It Will Stand

Woody doesn’t read my blog. I know that he doesn’t read it because when he asked me what had happened to the pie I was going to make him, and I cut-and-pasted the blog excerpt of the pie that was born from the withering apples of “his” pie, he seemed pleased that I’d written about him. I explained to him that no, I hadn’t. I’d written about pie. Which then made him cyber-pouty.

Good friend that I am, I poke around for any mention of him on my blog, to cheer him up. And I find one, vague reference: I touch on a song I heard on “a friend’s” iTunes playlist in my tale of the WPLJ montage. I send him the link for the post, and passionate music nerd that he is, he doesn’t care about the lame allusion but needs to know WHAT song it was. We squabble for a while, because I’m sure it had been W.P.L.J. by either The Four Deuces or The Hoodoo Rhythm Devils and he is sure that those aren’t in his library. While we’re typing back and forth, I’m listening to the Carol Miller aircheck of the montage. 8:11 in, the song I heard at his place comes on for 4 seconds. He’s right, it’s not W.P.L.J. after all. But with only a snippet of song, and no real lyrics to speak of, I can’t look up what it is. He can’t play RealAudio files, so he can’t hear the snippet. “Well,” he asks, “what are the words?” Of course, he’s not going to be able to get it from that. But I type, “Rock, roll, rock, roll.” Two words, common to the genre, repeated once. No music to go by. No clues, other than it’s something, somewhere, in his library of +/-4,000 vintage tracks.

He immediately types back to me, “It Will Stand by The Showmen.” Okay, he’s taking a stab. This is his first guess. We’ll narrow it down, because I can say “No, the tempo is faster” or “The guy’s voice is lower” and stuff. I head to iTMS to play samples. Hmm… none of them are playing anything that sounds like the bit used in the montage. I broaden my search, and find the whole song on YouTube.

It was no guess. He knew exactly what song it was. Yup, it’s the brief intro to It Will Stand, by The Showmen. It’s short, it isn’t repeated anywhere in the song, and Woody managed to “Name That Tune” in no notes. I tip my hat to you, ’60s Music Geek. I still owe you a pie.

White Port and Lemon Juice

The year is 1979. My sister and I listen almost exclusively to a radio station that goes by the call letters WPLJ*. It’s AOR, with some great DJs including Carol Miller and Pat St. John (both can still be heard on Sirius). This is before WAPP started up, and their only competition is WNEW (where rock lives). What sets WPLJ apart are the station ID montages that are spliced together by Pat St. John. Each is built around a theme such as New York City or the gas crisis, and each is brilliant. Over the course of a year, Pat spliced them all together into 22 minutes of montage genius. And my sister caught it on tape.

For years, I ask my sister to make me a copy.

For years, neither of us get around to it.

In September of 2000, some old and decomposing wiring in the front porch light fixture of my sister’s house shorts out, causing a fire that takes the house, and its contents, to the ground. Everything that my sister and my brother-in-law own is lost. Their cars, their wedding photos, my sister’s pageant awards, even their beloved cat. And, I slowly realize as the tragedy settles in, the WPLJ tape. Yes, it weighs that heavily in our lives.

Clothes are easy to replace, but everything else takes work. I contact their all-inclusive wedding chapel to see if I can have their photos reprinted, but the cost is too steep. I can’t find a duplicate of the tiara that my sister won as Ms. Petite New Jersey, but for her 40th birthday, I buy her the biggest pageant tiara I can afford. The WPLJ tape, we occasionally think of with a glassy, distant look in our eyes. I even play some of the cuts in my head from time to time. Oh, well.

Last week, listening to a friend’s iTunes playlist, I heard one of the songs that Pat St. John had used a snippet of. A song that I had never actually heard the full version of. And it got me to thinking.

Thanks to the magic of the Internet, I present to you The Big Montage.

(Be sure to listen all the way to the end, so you can hear the first half of a radio ad for the “upcoming” film American Gigolo, which is how I know this montage is, at the absolute earliest, from 1979 and NOT 1978 as the link would indicate.)

*The station took its name from a 1956 song called WPLJ, by The Four Deuces, about a drink concoction made from white port and lemon juice. The song was later covered by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. Both versions are in the montage.


In response to Greeblemonkey‘s query about her readers’ nearly-forgotten but beloved songs, I’ve found and embedded a selection of my personal favorites, listed here in chronological order:

Barnes & Barnes, Fish Heads (full 4:42 version! 1978)

Lene Lovich, Lucky Number (1979):

M, Pop Muzik (Not obscure to me, but younger friends have NO idea what I’m talking about sometimes. 1979):

Madness, One Step Beyond (I didn’t think it was obscure, but people always think I’m doing Buzz Lightyear’s “To infinity and beyond” when I quote this song. 1979):

Adam & The Ants, Kings of the Wild Frontier (BIGGEST CRUSH EVARRRRR, omigod lookit those sideburns, hubba hubba. 1980):

The Polecats, Make A Circuit With Me (1981):

Bow-Wow-Wow, Chihuahua (1981):

Utopia, Feet Don’t Fail Me Now (1982):

Blotto, I Wanna Be A Lifeguard (1982):

Peter Schilling, Major Tom (1983):

Okay, which of your favorites did I forget?