Wednesday, August 15, 2012

In the Garage with Tin Pan Alley

First, I want to mention that I recently wrote a post at WFMU's blog about a record which appears to have some song-poem connections, although it may or may not be a song-poem. It can be found here. And now, on with the countdown!

How do YOU spell the words that make up the first line of a classic children's rhyme, the ones which come before "catch a tiger by the toe"? A quick web search finds only a few minor disagreements - Virtually everyone agrees on a combination of some of the following "Eeny/Eenie, Meeny/Meenie, Miny/Miney/Minie, Mo/Moe". For Joyce and Lawrence Herren, however (and virtually no one else in the world, as far as Yahoo and Google appear to be concerned), the phrase is spelled "Enny Minnie Mighty Moe". Fascinatingly, at one point Joyce recorded the song herself, and it has shown up on at least one compilation, and in a posting on youtube.

The song isn't much, but that's a winning performance in my book. For some reason, the authors then handed off their composition to Mike Thomas, of Tin Pan Alley, who recorded it with the same collection of Garage Rock wannabes that show up on many of his records. The results were as predictable as every other TPA record of the era - minimalist backing and a lightweight vocal from Mike, which gives way to a barely competent (or perhaps you favor the phrase "borderline incompetent" garage style solo section.

The question remains - is this a song-poem as strictly defined or a vanity recording. Did the Herren's write this song, words and music, and then commission Tin Pan Alley to record it, or did Tin Pan Alley put music to their words, and only then, perhaps not satisfied with TPA's performance, Joyce recorded it herself. I would like to think that's more likely than them not liking Joyce's own inspired rendition, and seeking to improve it via TPA...

On the flip side, we have a tragic story. It's of a young person who seemingly threw away everything in life, and took a plane to San Francisco, on the hopes on connecting with the sweetheart who lived there. As you'll hear, if you can stomach the rather tuneless song that long (and get through lines like "I dreamed that waiting at airport"), it didn't quite work out as planned. Stick around after he tells his story for more Guitar God in training moments.


Sammy Reed said...

Major fumbling of the ball here:
The words, as they were originally written, went
"Teenage like it fast, the older like it slow", etc., "Enny Minnie Mighty Moe, now I know which way to go."
This would've went perfect with that solo, but I guess this was another victim of the song-poem "This lyric isn't right, just sing that instead." mentality.

Anonymous said...

I really did prefer the original version,that Joyce Herren sung and somehow showed up on youtube.
I am a little bias though, since she is my mother.She is 81 now and doesn't quite pick the guitar like she did on that you tube version.

David Herren said...

A few years back,I have transfered some of her old songs, that she had written from the old dusty reel to reel tapes to a cd.Great to have her songs,if not anything but my enjoyment.These songs were the dreams of my father,with rented reel to reel tape recorders and very little money.Lawrence Herren pasted away in 2007 and I really do miss that dreamer.

Bob Purse said...

So glad to hear from the Herren family! I am fascinated to know if you know why they went with a song-poem outfit, since your mother was so clearly capable of performing herself (and made by far the better version).

If you read this, please let me know (assuming you know anything about it, that is)...

I can identify with having the old songs on dusty reel to reels, too!