Friday, July 10, 2009

Song of the Day - July 10, 2009

In 1974, my family took its first extended camping vacation in Maine. We stayed at a campground in a wooded area where old rusted out cars haunted the nights along with the sounds of bug zappers - the first time I had ever encountered those items. Even to this day, I awake in a cold sweat hearing that sound of death. There were signs around the campground warning people that streaking was verboten during certain hours of the day. I remember mom picked up a copy of Helter Skelter, because she had nothing to read, and being seriously freaked out by the imagery within the book. And I remember finally getting to eat a whole bunch of snack foods I had only seen in comic books - Hostess Fruit Pies, Twinkies and, um, Slim Jims.

I could tell you all kinds of camping stories, how we'd set up and take down that old camper, and how it always seemed to be raining either way. Most of them are not fond memories, and a big reason why I don't travel much, or insist on creature comforts when I do. Anyway, what I do remember mainly from that first trip, besides the Hostess pies and Hood ice cream, was hearing two songs on the radio that, unbeknownst to me, were principal harbingers of a major movement about to go mainstream: disco. They were Rock the Boat by The Hues Corporation Rock Your Baby by George McCrae.

McCrae's recording was particularly significant in that it essentially ushered in the Miami sound, whose main proponents were K.C. & the Sunshine Band. In fact, KC stalwarts/songwriters Richard Finch and Harry Wayne Casey wrote and recorded Rock Your Baby in a demo form while creating material for the band. George undid his shirt - search YouTube and you'll see him in his unbuttoned glory - wrapped his heavenly falsetto around it and drove it to #1 on the pop charts.

To this day, when I hear Rock Your Baby and Rock Your Boat, no matter where, when or under what conditions, it's instant summer. And I look for a Hostess pie, or a pack of Slim Jims, and not finding them in my neck of the woods, I just dance, dance, dance.

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