DEAR JERRY: As you surely know, Michael Jackson has been in the news quite a bit this week, because of his having to testify at a trial in California, and the baby-dangling incident in Germany.
Most of the coverage pertains to his alien-like appearance, and not much else.
Though it is hard to tell him from E.T., what catches my attention is the term the media has tagged him with: The King of Pop.
For most of my life, Pop has always meant popular music that is non-rock (i.e. Dean Martin, Al Martino, Tony Bennett, etc.). That makes it also mean non-Soul, non-R&B, non-Funk, and whatever else one might call his recordings.
Why is he not the King of Soul, or one of the other styles more appropriate than Pop?
Marian Fielder, Bridgeport, Conn.
DEAR MARIAN: Darned if I know, though I am willing to theorize.
If we allow only one king per kingdom, then that appointment in the Rock category is long since taken by Elvis.
I doubt anyone would call Jackson the King of Soul, or R&B, since folks like James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye outrank Michael in most key sales categories this despite his having one of the best-selling albums ever with “Thriller.”
Perhaps Pop got the nod only because all the categories even remotely fitting were taken.
Regardless, where does that leave Frank Sinatra? And Elton John? Both surpass Jackson for that title, no matter how you stack it up.
In the '50s, the term Pop, short for Popular, allowed for some separation between the then-new rock and roll and mainstream non-rock music.
The dividing lines have since blurred, as Pop can and often does include rock styles.
Is King of Rhinoplasty taken?
DEAR JERRY: About 10 years ago, a radio station in Madison played a song by Dwight Yoakam that I instantly loved. I don't know if it became a hit elsewhere, but I never heard it again anywhere in Wisconsin.
I believe the title to be either “Don't Be Mad,” or “Don't Be Sad.” Regardless, I have never been able to find a song by him under either title.
What is this great song that haunts me, and where can I find it? Lawrence Harpole, Jefferson, Wisc.
DEAR LAWRENCE: No longer shall you be haunted at least not by this song's spirit. It is “Don't Be Sad.”
Since this is not one of Yoakam's single releases, the station must have simply selected it as a featured track from the album “Gone” (Reprise 46051), a 1995 issue.
The best source for “Don't Be Sad” is probably the splendid four-CD set, “Reprise Please Baby” (Rhino R2-76100), an 87-track career retrospective (1986-2002). Since this is a fairly recent release, it is easily available. I share your appreciation for the 1960s-ish “Don't Be Sad.” It is definitely one of Dwight's finest tracks.
I do not know who the singer is, but it is a girl. I have looked for years for this song, but with no luck. I was told that it was not a hit I may never find it.
My family and friends do not believe me when I say there is an answer song to Tony Orlando and Dawn.
Sherry Ruckdeschel, Holley, N.Y.
DEAR SHERRY: The non-believers are right about it not being a hit, but you are right about its existence.
The actual title is “Should I Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,” and the singer is the incomparable Connie Francis (GSF 6901). It came out in early 1973, right on the heels of Tony Orlando and Dawn's No. 1 hit.
IZ ZAT SO? In case you're lucky enough to unearth a Tony Orlando doo-wop recording, titled “Ding Dong” (Milo 101), you'll have a disc that sells for $100.
Don't be fooled by the name, though. This 1959 issue is not by the above-mentioned Tony Orlando. It's a completely different singer who likely never envisioned trees with yellow ribbons.