I was following my time wasting morning ritual which usually ends on YouTube. A video featuring an onstage band caught my eye. But the band didn’t resemble working musicians— looked more like a gathering of people past the rock and roll expiration date— maybe a PTA school policy board. The caption of the video was The Rain, The Park & Other Things. Lucky for me, my cup was empty. I would have snorted espresso through my nose had any been in my mouth as I read this title. That song was a one hit wonder for a band called the Cowsills—a family band from the late 60s that featured a young girl singing with her brothers and mother. The Cowsills main claim to fame was inspiring the Partridge Family, a television sitcom about a family band touring the country.
The TV program lasted four years and even went into syndication. American viewers were introduced to several new television stars. Shirley Jones was already an established actor. David Cassidy and Susan Dey became teen heartthrobs, and Danny Bonaduce became a child actor punchline. Most Americans, including this one, never forgave ABC for unleashing Bonaduce on an unsuspecting public, although any teenage boy from that era will give them a break for bringing Susan Dey to our screens once a week.
The real band, the Cowsills, rode its one big hit and toured for several years, then quietly disappeared from sight. The hit song, also known to many as the “Flower Girl Song,” was catchy, and most of us never changed the radio dial when it came on. But it fit neatly into the category of Goofy ’60s Songs. Evidently people, especially songwriters, were taking lots of drugs during the ’60s.
Numerous songs had a nice beat, and you could dance to them, as American Bandstand might say, but the lyrics were laugh out loud ridiculous. As we aged and sobered up, our embarrassment to this song, and many more like it, became more evident. “Incense and Peppermints,”
“White Rabbit,” “Elusive Butterfly of Love,” and “Space Oddity” come to mind. So, of course, I clicked on the video.
After a few seconds of onstage noise, a keyboard began playing the repetitive opening notes to the song. Cheesy by today’s standards but memorable. Then a strange thing happened. Love bead sized chill bumps began forming on my arms.
As the lead singer repeated the lyrics that were so outdated and embarrassing, my scalp started reacting and a smile broke my sleepy morning face into something entirely different. When the others, including the matronly little sister added a near perfect harmonic match to the original recording, a nice sized lump appeared in my throat and my head began to nod with the infectious beat. I can’t tell you the last time I was so surprised by my reaction to anything musical.
Now I’m a slave to that video. I don’t visit the site daily but stop by regularly and still don’t completely understand why. I never reacted like this when the song was popular. Keith Richards would be so ashamed.
Maybe our memories do have a mind of their own.