The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

The Heretofore Unmentioned #86

Ian Whitcomb


Guillaume Lanfray said...

"He-he-he-here's my song!"

Timmy said...

Ian is a DJ currently at: WWW.LuxuriaMusic.Com
He is a wealth of pop musicology & never at a loss for words.

Michael said...

From the 1976 record The History Of Northwest Rock Volume 1:

Born in Woking, Surrey, England, Limey Ian Whitcomb became a Northwest rocker by accident. Ending a bus tour of the U.S. in Seattle (where he had a cousin attending college), Ian soon became a favorite of patrons at the old 92 Yesler coffee house. His unique entertainment skills -- drawing on ragtime, English music hall material, and some blues -- prompted the owners to take him to Jerry Dennon. Dennon signed Ian on the spot; but the first single, an instrumental dubbed "Soho," made no impact.

Ian returned to his studies at Dublin's Trinity College, with instructions from Dennon to record with his own rock band, Bluesville. In early 1965, Ian came back to Seattle with the rough mix of a newly arranged traditional tune, "This Sporting Life," done in a style reminiscent of Eric Burdon and the Animals. Dennon, Ian, and Gerry Roslie of the Sonics went back into the studio to overdub organ and maracas. The record then went out on Jerden and was immediately chosen KJR's "pick of the week." The rest, as they say, is history.

Capitol Records' Tower subsidiary took the disc for national distribution, and it quickly rose to a spot inside the national top 30. Ian was on his way. His next single, "You Turn Me On," went all the way to no. 1; and Ian's flashy keyboard work, likeable falsetto chirping, and cute good looks made him a darling of the record buying public.

Reverting to his original love, ragtime, in later years, Whitcomb wrote a detailed history of the subject and released one or two pleasant albums in that vein.

According to Billboard, This Sporting Life peaked at #100, while You Turn Me On went to #8, so they're obviously working off of someone else's charts.

Fred said...

Those charts could be local since up until the 70s, they used to keep Top 40 for different markets (for example "Palisade Park" was a huge hit in the NY Metro area, but didn't make much of a dent elsewhere).

Tom Sutpen said...

I thought 'Palisades' was a huge nationwide hit in its day. In fact, I recall reading an interview with its composer, Chuck Barris, where he claimed he was still seeing money from it.

Michael said...

Yeah, it peaked at #3 in Billboard in 1962.