The Power and the Nonsense

In 1961, as a kid in Atlanta, I discovered the radio–and, like everyone else, was amazed I hadn’t thought of it before.  Soon, I was passionately listening, waiting for my favorites to come around again on the playlist, even restlessly twisting the dial when the particular song bored me, in case something better came up on another station.  “Hit the Road Jack” by Ray Charles was one that always stayed my hand.

By the next spring, I had become something of a pop connoisseur, though my taste was eclectic and more than a little uneven (the first 45 rpm single I bought for myself was “Johnny Angel,” sung by Donna Reed Show regular Shelley Fabares–not quite a signal of good taste).

Among other things, I loved oldies and novelty songs.  “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour (On the Bedpost Overnight?)” by Lonnie Donegan was an early favorite in the latter category.

“Witch Doctor,” a somewhat older release performed by Ross Bagdasarian under the name David Seville, was another.

One of my favorites, though, was something called “Right String But the Wrong Yo-Yo.”

I never could remember whose song it was, but lines from it would pop into my head from time to time–still do: “Walked down t’the doctor t’get my string put on.  He made a mistake, put the string on wrong.”  Brilliant stuff.  Stays with you.

Dr. Feelgood was also known as Piano Red.  The song was a regional hit–one of the reasons I generally get funny looks when I ask others if they remember it.

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