Sunday, August 17, 2014

Bob Crewe Generation -- "Music To Watch Girls By" (1966)

It's not entirely unprecedented for a 2 or 3 lines not to begin with two or three lines from a song's lyrics, but it is certainly unusual.  

The only exception to our usual practice of starting off every 2 or 3 lines post with a quote from the words of the featured song was this year's annual "29 Posts in 28 Days" series, which featured instrumentals.  But this 2 or 3 lines concerns a very special occasion, so I think doing something out of the ordinary is more than justified.

Earlier this summer, my family and I went to San Antonio to attend a dinner in celebration of my sister Terri's and recent marriage to Julie.

Here's a photo of Terri, my daughters Sarah and Caroline (both of whom are getting married this fall), and Julie at that dinner:

Terri, Sarah, Caroline, and Julie
The dinner took place at a Marriott hotel just blocks from the Alamo and the San Antonio Paseo del Rio ("River Walk"), which is home to this peacock and a number of other exotic birds:

To be more specific, the dinner was held in a simple old limestone structure that was once the home of San Antonio's German-English School, which was founded in 1858.

About one third of the city's residents at that time were of German ancestry, and they wanted their children to be fluent in German and English.  

But as the city's German-American community became more assimilated, there was less need for such a school, and it closed its doors in 1903.  

The old school is most famous as the site where U.S. President George H. W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and Mexican President Carlos Salinas signed the North American Free Trade Agreement -- better known as NAFTA -- in 1992.  

Salinas, Bush, and Mulroney (standing)
Once the agreement was formally ratified, it eliminated most tariffs and other trade barriers between the three nations, creating the largest free-trade bloc in the world.   

Before our dinner, we enjoyed cocktails and hors d'oeuvres in a shady courtyard adjacent to the old school buildings while a vibraphone and guitar duo entertained us.

The first number they played was today's featured song, "Music to Watch Girls by," which was originally composed for a Diet Pepsi commercial.

"Music to Watch Girls By" was Bob Crewe's first top 40 hit under his own name.  Crewe is best known as the producer and co-writer of a number of the Four Seasons' hit singles -- including "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Walk Like a Man," and "Rag Doll," of which reached #1 on the Billboard "Hot 100."

Crewe also produced hit songs for many other recording artists, including Lesley Gore, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, and Oliver.  He co-wrote Labelle's huge hit "Lady Marmalade," and also co-wrote and recorded the sound track for "Hanoi Jane" Fonda's cult classic, Barbarella.

Bob Crewe during a Four
Seasons recording session
Crewe's strangest career move was his collaboration with crazy man Sir Monti Rock III, a celebrity-hairdresser-turned-singer whose uninhibited antics were a highlight of The Tonight Show when I was in high school.  Together, the two men formed the disco group, Disco-Tex and the Sex-O-Lettes, whose "Get Dancin'" was a top-ten hit in 1974.

Instrumental cover versions of "Music to Watch Girls By" were recorded by Billy Vaughn, Chet Atkins, and Al Hirt, while Andy Williams had a hit with a version that featured these opening lines:

The boys watch the girls 
While the girls watch the boys 
Who watch the girls go by

Here's the Andy Williams cover, which is accompanied by clips from a number of movies from the sixties.  (Watch this video and you might think the song's title is "Music to Watch Girls' Booties By.")

Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy recorded an instrumental version called "Music to Watch Space Girls By."

Here's the original "Music to Watch Girls By." (Times have really changed since 1966, boys and girls.)

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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