Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of the Beatles covering Doctor Feelgood and the Interns classic, Mr. Moonlight.
As I had noted previously in reviewing The ‘60s: Last Dance and the 1957 parts of a major throwback classic rock and roll era series I have spent tons of time and reams of cyberspace “paper” in this space reviewing the teenage culture of the 1950s and early 1960s, especially the inevitable school dance and the also equally inevitable trauma of the last dance. That event, the last dance that is, was the last chance for even shy boys like me to prove that we were not wallflowers or worst. The last chance to rise (or fall) in the torrid and relentless pecking order of the social scene at school. And moreover to prove to that certain she that you were made of some sort of heroic stuff, the stuff of dreams, of her dreams, thank you very much. Moreover, to make use of that social capital you had invested in by learning to dance, or the “shadow” of learning to dance.
Hey, I have already filled this space with enough prattle about the old time school dances, middle school and high school, so I need not repeat that stuff here. Moreover, whatever physical description I could conger up would be just so much eye wash anyway. North Adamsville, Olde Saco, hell, Timbuktu, those dances could have been held in an airplane hangar and we all could have been wearing paper bags for all we really cared. What mattered, and maybe will always matter, are the hes looking at those certain shes, and vice versa. The endless, small, meaningful looks (if stag, of course, eyes straight forward if dated up, or else bloody hell, the American Civil War a picnic in comparison ) except for those wallflowers who were permanently looking down at the ground.
And that was the real struggle that went on in those events, for the stags. The struggle against wallflower-dom. The struggle for at least some room in the social standing, even if near the bottom, rather than outcast-dom. That struggle was as fierce as any class struggle old Karl Marx might have projected. The straight up front calculation (and not infrequently miscalculation), the maneuvering, the averting of eyes, the not averting of eyes, the reading of silence signals, the uncomphrehended "no", the gratuitous "yes." Need I go on? I don’t think so, except, if you had the energy, or even if you didn’t, then you dragged yourself to that last dance. And hoped, hoped to high heaven that it was a slow one.
Ah, memory. So who are these songs in this old time series for? Anyone who has been wounded in love’s young battles; anyone who has longed for that he or she to come through the door, even if late; anyone that has been on a date that did not work out, been stranded on a date that has not worked out; anyone who has had to submit to being pieced off with car hop drive-in food; anyone who has gotten a “Dear John” letter or its equivalent; anyone who has been jilted by that certain he or she; anyone who has been turned down for that last school dance from that certain he or she that you counted on to make your lame evening; anyone who has waited endlessly for the telephone (now iPhone, etc., okay for the younger set who may read this) to ring to hear that certain voice; and, especially those hes and she who has shed those midnight tears for youth’s lost love. In short, everybody except those few “most popular “types who the rest of us will not shed one tear over, or the nerds who didn’t count (or care) anyway.
Stick outs from that long ago time, hardly exhaustive, include both 50s and 60s material: Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby by the underrated Carl Perkins who had all the makings to be a big time rockabilly cross-over except Elvis got in the way; You’re No Good by Betty Everett who bopped the bop; I’m Leaving It All Up To You, by the one-hit wonders Don and Dewey, Time Is On My Side by the legendary female blues rocker, Irma Thomas (a song, by the way, covered by the Stones); I Can’t Stop Lovin’ You, a country-type cross-over by Don Gibson. Needless to say John Lee Hooker’s Boom Boom rates as well but I take that as a blues classic rather than a rock classic. And for that last dance, that one that you hoped for, prayed against all odds for, and sweated blood for, Doctor Feelgood and the Interns on Mr. Moonlight. Naturally, a slow one so please wipe off those sweaty palms. You’re on your own now for the after dance arrangements.