Discussion:
The Number Ones: Johnny Preston’s “Running Bear”
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Bob Roman
2018-11-23 20:59:37 UTC
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A writer named Tom Breihan has been reviewing, in order, every song to hit #1 in the Billboard Hot 100.

Johnny Preston – “Running Bear”
HIT #1: January 18, 1960
STAYED AT #1: 3 weeks

Here’s the first thing you will notice about Johnny Preston’s “Running Bear”: Johnny Preston’s “Running Bear” is racist as a motherfucker. Now: Johnny Preston probably didn’t think “Running Bear” was a racist song. It’s entirely possible that nobody in 1960 thought the song was racist. After all, “Running Bear” doesn’t treat its two Native American characters as subhuman stereotypes, exactly. Instead, it tells a story of doomed love, of two kids from warring tribes who die in their attempt to find each other. But rather than the sort of melodrama you usually hear in this era’s stories of doomed love, “Running Bear” tells their story with fake tribal war chants. So: racist.

The two people doing those fake tribal war chants in the background of “Running Bear” are country icon George Jones and Jiles Perry Richardson, the Big Bopper, the outsized rockabilly personality who died in the same 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens. Richardson wrote “Running Bear” and gave it to Johnny Preston, a 20-year-old Texan rockabilly singer who’d never scored a hit before.

As a rockabilly song, “Running Bear” checks all the marks. It’s got a big, honking beat and a squawking saxophone solo, and Preston casually drawls out his story of a “young Indian brave” with a certain suave Southern assurance. But in “Running Bear,” he’s selling a story that should be Shakespearean in its heartbreak. Instead, when Running Bear and Little White Dove drown together in a river, Preston sings that “they’ll always be together in that happy hunting ground” like it’s a cute ending. It’s pretty fucked up!

GRADE: 4/10
Bob Roman
2018-11-23 21:03:59 UTC
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I'm waiting to see if the response to this one will lean more heavily to criticism of his overly-broad use of the term "rockabilly" or criticism of his claims of racism.

--
BR
SavoyBG
2018-11-23 21:13:45 UTC
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I never knew that somebody died in the song. I just really like the hook in the chorus.
Mark Dintenfass
2018-11-23 23:17:24 UTC
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Post by Bob Roman
I'm waiting to see if the response to this one will lean more heavily to
criticism of his overly-broad use of the term "rockabilly" or criticism of
his claims of racism.
My money's on "rockabilly," a much more contentious item here than
racism.
--
--md
_________
Remove xx's from address to reply
Steve Mc
2018-11-23 23:33:59 UTC
Reply
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Post by Mark Dintenfass
Post by Bob Roman
I'm waiting to see if the response to this one will lean more heavily to
criticism of his overly-broad use of the term "rockabilly" or criticism of
his claims of racism.
My money's on "rockabilly," a much more contentious item here than
racism.
I found this in my archives. I'm sure I got it from this group. Not sure
who initially posted it, but it might have been Norm.

-------------------------------------------------------------

rockabilly would normally be a guitar
driven uptempo rock 'n' roll,R&B or blues based number done in a
particularly Memphis styled countrified manner preferably with a
slapping bass in the backing and echo chamber in evidence.

With Elvis' "Baby Let's Play House" or Carl's "Blue Suede Shoes" as
the role models.
In his excellent book on rockabilly "Go,Cat,Go",Craig Morrison goes a
little further with a more complicated definition of RAB but one with
which I still mostly agree.
I quote :-
"What's the recipe for rockabilly? Rockabilly can be identified by the
appearance (or absence) of a number of elements.Defining it is kind
of a parlor game,and devotees seem to advocate adding points for the
following elements :
* obvious Presley influence
*performers with a country music background
*identifiable country and R&B inflections
*blues structures
*use of echo effect
*strong rhythm and beat
*emotion and feeling
*a wild or extreme vocal style
*an energetic,blues influenced electric guitar solo
*upright bass,especially if played in a "slapped" manner
*moderate to fast tempo
*a date of 1954,1955 or 1956
*southern origins
Points are often removed for the following items :
*obvious commercial intent
*condescending juvenile lyrics
*chorus groups especially female
*harmony singing
*bland or uninvolved singing
*saxophone
*electric bass
*piano unless it is Jerry Lee Lewis
*weak rhythm
*black performers
*slower tempos
*every year later than 1957
--
Steve Mc

