Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saturday Song Selection - How Do You Do It

Today, in commemoration of Gerry Marsden’s 70th birthday (I already hear the confused cascading chorus of “who?”) we present a first in the long, storied, legendary, controversial, decades-long history of Saturday Song Selection. A rich, vital and essential chronicle of Americana of which famed film critic and half-man, half-walrus Dr. Moreau creation, Gene Shalit once commented, “what?” From our original days on radio with my lovely co-host, Arlene Francis and frequent guest contributor, Dorothy Kilgallen; to our initial forays into the pre-computer days of the abacus; through our first experimental broadcasts with the early, primitive kerosene-powered pc’s, we have never before brought you a Saturday Song Selection Double Feature! So bring your kiddies, bring your wife, guaranteed to have the time of their life - oh wait, that’s the Mets theme - rather, gather your children, call the grandparents, summon the neighbors and hang on tightly to your chapeaus, for this week we look at competing renditions of the classic British Invasion song, “How Do You Do it.”

In this British Battle of the Bands the combatants are Gerry Marsden’s, Gerry and the Pacemakers versus a little-known but fairly successful quartet going by the curious moniker - the Beatles. Both groups hailed from Liverpool and both shared a manager in Brian Epstein. In this beat-driven brawl the Beatles could be considered the Muhammad Ali of the fight, while the Pacemakers are more akin to Jimmy Ellis (baffled bellowing of “who?” number two.) If, for any peculiar reason, anyone out there actually gets this arcane and inane analogy, it is, in reality, a pretty appropriate comparison. I’ll complete the contrast by likening Brian Epstein to Angelo Dundee and then move on as I assume that, at this moment, I’m addressing an audience of none.

Now, one would imagine that it’s a pretty enviable situation being even the second most popular rock band from Liverpool, but when number one is the Beatles, it’s a long and precipitous drop to the number two position - a chasm the size of the Grand Canyon. However, Gerry and the boys did quite well for themselves scoring several other classic hit songs including “Ferry Cross the Mersey,“ and “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying.“ So, happy birthday Gerry Marsden and here from our childhood memories, and number one on the charts - Gerry and the Pacemakers and “How Do You Do It.”

And for today’s special surprise treat, the Beatles now perform the very same number. You’ll just be hearing a demo recording for, although the Pacemakers had great success with the song, the Beatles had no interest in releasing it themselves. And certainly, the quality of the composition does not match the writing standard of Lennon and McCartney.

(More) Saturday, October 23rd Birthdays -

Weird Al Yankovic was born in Downey, California 51 years ago today, and I’m pretty positive that somewhere, somehow there must be someone that actually cares. (well, that was needlessly mean-spirited, wasn’t it?)

Television legend, icon, star-maker and, now we know - utterly and completely irreplaceable - Tonight Show host, Johnny Carson would have been 85 today. For those of us of a certain generation, Carson was a constant and welcome presence, and the undisputed talk-show king. He made look easy and effortless that which too many of his followers make look difficult and laborious.

And finally - last week we celebrated the birth of a woman perplexed by a witch, this week we recognize her male counterpart - a man frequently flustered by a genie. It’s the centennial birthday of Brooklyn’s own, the late Hayden Rorke. You won’t know the name but you’ll surely recognize him from the picture.

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