Discussion:
The Number Ones: The Shirelles' "Soldier Boy"
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Bob Roman
2019-01-07 15:48:07 UTC
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Breihan defends himself against accusations (Dean!) that he reached too far in calling Please Mr. Postman a Vietnam song...

The Shirelles - "Soldier Boy"
HIT #1: May 5, 1962
STAYED AT #1: 3 weeks

Writing in this space recently, I said that the Marvelettes' "Please Mr. Postman" might've been the first #1 song to acknowledge, however obliquely, the early days of the Vietnam War. That became a little more concrete with the next girl-group song that hit #1. The Shirelles' "Soldier Boy" is a declaration of love for a man in the military and a pledge to stay faithful while he's away. Maybe the song would've come out even if President Kennedy hadn't been ramping up troop levels in 1962. Maybe it would've even done well. But it wouldn't continue to resonate the way that it does. Right now, YouTube is full of videos that set "Soldier Boy" to images of the war, and the YouTube comments, even on the video below, are full of Vietnam memories.

Of course, the Vietnam of 1962 wasn't yet a meat grinder for American kids, and it certainly hadn't yet become a mass-death clusterfuck in the larger cultural imagination. So whereas "Soldier Boy" might've once been a sweet, simple song, it's found a tragic new context later on. The starry-eyed harmonies sound like pure naïveté, an artifact of some lost innocence.

In any case, that's a lot of weight for the song itself to carry, and "Soldier Boy" is simply a dinkier, less powerful song than "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," the Shirelles' previous #1. The beat is a staid lope, and a big chunk in the middle of the song is just a plinky-plonk go-nowhere guitar solo. Still, those harmonies are absolutely lovely, and the way they project both sadness and happiness is a wondrous thing. The Shirelles were so good at implying things that went way beyond the scope of the songs they were singing.

GRADE: 7/10
Mark Dintenfass
2019-01-07 17:39:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bob Roman
Breihan defends himself against accusations (Dean!) that he reached too far
in calling Please Mr. Postman a Vietnam song...
The Shirelles - "Soldier Boy"
HIT #1: May 5, 1962
STAYED AT #1: 3 weeks
Writing in this space recently, I said that the Marvelettes' "Please Mr.
Postman" might've been the first #1 song to acknowledge, however obliquely,
the early days of the Vietnam War. That became a little more concrete with
the next girl-group song that hit #1. The Shirelles' "Soldier Boy" is a
declaration of love for a man in the military and a pledge to stay faithful
while he's away. Maybe the song would've come out even if President Kennedy
hadn't been ramping up troop levels in 1962. Maybe it would've even done
well. But it wouldn't continue to resonate the way that it does. Right now,
YouTube is full of videos that set "Soldier Boy" to images of the war, and
the YouTube comments, even on the video below, are full of Vietnam memories.
Of course, the Vietnam of 1962 wasn't yet a meat grinder for American kids,
and it certainly hadn't yet become a mass-death clusterfuck in the larger
cultural imagination. So whereas "Soldier Boy" might've once been a sweet,
simple song, it's found a tragic new context later on. The starry-eyed
harmonies sound like pure naïveté, an artifact of some lost innocence.
In any case, that's a lot of weight for the song itself to carry, and
"Soldier Boy" is simply a dinkier, less powerful song than "Will You Love Me
Tomorrow," the Shirelles' previous #1. The beat is a staid lope, and a big
chunk in the middle of the song is just a plinky-plonk go-nowhere guitar
solo. Still, those harmonies are absolutely lovely, and the way they project
both sadness and happiness is a wondrous thing. The Shirelles were so good at
implying things that went way beyond the scope of the songs they were singing.
GRADE: 7/10
Vietnam was not on most people's radar in 1962. More importantly, love
songs about guys being away in the army were a fixture in r&b and
earlier r'n'r, "A Thousand Miles Away" and "I'll be Home" being just
two that leap to mind. (I remember a discussion here some time ago
about whether the song, I don't recall which, was about a guy in the
army or a guy in jail.) Ir's a typical Breihan anachronism to attach
Vietnam to the song.
--
--md
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Bill B
2019-01-07 18:53:41 UTC
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On Monday, January 7, 2019 at 12:39:41 PM UTC-5, Mark Dintenfass wrote:
: 7/10
Post by Mark Dintenfass
Vietnam was not on most people's radar in 1962. More importantly, love
songs about guys being away in the army were a fixture in r&b and
earlier r'n'r, "A Thousand Miles Away" and "I'll be Home" being just
two that leap to mind. (I remember a discussion here some time ago
about whether the song, I don't recall which, was about a guy in the
army or a guy in jail.)

