SUE’S SUNDAY SOJOURN: Each week I will showcase a particular artist or band during my entire two hour set. Each week, prior to the set, there will be a blog post where I will write about my memories, favorite stories or share other interesting tidbits. The idea here is not to tell the story of the band or play two hours of their greatest hits. The idea behind Sue’s Sunday Sojourn will be to spend time with Sue, down in her music vault. As she puts together the set, she will reminisce and share special memories. “I remember when this came out,” or, “I recall hearing this for the first time and I thought…” She might share little known facts, favorite memories, fun stories or maybe even some personal experiences.
The sets will have plenty of the big hits but be ready for a few obscure tunes that may be her personal favorites. She will probably include a few rarities or possibly unreleased material, along with other sundry curios. So join her every Sunday night from 7-9 as she lets you into her world.
Paul Revere & the Raiders
Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five:
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry-arch
Of the North-Church-tower, as a signal-light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country-folk to be up and to arm.”
From Paul Revere’s Ride, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1860)
And thus every school child of my generation, and before, learned about Paul Revere and his historic and patriotic midnight ride at the beginning of our War for Independence against the British. It just so happened that a young man working in a restaurant in the late 1950’s happened to also be named “Paul Revere.” (It was his real name and not a stage name.) It was there that he met Mark Lindsay who worked for a bakery that supplied the restaurant. The two became friends and formed a band in 1958 called the “Downbeats.” It didn’t take long until record companies took notice and they started recording.
They changed their name to “Paul Revere & the Raiders before” before the release of their first single in 1960, Beatnik Sticks. The following year they released one that charted, Like, Long Hair, which climbed to #38 on the Billboard Charts. (I’ll play both during my set on Sunday night.)
|In their early days, with Dick Clark|
You can see in the picture above that during these early years they had not yet adopted the 18th century Revolutionary War motif with the tricorns (three-cornered hats), uniforms and boots. They were just a rock band whose front man happened to share a name with a famous figure of American history.
The music world in America changed on 9 February 1964 when the Beatles came to America. America got Beatlemania and the “British Invasion” began. The American airwaves became choked with all sorts of British bands from then on. Bands like the Stones, the Bee Gees, the Who, the Yardbirds and Gary and the Pacemakers were all the rave and this doesn’t even scratch the surface. Amid all of this talk of the British invading, the story of the original Paul Revere seemed quite apropos. The band embraced this and soon their costumes took on a “Revolutionary War” appearance.
It wasn’t just their appearance and stage show that embraced this new theme. Soon their records embraced it as well, starting with Midnight Ride (reached #9 on the charts) in 1966. The phrase, “the Spirit of ’76,” had been popular in describing the sentiment of our Revolution for independence in this country. A famous painting (shown below) even bore the phrase as a title. A few weeks before 1967 began; the Raiders released an album that was a play on this phrase, The Spirit of ’67 (also reached #9 on the charts). The radio commercial for their next album started off, “There’s a Revolution going on at your record store!” The album was 1967’s Revolution! (reached #25 on the charts).
|The Spirit of '76, painting by A.M. Willard (1875)|
In November 1966, I remember watching an episode of the Batman TV show where the Penguin was running for Mayor of Gotham City. (Hizzonner the Penguin) During his campaign rally on the episode, the band on stage was Paul Revere & the Raiders! They got a bit of screen time and there was no mistaking them, complete with their tricorns and boots.
|Paul Revere & the Raiders on Batman (click to enlarge)|
I got to see Paul Revere & the Raiders in concert in the early 70’s. It was about 1974 if I had to guess because I seem to recall that they had just released their single, All Over You. They wore red, white and blue Revolutionary War uniforms with their trademark tricorns except now the uniforms gleamed as they were covered in sequins. To kick off the show they skipped out (yes, skipped) and jumped right into a cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s We’re an American Band. They ROCKED! And the song seemed to fit them so well. Paul Revere had a reputation for being something of a clown on stage and he did not disappoint us that evening and had us in stitches. Based on my own observations through the years, there is a rare formula that can guarantee a great time for the audience and they nailed it. They had such a great time on stage that anyone in the audience just had no choice and had a great time too. They didn’t just play for us, they had fun with us. (Others I’ve seen in concert that did this include Arlo Guthrie and George Thorogood.) It remains a great concert memory with me.
Their great anti-drug song, Kicks (reached #4 on the charts), was written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Well. They wrote it based on their concern for their close friend Gerry Goffin who had a big substance abuse problem. It was interfering with his marriage to Carol King and their ability to collaborate on writing songs. The song was originally written for Eric Burdon and the Animals but was instead recorded by Paul Revere & the Raiders.
DJ Sue’s Vault…
Here is my copy of 1965’s Just Like Us! (reached #5 on the charts). It is a special pressing on 180 gram white vinyl.