Tuesday, September 27, 2011

All Aboard!: The Seekers: "Morningtown Ride"

As the frenzied year of '66 draws to a close, we find ourselves on a train; the whistle blows and out it chugs, with its passengers - sleeping children - safely tucked away under blankets (where they are is cold, cloudy, maybe even a bit frosty - it is Christmastime)...and they go along the bay down to Morningtown, where everything will be sunny and pleasant. This is cosy children's music and folk music as well (the popularity of folk music is rarely shown by this blog lately, but it's about to branch out into folk rock - we'll get to that soon). Children's music is normally big around Christmas, but there is something here for grown-ups too - something akin to this song, wherein a train is also involved, also headed for a destination where things will be better. In the depths of winter, the promise of spring is not far behind; we are moving towards it, or it is coming to us, depending on how you see it. I have been known to like soppy songs for kids, and while I don't know this one from my own childhood, I do know others...

The promise of warmth and sunshine may sound odd coming from an Australian band, but this song was written by the American singer/songwriter Malvina Reynolds, who also wrote "Little Boxes" - she also contributed songs and appeared on Sesame Street, whose own theme song is also for children (obviously) but also is about a place where everything is just that much better. (Sesame Street was just the beginning for US public television's radical ideas on how to do shows for kids; it was thought up in '66 and the first episode aired in '69 - by '72 it was able to do this, which is a heck of a long train ride from The Seekers).

So, apart from this Christmas cheer - again, a bit sad for my taste, but maybe that's just Judith Durham's voice - what else is looming for the new year? Tom Jones is ONLY DREAMING at number one, The Kinks sing about getting nowhere on "Dead End Street," The Supremes are getting tough...and this new "power trio" called Cream lingering at the bottom, biding their time. Death, in a way, stalks the chart, from the top song to the continued presence of Jim Reeves, who had departed in '64 but persisted, Tupac-like, for years afterward. Fellow Australians The Easybeats longed for escape as much as anyone, but there was one song that talked about a different kind of escape; it starts '67 off very appropriately.

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