I never thought of "A Thousand Miles Away" as about a soldier, but you're probably right. The dispute you refer to was about "I'll Be Home." I said it was the service and Steve Propes said prison.
You didn't mention the most applicable one and the better of the two with the same title, "Soldier Boy" by the Four Fellows:


Mark Dintenfass
2019-01-07 22:55:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bob Roman
: 7/10
Post by Mark Dintenfass
Vietnam was not on most people's radar in 1962. More importantly, love
songs about guys being away in the army were a fixture in r&b and
earlier r'n'r, "A Thousand Miles Away" and "I'll be Home" being just
two that leap to mind. (I remember a discussion here some time ago
about whether the song, I don't recall which, was about a guy in the
army or a guy in jail.)
I never thought of "A Thousand Miles Away" as about a soldier, but you're
probably right. The dispute you refer to was about "I'll Be Home." I said it
was the service and Steve Propes said prison.
You didn't mention the most applicable one and the better of the two with the
http://youtu.be/GjgM-z7L7SI
Good song which I had forgotten about.

Songs of our era about soldiers far away were almost about their
temporary absence, not their possible permanent absence in fighting a
war. There was, of course, no "hot" war being fought by Americans
between the end of the Korean thing and 1965, which is when the real
build-up in Vietnam began. Even Chuck Berry's "Too Much Monkey
Business" references the drab boredom, not the danger, of being in the
army. Breihan's notions about what being in the army means are
strictly post-Vietnam (not to mention post-Iraq and post-Afghanistan).
--
--md
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Roger Ford
2019-01-07 19:23:10 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 7 Jan 2019 07:48:07 -0800 (PST), Bob Roman
Breihan defends himself against accusations (Dean!) that he reached too far=
in calling Please Mr. Postman a Vietnam song...
The Shirelles - "Soldier Boy"
HIT #1: May 5, 1962
STAYED AT #1: 3 weeks
By 1962 the standard of Shirelles hits had dropped considerably from
the heady days of "Dedicated To The One I Love" (still like their
version better than the 5 Royales original),"Tonight's The Night" and
of course "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" (whose writer unceremoniously
dumped them out of the 1962 Singles Battle! See below) .

"Soldier Boy" is very ordinary in comparison. VERY ordinary

It just scraped the Top 30 here in Britain at #27---their first (and
only) single on EMI's HMV label. Most of their earlier singles had
appeared here on Top Rank but that had just gone into demise and the
Stateside label (on which their future Scepter singles would appear)
had not yet launched. Only ONE of those future singles would ever
again grace the Billboard Top 20 after "Soldier Boy"---that being
"Foolish Little Girl" in 1963. And of course their career suffered
from 1964 onwards after the British Invasion..............

Here's how they fared in the 1962 Singles Battle

R1
7 Otis Rush - Homework - Duke 356
20 The Shirelles - Soldier Boy - Scepter 1228
R2
17 The Shirelles - Soldier Boy - Scepter 1228
10 Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd - Desafinado - Verve 10260
R3
17 Carole King - It Might As Well Rain Until September - Companion 2000
16 The Shirelles - Soldier Boy - Scepter 1228
And its all the way back to thje 1961 Singles Battle (yes thats right!
1961!!) for the next entry in this series in celebration of the
biggest single on the Billboard Hot Hundred in 1962

ROGER FORD
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Eric Ramon
2019-01-07 20:39:54 UTC
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Post by Roger Ford
On Mon, 7 Jan 2019 07:48:07 -0800 (PST), Bob Roman
Breihan defends himself against accusations (Dean!) that he reached too far=
in calling Please Mr. Postman a Vietnam song...
The Shirelles - "Soldier Boy"
HIT #1: May 5, 1962
STAYED AT #1: 3 weeks
By 1962 the standard of Shirelles hits had dropped considerably from
the heady days of "Dedicated To The One I Love" (still like their
version better than the 5 Royales original),"Tonight's The Night" and
of course "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" (whose writer unceremoniously
dumped them out of the 1962 Singles Battle! See below) .
"Soldier Boy" is very ordinary in comparison. VERY ordinary
I agree with this! I skip the tune when listening to their greatest hits.

I also can't stop myself when one of their songs comes on, or when I play them. I have to tell my wife, for the 5,000th time, "New Jersey!"
Dean F.
2019-01-08 04:20:13 UTC
Permalink
Florence Greenberg insisted that the original title was "I'll Be True To You," and that the "solider boy" part was added later. Like so many critics, Breihan reads way more into a song than is actually there.
Roger Ford
2019-01-08 06:02:41 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 7 Jan 2019 20:20:13 -0800 (PST), "Dean F."
Post by Dean F.
Florence Greenberg insisted that the original title was "I'll Be True To You," and that the "solider boy" part was added later. Like so many critics, Breihan reads way more into a song than is actually there.
I hadn't heard this before. I read somewhere that "Soldier Boy" was
recorded hastily in the few minutes remaining of a session.

The famous title change on a Shirelles number was of course "Baby It's
You" which wa originally a song called "I'll Cherish You" written by
Burt Bacharach and Mack David (Hal's brother). Luther Dixon wasn't
happy with the lyrics and asked Bacharach for a fast rewrite. The song
was then recorded as "Baby It's You" straight over Bacharach's
instrumental demo and released that way (with Dixon now getting
co-writer credit as "Barney Williams")

Back to "Soldier Boy" - I forgot of course the inevitable "answer"
version that Flo Greenberg put out as The Shirelles version was
hitting #1.