DNA to SBC to respond
Roger Ford
2018-11-24 06:22:17 UTC
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On Fri, 23 Nov 2018 15:33:59 -0800, Steve Mc
Post by Steve Mc
Post by Mark Dintenfass
Post by Bob Roman
I'm waiting to see if the response to this one will lean more heavily to
criticism of his overly-broad use of the term "rockabilly" or criticism of
his claims of racism.
My money's on "rockabilly," a much more contentious item here than
racism.
I found this in my archives. I'm sure I got it from this group. Not sure
who initially posted it, but it might have been Norm.
Or it might have been yours truly :)

It's REALLY ancient from September 2000 (I was still on the now
obsolete "dircon" ISP) and was part of a lonnnnnnng discussion about
rockabilly at that time.I've added a couple of bits that are missing
to help clarify
Post by Steve Mc
-------------------------------------------------------------
I guess a performance I'd call
Post by Steve Mc
rockabilly would normally be a guitar
driven uptempo rock 'n' roll,R&B or blues based number done in a
particularly Memphis styled countrified manner preferably with a
slapping bass in the backing and echo chamber in evidence.
With Elvis' "Baby Let's Play House" or Carl's "Blue Suede Shoes" as
the role models.
In his excellent book on rockabilly "Go,Cat,Go",Craig Morrison goes a
little further with a more complicated definition of RAB but one with
which I still mostly agree.
I quote :-
"What's the recipe for rockabilly? Rockabilly can be identified by the
appearance (or absence) of a number of elements.Defining it is kind
of a parlor game,and devotees seem to advocate adding points for the
* obvious Presley influence
*performers with a country music background
*identifiable country and R&B inflections
*blues structures
*use of echo effect
*strong rhythm and beat
*emotion and feeling
*a wild or extreme vocal style
*an energetic,blues influenced electric guitar solo
*upright bass,especially if played in a "slapped" manner
*moderate to fast tempo
*a date of 1954,1955 or 1956
*southern origins
*obvious commercial intent
*condescending juvenile lyrics
*chorus groups especially female
*harmony singing
*bland or uninvolved singing
*saxophone
*electric bass
*piano unless it is Jerry Lee Lewis
*weak rhythm
*black performers
*slower tempos
*every year later than 1957
*northern origins

The author goes on with much more but you get the picture,right?

I don't agree with everything above but it comes pretty near to my own
view of what constitutes rockabilly.

So with the ongoing rockabilly discussion on here right now what do
others think?


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!
Steve Mc
2018-11-25 00:37:58 UTC
Reply
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Post by Roger Ford
On Fri, 23 Nov 2018 15:33:59 -0800, Steve Mc
Post by Steve Mc
Post by Mark Dintenfass
Post by Bob Roman
I'm waiting to see if the response to this one will lean more heavily to
criticism of his overly-broad use of the term "rockabilly" or criticism of
his claims of racism.
My money's on "rockabilly," a much more contentious item here than
racism.
I found this in my archives. I'm sure I got it from this group. Not sure
who initially posted it, but it might have been Norm.
Or it might have been yours truly :)
It's REALLY ancient from September 2000 (I was still on the now
obsolete "dircon" ISP) and was part of a lonnnnnnng discussion about
rockabilly at that time.I've added a couple of bits that are missing
to help clarify
Post by Steve Mc
-------------------------------------------------------------
I guess a performance I'd call
Post by Steve Mc
rockabilly would normally be a guitar
driven uptempo rock 'n' roll,R&B or blues based number done in a
particularly Memphis styled countrified manner preferably with a
slapping bass in the backing and echo chamber in evidence.
With Elvis' "Baby Let's Play House" or Carl's "Blue Suede Shoes" as
the role models.
In his excellent book on rockabilly "Go,Cat,Go",Craig Morrison goes a
little further with a more complicated definition of RAB but one with
which I still mostly agree.
I quote :-
"What's the recipe for rockabilly? Rockabilly can be identified by the
appearance (or absence) of a number of elements.Defining it is kind
of a parlor game,and devotees seem to advocate adding points for the
* obvious Presley influence
*performers with a country music background
*identifiable country and R&B inflections
*blues structures
*use of echo effect
*strong rhythm and beat
*emotion and feeling
*a wild or extreme vocal style
*an energetic,blues influenced electric guitar solo
*upright bass,especially if played in a "slapped" manner
*moderate to fast tempo
*a date of 1954,1955 or 1956
*southern origins
*obvious commercial intent
*condescending juvenile lyrics
*chorus groups especially female
*harmony singing
*bland or uninvolved singing
*saxophone
*electric bass
*piano unless it is Jerry Lee Lewis
*weak rhythm
*black performers
*slower tempos
*every year later than 1957
*northern origins
The author goes on with much more but you get the picture,right?
I don't agree with everything above but it comes pretty near to my own
view of what constitutes rockabilly.
So with the ongoing rockabilly discussion on here right now what do
others think?
ROGER FORD
-----------------------
Sorry 'bout that.

