WFMU Ichiban, Rock and Soul with Debbie D

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

October Surprise: The High Priest of LSD vs. the Pineapple Princess

Fall is here and the time is right for reflection. The tenth month presents us with the occasion to assess the respective impact of two particular personages whose work has contributed mightily to popular culture. Born the same day, October 22nd, twenty-two years apart, Timothy Leary (1920) often gets the nod over Annette Funicello (1942). After all, the principal tribute accorded the Disney donna was an under-two-minute L.A. radio hit, Red Kross’ “Annette’s Got the Hits,” whereas the paddy medicine-man earned a 6:36 salute from the Moody Blues in the FM staple “Legend of a Mind” (“He'll fly his astral plane, Take you on trips around the bay/ Brings you back the same day, Timothy Leary”).

A look at the records, however, reveals a much more complex case, one that tilts toward the gal who taught the world to do “The Clyde” []. Leary’s big coming-out was 1967’s Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out LP, which is no Surrealistic Pillow or even David Hemmings Happens. Against a background of electronic skronks, blips and sitar blues, acid’s high priest freaks freely and encourages co-tripper Ralph Metzner to “relive all those scenes” in an “electric chain of remembrance.” In “All the Girls Are Yours,” Timbo’s gal-pal Rosemary Woodruff challenges Ralphy-boy to put forth his pud: “Can your offer your stamen trembling in the meadow for the electric penetration of pollen?” [].

As you might expect, Annette’s more chaste, limiting her birds-and-beeswax to “chalk on the sidewalk, ’nitials on a tree” in 1959’s “Tall Paul” []. But she out-rocks Leary and along the way invents Carole King (whose copycat “Short Mort” single on RCA followed later in ’59; King’s classic may well have inspired pint-sized popsters like Jerry Landis). Funicello’s “First Name Initial” is even better,” and, while it’s a toss-up when it comes to their respective forays into spiritualism—Annette’s “O Dio Mio” vs. Tim’s “You Can Be Anyone This Time Around”—in the creative-collaboration department the Cali kid easily bests the Cambridge quack. He pairs with Simon Stokes (of the Black Whip Thrill Band) for the extended dope-joke “Mushroom Adventure” [], but she pals with Paul Anka, to do his Joe Turner-modeled “Train of Love” [ ], a Top-40 entry in 1960. Around then, T.L. was dosing convicts as part of Harvard’s ‘Psilocybin Project.’ No contest.
--Gene Sculatti

1 Comment:

Debbie D said...

No contest indeed!! Genius.