Thanksgiving “Entertainment” Traditions – Part 1 “The Television”

Traditions are truly generational. Just think only a few generations ago there were no Thanksgiving TV traditions. After all the TV really didn’t start to have a real audience until after World War II. But since then it seems as the television has become a major part of most families Thanksgiving celebrations. Many television shows make or have made special Thanksgiving episodes. And of course there are many televised Thanksgiving Day events that have become part our annual Thanksgiving traditions.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the National Dog Show, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and of course the newest entrant, “Punkin Chunkin.” By the way “Punkin Chunkin” is back on the Science Channel for the fifth year on Thanksgiving night, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. So pumpkins will once again become projectiles in an epic autumn battle that has become a “NEW” Thanksgiving tradition, served up alongside turkey, mashed potatoes, and (of course) pumpkin pie. And let’s not leave out football and the televised Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show which is not on Thanksgiving this year but has moved to the following Tuesday, December 4th.

Most sitcoms have developed their own set of special little traditions. Much like how you’ll spend your Turkey Day eating your standard dishes to excess, sitcoms will inevitably have one or more of their characters ruin the meal, fight with a loved one, or wear clothing only acceptable for a holiday. Okay, so sitcoms maybe exactly like real life in that sense. Maybe that’s why so many sitcoms have had very successful Thanksgiving episodes. One such show started it’s own Thanksgiving tradition back in 1978. And in 1997 TV Guide ranked this episode number 40 on its ‘100 Greatest Episodes of All Time’ list. The series won a Humanitas Prize and received 10 Emmy Award nominations, including three for Outstanding Comedy Series.

Many TV stations have played or will play this sitcom’s episode special Thanksgiving episode Thanksgiving week each year. From my understanding this has become one of the most popular Thanksgiving sitcoms in history. What is the show you ask? “Turkeys Away” on WKRP in Cincinnati.

Here’s the famous Turkey Drop episode

Oddly enough, this famous WKRP episode was loosely based on a real event! Back in 1946 (some sources say 1945), Yellville, Arkansas inaugurated the “Turkey Trot Festival” which included a wild turkey calling contest, a turkey target shoot, a Miss Drumsticks Pageant and oh yeah: a live turkey release from the roof of the courthouse.

After a few years, someone thought it might be fun to actually toss the poor gobblers out of a low-flying airplane for the event. This repeated for a number of years until 1989 when a national animal-rights protest cast the event in a bad light and the “National Enquirer” splashed a photo of the event across the nation forcing promoters to abandon the turkey drop.

Sometimes, real life is funnier, or stranger than anything you can make up.

So how does this apply to music you might ask? Or is this simply a ploy to get more share because of the Thanksgiving and entertainment angle? Well all of the above of course. But there’s an important music story here.

WKRP, as was commonly known is a series that featured the misadventures of the staff of a struggling fictional radio station in Cincinnati, Ohio. The show was created by Hugh Wilson and was based upon his experiences working in advertising sales at Top 40 radio station WQXI (AM) in Atlanta.

WKRP premiered September 18, 1978, on the CBS television network and aired for four seasons and 88 episodes (90 in syndication) through September 20, 1982. When WKRP went into syndication, it became an unexpected blockbuster. For the next decade, it was one of the most popular sitcoms in syndication, outperforming many much bigger prime time hits, including all the other MTM Enterprises sitcoms.

But here’s the rest of the story.

WKRP started pushing music licensing issues beyond the boundaries that existed in 1978. Remember MTV didn’t launch until 1981. These new licensing issues had even been thought. But because WKRP was one earliest to shows extensively use contemporary music by big groups and artists of the time such as The Who, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, and Elvis Presley this issue was not fully resolved. The show not only used big hits, but is credited with producing a few along the way.

