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A 1971 Time Machine ~ I Remembered the Theme Song but Not the Show

music_is_like_a_time_machineA song can be powerful.

Sometimes it is like a time machine.

There I was, listening to a mix of “Martini Music” …

I have to explain –

“Martini Music” is a type of music (not really a genre but it kinda is) that represents a certain type of mood and style. Usually found in the middle 1950s to the middle 1960s but extending much farther back and forward in time.

pink-martiniSometimes a Cha-Cha, sometimes a Swing number, sometimes a Mambo, sometimes breathy Jazz, sometimes a few exotic bird calls, sometimes a movie theme, sometimes a bit of cowbell, sometimes a pop song

les_baxter_LP_Space_CapadesIt always makes one get happy and wiggle a bit.

That doesn’t really explain it well, does it ?

You will hear a lot of marimbas and bongos … some swing and jazz … cool instrumentals … sometimes no bongos and marimbas but lots of strings with piano … sometimes a Hammond organ with the middle draw-bars pushed all the way in with the percussion tab down and the Leslie speaker on really slow spin …

Uhh … that still doesn’t nail it, huh ?

A process of elimination ? OK … No Beatles … yet there will be a lot of Beatles songs … No Stairway To Heaven either or Hendrix. Yet, there could be if it was arranged right with bongos and cowbell.

pink_martini_hollywood_bowl_posterGRRRRRRR !!! Elimination isn’t working …

How ’bout an INCLUSIVE LIST ?!?

Yeah ~ That’s the ticket …

You will hear cool arrangements like “The Look Of Love” and “Bond Street” by Burt Bacharach, “Fever” and “So What’s New?” and “Hallelujah, I Love Him So” by Peggy Lee, “Beyond The Sea” and “Charade” and “Mack The Knife” by Bobby Darin, “This Could Be The Start Of Something Big” written by Steve Allen and performed by Dave Pell, “Mucha Muchacha” and “My Blue Heaven” by Esquivel, “Love Is Here To Stay” by Harry Connick Jr, “The Pink Panther Theme”, “Mr Yunioshi”, “The Inspector Clouseau Theme”, “Baby Elephant Walk” and a ton more by Henry Mancini.

“One Mint Julep” by Sarah Vaughan, “Not Me” by actor turned singer Robert Mitchum, “Glow Worm Cha-Cha-Cha” by Jackie Davis, “I’ll Drink To That” by John Barry, “Bannana Boy” by Eden Ahbez, “Babalu” by the Miguelito Valdez Orchestra, “Watermelon Man” by Quincy Jones, “Smack Dab In The Middle” by Buster Poindexter, “Voodoo Dreams” and “Quiet Village” by Les Baxter (or the Martin Denny version), a rockin’ go-go version of “Love For Sale” and “Moon River” in a Cha-Cha arrangement or “Summertime” by Barney Kessel, “Under Paris Skies” by Earl Grant, “A Lot Of Livin’ To Do” by Nancy Wilson, “Something’s Gotta Give” by Anita-Oday-This-Is-Anita-LPSammy Davis Jr, “Mambo En Sax” by Perez Prado, “The Enchanted Sea” or “M’Gambo Mambo” by Martin Denny a LOT of Martin Denny!

“What Is This Thing Called Love” and other hot tunes by the amazing Anita O’Day, “Love” by Michael Buble, “The Girl From Ipanema” by Astrud Gilberto, “Manana” by LaVern Baker, “Frenesi” by Eydie Gorme’, “Bukra Wba’do” with “U Plavu Zoru” and “The Gardens of Sampson And Beasley” by Pink Martini, “Samba De Duas Notas” by Dick Hyman, “The Lady Is A Tramp” by Arthur Lyman, “Rum And Coca-Cola” and “Singapore Sling” and “Manhattan” and “La Dolce Vita” by the Xavier Cugat Orchestra, “Knock Me A Kiss” by Louis Jordan, “Lookin Good” by Jamie Cullum, “A Man and A Woman” by Herbie Mann, “Kiss Me Deadly” by The Brian Setzer Orchestra (former Stray Cats frontman), Don_Tiki“Ain’t That A Kick In The Head” by Dean Martin, “Hawaiian War Chant” by Ella Fitzgerald, “Let There Be Love” and “Daddy” by Julie London, “La Cumparsa” by Harlem Nocturne (talkin’ mega bongo there), “Bla Bla Cha Cha” by Don Tiki, “Perdido” by Dinah Washington and even “The Honeymooners Theme” by Jackie Gleason.

“Music To Watch Girls By” by Billy May, “Speak To Me Of Love” by Enoch Light, a swinging jazzy arrangement of “You’re Nobody Until Somebody Loves You” by Jamie Cullum, “Lullaby Of Birdland” by Arthur Lyman, “Bei Mir Bisti Du Schon” by Steve and Eydie, “Get henry_mancini_hatari_LPSmart Theme” arranged by Hugo Montenegro, a really cool arrangement of James Bond “Goldfinger” Theme by Count Basie and his orchestra along with another James Bond theme of “You Only Live Twice” (my favorite James Bond movie) arranged by Sir Julian, “Fascinating Rhythm” by the Don Ralke Orchestra, a schizophonic version of “Bluebeard” by Combustible Edison and even some “Pallin’ With Al” by the Squirrel Nut Zippers.

Did I leave anyone out? Frank? Of course there’s some cooler Sinatra in there somewhere. Mel? Sure there’s some Mel Torme’ in there too … look – I think that list does it good !