Norm was probably a participant in the discussion.

It does seem like a pretty thorough definition to me, and that's
probably why I saved it. Which points do you disagree with ?
I was curious with >> *obvious commercial intent.

How would one quantify that ?
--
Steve Mc

DNA to SBC to respond
Roger Ford
2018-11-25 10:12:06 UTC
Reply
Permalink
On Sat, 24 Nov 2018 16:37:58 -0800, Steve Mc
Post by Steve Mc
Post by Roger Ford
On Fri, 23 Nov 2018 15:33:59 -0800, Steve Mc
Post by Steve Mc
Post by Mark Dintenfass
Post by Bob Roman
I'm waiting to see if the response to this one will lean more heavily to
criticism of his overly-broad use of the term "rockabilly" or criticism of
his claims of racism.
My money's on "rockabilly," a much more contentious item here than
racism.
I found this in my archives. I'm sure I got it from this group. Not sure
who initially posted it, but it might have been Norm.
Or it might have been yours truly :)
It's REALLY ancient from September 2000 (I was still on the now
obsolete "dircon" ISP) and was part of a lonnnnnnng discussion about
rockabilly at that time.I've added a couple of bits that are missing
to help clarify
Post by Steve Mc
-------------------------------------------------------------
I guess a performance I'd call
Post by Steve Mc
rockabilly would normally be a guitar
driven uptempo rock 'n' roll,R&B or blues based number done in a
particularly Memphis styled countrified manner preferably with a
slapping bass in the backing and echo chamber in evidence.
With Elvis' "Baby Let's Play House" or Carl's "Blue Suede Shoes" as
the role models.
In his excellent book on rockabilly "Go,Cat,Go",Craig Morrison goes a
little further with a more complicated definition of RAB but one with
which I still mostly agree.
I quote :-
"What's the recipe for rockabilly? Rockabilly can be identified by the
appearance (or absence) of a number of elements.Defining it is kind
of a parlor game,and devotees seem to advocate adding points for the
* obvious Presley influence
*performers with a country music background
*identifiable country and R&B inflections
*blues structures
*use of echo effect
*strong rhythm and beat
*emotion and feeling
*a wild or extreme vocal style
*an energetic,blues influenced electric guitar solo
*upright bass,especially if played in a "slapped" manner
*moderate to fast tempo
*a date of 1954,1955 or 1956
*southern origins
*obvious commercial intent
*condescending juvenile lyrics
*chorus groups especially female
*harmony singing
*bland or uninvolved singing
*saxophone
*electric bass
*piano unless it is Jerry Lee Lewis
*weak rhythm
*black performers
*slower tempos
*every year later than 1957
*northern origins
The author goes on with much more but you get the picture,right?
I don't agree with everything above but it comes pretty near to my own
view of what constitutes rockabilly.
So with the ongoing rockabilly discussion on here right now what do
others think?
Sorry 'bout that.
Norm was probably a participant in the discussion.
He was and the debate went on a while IIRC
Post by Steve Mc
It does seem like a pretty thorough definition to me, and that's
probably why I saved it. Which points do you disagree with ?
I was curious with >> *obvious commercial intent.
That's one I disagree with. "Obvious commercial intent" has always
been at the heart of most of the music business---which is one of the
most capitalistic industries on the planet---and the rockabilly
sub-genre was no different as far as I can see.

"Juvenile lyrics" is another. I'd say the majority of rockabilly
records have these. So what? It's not a criticism since I find the
majority of records in all genres have pretty banal lyrics which is
why most lyrics are of little importance to me but they certainly
don't stop many such records being good,very good or even in some
cases even great!

It's the SOUND that counts most!!