Take Blondie’s “Heart of Glass,” WKRP has been widely credited with helping the song become a major U.S. hit, and the band’s record label Chrysalis Records presented the producers or WKRP with a gold record award for the album Parallel Lines, on which the song appeared. This gold record can be seen hanging on the wall in the “bullpen” where Les, Herb, and Bailey worked in many of the episodes in the second, third, and fourth seasons.

The songs were often tied into the plot of the episode, and some pieces of music were even used as running gags. For example, the doorbell to Jennifer’s penthouse apartment played “Fly Me to the Moon” which was later replaced by “Beautiful Dreamer”, for reasons explained below.

Music licensing deals cut at the time of production were for a limited amount of time (approximately ten years). In addition, the show was videotaped rather than filmed because it was cheaper to get the rights to rock songs for a taped show. Once the licenses expired, later syndicated versions of the show did not feature the music as first broadcast, but rather generic “sound-alikes” by studio musicians to avoid paying additional royalties. In some cases, like when the music was playing in the background of a dialogue scene, some of the characters’ lines had to be redubbed by sound-alike actors. This was evident in all prints of the show issued since the early 1990s, which included its late-1990s run on Nick at Nite.

One result of these licensing issues was production and release of WKRP DVD series. It series was delayed for years because of the expense of procuring music licenses. It was feared that fans would reject edited versions. However, as was done with many other television series, the DVD release of WKRP in Cincinnati — Season One has much of the music replaced by generic substitutes. In addition, some scenes have been cut or truncated and voice-overs used to avoid using unlicensed musical content. Other scenes that were originally edited for television and thus never before seen were added back into the episodes and give viewers the backstory which further explained a later scene that appeared in the episode.

A 2009 syndication package of the show, however, aired as part of “Outta Sight Retro Nights“, a flashback TV block aired Sunday nights on the national WGN America cable TV service with promos voiced by Casey Kasem, appears to have all of the original music intact, according to published references about the original release.

So WKRP can be credited with including current popular music into each episode. How many shows have picked up that strategy since WKRP pioneered the practice. Many shows have even released annual episode music collections.

WKRP also created it’s own music. Each show had two musical themes, one opening and the other closing the show. The opening theme, called “WKRP In Cincinnati Main Theme”, was composed by Tom Wells, with lyrics by series creator Hugh Wilson, and performed by Steve Carlisle. A full-length version of the original theme song was released in 1979 on a 45 rpm vinyl single on the MCA Records label. It peaked at 65 on the Pop Singles chart in 1981 and at 29 on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1982. The lyrics refer to the life of character Andy Travis.

The closing theme, “WKRP In Cincinnati End Credits”, was a hard rock number composed and performed by Jim Ellis, an Atlanta musician who recorded some of the incidental music for the show. According to people who attended the recording sessions, Ellis didn’t yet have lyrics for the closing theme, so he sang nonsense words to give an idea of how it would sound. Wilson decided to use the words anyway, since he felt that it would be funny to use lyrics that were deliberate gibberish, as a satire on the incomprehensibility of many rock songs. Also, because CBS always had an announcer talking over the closing credits, Wilson knew that no one would actually hear the closing theme lyrics anyway. In one pop-cultural nod to the closing theme, a character performs the song in the film Ready to Rumble. The closing theme is also played at the end of the syndicated morning radio show The John Boy and Billy Big Show.
Hope you enjoyed the Thanksgiving entertainment and the walk down the musical road.

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Thanksgiving “Entertainment” Traditions – Part 2 “The Radio”

This Thanksgiving radio tradition started with a live performance on a New York radio station, WBAI one evening in 1967. The song proved so popular that for months afterward the non-commercial station rebroadcast it only when listeners pledged to donate a large amount of money. It has since become a tradition for many classic rock radio stations to play the song each Thanksgiving. This tradition continues today. The song was way too long to be released (or even fit) on a 45 RPM record, an the original version was shorten to 18 minutes in order to fit on one side of a 33 1/3 RPM album. Later as album recording times increased the song was expanded to 23 minutes. While the song was extremely popular it made the Billboard Hot 100 to to no 45 RPMs and radio station play limited to the length of the song.

