Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Freddie and the Dreamers -- "Do the Freddie" (1965)

It’s the thing to do 
Kids will envy you
So do the Freddie

In an earlier 2 or 3 lines, I told you about making a reservation with Hertz for a car to drive during my annual Memorial Day visit to Cape Cod and ending up with a Chevrolet Sonic.  (You can click here if you missed that post.)

I have feeling I was given a Sonic to punish me for saying "No thanks" when the guy at the Hertz counter in the Providence airport offered to upgrade me to a Volvo for only $15 extra per day.

Chevrolet Sonic
You might say that Chevrolet Sonic was not my favorite rental car of all time.   Actually, THAT'S SOMETHING OF AN UNDERSTATEMENT.  It's what you might call hypobole, which is the opposite of hyperbole . . . like hypotension is the opposite of hypertension.  (I've never seen the word "hypobole" in print.  As far as I know, I just made it up -- although it's such a perfect word that I bet someone else made it up before I did.)     

But that humble little Chevrolet Sonic did have one feature that almost made up for all that it lacked.  To wit, it had a Sirius XM satellite radio.  (To quote H.M.S. Pinafore -- not to mention The Ren & Stimpy Show -- "Oh joy!  Oh rapture unforeseen!")

Imagine my surprise when I was tooling down Route 6A one morning on the way to my favorite bike rental store, minding my own business, and this song pops up on the '60s on 6 channel:

As you can see, the satellite radio in my dog of a rental car wasn't fancy enough to display all the song-related information that the good folks at Sirius XM beamed down from one of their nine geosynchronous satellites, some of which are geostationary to boot (which is not exactly the same thing as geosynchronous, but is close enough for government work).

The radio displayed songs with short names performed by groups with short names in their entirety:

Sometimes the display abbreviated the song title by a only a letter or two, which means you have a good chance of figuring out the complete title even if you're unfamiliar with the record:

Other times, one or more entire words was lopped off:

That wasn't a big problem for famous songs with distinctive titles, like "Mother's Little Helper."

This one isn't much of a challenge either:

On occasion the truncated display caused even a pop-music expert like yours truly to scratch yours truly's wise old head -- at least for a moment:

Be honest -- could you identify that song without having to resort to a little quick Googling?

And do you know the complete title of this Clash song?

(If you correctly guessed "The Magnificent Seven," I bet you did so only because you know the classic Western movie and figured you might as well give it a shot.)  

By the way, if you're wondering how I took these pictures while driving alone in my rental car, how do you know I wasn't accompanied by one of the many 2 or 3 lines go-fers I keep around for just such an occasion?  And how do you know I didn't pull into a parking lot and come to a complete stop before taking these photos?  

And even if I didn't, don't I get any credit for not taking these pictures while driving much faster than the posted speed limit and all liquored up?

If you're not une femme (or un homme) d'un certain âge, you probably looked at the first photo above and thought that "Do the Freddie" was recorded by Freddie and the Doctor.

Freddie Garrity
But as someone who was a teenager in the sixties, I vividly remember Freddie and the Dreamers, a briefly popular "British Invasion" group whose "I'm Telling You Now" was a #1 hit in the U.S. in the spring of 1965.

I also vividly remember the group's second-biggest hit, "Do the Freddie."  The group lead singer, the 5-foot-3-inch-tall Freddie Garrity, performed the dance with gusto when the group performed the song in concert or on television.

I can assert with no fear of contradiction that the Freddie was the most spastic and retarded dance of the sixties, and that's no hyperbole:

I blush to admit that I danced the Freddie on more than one occasion when I was 13 years old or thereabouts.  

Thankfully, there is no photographic evidence of me doing the Freddie, and very little photographic evidence of me as a 13-year-old, which is just as well.  Sooner or later, all the people who have personal knowledge of how I looked as a 13-year-old will either die or lose their minds, and that day can't come too soon to satisfy me.  (I hope my friends from junior high don't take that statement personally.)

I have a feeling I danced the Freddie because I was terribly self-conscious when it came to dancing (also just plain terrible), and doing a farcical dance like the Freddie that no one took seriously enabled me to avoid attempting and failing to execute a real dance.

Lester Bangs
The famous rock critic Lester Bangs had this to say about Freddie and the Dreamers:

Freddie and the Dreamers [had] no masterpiece but a plentitude [sic] of talentless idiocy and enough persistence to get four albums and one film soundtrack released. . . . Freddie and the Dreamers represented a triumph of rock as cretinous swill, and as such should be not only respected, but given their place in history.

(Thumper, the delightful rabbit character in the Disney classic, Bambi, lived by this maxim: "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all."  Lester Bangs's mommy must not have taken him to see Bambi when he was a child.)

The producer who signed Freddie and the Dreamers to the Capitol label was Dave Dexter, Jr., who had signed Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, and many other well-known artists to that label.

Capitol had the right of first refusal to release in the U.S. any records that EMI released in the UK, but Dexter turned down the first four Beatles singles that were offered to Capitol.

Record producer Dave Dexter, Jr. 
Dexter also took a pass on records by the Dave Clark Five, Gerry and the Pacemakers, and the Yardbirds -- but jumped on the chance to release Freddie and the Dreamers' first American singles.

Freddie Garrity was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension in 2001, and died some five years later.  My daughter Sarah's first job as an adult was with the Pulmonary Hypertension Association, a nonprofit group that supports and advocates on behalf of pulmonary hypertension sufferers.  

Pulmonary hypertension -- high blood pressure in the lungs -- is a terrible disease.  Progress is being made in the treatment of the disease, but many people with pulmonary hypertension live only a few years. 

Here's "Do the Freddie":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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