"Busy Doin' Nothin'"
The Flower Pot Men
from the album:
"Let's Go To San Francisco"
Sunny Records, 1967
My head is still ringing with all the music from Lydia's performance
with her summer camp at the College of St. Rose. The cast of 20 have
just presented "American Pop Forever" a 50 minute decade-by-decade
through 50 years of America's rock and roll landscape. Lydia had solos
at the beginning and end of the show, which started with a Dick Clark
look-a-like saying, "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to our celebration
american popular music, now...then...and Forever!"
Here are the first lines to all the songs:
American, American, American Pop Forever; can you hear
it playing all around?
1950s - The Birth of Rock
One, two three o'clock, four o'oclock rock; five, six
seven o'clock eight o'clock rock; nine, ten, eleven
o'clock twelve o'clock rock; we're gonna rock around the
clock tonight. [Lydia's first solo part]
Warden threw a party in the county jail; the prison band
was there, and they began to wail.
Lollipop, lollipop, Oh loli, lolli, lolli, lollipop;
Lollipop, oh lolli, lolli, lolli, lollipop. (Pop).
One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready,
now go cat go.
A wop bop a loo bop, a wop bam boom.
1960s - American Bandstand
We're goin' hoppin', we're goin' hoppin today, where things
are poppin' the Philadelphia way.
Oo-----hoo, baby love, my baby love, I need ya, oh--- how I
Dick Clark: "So, let's rate the first record of
And here to do just that
are our two cheerleaders..."
Lydia: "Penny! from
Dick Clark: "and..."
Abbi: "Patty! from
Lydia: "Gee that song is
really fine! The score I give
it is a nine!"
[she cartwheels across
Abbi: "I think it's a bore.
I give it a four."
Dick Clark: "And on that unlucky number, let's move
on to our next hit..."
Hmmm, I bet you wonder how I knew 'bout your plans, to make
me blue with some other guy you knew before?
Dick Clark: "Let's get the reaction to that ditty
Ditsy girl: "I'm Charlotte from Charlottesville
and I want to thank
all the people who made it possible
for me to be here..."
Dick Clark: "Just rate the record dear."
Ditsy girl: "Well, I don't get it, but I give it
a ten! Is that good?"
There she was just a walkin' down the street, singin' Do wah
diddy diddy down diddy do!
Dick Clark: "Well that just about wraps it up for
this week's edition
of The Bandstand! I hope you had as
fun as we did!"
1970s - Dance and Romance
You and I must make a pact; we must bring the salvation back.
Ah, ha --- ; ah, ha. Oo, hoo ---; oo, oo.
Boogie fever, got to boogie down. Boogie fever, I think it's goin'
First I was afraid, I was petrified, kept thinkin' I could never
live without you by my side.
It's fun to stay at the Y - M - C - A!
1980S - ROCKIN'
Risin' up back on the street, did my time, took my chances, went
distance, now I'm back on my feet; just a man and his will to
First there's nothin' but a slow glowin' dream that your fear
to hide deep inside your mind.
Wake me up before you go go, don't leave me hangin' on like a
We built this city, we built this city on rock and roll.
1990s - Now!
No one told you life was gonna be this way; your job's a joke,
you're broke, your love life's D.O.A. It's like you're always
in second gear, well it hasn't been your day, your week, your
or even your year.
Looks like we made it, look how far we've come my baby. Mighta
the long way, we knew we'd get there some day. They said "I bet
never make it." But just look how we're holdin' on.
Although we've come to the end of the road, still I can't let
In the middle of the, I go walkin' in the, in the middle of the,
walkin' in the, in the middle of the, I go walkin' in the, in
middle of the, I go walkin' in the, in the middle of the, I go
in the, in the middle of the, I go walkin' in the, in the middle
the, I go walkin' in the, night... I go walkin' in my sleep.
[Lydia's other solo part]
It's still rock and roll, it's still rock and roll, it's still
and roll to me! Yeah!