But with the demand a much shorter (4:43) tune that incorporated only the chorus and used a significantly different musical arrangement, and added extra verses barely reached the Hot 100, peaking at #97 on the charts. As it just could do the original song justice. However the album containing the original song rose to #17 on the Billboard chart.

An the song recounts a true, but comically exaggerated, Thanksgiving Day adventure and the following repercussions.

So in years passed long, the before the Internet made finding this song relatively easy, a lot of people would dutifully wait for their favorite FM radio station to play this song on it traditional Thanksgiving Day airing.

So the song?

Why it’s none other that “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” by singer-songwriter Arlo Guthrie released on his 1967 album Alice’s Restaurant.

The song is one of Guthrie’s most prominent works, based on a true incident in his life that began on Thanksgiving Day 1965, and which inspired a 1969 movie of the same name. Apart from the chorus which begins and ends it, the “song” is in fact a spoken monologue, with a repetitive but catchy ragtime guitar backing.

Though the song’s official title, as printed on the album, is “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” (pronounced “mass-a-cree,” not massacre), Guthrie states in the opening line of the song that “This song’s called ‘Alice’s Restaurant'” and that “‘Alice’s Restaurant’… is just the name of the song;” as such, the shortened title is the one most commonly used for the song today.

In an interview for All Things Considered, Guthrie said the song points out that any American citizen who was convicted of a crime, no matter how minor (in his case, it was littering), could avoid being conscripted to fight in the Vietnam War. Which became a major part of the Thanksgiving song.

The Alice in the song was restaurant-owner Alice M. Brock, who in 1964 used $2,000 supplied by her mother to purchase a deconsecrated church in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where Alice and her husband Ray would live. It was here rather than at the restaurant where the song’s Thanksgiving dinners were actually held.

“Alice’s Restaurant” recounts Guthrie’s true, but comically exaggerated, Thanksgiving Day adventure as a satirical, deadpan protest against the Vietnam War draft. On November 25, 1965, the 18-year-old Guthrie and his friend Richard Robbins, 19, were arrested by Stockbridge police officer William “Obie” Obanhein for illegally dumping some of Alice’s garbage after discovering that the town dump was closed for the holiday. Two days later, they plead guilty in court before a blind judge, James E. Hannon. The song describes to ironic effect the arresting officer’s frustration at this “typical case of American blind justice,” in which the officer was prepared to present “27 8×10 color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us,” only to have the judge enter the courtroom accompanied by a seeing-eye dog. In the end, Guthrie and Robbins were fined $50 and told to pick up their garbage.

The song goes on to describe Guthrie’s being called up for the draft, and the surreal bureaucracy at the New York City induction center at 39 Whitehall Street. Guthrie’s first stop is a physical examination, which he passes despite the lingering effects of getting drunk the night before. Guthrie is then sent for a psychological examination; in an attempt to portray himself as insane, he indicates to the psychiatrist that he is homicidal, which (to Guthrie’s disappointment) the examiner views favorably. In the final line of questioning before induction, the officer asks Guthrie about any record of arrests. Guthrie tells the story of the littering incident, which proves significant enough a criminal offense to potentially disqualify him from military service.

This post relies on information found Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia among other sources. For more information you are encouraged to check out the information found on Wikipedia.

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I Could Not Ask For More

Sometimes the story behind the song, isn’t about the song. Sometimes the song itself tells the story. This story is about Diane. She is an American songwriter, but not just any song writer. She’s good, really good. You see her songs have received six Academy Award nominations and five Golden Globe nominations, including one win.

Her songs have received seven Grammy Award nominations, including one win.

She was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2001

She was the first songwriter in the history of Billboard to have seven hits, all by different artists, on the singles chart at the same time.

Peter Reichardt, former Chairman of EMI Music Publishing UK, commented; “She’s the most important songwriter in the world.”

