“Dum Dum Ditty” – The Downbeat 5

Oh … hell yeah!  From Boston … here’s the Downbeat 5 doing a wonderful slammin’ cover of the Shangri-Las’ “Dum Dum Ditty.”  Bang your head and smile.

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“Remember (Walking in the Sand)” – The Shangri-Las

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Punk rock didn’t start in the 1970s. It’s roots were arguably in the 1950s and especially, the early 1960s. The Shangri-Las were as street as the New York Dolls or any of the CBGB punk bands that emerged in the 1970s. So what if they weren’t singing about sniffing glue or having personality crises?

I remember hearing this song a lot when I was a kid on an oldies compilation my parents had. The drama and beach sound effects always haunted me. I didn’t know what the singer was feeling (and wouldn’t know it for real for several years), but it sounded like the end of the world.

Yes, this song is horrendously melodramatic and may only seem to be about the aftermath of a teenage breakup … but that’s what makes it so incredibly cool. As we get older and more jaded, it’s hard to remember how events we now see as trivial or not a big deal mean THE WORLD to someone younger. And yes, when you break up with someone when you’re that young, it really does seem like the end of the world. This is one of those songs that seriously and accurately conveys the drama of one’s first break-up. Something to keep in mind when your own kids will inevitably face the same thing later in life.

And if you’re at all intrigued by the Shangri-Las’ story (and it is a compelling one), be sure to download the ultra-cool Kindle mini-book from Amazon: “Are You There God? It’s Me Mary: The Shangri-Las and the Punk Rock Love Song” by Tracy Landecker.

“Where Eagles Dare” – The Misfits

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The Misfits were always a refreshing alternative to most hardcore punk bands. They could play as fast and as tough as any band and they rode the psychotronic film imagery like no other band save the Cramps. But the Misfits’ songs had real harmonies and melodies. In my opinion, the Misfits’ secret influence is the Shangri-Las. Slow down any Misfits song and it sounds like early 1960s Shadow Morton/Phil Spector produced pop. This is my favorite Misfits song, but not my favorite version. That version can be found on the first Misfits collection CD. However, what’s here is still pretty cool.  Contains one of my all-time lyrics: “I ain’t no goddamned son-of-a-bitch!”