Song written by David Clayton-Thomas andDick Halligan, performed by Blood, Sweat & Tears
I just got chills hearing the opening chords of this song from Blood, Sweat & Tears. No one plays this tune anymore… it takes me back…
Where I grew up, someone at the local radio station really liked Chicago (the band…). No summer day passed without a trek to the neighborhood swimming pool, which was just down the street. We wiled away hours in the water, with breaks during the adult and teen swims, which cleared the pool for five minutes while the grown-ups did laps or the adolescents had chicken fights. Our only option was to squander the coins cadged from parents at the snack bar and collapse in a heap on our towels while we listened to the music blaring over the foghorns strategically scattered about the fence for maximum deafness. Saturday in the Park must have been a national hit. Our local station ensured we knew the lyrics by heart… and… yep, still do.
Later, when I started my own record collection through the good offices of my older brothers, I selected albums based on the age old criteria of “Hey, this has that song on it- you know it goes like [bad singing]- and it’s only ninety-nine cents- it’s got to be good.”
It is not too far a leap from there to seeking out greatest hits compilations. That’s a lot more bang for your buck when all you have is a buck. Some groups made that difficult or were priced too high- The Beatles, The Rolling Stones… So, the trick was finding a recording artist during a low time of their popularity. Blood, Sweat & Tears’ Greatest Hits somehow fell in that category one day. It may have been condition related- I remember some bent corners.
The loudest record playerin the house was in the living room, so I had to wait for my parents to leave before I felt the environment was adequately prepared. The routine involved starting the record, grabbing the album cover and sleeve, and then settling into the comfy chair. You needed the accompanying materials to study as you made that first listen.
Let me tell you- I was shocked, simply shocked. Where had these people been my whole life? Wait a second, what are the dates here? Who wrote these songs? Who is in this band? How do I find out more? There was a limit who I could ask. Contemporaries would feign knowledge, at best. Even worse, I could only display so much ignorance before my much wiser older siblings. If only there was some all-knowing tome available… (note to self, invent Wikipedia somewhere down the road… only years too late).
I owe Blood, Sweat & Tears a debt that can never be repaid. They introduced me to jazz and Laura Nyro and a couple songs that remain my litmus test for quality. Then, there was the last song on their greatest hits, God Bless the Child. The name “Billie Holiday” stuck with me, thank heavens.
What’s it all about?
You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 161 more to go.
New additions to You’ve Got to Check This Out release regularly. Also, free humor, short works, and poetry post irregularly. Receive notifications on Facebook by friending or following Craig.
Images may be subject to copyright.