A wise person once said of Facebook and Twitter that Facebook makes him want to know less about people he knows and that Twitter makes him want to know more about people he doesn’t. And while it seems like Facebook is the ultimate way to share, Twitter interactions are often more rewarding than those on Facebook, even 140 characters at a time. So my single new year’s resolution is to spend less time on Facebook. There are lots of reasons for doing so: privacy concerns continue to metastasize, memes grow ever more pervasive, and I swear that if I am asked to share one more photo if I love my family, I may murder someone else’s family.
I have embraced Twitter even though it’s one of the reasons blog readership across the Internet has eroded in recent years, and I’m as guilty as anybody. Where once I might have written about a story that interests me in the hope that you would read it, I’m much more likely to simply tweet it now. That’s why this blog has a Twitter widget (“Real Stupid in Real Time”).
So don’t be put off by those who denigrate Twitter as useless or foolish. As long as you refuse to use it, you’re missing out a degree of engagement with the world that’s remarkably rewarding.
In a feeble attempt to stay on-topic for the remainder of this post, here are five worthwhile songs from my laptop music stash that run for 140 seconds, or 2:20.
“Oh Susanna”/James Taylor and Johnny Cash. Someday somebody’s going to write a book about the way TV variety shows brought rock acts into American living rooms at the turn of the 1970s, and how those shows helped to legitimize rock as an adult art form. Ed Sullivan did what he did, but he never displayed a feel for the artistry of the performers; to him, it was all about the eyeballs they would attract. But others on TV at about the same time, from the Smothers Brothers to Tom Jones to Johnny Cash to Glen Campbell, treated rock as art and rockers as people with important things to say. “Oh Susanna” is from Taylor’s February 1971 appearance on The Johnny Cash Show.
“One Two Three and I Fell”/Tommy James and the Shondells. This was the B-side of “Mony Mony,” and it’s another of those gloriously hard-charging bubblegum records that are so much better than they have any right to be.
“Theme From a Summer Place”/Percy Faith & His Orchestra. The 1960s were a golden age for many things, including easy-listening music. For all the cultural ferment reflected in (and driven by) rock ‘n’ roll, stars like Percy Faith, Ray Conniff, and the legion of singers who came to prominence in the 1940s and 50s continued to move product, and to get airplay right alongside the Beatles, the Supremes, and the like. “Theme From a Summer Place” was #1 for nine weeks in 1960, including the week I was born. This performance must have been on TV sometime around then.
“I Play and Sing”/Dawn. Between October 1970 and November 1971, Dawn charted five singles. “Candida” and “Knock Three Times” were huge. The third one, “I Play and Sing,” made #25 in Billboard and was Top 10 at WLS almost before people realized it wasn’t nearly as good as the first two.
“Don’t Sign the Paper Baby (I Want You Back)”/Jimmy Delphs. There’s a whole lot more to Detroit than Motown and Bob Seger. Producer Ollie McLaughlin is responsible for a number of famous 60s hits that came via Detroit: the Capitols’ “Cool Jerk,” “Hello Stranger” by Barbara Lewis, and records by the Ad Libs, Betty Lavette, and Deon Jackson. I cannot say for sure that Delphs is backed by the Funk Brothers on “Don’t Sign the Paper Baby” (which got up to #96 in 1968), but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit.
“Don’t Sign the Paper Baby (I Want You Back)/Jimmy Delphs (out of print)