She has been recognized six times as ASCAP Songwriter of the Year and four times Billboard’s Songwriter of the Year.  She has written more than 90 Billboard top ten hits. 38 of those songs have reached #1.

Her songs have been featured in more than 70 films or television shows

Over 200 major artists have recorded her songs.

She has a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

I think you could agree it’s been a very successful career.

But it certainly didn’t look that way early on. According to Alanna Nash of Good Housekeeping, she’s actually more like the Emily Dickinson of Pop. As in the case of the great nineteenth-century reclusive New England poet known for her simple yet eloquent verses, she leads a life focused almost entirely on her art.

Diane was born in Van Nuys, California in the 50’s, where she said she felt misunderstood and totally alienated growing up.  She says she was rebellious as a child  and told NPR’s Scott Simon that she got into trouble and ran away as a teen but returned because she missed her cat.

She began writing music when she was 14. She says that “Music saved her.”

Her mother discourage her dream of a song writing career and wanted her to take secretarial jobs. However, her father believed in her and encouraged her. She wrote the song “Because You Loved Me” as a tribute to her father for his encouragement.

She still does things her own way. For example she writes her songs in a room at her own publishing business that has not been cleaned in over 17 years because she is superstitious.  She calls this room her “secret world.” She so serious about this she didn’t even clean this room after the big LA earthquake.

In 2004 she released a compilation album of love songs, which included several of her award-winning hits. She continues to write and produce hit songs for artists of all mainstream genres, including Elton John, Tina Turner, Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack, Roy Orbison, Patti LaBelle, ‘N Sync, Gloria Estefan, Reba McEntire, Whitney Houston, Enrique Iglesias, RBD, Aerosmith, The Cult, Ricky Martin, Faith Hill, Meat Loaf, Celine Dion, Mary J. Blige, Expose’, Leigh Nash of Sixpence None the Richer, and LeAnn Rimes. Her songs have been covered by artists including Weezer, Edwin McCain, Milli Vanilli, and Mark Chestnut, and many others.

So who is the woman behind the story?  Diane Eve Warren, and the song that she wrote that tells the story?

“I Could Not Ask for More” is a song composed by American songwriter Diane Warren and originally recorded and released in February, 1999, by American recording artist Edwin McCain as part of the original soundtrack for the Kevin Costner/Robin Wright film Message in a Bottle. In 2001, American country music artist Sara Evans popularly covered the song, sending her rendition to No. 2 on Billboards Hot Country Songs chart. But I think the song is a bit of a personal reflection of her life in music. With such accomplishments who could ask for more?

Diane, thanks for reminding me to be thankful for all that I have. And thank you for creating that reminder in such a beautiful song!

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I hope . . . (It’s my Dream)

What are your hopes and dreams?

Are you chasing them, or just watching them go bye.

Our story is about a dream chaser. Chances are very good you have never heard of him. But you know his work. But that hasn’t stopped him for even one minute from chasing his dreams. When he was 29 he decided he wanted to do something of significance in his life. Accord to him  I couldn’t do anything else. I didn’t want to turn 30 and be aimless. I think some people grow up needing to be creative, it just took me awhile to give myself permission to do it.”

He worked jobs such as tour bus driving and substitute teaching for another 10 years while he developed his craft. How many of us would have given up on the dream roller coaster long before that time?

Fast forward to now, he has written 14 No. 1 hits, 50 singles, and over 200 of his song have been recorded. He was nominated for the Nashville Songwriters Association International Songwriter of the Year in 1995, a year that brought him five No. 1 hits. He was nominated a second time in 1996. In 1995, 1996, 1997, and 1998 he won awards for Country Song of the Year from various organizations.

Do you think we would consider the 10 year period where he took a hobby he enjoyed to his main profession as a waste of time, or to  big of an investment?

But the story isn’t over yet. Great creative minds share there talents and help others.

