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Why I Love PBS & The Internet

So, one of the hardest things about being away from the blog for an extended period is determining what to talk about.  It isn’t about having nothing to say, rather having too much to say (not surprising, I know).  So, I’m basically choosing something that floated to the top this afternoon as I was watching a PBS telethon.  It was based on a mid-60’s musical retrospective (oddly hosted by Adam WestBatman likes his music, apparently.  Bam! Pow!).   One of the songs they featured was one of my all-time favorite songs:  The Box TopsThe Letter.

A large part of my youth was spent listening to my parents’ music, mostly from the 50’s and 60’s.  This song captured my attention – love and travel, how could I resist?  And the saucy, sexy wink behind the “anyway…yeah” was a nice counterpoint to the more explicit lyrics of the metal I was also listening to. 1  And Alex’s voice is simply awesome – smoky and ragged.  Hard to believe how young he was!

Despite my love of this song, I admit that I have never spent much time looking into The Box Tops.  I assumed (somewhat correctly) that they were one of the many one hit wonders of that magical decade.  But after seeing this video on PBS, I had to investigate a tad further.  They didn’t look anything like I expected (so young!) and the video is one of the funniest lip syncs I have ever seen2:

So much awesome in less than two minutes!  The keyboard player is possibly the best part, but the failure of everyone to keep a straight face is hilarious.  Thank you PBS for introducing this to me!

And once I looked up the video on YouTube – I had to see it again, of course – I started reading the comments.  In the comments, I discovered that Alex was the singer of another band called Big Star (he sadly dropped the smoky voice, but stay with me).  And this is why I love the internet.  Big Star is a piece of the puzzle that had been missing for me.  One that I hadn’t really actively considered as I’m a fairly passive listener to this type of alt singer-songwriter/acoustic rock pop/however we classify bands that were alternative before it was called alternative.  Total a-ha moment for me – for the most part they sound much more current than they are. They were only originally active from 1971-1974 but this could have easily been released in the late 80’s or early 90’s or even now. They fill in, for me, a piece of the progression from the 60’s to 80’s and having an unasked question answered can be quite satisfying!  Without further ado:

Their music, for good reason, reminds me of Elliott Smith (RIP).  He did his fair share of Big Star covers but here are a few of his originals:

And to continue the long, sordid chain of covers and influence (because I can’t help myself), I first explored Elliott Smith when Madeleine Peyroux covered “Between The Bars”:

Lastly, a darkly funny “Kermit” cover of “Needle In the Hay” that I have watched entirely too many times (not for the kids!):

We could be here all night, so I will stop here.  Thank you for joining me on this little musical journey – may you have your own soon!


1- According to the internet, I have misheard the line preceding it.  I heard “Once I’m home…Anyway”, which ups the ante on what he’s implying with the “anyway”.  However, every site I looked at feels he is saying “Once more…Anyway”.  It could go either way, looking at the lip sync.  Your opinion?  I will continue to sing it the wrong, since I like it better. 😀  Also, thank goodness Mom isn’t very good at hearing lyrics in songs!
2- This video joins the upper ranks of the lip sync list, with HIM’s unintentionally hilarious lip sync’d performance of “Funeral of Hearts” on Top of the Pops.  Their guitarist Linde had to fly home just before the performance for the birth of his child, so Ville “fills” in.  Also, for some reason, the playback is super fast, rendering the song somewhat Alvin and the Chipmunk-y (hear the original). It would have been really bizarre to view “live”!  (Side note: TOTP required the bands to lip sync, so they had no choice.  Also, yes, I am capable of tying HIM into nearly any musical conversation and many non-musical ones.  😉 )