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!
SavoyBG
2018-11-25 15:02:15 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Roger Ford
On Sat, 24 Nov 2018 16:37:58 -0800, Steve Mc
Post by Steve Mc
Post by Roger Ford
On Fri, 23 Nov 2018 15:33:59 -0800, Steve Mc
Post by Steve Mc
Post by Mark Dintenfass
Post by Bob Roman
I'm waiting to see if the response to this one will lean more heavily to
criticism of his overly-broad use of the term "rockabilly" or criticism of
his claims of racism.
My money's on "rockabilly," a much more contentious item here than
racism.
I found this in my archives. I'm sure I got it from this group. Not sure
who initially posted it, but it might have been Norm.
Or it might have been yours truly :)
It's REALLY ancient from September 2000 (I was still on the now
obsolete "dircon" ISP) and was part of a lonnnnnnng discussion about
rockabilly at that time.I've added a couple of bits that are missing
to help clarify
Post by Steve Mc
-------------------------------------------------------------
I guess a performance I'd call
Post by Steve Mc
rockabilly would normally be a guitar
driven uptempo rock 'n' roll,R&B or blues based number done in a
particularly Memphis styled countrified manner preferably with a
slapping bass in the backing and echo chamber in evidence.
With Elvis' "Baby Let's Play House" or Carl's "Blue Suede Shoes" as
the role models.
In his excellent book on rockabilly "Go,Cat,Go",Craig Morrison goes a
little further with a more complicated definition of RAB but one with
which I still mostly agree.
I quote :-
"What's the recipe for rockabilly? Rockabilly can be identified by the
appearance (or absence) of a number of elements.Defining it is kind
of a parlor game,and devotees seem to advocate adding points for the
* obvious Presley influence
*performers with a country music background
*identifiable country and R&B inflections
*blues structures
*use of echo effect
*strong rhythm and beat
*emotion and feeling
*a wild or extreme vocal style
*an energetic,blues influenced electric guitar solo
*upright bass,especially if played in a "slapped" manner
*moderate to fast tempo
*a date of 1954,1955 or 1956
*southern origins
*obvious commercial intent
*condescending juvenile lyrics
*chorus groups especially female
*harmony singing
*bland or uninvolved singing
*saxophone
*electric bass
*piano unless it is Jerry Lee Lewis
*weak rhythm
*black performers
*slower tempos
*every year later than 1957
*northern origins
The author goes on with much more but you get the picture,right?
I don't agree with everything above but it comes pretty near to my own
view of what constitutes rockabilly.
So with the ongoing rockabilly discussion on here right now what do
others think?
Sorry 'bout that.
Norm was probably a participant in the discussion.
He was and the debate went on a while IIRC
Post by Steve Mc
It does seem like a pretty thorough definition to me, and that's
probably why I saved it. Which points do you disagree with ?
I was curious with >> *obvious commercial intent.
That's one I disagree with. "Obvious commercial intent" has always
been at the heart of most of the music business---which is one of the
most capitalistic industries on the planet---and the rockabilly
sub-genre was no different as far as I can see.
"Juvenile lyrics" is another. I'd say the majority of rockabilly
records have these. So what? It's not a criticism since I find the
majority of records in all genres have pretty banal lyrics which is
why most lyrics are of little importance to me but they certainly
don't stop many such records being good,very good or even in some
cases even great!
It's the SOUND that counts most!!
I think with the juvenile lyrics thing they mean that literally. If the words are clearly meant for 10 year olds as opposed to teenagers and young adults. In this case there's a difference between juvenile and other fluff.

As for obvious commercial intent I'd like to hear their idea of a record that is eliminated from the genre for that reason. Maybe they mean something like "Teddy Bear" by Elvis, I don't know.
Roger Ford
2018-11-24 06:23:04 UTC
Reply
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On Fri, 23 Nov 2018 17:17:24 -0600, Mark Dintenfass
Post by Mark Dintenfass
Post by Bob Roman
I'm waiting to see if the response to this one will lean more heavily to
criticism of his overly-broad use of the term "rockabilly" or criticism of
his claims of racism.
My money's on "rockabilly," a much more contentious item here than
racism.
As far as I'm concerned it isn't either