Somewhere else another person was hurting and soul searching. According to her, “I had just broken up with someone, going through a brutal divorce. I needed to get away, so I went to a beach on the Florida Gulf Coast. I had written a line for a song idea, “I hope you never lose your sense of wonder.” As I was sitting on that beach and reflecting about the break-up, I felt so small and inconsequential. But out of this difficult time came the inspiration to write. As I was leaving the beach, I remember thinking that things weren’t really so bad, that I would get through it. That’s when I came up with the line, ‘I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.’”

The following week, she returned to Nashville and collaborated on the song with with are yet unidentified dreamer. “It was still an emotional time for me,” she explained. “I alternately cried and babbled during the writing session. But our dreamer made everything better; he was great to work with. We wrote the song very quickly, finishing the song in just a day or two.”

Once the demo was recorded, it was played a major artist’s music producer and he  immediately loved the song, the it was played for the artist who also loved it. A recording session was quickly booked, and the song was recorded shortly thereafter.

The song had an immediate impact at radio, and with the Nashville music community. “The response to the song was beautiful.

The point here? A dreamer and someone who was going a really rough patch created something tearfully moving. So it doesn’t matter where your are, or what you’re going through, never ever lose site of your dreams. Share your story, your struggles, your pain and your joy. You will never know how it may reach other or change there lives.

Our dreamer Mark Sanders, and the woman Tia Sillers who has had an equally recognized song writing career and Mark wrote the song you will hear below . . . Please don’t give up before your dream arrives.




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You Might Think . . .

Since I hit the 80’s and music videos in the last post I thought I tell a the story of a music video with a bit of a personal twist.

My 6 year old daughter was listening to my iPod this past weekend and heard an “old 80’s” song and said, “Wow Dad, what an awesome song, can it be mine?” I had to laugh and said sure, but you really have to see a video of the song. This brought up a whole new discussions about music videos and how popular they were back in the old days . . .
Well, she watched the music video and loved it even more. But it got me thinking about what has happen with music videos . . . Forgive the pun, but they just don’t make’em like that anymore.

Well I’d like you to guess what 80’s song this might be. The music video is one of the first videos to use computer graphics. The video features the band’s leader and a model in a series of encounters. The bands lead singer appears in her bath tub, bathroom mirror, in her mouth, as a fly, and as the Robot Monster, among many other incarnations.

This music video won the first MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year and was nominated for five more awards (best special effects, best art direction, viewer’s choice, best concept video, and most experimental video) at the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards. The video also won five awards (best overall, best conceptual, most innovative, best editing, and best special effects) at Billboard’s 1984 Video Music Awards and four awards (best achievement in music video, best editor in music video, best engineer in music video, and best camera in music video) at the Videotape Production Association’s 1985 Monitor Awards.

It’s one of the few music video’s I remember well . . .

So the Band, the song and the video . . . .

Well here it is, enjoy

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Goodbye & Motoring Along!

The 1980s band from San Francisco who has never had a number one hit. Their best shot was a #2 hit in the US. The band gained popularity with a series of albums and singles. And their first five albums sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. Their #2 hit became became a prom favorite, as well as a cautionary anthem for teenage girls across conservative Middle America, warning them not to “give it up before their time is due”, as the song’s second verse urged, and keep “motoring” instead. As found with many groups the band has continues to tour and remains very popular outside the US, mostly in Asian countries, especially Japan.

My favorite song was written by the founder and bass player in memory of his older brother, James, who had died from a heroin overdose several years before.

So with the “motoring” hint do you know the group?

Well the Group is Night Ranger and my favorite song of their is “Goodbye.”

However the big “motoring“hit is . . .

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A Silent Story With The Whitest Flower

Him, a Norwegian composer, producer and key board player. Her an Irish violinist and vocalist.

He began composing at an early age. He formed his first band at the tender age of nine.  She started playing the violin at the early age of eight.

