Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Time to Stop Running

Song 273: This week's playlist track offers a bit of advice in its title which is Walk, Don't Run by The Ventures, written by Johnny Smith. In the summer of 1960 I knew nothing about rock 'n roll, even though I had posed for a picture wearing a hat with those words on it a few years earlier, and at the turn of the '60s my family did not yet own a transistor radio, but those magic little music boxes had started popping up in my neighborhood, so sometimes I would hear some music somewhere, though I didn't have much of a focus on it at the time. Once during the previous school year, in 3rd grade, a classmate had passed me a radio during a break and I put it up to my ear for a few minutes, as everyone else was doing, but I didn't really connect with what I was hearing, so I gladly passed it on to the next kid sooner than might have been expected. That summer, though, I heard this cut coming out of transistor radios a lot. About a half mile from my home, the town held a regular summer activity program for kids, which involved a lot of fun pursuits like board games, plaster sculptures and picture painting, taking place outdoors on folding tables under tents, and the setup always included a radio, so I remember hearing this track a number of times at that park, and it seemed to go well with the activities. Fast forward 2 decades, and in the early '80s, the surf music of bands like the Ventures experienced a revival, so one day I tumbled into a conversation with Mark Worsley, the brother of my band mate Clive who was himself a musician as well, and he talked about the differences between Walk, Don't Run (the 1960 version) and Walk, Don't Run '64 (the 1964 version, which was also a hit for the Ventures). I played along without letting on that I didn't recognize what song he was actually talking about, but when I got back to my place, I soon had the platter on the turntable, and the instant recognition felt like reconnecting with a long-lost favorite old friend. Since then, I've made sure not to let too much time go by without reconnecting with that favorite old friend once again. The YT link for this song on my website connects to a video of a TV appearance the Ventures did around the time of the record's chart run, and you might notice that the band's electric guitars have no cords connected to amps, so they were evidently wireless long before there was wireless, and their performance does sound remarkably like the record, doesn't it -- so much so, in fact, that it might make you wonder if the musicians were just miming to the record. Of course, the audience didn't seem to mind, rocking right along, with some of them even looking like they were chewing gum in time with the song, and I'm sure when they left the theater that night, they all knew that they should walk and not run.

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