DEAR JERRY: Some of the biggest hits over the years have been, quite frankly, silly songs. Regardless, tunes such as “Teen Angel”; “Tell Laura I Love Her”; and “My Boyfriend's Back” sold millions mostly to teenagers just like me.
I confess. I bought all of those records, one of which now has me confused.
When I hear “My Boyfriend's Back” on the radio, I hear words and music not on my original 45.
Are there two different versions, perhaps one shorter than the other? Or is the one now played stretched to make it longer, a common gimmick in the disco '70s?
Whatever, I just never hear the actual hit single played. What gives?
Clara Hadley, Evansville, Ind.
DEAR CLARA: There is only one recording issued, which runs approximately 2:35. What is uncertain is whether the producers didn't care for a 27-second segment, or simply wanted a shorter song for single release.
Either way, 27 seconds of the song ended up on the cutting room floor.
Remember, many Top 40 dee jays in those days preferred two-minute songs, and my software clocks the 1963 single at 2:06. The time shown on the label (Smash 1834) is 2:11.
In the 1980s, when “My Boyfriend's Back” appeared on compact discs, they reverted to the original unedited master. Now, your old 45 is probably the best source for the edited version.
As for the editing, the :27 clip begins at about 1:51 with “Yeah I can see him comin' … now you better start a-runnin'.”
At that point the single release jumps ahead :27 to “Yes my boyfriend's back, well look out now,” followed by about :17, including the fade-out.
DEAR JERRY: I recall many versions of the instrumental “Johnny Guitar,” but one that particularly stands out in my memory features a lead guitar, vocal group backing, and a horse's hooves-type percussion. It came out in 1959 or '60. Can you identify it?
Bruce Callaghan, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
DEAR BRUCE: Easily, thanks to your onomatopoeic reference to the clip-clop accompaniment. (When's the last time someone said those words to you?)
“Johnny Guitar,” backed with “Hucklebuck” (ABC-Paramount 10210), is from a combo put together by Vinny Lee appropriately named the Leemen.
Lee recorded as a solo act, as well as with other groups, for three years before gathering the horses for “Johnny Guitar.” This single trotted out in the summer of 1961, just a wee bit later than you thought.
DEAR JERRY: I bought Andy Williams' “I Like Your Kind of Love” (Cadence 1323), and the label identifies the female singing with him as “Andy's Girlfriend Played By Peggy Powers.”
Yet “The Hawaiian Wedding Song (Ke Kali Nei Au)” (Cadence 1358), has no credit given the girl with the beautiful voice who duets with him at the end.
Is this also Peggy Powers?
Mel Collingswood, Albuquerque
DEAR MEL: Shame on them, especially since that lady is long-time acquaintance of mine.
The songbird exchanging vows with Andy at the end of “The Hawaiian Wedding Song” is Anita Wood.
A native Memphian, Wood commuted to New York to work on the Andy Williams Television show. She and Andy recorded this there during the summer of 1958.
This is the same Anita Wood who was Elvis Presley's steady girlfriend for over a year before the army shipped him off to Germany (September 22, 1958).
Being separated for 19 months took its toll on the relationship, and by the time of his discharge Priscilla was in the picture. With the pre-army bliss waning, Anita walked away from the relationship in 1962.
Just one year earlier, Anita recorded the beautiful ballad “I'll Wait Forever” (Sun 361), an obvious message song to Elvis.
Turns out she couldn't wait quite that long.
IZ ZAT SO? Discussing “My Boyfriend's Back” raises the question of how many Rock Era No. 1 hits are by white, all-girl groups (three or more members).
The answer is astonishing.
In the 30” years from 1955 through mid-'85, there are only five: “Hearts of Stone” (Fontane Sisters, 1955); “Sincerely” (McGuire Sisters, 1955); “Sugartime” (McGuire Sisters, 1958); “My Boyfriend's Back” (Angels, 1963); and “Leader of the Pack” (Shangri-Las, 1964).
The McGuire Sisters are the only ones on the list twice, both with nine-letter, single-word “S” titles.
The 22-year drought ended in September 1986, with “Venus,” by Bananarama. Then three months later came the Bangles' “Walk Like an Egyptian.”
When “Sincerely” replaced “Hearts of Stone” at No. 1, we had back-to-back entries by two trios of sisters.
That is a sequence we may never see that again.