RedState’s Water Cooler – August 5, 2018 – Open Thread – “Where Things Are Poppin'”

- Agustus 06, 2018

While sitting at home this week listening to its favorite Rat Pack recordings, the RedState Department of History took time to muse on the history of music, a subject not often covered in this diary. In fact, not very much at all.

Happily, there is an important anniversary today which can help rectify all that.

In 1952, WFIL-TV of Philadephia began to broadcast a new show hosted by a gentleman named Bob Horn. Each day for nearly four years, Horn invited local teenagers to the studio to dance to the hits of the day on a show called “Bob Horn’s Bandstand.”

In July 1956, however, things changed. Horn was replaced by a 26-year old man named Dick Clark — and the American Broadcasting Company picked up the show.

So it was that on this date in 1957, the first nationwide broadcast of “American Bandstand” took place.

To say the show was a cultural icon would be an understatement. Originally, the show’s “regulars” — teens who showed up every day to cut a rug before the cameras — were joined by a few very lucky local couples who were selected to appear on the show. Their names became local lore — Kenny Rossi, Arlene Sullivan, Bunny Gibson, Eddie Kelly, Pat Molittieri, Bobby Rydell, Carmen Jimenz and Joyce Shafer became a bit like television’s first reality show. They received up to 15,000 pieces of fan mail a week.

In this context, then, the show’s theme song makes a bit more sense. The “Bandstand Boogie“, whose words were written by a young composer named Barry Manilow, tells about the show from the point of view of a youngster who is fortunate enough to have gained admission to a broadcast:

We’re goin’ hoppin’, we’re goin’ hoppin’ today
Where things are poppin’ the Philadelphia way
We’re gonna drop in on all the music they play
On the bandstand (bandstand)

We’re goin’ swingin’, we’re gonna swing in the crowd
And we’ll be clingin’ and floatin’ high as a cloud
The phones are ringin’, my mom and dad are so proud
I’m on bandstand (bandstand)

And I’ll jump and hey, I may even show ’em my handstand
Because I’m on, because I’m on the American Bandstand
When we dance real slow I’ll show all the guys in the grandstand
What a swinger I am, I am on American Bandstand

We’re goin’ hoppin’, we’re goin’ hoppin’ today
Where things are poppin’ the Philadelphia way
We’re gonna drop in on all the music they play
On the bandstand (bandstand)

Bandstand, bandstand, bandstand
Bandstand, bandstand, bandstand

Hey I’m makin’ my mark, gee, this joint is jumpin’
They made such a fuss just to see us arrive
Hey it’s Mr. Dick Clark, what a place you’ve got here
Swell spot, the music’s hot here, best in the east
Give it at least a seventy five

Now for all you Joe’s, here goes my American handstand
Because I’m on, because I’m on the American Bandstand
As we dance real slow, I’m showin’ the guys on the grandstand
That I like my girl but I love American Bandstand

The singers’ croonin’, he ain’t the greatest but gee
My baby’s swoonin’ in front of all of TV
So if you tune in, you’ll see my baby and me
On the bandstand (bandstand)

And now we’re hoppin’ and we’ll be hoppin’ all day
Where things are poppin’ the Philadelphia way
And you can drop in on all the music they play
On the bandstand

And we’ll rock and roll and stroll on American
Lindy hop and slop, it’s American
Tune in, I’m on, turn on, I’m in, I’m on
Today, bandstand

The goal at the time was to make the “Spotlight Dance”, where two or three couples would slow dance to a more romantic tune. This, coupled with “Rate-A-Record” and the “American Bandstand Top 10 Countdown” soon became staples of American teen life.

For the first six years of its network run, Bandstand was a daily show. But that changed in 1963, moving to Saturdays only. In 1964 the show moved to Los Angeles where it stayed for the remainder of its network run, Along the way, Clark earned the title of “America’s Oldest Teenager” and became an enduring star.

To see an episode of the show from its national breakout year of 1957, click here (and you won’t believe how Clark looks!)

Clark also integrated his audiences, which was very rare for the late 50s, and even spawned a sort of imitator which became a legendary show in its own right — Soul Train, the Chicag0-based R&B equivalent of Bandstand, made its debut in 1971. Legendary creator Don Cornelius said Bandstand inspired his show, but as it grew into its own iconic form, he backed away from those claims.

Hundreds of acts appeared on Bandstand, which helped popularize dances including the Peppermint Twist, Swim, Pony, Calypso, Monkey and the Jerk. That said, the only performer in the thirty-year network run of the show who didn’t lip-synch was B.B. King (which makes sense when you really think about it.)

Exactly thirty years and one month after ABC gave the show its debut, American Bandstand went off network television. It appeared in syndication and on the USA cable network for six months in 1989, hosted by David Hirsch.

Happy Sunday and enjoy today’s open thread. As for this column, I kinda like it. It’s got a good beat, it’s easy to dance to — I’ll give it an 85.

 

 

 

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