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190114 January 14, 2019 - 915

Strutting Back into Our Past
Tommy Towery
LHS '64

Duke of Earl

"Duke of Earl" (1962) - Gene Chandler

    "Duke of Earl" is a 1962 US number-one song, originally by Gene Chandler. It is the best known of Chandler's songs, and he subsequently dubbed himself "The Duke of Earl". The song was penned by Chandler, Bernice Williams, and Earl Edwards. This song was a 2002 inductee into the Grammy Hall of Fame. It has also been selected by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.  "Duke of Earl" debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on January 13, 1962, and held the number-one spot for three weeks.

    The song originated from warm-up exercises by the Dukays, a vocal group that included Chandler (under his original name, Eugene Dixon) and Earl Edwards and that had already had some success on the R&B chart. The group would regularly warm up by singing "Do do do do..." in different keys. On one occasion, Dixon changed the syllables he was singing to include Earl's name, and the chant gradually became the nonsense words "Du..du..du..Duke of Earl".

    I never thought about it back in my Lee days, but as I was reflecting on this song I found myself wondering how this song was received by the female sex. I know for me, as a male, it had a macho beat that made me want to throw my shoulders back and walk with pride. Its somewhat confusing royal lyrics (like there really was such a royal title as a Duke of Earl) was uplifting and supporting of the male gender’s ego. It reminds me of the scene in Darby’s Rangers where James Gardner (as Colonel William Orlando Darby) is walking with his head bowed across the beach heading to a landing craft to take him away from the battlefield where his badly outnumbered troops had felt defeated in combat. One of the raw replacements headed into the war zone for the first time saw James Gardner’s uniform’s insignia and said to his buddy “Hey, look at that ranger patch!” At that point, the music’s intensity increased, Colonel Darby kicked his head up high and his shoulders back, and marched to the beat of the inspirational soundtrack onto the craft. Duke of Earl had the same effect on me.

    I now begin to doubt the song had the same effects on girls of that age, but then I often sang along with "Bobby’s Girl," even though I had no desire to be so.
Two for the Price of One

Shout Shout (Knock Yourself Out)

 "Shout! Shout! (Knock Yourself Out)" (1962) - Ernie Maresca

    In 1961, Maresca was offered a recording contract with Seville, a small New York based label. His protestations that he was not much of a singer were brushed aside, and he co-wrote "Shout! Shout! (Knock Yourself Out)" while sitting in a Manhattan bar with his friend Tom Bogdany.

    Maresca's recording reached number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in early 1962 recording reached number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in early 1962

Party Lights

"Party Lights" (1962) - Claudine Clark

    Claudine Clark (born April 26, 1941) is an American R&B musician, best known as the singer and composer of the 1962 hit, "Party Lights", which reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100.

    During this week’s walk I got hit with a double-header of memories of two songs back-to-back reminding me of one event. The tunes took me back to a place I only visited once in my life, and that was a dance I attended when I was a student at Lee. I do not recall who or what group sponsored the dance, but it was held at Blue Water Springs Park, but I also do not know when it took place. It must have been in 1962 because both of the songs I heard were popular that year. I remember me wearing my “Ramar of the Jungle” hat which I have no idea where or when I acquired it. I remember being there with Carolyn McCutcheon and Dianne Hughey but neither was my date at the time. In the dimmest recesses of my mind I somewhat recall it was a dance for Lee students, but I do not know if it was sponsored by a specific class year or social group.

    All that said, these two songs were popular and fun to dance to and the Blue Water Springs outing jumped into my head. Does anyone else remember a dance or party being held there? I would love to hear from anyone who does.

    Blue Water Springs Park - According to the Huntsville Parks and Recreation’s website, Blue Water Springs Park is a 40-acre wooded area with dense undergrowth that was developed into one of Alabama’s most popular recreation parks. Located 12 miles northwest of Huntsville, the park was originally owned and operated by Grady Whitt and Toney Hughey. It boasted a swimming pool and a quarter-mile long fishing lake stocked with bream and bass. The water supply for the lake and pool was supplied by the natural Blue Water Springs. In 1962, the park was sold to the Central Y.M.C.A. In 1996, it was bought by the Madison County Commission and leased to the Board of Blue Water Springs Park and Recreation.

    Adding to this week's interpretation, I began thinking about the story-line of "Party Lights" which is the commentary of a girl who wants to go to a party but her mother makes her stay home. That never happened to me primarily because of my home environment. I have often written about how my mother remarried when I was at Lee and moved to Memphis leaving me behind to live with my grandmother so I could graduate from Lee. As such, I was normally at home alone from the time I got out of school until my grandmother got off work and got home about 10:30pm. She always worked Fridays and Saturdays, so I could do basically whatever I wanted to without parental influence. However; I am sure some of you were denied your request to go to one party or another, and if one sticks out in your memory, please share your remembrances of that time.

Hey Baby

"Hey! Baby" (1962) - Bruce Channel

    "Hey! Baby" is a song written by Margaret Cobb and Bruce Channel, and recorded by Channel in 1961, first released on LeCam Records, a local Fort Worth, Texas label. After it hit, it was released on Smash Records for national distribution. He co-produced the song with Major Bill Smith (owner of LeCam) and released it on Mercury Records' Smash label. The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks, starting the week ending March 10, 1962.

    It is hard to think back to what my first memories of this song are. That’s because it seems to have been popular ever since it was first released. Today, in 2019, the song is played by the pep band at almost every university basketball game I attend, and is sung by a crowd who was not born until 30 years or more after its release. That means for over 57 years we’ve all been singing along with “Heeeeeey Heeeeey Baby….I wanna know (oh-oh) if you’ll be my girl.” I guess we'll go on singing it until she answers yes or no!

Hey Baby for Bands

        Memphis, TN - I need some assistance. I am almost positive (unless I am having a senior moment) that someone sent me a notice of the death last week of a 1964 classmate, but try as I may I cannot find the email or remember who sent it to me. If you were the one, or know who I am referring to, please update me so I can publish it in The Traveller.

    As you probably notice, I have once again relied on the reflections of the songs of our times to prod me into sharing some past memories. I enjoy doing this and hope you can somehow relate to the times we shared. Please let me know if you would prefer I find another venue to share with you.


From Our Mailbox 


Subject:    A Senior Joke to Share

Craig Bannecke 

LHS '65


On her first day at the senior complex, the new manager addressed all the seniors pointing out some of her rules.

"The female sleeping quarters will be out-of-bounds for all males, and the male dormitory to the females.  Anybody caught breaking this rule will be fined $20 the first time."

She continued, "Anybody caught breaking this rule the second time will be fined $60.  Being caught a third time will cost you a fine of $180.  Are there any questions?

At this point, an older gentleman stood up in the crowd inquired:  "How much for a season pass?”



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