Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Just a Group of Guys Seeing the Old Year Out in 1958

Here's something pretty special, I think.

What we have here are a group of young men - four or five of them, I think, joking around, singing, telling stories and generally just watching the last few minutes of the year tick away, in 1958.

The tape is just over 30 minutes long. I initially had derisively considered titling this post with a phrase having to do with "a bunch of jamokes", but quickly decided that that was complete unfair. I think, instead, that this tape just reflects a different, more innocent time (for lack of a better word). I don't know at what point a New Year's Eve tape would have ceased even the possibility of sounding like this, but I doubt anything found from even the late '60's or early '70's would have the feel of this tape. It's very much of a particular time period in America. Or so it seems to me.

After some introductory comments - the names of the participants are mentioned, but are both slurred and, in some cases, covered up by other noises - there is some fairly awful piano and harmonica playing. If you want to skip this fairly painful bit of noise, it ends at about 4:20, although if you do that, you'll miss some Lawrence Welk references and fart jokes (which I supposed are not mutually exclusive).

The flounder around for a bit, before one guy does his Ed Sullivan impression, another guy talks repeatedly way too loudly into the microphone, and they stumble into a version of a Christmas Carol. Several references to then-current commercials and other cultural touchstones of the moment also float by.

Then, at the nine minute mark, we get to the meat of the tape - a bunch of stories, both true-life and, mostly, fairy tales. One guy starts by telling a story that happened at a drive-in theatre, followed by another car story.

Then we get a lengthy rendition of "Little Red Riding Hood". There's not really much of a payoff - although the storyteller clearly thinks he's on a roll, repeatedly telling his peers to shut up. But what he lacks in originality, he more than makes up for with enthusiasm.

Then the whole group gets into the act, doing a group performance of "Little Red Riding Hood", interrupted many times by product slogans, other asides and general silliness. For my money, this is the best section of the tape.

The story ends suddenly, and incompletely, and now it's 11:45 PM - an updated version of Hansel and Gretel - involving a Corvette and marijuana - is attempted, but the overlap with the original story is minimal, and what's more, the tape is running out. An end to the story is quickly constructed.

We never reach 1959, but we do hear the very end of what these young man had been erasing, which plays on the very last few feet of tape - it's "Alvin's Harmonica" by David Seville and the Chipmunk. (Interestingly, it appears that this record came out in the last days of 1958, so whenever it was recorded, it must have been brand new.)


Download: A Group of Friends - December 31, 1958

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Bob, for the Tale of the Tape. I'm going to listen post haste!