Back in the car I turn on the radio to find Utah Phillips in the middle
of a long rant about his arm which he says "is wrapped in a bandage
hurts like hell." So, he says, he's going to play only songs he likes,
guaranteed to improve the mood, his.
First up is Tom Leher doing a shaggy tune about a little girl who
poisons her mother, sets fire to her sister at the mother's funeral,
burns down the house, stuffs her little brother full of stones and
drops him in the river, ties the dog to a tree with no food or water,
puts the goldfish on a plate on the dining room table, and chops the
baby brother in two. Then she calls the police and confesses to
everything, because "to tell a lie would be a sin."
Next Phillips tells a story about how Woody Guthrie wrote "This Land
is Your Land" while in a drunken stupor. Guthrie had been hired
sing at a company shindig at Rockefeller Center's Green Room. He got
there to find that he was suppossed to wear the Jester's costume from
"Rigoletto" and come riding into to room on horseback. Instead he
turned around and went to Fraunces Tavern and got drunk. The next day
he found the manuscript in the typewriter. He showed it to Pete Seegar
who told him it was "a little heavy," and then helped him re-write
the words. Guthrie had written a song called "This Land Ain't
My Land; This Land Ain't Your Land, Either."
The refrain went: "This land ain't my land; this land is their
from California, to the New York island... This land weren't
you or me."
Finally Phillips played a hillbilly rendition of "Pagliacci",
story involves a couple of mountain guys who attend the opera which
goes on for seven hours and has a fellow, Silvio, who "hollars at the
his lungs" every so often. The best line of the tenneseeans' story
"Listening to Pagliacci, makes me itchy."
In their version, it rhymes.
The bluegrass opera ends as I pull into the parking lot next to the
Barn in Onesquathaw on the property of Carl Touhey, owner of Orange
the largest Ford dealer in the tri-city area. Sheila's hosting a mini-music
festival in the barn and I promised I'd show up. Lillian's painting
the Showcase House in Schenectady and Lydia went with the "American
cast to Crossgates Cinema-Twenty to see "Nutty Professor II: The
In the Wemp Barn a guitar and mandolin duo are playing bluegrass favorites
to a crowd of twenty locals. Sheila's California friend Susan, who's
helping with Camp Sheila, is playing the guitar and a guy I don't know
on the mandolin. They've just finished "You're the Best of All the
Brands" and have ripped into "If I Had Johnny's Cash and
I grab a beer, say hello to the octagenarian Carl Touhey and sit down
to Rick Dryden of Dryden Farm, where Sheila holds Camp Sheila. Rick's
GranDan used to have a similar kid's camp on the farm back in the 1930s,
and Sheila revived it when Lydia was five years old. Rick's a devotee
Baba Mayer and has considered turning the farm into an ashram at various
times. Last time I saw Rick he was having one of his weekly "days of
so we didn't talk; I just waved at him. Today he's talking.
Susan says it's time for audience requests. Carl, the owner of the Wemp
one of the last original Dutch barns in New York, asks to hear "The
of A Man Named Charlie" which he says is one of his son, Charlies's
songs. Charlie once ran for mayor of Albany against Erastus Corning,
then held the title of "longest running mayor of any city in the United
States". Carl also ran against Corning much earlier in his career.
Charlie and Carl lost.
Here's the lyrics to the Kingston Trio's hit:
Let me tell you the story
Of a man named Charley
On a tragic and fateful day
He put ten cents in his pocket,
Kissed his wife and family
Went to ride on the M-T-A
Charley handed in his dime
At the Kendall Square Station
And he changed for Jamaica Plain
When he got there the conductor told him,
"One more nickel."
Charley could not get off that train.
Did he ever return?
No he never returned
And his fate is still unlearn'd
He may ride forever
'neath the streets of Boston
He's the man who never returned.
Now all night long
Charley rides through the tunnels
Saying, "What will become of me?
How can I afford to see
My sister in Chelsea
Or my cousin in Rox-bur-y?"
Charley's wife goes down
To the Copley Square station
Every day at quarter past two
And through the open window
She hands Charley a sandwich
As the train comes rumblin' through.