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!
DianeE
2018-11-25 02:36:43 UTC
Reply
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Post by Bob Roman
I'm waiting to see if the response to this one will lean more heavily to criticism of his overly-broad use of the term "rockabilly" or criticism of his claims of racism.
--
BR
-------------
It's embarrassingly racist *by 21st-century standards*. If you were
establishing a new football team today, you would not call it the
Redskins. You can't judge 1950s culture by today's standards. It makes
no sense. I'd like to play Richard Berry's "Get Out Of The Car" and
Young Jessie's "Don't Happen No More" for this guy and watch him start
ranting about sexism.
SavoyBG
2018-11-23 21:17:42 UTC
Reply
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Post by Bob Roman
A writer named Tom Breihan has been reviewing, in order, every song to hit #1 in the Billboard Hot 100.
Johnny Preston – “Running Bear”
HIT #1: January 18, 1960
STAYED AT #1: 3 weeks
As a rockabilly song, “Running Bear” checks all the marks. It’s got a big, honking beat and a squawking saxophone solo,
Is this fucking guy delusional? There's no saxophone solo.
Roger Ford
2018-11-24 06:33:31 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Bob Roman
A writer named Tom Breihan has been reviewing, in order, every song to hi=
t #1 in the Billboard Hot 100.
Johnny Preston =E2=80=93 =E2=80=9CRunning Bear=E2=80=9D
HIT #1: January 18, 1960
STAYED AT #1: 3 weeks
As a rockabilly song, =E2=80=9CRunning Bear=E2=80=9D checks all the marks=
=2E It=E2=80=99s got a big, honking beat and a squawking saxophone solo,
Is this fucking guy delusional? There's no saxophone solo.
This guy hears what he wants to hear

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!
Mark Dintenfass
2018-11-23 23:18:32 UTC
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Post by Bob Roman
A writer named Tom Breihan has been reviewing, in order, every song to hit #1
in the Billboard Hot 100.
Johnny Preston ­ ³Running Bear²
HIT #1: January 18, 1960
STAYED AT #1: 3 weeks
Johnny Preston¹s ³Running Bear² is racist as a motherfucker. Now: Johnny
Preston probably didn¹t think ³Running Bear² was a racist song. It¹s entirely
possible that nobody in 1960 thought the song was racist. After all, ³Running
Bear² doesn¹t treat its two Native American characters as subhuman
stereotypes, exactly. Instead, it tells a story of doomed love, of two kids
from warring tribes who die in their attempt to find each other. But rather
than the sort of melodrama you usually hear in this era¹s stories of doomed
racist.
The two people doing those fake tribal war chants in the background of
³Running Bear² are country icon George Jones and Jiles Perry Richardson, the
Big Bopper, the outsized rockabilly personality who died in the same 1959
³Running Bear² and gave it to Johnny Preston, a 20-year-old Texan rockabilly
singer who¹d never scored a hit before.
As a rockabilly song, ³Running Bear² checks all the marks. It¹s got a big,
honking beat and a squawking saxophone solo, and Preston casually drawls out
his story of a ³young Indian brave² with a certain suave Southern assurance.
But in ³Running Bear,² he¹s selling a story that should be Shakespearean in
its heartbreak. Instead, when Running Bear and Little White Dove drown
together in a river, Preston sings that ³they¹ll always be together in that
happy hunting ground² like it¹s a cute ending. It¹s pretty fucked up!
GRADE: 4/10
This is what a good friend of mine used to call "breaking a butterfly
on a wheel."
--
--md
_________
Remove xx's from address to reply
Roger Ford
2018-11-24 06:41:29 UTC
Reply
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On Fri, 23 Nov 2018 17:18:32 -0600, Mark Dintenfass
Post by Mark Dintenfass
Post by Bob Roman
A writer named Tom Breihan has been reviewing, in order, every song to hit #1
in the Billboard Hot 100.
Johnny Preston ­ ³Running Bear²
HIT #1: January 18, 1960
STAYED AT #1: 3 weeks
Johnny Preston¹s ³Running Bear² is racist as a motherfucker. Now: Johnny
Preston probably didn¹t think ³Running Bear² was a racist song. It¹s entirely
possible that nobody in 1960 thought the song was racist. After all, ³Running
Bear² doesn¹t treat its two Native American characters as subhuman
stereotypes, exactly. Instead, it tells a story of doomed love, of two kids
from warring tribes who die in their attempt to find each other. But rather
than the sort of melodrama you usually hear in this era¹s stories of doomed
racist.
The two people doing those fake tribal war chants in the background of
³Running Bear² are country icon George Jones and Jiles Perry Richardson, the
Big Bopper, the outsized rockabilly personality who died in the same 1959
³Running Bear² and gave it to Johnny Preston, a 20-year-old Texan rockabilly
singer who¹d never scored a hit before.
As a rockabilly song, ³Running Bear² checks all the marks. It¹s got a big,
honking beat and a squawking saxophone solo, and Preston casually drawls out
his story of a ³young Indian brave² with a certain suave Southern assurance.
But in ³Running Bear,² he¹s selling a story that should be Shakespearean in
its heartbreak. Instead, when Running Bear and Little White Dove drown
together in a river, Preston sings that ³they¹ll always be together in that
happy hunting ground² like it¹s a cute ending. It¹s pretty fucked up!
GRADE: 4/10
This is what a good friend of mine used to call "breaking a butterfly
on a wheel."
Alexander Pope?



