Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Vogues – "Magic Town" (1966)

Where's the magic
To make all my big dreams come true? 

2 or 3 lines is eight years old today.

That’s correct – the first 2 or 3 lines post appeared eight years ago, on November 1, 2009.  It was a red-letter day.

As you listen to today’s featured song, I want you to think about everything that’s happened to you since 2009.

What's happened in my life over the last eight years?

Three of my children were married, and the fourth one graduated from high school and college.  

I now have two grandsons, with a third one on the way.  

My father died, and my 91-year-old mother moved from the city where I grew up to an assisted living place just a couple of miles from my house – instead of visiting her a few times a year, I now see her virtually every day.  

And I recently retired after practicing law for 40 years and two weeks.

But as momentous as those events were, they don’t begin to explain the difference between who I was eight years ago and who I am today.  What’s changed within is of much greater significance than what’s changed without.

*     *     *     *     *

Since I started doing 2 or 3 lines eight years ago, I’ve discovered quite a few great songs that I missed when they were first released.

I’ve also rediscovered quite a few great songs that I remember hearing when they were first released, but that I didn’t realize were great songs until many years later.

Today’s featured song is one of those rediscoveries.  I remember hearing it on the radio when it was released in 1966, but I didn’t think it was anything special – so it dropped off my radar for 50 years.  

That list includes a number of really good singles that didn’t sell – singles like”Living in the U.S.A.” by Steve Miller (which peaked at #94 on the Billboard “Hot 100”), “My World Fell Down” by Sagittarius (which reached only #70), and Bobbie Gentry’s “Okolona River Bottom Band” (the disappointing follow-up to the hugely popular “Ode to Billie Joe,” which climbed no higher than #54 on the “Hot 100”). 

It also includes a number of singles that were never really lost – singles like “Crystal Blue Persuasion” by Tommy James and the Shondells (which reached #2 on the Billboard “Hot 100”), “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet” by the Blues Magoos (a #5 hit), and “Different Drum” by Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys (a #13 hit).

“Magic Town” made it to #21 on the “Hot 100” in 1966, which isn’t bad.  But it didn’t make much of an impression on me, and I’m guessing it didn’t make much of an impression on you – so maybe it’s fair to refer to it as a “lost” single.

*     *     *     *     *  

Records like “Magic Town” are collaborative efforts that involve specialized musical craftsmen who stick to what they do best – songwriters who stick to writing songs, arrangers who stick to arranging, singers who stick to singing, and so on.

The Vogues were a four-man vocal group from Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania (a Pittsburgh suburb) who didn’t write any of their hits.  Like the Lettermen and the Arbors, the Vogues were great close-harmony singers – nothing more, nothing less.

“Magic Town” was written by one of the best Brill Building songwriting teams that ever lived, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.  (Mann and Weil also wrote “On Broadway” for the Drifters, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” for the Righteous Brothers, “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” for the Animals, and “Kicks” for Paul Revere and the Raiders – to name only a few of their hits.)

I don’t know who arranged “Magic Town” or which studio musicians backed up the Vogues in the studio, but I’d bet the farm that they were old pros who spent years learning their craft.

The result is pop music perfection.  I can’t imagine how anyone could improve upon this record.

Here’s “Magic Town”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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