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Archive for the ‘Shangri-Las’ Category

Love you more than yesterday – The Shangri-Las

Their (the best) version of Paradise was switched out for this song on the latter runs of the Past, Present and Future single, and i don’t know why. This song is good, but it is no Paradise, in all its blown out glory. Maybe it was too much, too overwhelming, that would have distracted from the a-side. Love You More Than Yesterday is a perfect b-side in that respect. Maybe because Shadow Morton wrote it himself and they could keep profits in-house. Maybe because the Ronettes had their own version, and it would more closely be linked with them than the Shangri-La’s. Of course this hardly matters now as we get everything at once on CD compilations and all songs fall on there neatly, completely, and spending any time thinking about how things actually fell in history is for nerds.

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What Is Love?

What is love? – The Shangri-Las

A rare instance of a Shangri-Las song without Mary singing lead vocals. After the intro she hands it to either her sister or Margie, i’m not sure. Even the experts don’t seem to know. You would have to ask the girls i think, but even then, judging from interviews with other groups whose work was also done nearly 50 years ago, it might lead to conflicting accounts. A sign of those times, when these singers were just workhorses, a lot of people’s work left without proper credit.

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Heaven Only Knows

Heaven only knows – The Shangri-Las

What’s always alarmed me about the Shangri-Las, for as long i’ve been aware of these facts, is how poorly some of their singles charted. Sure, Leader of the Pack made it to number 1 in the USA, Remember number 5, I Can Never Go Home Anymore number 6, but beyond those they never had another top 10 American hit.

I know the English invaded, Girl Groups fell casualty, and boys with guitars usurped them completely on the hit parade. I know what a great time for music the early/mid 60s were and how competitive the hit making business was and still is. I know how many singles you actually have to shift (industry term) to even make the top 10. I know these things. I just can’t suffer the picture of the world these figures paint – a world that gradually forgot about the Shangri-Las, who over time became dulled and irreceptive to some of the greatest songs and most pure and poignant definitions of love and life, teenage or otherwise, ever put forth.

This single made it to #29, which i guess isn’t that bad. It’s still a hit. But there were songs that outperformed it, commercially. Out in the Streets peaked at number 53. Past, Present and Future, number 59. He Cried made it to number 65! There are injustices in this world, let me tell you. I need to cross reference Billboard charts to see what songs kids put preference of pocket money towards. I predict a lot of Beatles, a lot of Rolling Stones, a lot of Byrds, a lot of Herman’s Hermits. A lot of boys. A lot of more “legitimate” music.

women on the verge...

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Never Again

Never again – The Shangri-Las

Let me tell you all about those things that give me goosebumps. One in particular: The bridge in this song, where Mary’s voice rises with all force of survival and resolve, Betty, Margie and Mary-Ann rising in concert, in alliance. That rise, that change in register/key, that strength, remaining through the last verse and chorus… It is so perfect. Opera for teenagers, indeed. Nevermind that the outro lapses into uncertainty, into the question “Will i ever love you?” Never again. Always strength, always courage, always what is right for you. But then… yeah… the boy. Personally, i don’t think we’re worth it. Anyway, goosebumps. Enjoy them.

destination moon

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Out In The Streets

Out In The Streets – The Shangri-Las

That Mary Weiss was 16 years old when this single came out (and that the Shangri-Las dissolved before she even hit twenty) is incredible to me. I don’t mean it in an “how can such a young girl sing so above her age, experience and being” way because that places some huge, invalid and belittling assumptions on the breadth of life a sixteen year old girl can comprehend and can live.

I mean it that the life and death of being a teenage girl is something that is belittled consistently, and to have the Shangri-Las embodying that life and death, as teenage girls, for teenage girls; to have it channeled – their stories, their heartache, where they want to be, how they want to be, what they want – so perfectly, so monumentally, so deservedly, to such an art – it’s the greatest thing. It’s right. Right things aren’t allowed to happen all that often.

Manufactured or not – it’s inconsequential. To have it, to find it (and, yes… pay for it) as someone who is living it, feeling it, dreaming it, it becomes more than music, or it becomes exactly what music should be: Life affirming, helpful and yours. This is not over the top. This is not grandiose treatment of an insignificant subject. This is precise and just reflection of something understood by so many, yet disregarded so often.

I think i mean it mostly in that when i was 16 i was doing very little except playing Zelda and watching Buffy. AND MY HAVEN’T THINGS CHANGED.

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