So our composer wrote a song with parts of the melody based on a traditional Irish tune Londonderry Air, which is best known as the usual tune to the 1910 song Danny Boy. The song was an instrumental piece and titled “Silent Story.”
He loved the song but thought that it need words. Well if you need words to a song who better to go to than a novelist. And of course if the song is based on a traditional Irish melody you need and Irish novelist, right? Well it just so happened the song writer fell in love with an Irish novelist who’s first novel was “The Whitest Flower.”

This seems like a very unlikely bunch of artist using a very strange formula to create a song. But art has no rules and knows no boundaries. The process worked and what a song they created!

Currently the song has now been recorded by over 500 artist. The song was performed live during Super Bowl XXXVIII, used as a special NASA commemoration for the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, and performed as a special surprise for Oprah Winfrey’s 50th birthday.

So who are these individuals? Composer – Rolf Undsæt Løvland, Violinist – Fionnuala Sherry, and Novelist – Brendan Graham, and the group that Rolf & Fionnuala formed, Secret_Garden.

So what is the song? Still uncertain? Let me give you a line from the song, “Then, I am still and wait here in the silence.” Got it now? Okay one final clue, it has been call by many as one of the most inspirational songs of out time.

Well for those still not sure, here is the song as originally recorded.

This song has inspired many, and through their strength inspired so many others. You may not know or have ever heard the Secret Garden version of this song, but I’m sure you have heard the song, most likely the Josh Groban version which has become the most popular version. So I’ve include the Josh Groban version for you to hear but as the back ground to an very inspiring and touching message you don’t want to miss. So be still, be quiet, watch, and be inspired.

Beyond “The Rest of The Song.”

As I was preparing this post and searching YouTube I found that “You Raise Me Up” was so frequently associated with two recent real life inspiration vocal/musical events. I would have never tied these song & events together. But since my research for this song, I can’t seem to separate them. So the story of “You Raise Me Up” has been told, but I like to ask your indulgences for a bit longer.

You will probably be familiar with both of the next two video clips. But what I like like you to observe is how quickly music can slap us in the face, touch our soul, and change our perception. In both of these clips watch, really watch, and feel the radical and rapid change that a beautiful piece of music well presented creates. While I have watch both of these clips a number of times, they still deeply move me and I find tremendous inspiration and encouragement from the courage and strength these individuals demonstrated.

The first clip . . . and we know the rest of this story.

And the second clip, is even more inspiring to me personally. Watch how extremely nervous Jonathan was, he was shaking badly all through this song, yet he had the courage to do it! . . . And this story is still evolving

Until next post, please be inspired and inspire others as well.

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The First “Pop” Song To Use The Word ‘God’ In Its Title

The song broke new ground in many ways. It was one of the first “Pop” songs to use the word ‘God’ in it’s title. And the title was agonized over, fearing it would not get airplay as a result. When the artist wife heard the song her thoughts were “‘Oh my God, he’s talking about God in a record, he’s really taking a chance. I thought it was almost too religious.”

But the musician and lyrics co-writer wouldn’t be intimidated by what anybody else thought of the words or the meaning. In fact while they had many lengthy conversations during the writing because unless you were Kate Smith singing ‘God Bless America” you just couldn’t say ‘God’ in a song.

No one had done it, and the artist  wasn’t sure he wanted to be the first person to try it. He said, ‘We’ll just never get any air play.’ Isn’t it amazing that we thought that?

While the song is considered a classic it only managed to scrape the Top-40 in the United States. That’s because it was released as a B-side, partly because of that fear that radio stations would refuse to play a song with “God” in the title.

But the song worked and shot to the #2 spot on the charts in the UK.

The song is part of the The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 song that shaped Rock and Roll.  Rolling Stone magazine has the song at number 25 in the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time! And Paul McCartney has said it was his favorite song of all time.

And the song?


Well God only knows.


But here’s a clip.




God Only Knows” was composed and produced by Brian Wilson with lyrics by Tony Asher and lead vocals by Carl Wilson.

