Root-a-Toot Social Commentary
The mid-1960s saw an interesting trend in pop/rock music, one in which bands began to invoke sounds of the 1920s and 1930s.
The British music-hall tradition was bedrock, for example, to Herman's Hermits; "Mrs. Brown,You've Got a Lovely Daughter," "I'm Henry VIII, I Am," and "My Old Dutch" are just three of their songs informed by music from twenty years before their birth. The magnificent Kinks, of course, combined R&B and George Formby in such top stuff as "Mr. Pleasant," "Dedicated Follower of Fashion," and "Victoria."
Americans went way back, too; the "Bald-Headed Lena" and "Fishin' Blues" good-time sound of The Lovin' Spoonful was wildly influential. Michael Nesmith did several great wacka-do-wacka-do songs with the Monkees, while Harry Nilsson's entire approach owed much to the old school. Then there's always Tiny Tim's ukelele-led stroll through the tulips...
Weirder even than Tiny Tim was the wedding of such vo-de-o-do-do sounds to intelligent social commentary. Here are two "root-a-toot" songs by singer/songwriters who, for some reason, thought that their message was best delivered with ukeleles, kazoos, and tin pans.
Many of you have probably heard Phil Ochs, a great topical singer and songwriter who released a handful of great albums in the 1960s. Here's the closest thing he ever had to a hit single: "Outside of a Small Circle of Friends," from Pleasures of the Harbor.
Ray Repp is a recent discovery around here. He has spent most of his long career as a Christian artist, but the more non-sectarian "Apple Pie," a real charmer in its humor and its almost overwrought good-sense liberalism, comes from his 1969 release (which I think was recorded in 1966) The Time Has Not Come True.
Enjoy! Are there other songs in this category?