More Music Facts Learned While Looking Up Other Things

This post was inspired by the late journalist Sydney J. Harris who would occasionally write a column he called “Things I Learned While Looking Up Other Things,” in which he included bits of trivia that just didn’t fit into any other column he was writing.

My wife and I were watching an old episode of WKRP in Cincinnati, the one where Mr. Carlson and Herb throw live turkeys from a helicopter. The closed-captioning was on, so when the song played at the end of the episode (right before the MTM meow), it gave a bizarre interpretation of the lyrics. Truly surreal stuff. Though I think I hear the word “bartender” a couple of times in the song, I didn’t really know the lyrics either. So, I looked it up. The credits song was recorded by Atlanta musician Jim Ellis, who recorded some other incidental music for the series, and since he had no lyrics he scatted through the rock-and-roll number using gibberish words, meant to be a placeholder for the real lyrics to come later. Hugh Wilson, the show’s creator and showrunner, decided he liked the take with the throwaway lyrics, since so many rock songs had hard-to-decipher lyrics. While there are many individual interpretations of the lyrics online, the truth just may be that they are all wrong, although many other listeners heard the word “bartender,” too.

The Bob Newhart Show was co-created by Lorenzo Music, an actor/writer/producer/musician who was also the voice of Carlton the Doorman on Rhoda and the original animated Garfield. With his wife Henrietta, Lorenzo also wrote the theme music for The Bob Newhart Show, which is titled “Home to Emily.”

I know only two Billy Vera songs. The first is “At This Moment,” performed by Billy Vera & the Beaters. Great song with some vocal calisthenics at the end showcasing Mr. Vera’s range. The second is the theme song for that Kevin James sitcom King of Queens. Nothing in-between. estimates his net worth at $20 million. Mr. Vera is probably okay with me knowing only those two performances.

I never heard the song “Love Hurts” until I purchased the band Nazareth’s LP Hair of the Dog. I always assumed it was an original song. It wasn’t. It was recorded 15 years before Nazareth’s version by the Everly Brothers. They didn’t write it either. It was credited to songwriter Boudleaux Bryant, though actually co-written with his wife Felice. The songwriting duo also wrote several other songs made famous by the Everly Brothers, including “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” “Bye Bye Love,” and “Wake Up Little Susie.” They also wrote the song “Rocky Top.” Corn don’t grow up there on Rocky Top; soil’s too rocky by far.

Sometimes I learn things I really didn’t want to know. This is one. The Gordon Lightfoot song “Sundown,” was written about his girlfriend at the time, Cathy Smith, who was out being unfaithful while he was at home working on his songcraft. Cathy Smith was the same woman who would later be convicted for shooting up John Belushi with a lethal dose of heroin-and-cocaine. She would serve 15 months in a California penitentiary, then get deported to Canada. Smith had also toured extensively with The Band, even having a baby called “The Band Baby” because paternity was difficult to determine. She was apparently both muse and femme fatale. And, she passed away after years of declining health in August 2020.

Bradley Delp, the lead singer for the band Boston, committed suicide in 2007. He left a suicide note that included the French phrase J’ai une âme solitaire—”I am a lonely soul.” This was also the suicide note of orchid-grower Harold Smith on the series Twin Peaks, way back in 1990. While watching Twin Peaks in 2020, I thought the phrase sounded familiar to me, but it took me a while to make the Brad Delp connection. In 2007, apparently none of the news outlets made that same connection. I guess Delp was a David Lynch fan.

Another one for the Small-World Files: Gerry Rafferty was in a folk-rock group called The Humblebums with famous Scottish comedian Billy Connolly (who even I have heard of) prior to forming Stealers Wheel. More cherry-picked evidence that famous people seem to gravitate towards each other.

I have been married twice, and these are the only two long-term relationships I’ve ever been in. Neither woman placed much importance in putting the correct CD back in its correct jewel case. Is this a gender-related issue? It drives me absolutely batty.

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