Daily Dirt: There was a time when bubblegum music ruled the airwaves and that, my friends, was a great era

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Daily Dirt for Feb. 2, 2022

Those who who were alive for the bubblegum era of pop music should consider themselves fortunate … welcome to today’s three thoughts that make up Vol. 201 of The Daily Dirt.

1. Any self-respecting baby boomer spent a part part of his or her formative years listening to what was labeled “bubblegum music”.

Personally, I loved bubblegum music back in the day. And now, too.

“(Bubblegum music represented) songs sprinkled with catchy phrases and lighter-than-air melodies, backed by exuberant instrumentation and production,” writes John Visconti of culturesonar.com.

I was very content listening and singing along to the Archies, the 1910 Fruitgum Company and the Cuff Links, while many of friends were rooted in the “deeper” and “heavier” sounds of, say, Led Zeppelin.

“(Bubblegum) is a genre that’s often maligned by purists as lightweight and disposable,” Visconti added. “But many of these tunes are memorable examples of pop songcraft at its best. Bubblegum music made a significant impart on both the charts and airwaves — despite the fact many of its key bands (like the Archies) never existed outside the studio.”

And to that I say I don’t care. I liked the sound. I liked the lyrics.And I bought the record(s). And obviously, I was not alone. For those who are bopping your head and singing “Sugar, Sugar” to yourself right now, I offer these songs for the unofficial bubblegum hall of fame:

1. “Sugar, Sugar,” the Archies: Ron Dante was the “lead singer” of this “group,” plus several others over the years. He is a semi-frequent guest on some of the Sirius XM broadcasts, and is quite an interesting guy. Dante is 76 now, but can still provide a rendition of “Sugar, Sugar” with no trouble. And for the record, “Sugar, Sugar” was the Billboard No. 1 song of 1969, ahead of such so-called heavyweights as “Honky Tonk Women” by the Rolling Stones, “One” by Three Dog Night and “Suspicious Minds” by Elvis Presley. “Sugar, Sugar” was later recorded by Wilson Pickett and Tom Jones.)

2. “Chewy, Chewy,” by the Ohio Express: For a couple of years in the late 1960s, there was no hotter group on the charts than the Ohio Express, which had its origin in Mansfield, Ohio, where I was attending junior school at the time.

3. “Little Bit O’ Soul,” by the Music Explosion: This is the song m from 1967, that is credited with the triggering the wave of bubblegum music. The Music Explosion, as I have mentioned before, was also from Mansfield, Ohio. The song was actually a remake of a 1965 song by the Little Darlings.

3. “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin’,” by Crazy Elephant: Bubblegum with a slight edge. Crazy Elephant was another manufactured studio group.

4. “Saturday Night,” by Bay City Rollers: All together now, “S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y” … Night!

5. “Mercy, Mercy,” by the Ohio Express: Yeah, I’ve always been partial these guys.

6. “Yummy, Yummy. Yummy,” by the Ohio Express: Has there ever been a better opening line to a song that “Yummy, yummy. yummy, I’ve got love in my tummy”?

7. “Tracy,” the Cuff Links: Ron Dante was the lead singer for this group, too. (Little known fact: Dante also helped produce Barry Manilow’s first nine albums.)

8. “Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes,” by Edison Lighthouse: These guys were basically the same bunch that also gave us “Gimme Dat Ding” as the Pipkins, “My Baby Loves Lovin'” as White Plains, “United We Stand” as Brotherhood of Man and “Beach Baby” as First Class.

9. “My Baby Loves Love'” by White Plains: See No. 8.

10. All 1919 Fruitgum Cmpany songs: “Special Delivery”, “Indian Giver,” “Simon Says,” “1,2,3 Red Light,” and “Goody, Goody Gumdrops”. “Simon Says” sold 3.5 million copies — 3.5 million! (FYI: Lead singer Frank Jeckell was part of the group “Jeckell and the Hydes” prior to launching the 1910 Fruitgum Company.)

2. I’ve mentioned before that “Remember the Titans” is arguably not only my favorite football movie of all-time, but also my favorite sports film ever.

Sure, it’s the story of breaking down racial barriers in the south and is based on a true story. But it’s so much more than that. It’s the only sports-related film that my wife, Kathy, ever left the theater wanting to cheer. Kathy doesn’t know a pop fly from a punt but she will always remember the Titans.

Kathy and I saw this movie in the theater 22 years ago, and I remember the following speech delivered by actor Will Patton (playing the role of coach Bill Yoast) like it was yesterday. Yoast, a white assistant coach to the legendary Herman Boone, a Black man portrayed by Denzel Washington, was trying to fire up their predominantly Black team, which was running into all sorts of bigotry — even from game officials — and race-related difficulties.Yoast pulled his team aside, provided them with the expected Knute Rockne-esque verbiage, and then closed with these following words:

“You make sure they remember — FOREVER — the night they played the Titans. Leave no doubt!!”

And the Titans did just that. Ironically, or possibly fittingly, both Boone and Yoast died in 2019. Their passings were separated by only a couple of months.

3. Here’s the latest license-plate findings across West-Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri:

Gold medal: 5 INGYS. Which, of course, is better than four Ingys.

Silver medal: BRACES 4. A dentist, I presume?

Bronze medal: SUPRM 8. Supermom? Or some sort of tribute, maybe, to Diana Ross and the Supremes?

Steve Fact O’ The Day — Steve once got in serious trouble in high school while behind the wheel in driver’s education. He buzzed through a school zone at about 50 mph, and when the driver’s education instructor ordered him to stop the car and asked him what he was possibly thinking, Steve replied, “I’m sorry, sir. ‘My Baby Loves Love’ (see No. 9, first thought) was on the radio and that’s my favorite song. I didn’t notice the school zone.” Steve was banned to the back seat of the car for a week.

Steve Eighinger writes daily for Muddy River News. Backseat driving since 1969.

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