Well, this list would be incomplete without at least one Association song. And there are lots I could choose. But this one has several specific attributes which merit its selection.
1. It’s written by Terry Kirkman (he of Cherish fame).
2. It is a reflection of both the band’s vocal prowess and of the political climate of the period (Vietnam War and such). It also features instrumentation which is unusual, even in the world of later ’60’s pop music.
3. It did achieve some modest success due to FM airplay (a relatively recent development at that time… reached #100 briefly on the Billboard charts) and due to its release as the B-side of Never My Love.
4. The song is an antidote to the perception of the band as a mere Sunshine Pop phenomenon.
While the song (by the way, from the album Insight Out) is very much of its time (1967), it also raises issues which should resonate whenever a country calls upon its people to go to war. In retrospect, as we now consider the outcome of the Vietnam conflict, such misgivings were well-founded.
Black and white were the figures that recorded him
Black and white was the newsprint he was mentioned in
Black and white was the question that so bothered him
He never asked, he was taught not to ask
But was on his lips as they buried him…
Here’s the band and the song…
If you don’t know the song, I’d encourage a set of headsets and a careful listening… I do include video footage (as will follow) but I think appreciation is best achieved through the purely aural experience.
If you do want to see and hear the song, I include two versions…
The first is a performance by the band on the Smothers Brothers Show (its starts about 9 minutes into the segment (from a set of five songs recorded from the show). I include it here because it is performed at about the time of the song’s creation.
The second is a not pleasant montage of footage from the war (and the protests it spawned) accompanied by the song. I opt to include it here because it goes to the point of the song’s lyrics and because it reflects the news footage being broadcast to homes during the course of the war.
And about the… can you dance to it?
Dick Clark’s seminal American Bandstand provided a forum for pop music groups and individuals to achieve celebrity. Part of his program involved the rating of new music…
Clark would often interview the teenagers about their opinions of the songs being played, most memorably through the “Rate-a-Record” segment. During the segment, two audience members each ranked two records on a scale of 35 to 98, after which the two opinions were averaged by Clark, who then asked the audience members to justify their scores. The segment gave rise, perhaps apocryphally, to the phrase “It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it.”
You can only imagine how our judges might rate Requiem…