The song broke new ground in many ways. It was one of the first commercial songs to use the word ‘God’ in its title. As producer, Brian Wilson used many unorthodox instruments, including the French horns that are heard in the song’s famous introduction.

Hope you enjoyed!
And if you like what you find here on The Rest of the Song. Please share it with a friend or two.

Thank you for listening.


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The Kiss That Leaves You Wanting . . .

Hopefully that was a good way to get your attention, but the kiss I’m talking about is an acronym for the design principle articulated by Kelly Johnson, who was the first team leader of the  famous Lockheed Skunk Works project.  The acronym is for Keep it simple, Stupid!.

Variations include “keep it short and simple”, “keep it simple and stupid”, “keep it simple and straightforward” or “keep it simple and sincere.” I personally like the last one the best.

In simple terms, pun intended, the KISS principle states that things work best if they are kept simple rather than made complex. I believe good music follows that same principle. I’m not saying that there aren’t some really complex pieces of music that are fantastic.  But most of us just like simple and sincere.

This follows a post a few weeks ago entitled Your Song that provide another example of this premise.

So on to our KISS. You see there was a man know to some as Leonard Victor Ainsworth, to others as yet others as Lawrence Darrow Brown. He made some recordings under the names of Leonard Ainsworth, Larry Curtis, and Larry Dennis. Wow, that’s pretty hard to follow!

But it wasn’t about his name, it was about his music. Too many names just made his career to complex.

It wasn’t only his name he couldn’t settle on, it was also his musical style. You see Mr “Whoever” sang and wrote rhythm-and-blues, country, disco and gospel, had his first Top 20 hit in 1965 with “The ‘In’ Crowd.”

But management problems left this man without much of anything to show for his early success. So with his recording career going nowhere, he decided to spent a few years in the cast of “Hair.”

But then things started to change. He recorded a simple song, that he didn’t write, that had already been recorded by another artist and it when no where. So why was it going to be any different for him?

While recording this song he felt a lot of pressure, he said in an interview with The Tennessean of Nashville. “It had been a long time since I’d had a hit and it seemed as if my career was in the balance. “I was pulling my hair out.” Sounds like he was a bit loss, just drifting around with no clear direction. With all of these feelings rolling around inside of him coupled with his strong, raspy tenor, voice schooled by years of gospel choir duty as a child in the Texas Baptist church where his grandfather was minister, he gave the song the soulful treatment it apparently needed. He really just put what was in his heart into the music, and left all the negative garbage behind him and sang. Well it worked! The song shot to No. 5 on the Billboard charts and carved a permanent place for it on the radio.

So who is this man, and what song could it be?

Wait . . . he changed his name one more time. But this time it stuck for the remainder of his life.

Well here’s the Rest of The Song . . .






Drift Away was recorded in 1973 after by Dobie Gray as he was attempting a comeback. He was teamed with songwriter and producer Mentor Williams (the brother of Paul Williams), who had produced Drift Away for John Henry Kurtz who had no success with the song.

After Dobie’s success with Drift Away he began writing and performing country music. While his county music singing career never took off he became a prolific writer of songs for other artists, including John Conlee (“Got My Heart Set on You”), Ray Charles (“Over and Over, Again”), Julio Iglesias (“If I Ever Needed You”) and George Jones (“Come Home to Me”).

And Drift Away, it’s never when away either. Here’s a new version by Uncle Kracker, with Dobie Gray. The song became a major hit in again in 2003. Here’s a video of that recording with Uncle Kracker and Dobie Gray.

The song has also found it’s own life as famous “goodbye” or ending song for concerts. Its use is often as filler for a last song, usually in preparation for an encore, since it has a catchy beat and a guitar solo can be easily added to the end of the song in order to spice things up before the encore. As such, many live covers have been performed by a multitude of bands and it has become a hit among soft rock fans. Appropriately, it was the final pop hit for Decca Records in the United States.


The New York Times 2011 obituary for Dobie Gray was a major source of information for this post.

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