifting qualities (for more on that, please see January 15, 2020 post on Ben Wytinck’s “’Bel”), music has a tremendously powerful way of evoking memories for me. While down another internet rabbit hole recently, I came across a song by Burt Bacharach… the composer, producer and performer was behind the soundtracks of many 1960s films, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, What’s New Pussycat?, Casino Royale and others. Listening to one of his compositions led me to trumpeter Herb Alpert, who sang Bacharach’s “This Guy’s in Love.” Then I happened on the Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass piece, “A Taste of Honey.”
Listening to the YouTube recordings of Alpert’s album, Whipped Cream and Other Delights, I remembered all the tunes, and pictured my late mother dancing in the living room to the upbeat “A Taste of Honey.” Floating across the carpet, she enjoyed music so much and, thinking back to that time, perhaps her lifelong and deep love of music helped spawn my own; a passion I’ve in turn passed along to my kids as I’ve always liked to have music playing at home or in the car.
In my own childhood home, an oriental-influenced, patterned carpet on our main floor — I think that one was in the dining room — was memorable as it made a good, imaginary road network for Matchbox toy cars. Another carpet, a short-pile, green one in the living room, was infamous for the way the pile looked scruffy when walked upon. When my parents were going to be entertaining guests, the newly-vacuumed carpet was off-limits — “Walk around it!” — lest we spoil its perfection. During those parties, I would be called downstairs to give my obligatory Red Skelton impersonation, “Heya Joe, Ah-hih, ah-hih, ah-hih!” and when dismissed, would linger at the top of the stairs, to hear the party sounds and hope someone would have mercy and bring me a sausage roll as payment for my standup.
I remember our home so often being filled with music like Alpert’s, as well as Tom Jones, Vera Lynn, the James Last Orchestra (a favourite of Dad’s), and any of my siblings’ music that Mum took a shine to, such as Bob Dylan and David Bowie (whose Ziggy Stardust concert Mum and Dad took me to see as, serendipitously, the tour was in Liverpool, UK while we were on a trip to visit our family there in 1973; Bowie’s reputation for his sexuality and androgynous garb was much to stoke the outrage of their more conservative British peers!).
The Whipped Cream album cover is a rather provocative photo of a seated woman, coated in whipped cream. Perhaps it was while furtively looking at the cover art that I was beginning my lifelong admiration for the liner notes of record albums. (I also remember the Alpert album had numerous instances of a single, brash, punctuating saxophone note that, to boyish ears, sounded like someone passing gas.)
The record also includes the tune, “Spanish Flea,” which some may remember as the music that played during TV’s The Dating Game, a 1960s game show where a single woman had the “opportunity” to ask three single men several questions, before choosing which one she’d go on a date with. Seriously.
Anyway, after nearly as much digressing as in the postscripts of a Corin Raymond subscription email, it’s about time to drop the needle on this tune! Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Please enjoy.
Here’s the official audio from the Herb Alpert YouTube channel (incidentally, a window in YouTube says Alpert’s playing in Winnipeg, Canada on April 14, 2020 at the Burton Cummings Theatre, which I still insist on calling the Walker Theatre; but, I digress, again):