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!
Mark Dintenfass
2018-11-24 11:53:32 UTC
Reply
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Post by Roger Ford
On Fri, 23 Nov 2018 17:18:32 -0600, Mark Dintenfass
Post by Mark Dintenfass
This is what a good friend of mine used to call "breaking a butterfly
on a wheel."
Alexander Pope?
Well, he was an 18th Century scholar. :)
--
--md
_________
Remove xx's from address to reply
Roger Ford
2018-11-24 12:00:47 UTC
Reply
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On Sat, 24 Nov 2018 05:53:32 -0600, Mark Dintenfass
Post by Mark Dintenfass
Post by Roger Ford
On Fri, 23 Nov 2018 17:18:32 -0600, Mark Dintenfass
Post by Mark Dintenfass
This is what a good friend of mine used to call "breaking a butterfly
on a wheel."
Alexander Pope?
Well, he was an 18th Century scholar. :)
Isn't Google wonderful?

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!
Roger Ford
2018-11-24 17:07:19 UTC
Reply
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On Fri, 23 Nov 2018 12:59:37 -0800 (PST), Bob Roman
A writer named Tom Breihan has been reviewing, in order, every song to hit =
#1 in the Billboard Hot 100.
Johnny Preston =E2=80=93 =E2=80=9CRunning Bear=E2=80=9D
HIT #1: January 18, 1960
STAYED AT #1: 3 weeks
Here's how it did in the 1959 Singles Battle

R1 Preston 12
Ronnie Hawkins - Mary Lou 15

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!
xpenenyx
2018-11-24 17:43:07 UTC
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On Fri, 23 Nov 2018 12:59:37 -0800 (PST), Bob Roman
Post by Bob Roman
A writer named Tom Breihan has been reviewing, in order, every song to hit #1 in the Billboard Hot 100.
Johnny Preston – “Running Bear”
HIT #1: January 18, 1960
STAYED AT #1: 3 weeks
Here’s the first thing you will notice about Johnny Preston’s “Running Bear”: Johnny Preston’s “Running Bear” is racist as a motherfucker. Now: Johnny Preston probably didn’t think “Running Bear” was a racist song. It’s entirely possible that nobody in 1960 thought the song was racist. After all, “Running Bear” doesn’t treat its two Native American characters as subhuman stereotypes, exactly. Instead, it tells a story of doomed love, of two kids from warring tribes who die in their attempt to find each other. But rather than the sort of melodrama you usually hear in this era’s stories of doomed love, “Running Bear” tells their story with fake tribal war chants. So: racist.
The two people doing those fake tribal war chants in the background of “Running Bear” are country icon George Jones and Jiles Perry Richardson, the Big Bopper, the outsized rockabilly personality who died in the same 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens. Richardson wrote “Running Bear” and gave it to Johnny Preston, a 20-year-old Texan rockabilly singer who’d never scored a hit before.
As a rockabilly song, “Running Bear” checks all the marks. It’s got a big, honking beat and a squawking saxophone solo, and Preston casually drawls out his story of a “young Indian brave” with a certain suave Southern assurance. But in “Running Bear,” he’s selling a story that should be Shakespearean in its heartbreak. Instead, when Running Bear and Little White Dove drown together in a river, Preston sings that “they’ll always be together in that happy hunting ground” like it’s a cute ending. It’s pretty fucked up!
This guy must be on crack. Running Bear is just another example of the
drivel Richardson wrote.

Characteristics of Rockabilly are as follows:

Obviously Presley influence
Performers with a country background
Identifiable country and rhythm and blues inflections
Blues structure
Use of echo effect
Strong Rhythm and beat
Emotion and feeling
Wild and extreme vocal style
An energetic, blues influenced guitar solo
Upright bass, especially if played in a slapped manner
Moderate to fast tempo
A date of 1954, 1955 or 1956
Southern origins

Perhaps the only one for RB would be moderate tempo.

Preston's Cradle of Love and Feel So fine are trillion times better
than RB ugha choo
Post by Bob Roman
GRADE: 4/10
DianeE
2018-11-25 02:40:32 UTC
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Post by xpenenyx
Preston's Cradle of Love and Feel So fine are trillion times better
than RB ugha choo
--------------I always liked "Cradle Of Love." Thought "Running Bear"
was a silly record. Remember being surprised to find out same guy sang
both.
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