A Little Sunday Music: Spanky and Our Gang, “Sunday Mornin'”
Well, the morning’s already over here in the Midwest, and been gone on the Right Coast, but the Mountains and the Left Coast has yet to wake up completely. It’s going to be a big week here in Wisconsin, but I thought I would dig up yet another lovely song from the Sixties and Spanky and Our Gang, “Sunday Mornin’,” to start it off in the right way.
How did Spanky and Our Gang get to appeal to this black girl, supposedly surrounded by soul and blues music? Well, I listened to all the stuff on the right and left sides of the dial, like everyone else, and I loved their songs and especially the harmonies. Good music is simply good music, no matter who is playing it. And then, Perry Como and Andy Williams managed to get a few bars in…
For me, it sends up pleasant visions of waking up very gently and calmly with a lover/husband, putting the coffee on, getting the paper from the front porch, or letting in the cat/dog. And you’re reading from the paper, or talking quietly about what’s in the paper, and you’re drinking coffee and/or rolls on the bedclothes like a picnic, and the sun slowly rises in the firmament, and you don’t have to go out, or cook, or go to work or take care of kids. And the TV’s not on, only the radio–or the iPod–and it’s only a murmur. Whether it becomes a reality is all up to me, you and everyone else. For me, I have had those few intimate but wonderful moments. Otherwise, the idea certainly brings a contented smile.
This is the extended version of the song, which is what you didn’t get unless you were tuned into rock stations on the FM part of the dial. Unfortunately, the guy cut it before they got to the funny “Are you a logger?” part. And then again, many of the hipsters spinning the platters thought Spanky and Our Gang were rather corny, and a fabricated hippie-folkie group at that. I didn’t, and they weren’t. I thought they were for real. I thought that they could play both happy songs and songs that said things without being heavy-handed. It came out later that they fought with their label, Mercury Records, at the time over what they really wanted to record.
Their song, “Give A Damn,” was banned on a few radio stations because the title contained what was considered an obscenity, and for its commentary about race relations at the time–which was considered an incitement to riot. Like “Dancing in the Street” was an incitement to riot? Give me a break. For their pains, they got a shot on the show the counterculture liked, CBS’ The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.
After the accidental death of rhythm guitarist Malcolm Hale, The Gang disbanded around 1970. Lead guitarist Lefty Baker also died in 1971. Lead singer Spanky McFarlane kept going as a solo act, and at one point, toured with reconstituted The Mamas and The Papas, taking over from where Cass Elliot left off. The Gang reformed once in the mid-Seventies, and released one album. However, in 1999, according to a fan website, the surviving members had a reunion in St. Augustine, Florida at the Trade Winds Lounge a year after the death of their co-founder and bassist, Paul Bach, known as Oz, from cancer at 59. The members still record and perform singly or with one or two members, with or without a label.