Here is Valli and "Hurry Home To Me" released on Scepter



WARNING : BE CAREFUL WHEN PLAYING ON A FULL STOMACH :)

ROGER FORD
-----------------------

"Spam Free Zone" - to combat unwanted automatic spamming I have added
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SavoyBG
2019-01-08 06:06:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by Roger Ford
On Mon, 7 Jan 2019 20:20:13 -0800 (PST), "Dean F."
Post by Dean F.
Florence Greenberg insisted that the original title was "I'll Be True To You," and that the "solider boy" part was added later. Like so many critics, Breihan reads way more into a song than is actually there.
I hadn't heard this before. I read somewhere that "Soldier Boy" was
recorded hastily in the few minutes remaining of a session.
The famous title change on a Shirelles number was of course "Baby It's
You" which wa originally a song called "I'll Cherish You" written by
Burt Bacharach and Mack David (Hal's brother). Luther Dixon wasn't
happy with the lyrics and asked Bacharach for a fast rewrite. The song
was then recorded as "Baby It's You" straight over Bacharach's
instrumental demo and released that way (with Dixon now getting
co-writer credit as "Barney Williams")
Back to "Soldier Boy" - I forgot of course the inevitable "answer"
version that Flo Greenberg put out as The Shirelles version was
hitting #1.
Here is Valli and "Hurry Home To Me" released on Scepter
http://youtu.be/CGszEUiZ8Q0
WARNING : BE CAREFUL WHEN PLAYING ON A FULL STOMACH :)
Video unavailable
This video is not available.
Roger Ford
2019-01-08 06:32:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by SavoyBG
Post by Roger Ford
On Mon, 7 Jan 2019 20:20:13 -0800 (PST), "Dean F."
Post by Dean F.
Florence Greenberg insisted that the original title was "I'll Be True To You," and that the "solider boy" part was added later. Like so many critics, Breihan reads way more into a song than is actually there.
I hadn't heard this before. I read somewhere that "Soldier Boy" was
recorded hastily in the few minutes remaining of a session.
The famous title change on a Shirelles number was of course "Baby It's
You" which wa originally a song called "I'll Cherish You" written by
Burt Bacharach and Mack David (Hal's brother). Luther Dixon wasn't
happy with the lyrics and asked Bacharach for a fast rewrite. The song
was then recorded as "Baby It's You" straight over Bacharach's
instrumental demo and released that way (with Dixon now getting
co-writer credit as "Barney Williams")
Back to "Soldier Boy" - I forgot of course the inevitable "answer"
version that Flo Greenberg put out as The Shirelles version was
hitting #1.
Here is Valli and "Hurry Home To Me" released on Scepter
http://youtu.be/CGszEUiZ8Q0
WARNING : BE CAREFUL WHEN PLAYING ON A FULL STOMACH :)
Video unavailable
This video is not available.
Try this one



ROGER FORD
-----------------------

"Spam Free Zone" - to combat unwanted automatic spamming I have added
an extra "m" in my e-mail address (***@mmail.com).
Please delete same before responding.Thank you!
Dean F.
2019-01-08 07:39:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by Roger Ford
Post by SavoyBG
Video unavailable
This video is not available.
Try this one
http://youtu.be/18jKKRkeumE
Still unavailable, but no reason to fret. I heard that song once. It's fucking vile!
SavoyBG
2019-01-08 13:58:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by Roger Ford
Post by SavoyBG
Post by Roger Ford
http://youtu.be/CGszEUiZ8Q0
WARNING : BE CAREFUL WHEN PLAYING ON A FULL STOMACH :)
Video unavailable
This video is not available.
Try this one
http://youtu.be/18jKKRkeumE
Same

Video unavailable
This video is not available.
Roger Ford
2019-01-08 14:52:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by SavoyBG
Post by Roger Ford
Post by SavoyBG
Post by Roger Ford
http://youtu.be/CGszEUiZ8Q0
WARNING : BE CAREFUL WHEN PLAYING ON A FULL STOMACH :)
Video unavailable
This video is not available.
Try this one
http://youtu.be/18jKKRkeumE
Same
Video unavailable
This video is not available.
Twice lucky eh?


ROGER FORD
-----------------------

"Spam Free Zone" - to combat unwanted automatic spamming I have added
an extra "m" in my e-mail address (***@mmail.com).
Please delete same before responding.Thank you!

Dean F.
2019-01-08 07:37:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by Roger Ford
Post by Dean F.
Florence Greenberg insisted that the original title was "I'll Be True To
You," and that the "solider boy" part was added later. Like so many
critics, Breihan reads way more into a song than is actually there.
I hadn't heard this before. I read somewhere that "Soldier Boy" was
recorded hastily in the few minutes remaining of a session.
I was quoting the 1991 Scepter/Wand boxed set--which, mercifully, did NOT include the Valli track!
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