As his train rolled on
Through Greater Boston
Charlie looked around and sighed,
"Well, I'm sore and disgusted
And I'm absolutely busted;
I guess this is my long last ride."
Now you citizens of Boston,
Don't you think it's a scandal
That the people have to pay and pay
Vote for Walter A. O'Brien
And fight the fare increase
Get poor Charley off the M-T-A.
Or else he'll never return,
No he'll never return
And his fate will be unlearn'd
He may ride forever
'neath the streets of Boston
He's the man (Who's the man)
He's the man (Oh, the man)
He's the man
who never returned.
Rick calls out for "Feelin' Groovy", the Lovin' Spoonfuls' big
hit from the 60s, in honor of Sheila and Susan, the San Francisco
girls. Rick's always ribbing them about how completely they've
adopted the california lifestyle since they migrated west about
ten years ago.
Slow down you move to fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kickin' down the cobblestones
Lookin' for fun and feeling groovy
Hello lamp post, whatcha doin'
I've come to watch the flowers grow
Ain't cha go no time for me?
Doot'in do do do do dooby
Got no deeds to do
No promises to keep
I'm dappled and drowsy and
ready to sleep
Let the morning-time drop
all its petals on me
Life I love you,
all is groovy
Sheila brings a friend over to introduce to me, "Because you're both
graphic artists," she says.
"What kind of work do you do?" he asks.
"I work for a biomedical research lab," I reply.
"What kind of graphics do you do there?"
"We've got five hunded scientists doing environmental and basic
biochemistry research, so we make all the graphics for their papers
and presentations," I tell him.
"How'd you get into that?" he asks. "Did you study science in school?"
"No, it was pretty much by accident. Although I've always been very
interested in science."
"That's interesting," he says, "I got my job by accident also."
"How so?" I ask him.
"I'd finished college at Hamilton and then took design classes at
the College of St. Rose. When I was done, I had no idea of what I
wanted to do. My professor handed me a stack of job leads and one
of them was for a company in Cocksackie which produces reprints of
1960s music. I dressed up in a suit and tie and went for my interview.
When I got there I found everyone dressed in jeans, tie-dye t-shirts,
shaggy hair, the whole nine yards. 'This is interesting,' I thought.
One thing led to another, the interview went well and they hired
me. I've been there three years. I do all the graphics for CDs,
record covers, informational pamphlets and promotional material."
"What did you know about the 60s when you started out?" I ask him.
"Not much. I was born in 1969. But I've picked it up as I've gone
along, and I've got a huge collection of 60s music now."
"You don't look like the 60s at all," I tell him.
"Nah, it's all in my head."
"It must be a little strange to be making all of that 60s style art
with paisley patterns, loopy typefaces, and psychadelic swirls on
the computer, instead of doing everything by hand like they did back
then," I say.
"Yeah, it's pretty simple now. I can get the type fonts from an on-line
shop called "House" and then I take them into Illustrator and
up a little bit. The rest of it I can either scan into Photoshop or
otherwise download from internet clip-art sites."
"Far out," I reply, "Do you know anything about Napster?"
"Nevermind. Do you guys have a website?"
"Sure," he says, "SunnyDaze."
"www.s-u-n-n-y-d-a-z-e.com," I tell him.
"Yeah," he says, "you got it just right. I'm always having to spell
out for people."
"Easy," I say, "I lived through the sixties."
When I get home I jump onto the web and punch in www.sunnydaze.com to
a look at their website and to order a catalog. I get an "Error:
not found" message from Netscape. I log to AltaVista and search
SunnyDaze. I don't find their website, but I do find this:
We're just a couple of normal girls who want to share our
pictures and stories with you. Take a look around and tell
us what you like. Want more? We've got plenty to show you.
Below that is a question and answer section. Questions from their
visitors with answers from the girls:
Why don't you respond to my e-mail?
Depends on the kind of message you have
sent. Some guys just say they want to have
sex with us. Sure, we like sex, but
what can we say to a message like that?
But once in a while everyone WILL get a message;
just to keep you informed.
"Groovy," I think.