Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Gift of Groove IV: We're Gonna Drop In On All the Music They Play

So we stopped by Philadelphia yesterday and we're going to stay there for a while because Philly is the birthplace of a major force in American music.  A couple of major forces, actually, including this goddess who I adore and who is the reason my handle is jazzbaby1.

As much as I love listening to her the focus of this week has been grooving, music you can tell Dick Clark about:  "I give it an 85, Dick, it has a great beat and I can dance to it!"  Can you guess what other major force in American music that came from Philly I'm talking about? 

First let me say that it's taken me about twenty minutes to start this paragraph because I've been clicking on everything I can find at YouTube.  Seriously, never ever have me do research because I can waste time like no one you know.  American Bandstand aired from 1952 to 1989.  It started as a weekday show from Philadelphia and wound up as a Saturday morning (or early afternoon) staple.  Of the original 3,000 episodes only 833 survive.  Most of the music was mimed but can you imagine Jerry Lee Lewis lip syncing?  And can you imagine being told to stay in your seat while he's playing this a few feet from you?

Before Mtv was created by smack talking wool hat pimp daddy Mike Nesmith (there'll be another post about that, I promise) American Bandstand and other shows like it were the way we watched music.  My stepmother grew up in Philly and every afternoon she and her sister would move the furniture and practice the new dance steps.  Baltimore had its own version called The Buddy Deane Show which was the inspiration for John Waters's Hairspray.  A personal note to John Travolta:  you may have been my teen scream on American Bandstand but the only true Edna Turnblad is Divine, God rest his pink polyester soul. 

Bandstand moved to LA in February 1964 and had some surprising guests over the years including The Doors, the Beastie Boys and PiL in John Lydon's most entertaining American television performance till he appeared as a defendant in front of Judge Judy in the 90s.  It was still an important launching pad in the 70s and 80s.

 Oh yeah, I can dance to that.  Actually, my feet always started tapping just hearing the theme, "Bandstand Boogie."  Barry Mannilow did the most famous version in the 70s and I know I'm not the only one who finds it irresistible.

You all have a good day.  I'm gonna be hoppin' the Philadelphia way.  See you tomorrow.


  1. I've been told I have an old soul because so I like so many old songs. Part of the reason is my parents were Depression babies and my brothers were much older. So I was exposed to a lot of old classics.

    I love the sound of Count Bassie, it's so smooth and mellow. Billie Holiday was another great; it's too bad her addictions destroyed her.

    I was weaned on American Bandstand and sad when it went off the air. It was like we lost an institution. I have the theme music going through my head without even clicking on the vids :D

    Excellent post.

  2. Thanks so much! The Barry Mannilow album that this was on was one of the first I ever owned.

  3. research: there can never be enough! Thanks for sharing yours with us.

  4. LOL, advisor in college told a story about how he had allotted himself four hours in the Library of Congress to do research for a book he was writing. Three days later and he still hadn't even gotten to the material he originally went to find.


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