But I digress …

Along comes a song that grabbed my attention. It was a real blast from my past. I knew it well but haven’t heard it in ages. But it was some sort of theme music. Very unusual. The melody was a very early synthesizer sound like a well filtered, distorted metallic whistle.
tv_guide_cades_county
I popped up the display to see what was this mysterious song that pricked my memory. It was the theme from the 1971 television show “Cade’s County”

Cades_CountyWhat? I vividly remember the music –

… but I couldn’t place the show. Of course I was 12 years old then and was more into collecting NFL bubblegum cards, riding my Honda SL-70 and trying to get girls to hold my hand rather than watching much television.

This show was only on for one season. Not that it wasn’t bad – it was quite well done as I remember. The older folks were into it.
cades_county_jeep_jump
It starred Glenn Ford and that theme music was by none other than Henry Mancini !!!

There was also lots of swooping helicopter shots and very remote locations in the American SW desert.

Must have been a very expensive budget for TV.

However, it was replaced in that time slot after one season by the first season of M*A*S*H* of all things ! That’s right – a seasoned cast and crew who were huge box office draws in the cinema were replaced on television by a completely different type of show altogether.

Suddenly – I was teleported back to 1971 in my mind with all the wisdom of hindsight of that era. I realized there was a lot more to that year than just a change in the television schedule. And history became stitched together the more I thought about that year. All brought on by hearing a song!

1971-Color-TVmayberry_rfd_promo_color1971 was quite a transitional year in television media.

I theorize that the large demographic we call “baby boomers” were growing up and moving into the work force.

In just a couple of years the “baby-boomer” demographic would be hanging out at Discos and not watching television.

There was a severe drop in kids watching Saturday morning TV. Just like me.

I was riding “dirt bikes” in the woods on Saturdays.

hair_bear_bunch_peaceGone were the days of Johnny Quest and 1971 was the year of introduction of “Help! It’s The Hair Bear Bunch!”

… a genuine downward spiral in media culture and the art of animation.

1971_rca_color_tv_ad1971 was also the year when CBS dumped anything that was “rural”.

Or as Pat Buttram, TV’s “Mr Haney” of Green Acres described as:
“…getting rid of any show with a tree in it!”

It didn’t matter to CBS that most of those shows were consistently in the top 10 – like “Hee Haw” and “Mayberry RFD”. From then on it was all concrete and asphalt based in LA or NYC.

ABC cancelled one of my grandparent’s favorite show in 1971 – “The Lawrence Welk Show” after 16 years on the air. And on CBS they introduced “All In The Family”.

Something was happening to audiences in 1971. Even the number one soap opera “As The World Turns” fell from its leading spot it held since 1959 !

The Dallas Cowboys lost to the Baltimore Colts in the last five seconds of the fifth Superbowl that was a very exciting but strange game to watch that year. Lots of turnovers like the television schedule.

ed-sullivan-show-the-beatlesEven the “Ed Sullivan Show” where we saw many to be famous acts like The Beatles went off the air in 1971 after being a staple of television since 1948.

Also taken away was “The Johnny Cash Show”, “The Beverly Hillbillies”, “Family Affair”, “Hogan’s Heroes” and even “That Girl”. All replaced with a trend towards what was called realism. Lots of detective shows and “realistic” situational comedies (sitcoms). I can see how “Columbo” was realism, but how was the other exaggerations like “All In The Family” considered real?

Did American audiences really want realism in entertainment in 1971 ?!?

I theorize it really had a lot to do with what was going on at the time. We had everything from Apollo landings on the moon becoming routine to the public, domestic terrorist groups such as The Weather Underground causing havoc to terrible tornadoes across the South, Charles Manson and his followers are sentenced to death by a California jury, the 26th Amendment is passed lowering the voting age to 18, The Camden riots explode, Attica Prison riots, the UN Assembly takes in communist China and kicks out Taiwan and so much more crazy stuff fill the headlines.

At least in 1971 we had Led Zeppelin release their fourth album, Intel introduced the 4004 microprocessor and the first UNIX manual was published.

CBS_Evening_News_with_Walter_CronkiteHow could television audiences be craving MORE REALISM on their TV sets with all the commotion of 1971 was going on ?

Gone were stories where the good guy would eventually beat the crud out of the bad guy and save the day.

Enter the no resolution, never ending conflict of an exaggerated conservative bigot arguing with his “meat head” exaggerated liberal son-in-law.

Why would networks cancel thriving televisions shows ? Could it have something to do with the new “Prime Time Access Rule” ??? The FCC rule that shrank prime-time and then was repealed in 1996. I believe so. It had a lot to do with the state of television at the time.

junior-samples-hee-hawBoth “Hee Haw” and “The Lawrence Welk Show” lived on into syndication. It would never fail that when I would run across Jim and Jon Hager (the Hager Brothers) around Nashville it would always only take about 5 minutes for them to mention how ridiculous it was for CBS to cancel a top 5 show. Who ever said television was logical – but it is said that television is disposable! Of course, “Hee Haw” went on for another 20 years.

There was no more big audiences for shows like “Flipper”, “Gentle Ben” or even the Australian export of “Skippy The Bush Kangaroo”. Kids programs were all very cheaply made animation with very badly conceived characters and even worse scripts. Even the clever “Scooby-Doo” that premiered in 1969 turned cliche’ and horrid.

1971 was the year of the last television cigarette advertisement. It was during “The Johnny Carson Show”.

disco_dance_floorInnocence was gone and the future of popular entertainment was disco dancing, nose candy, platform shoes and blow-dried chest hair.

Then, I was transported back to the present.

I now had a better perspective on those times I experienced …

… yet had almost forgotten if it weren’t for that Henry Mancini song I heard.

classic_vinyl_LPA song can bring all that back and put things into perspective.

Go to that dusty box of vinyl you have stashed somewhere.

Get those LPs out and play them.

What you will experience is not just music remembered …

… you will have a ticket to a time machine in your mind !

Filed Under: Tony Rollo Articles and EssaysTony Rollo Blog

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