KinzerWedding-73_2Dave Kinzer, the author of “The 60s Music Compendium”, kindly agreed to discuss with OldiesMusicBlog about this complex and challenging project:

OldiesMusicBlog (OMB): Who is Dave Kinzer?

Dave Kinzer: I’m married with two kids. I have been a music teacher since 2001. I have always loved pop music and music trivia, and always loved listening to Casey Kasem’s countdown. I’m constantly on the search for a great song that I’ve never heard before.

OMB: Is your first book, “Pranked!”, also music related?

Pranked is not music related- It is a novel for 4th-7th graders about a group of sixth graders: three girls and one boy. Let’s just say they don’t get along very well. When the boy does something truly awful to one of the girls, she declares that she WILL get her revenge. She soon discovers getting revenge is a lot harder than it looks. It begins like this: “No one’s ever made me bleed all over my face at recess before.”

OMB: Do you have a musical background?

I took piano lessons as a kid, and always liked to sing, but it wasn’t until I went to college that I started to really get involved in music. Besides singing, I can play the guitar, ukulele, piano, hammered dulcimer, and let’s not forget the recorder!

OMB: How did you come up with the idea of this book?

Well, first, I wrote a book for the 80s: “The 80s Music Compendium”. I started that project because I learned that my students couldn’t identify different instruments by ear. I would play a song with a saxophone, and they thought it was a flute. Or they might hear a violin, and guess that it was a clarinet. Realizing that I would lose them if I played an endless stream of Mozart and Beethoven, I searched for a database that would list pop songs by instrument. I found very little. So I decided to make my own database. And since the 80s is my favorite musical decade, I wrote “The 80s Music Compendium” after listening to over 4,100 songs from the 80s.

Now, I love 80s music, but I realize that a lot of people don’t. The musical decade that seems to be universally respected is the 1960s. And how can anyone put down music from the 60s? You’ve got the Beatles, Beach Boys, Supremes, Four Seasons, Aretha Franklin, Temptations, Rolling Stones, Connie Francis, James Brown, etc. The musical riches go on and on. So I decided to make my 2nd compendium about the 60s.

OMB: How long did you work for this amazingly comprehensive book?

From start to finish, it took me about eighteen months. That includes listening to every hit from the 60s, organizing and editing the book, and promoting it.

OMB: What were your main information sources?

I used a couple of Joel Whitburn’s books (Top Pop Singles, and Pop Annual) to make a master list of the 6,886 songs that made the Billboard Hot 100 chart. My source for the actual songs was mainly YouTube. YouTube is really amazing- I’d say 99% of every hit for the past 50 years can be found on YouTube. Before YouTube, this project would not have been possible. Towards the end of the project, the number of songs that could not be found on YouTube totaled around 35. So then I had to hunt all over the internet for other audio sources. I ended up buying about fifteen records because I could not find an online source anywhere.

OMB: Did you listen to all 6,886 songs mentioned in the book?

I listened to every single hit of the 1960s- all 6,886. (Just a note- All 6,886 songs do not appear in the book. Some songs didn’t have a solo, or a strange instrument, or words in a foreign language, etc. If there was nothing unique about the song, it did not make an appearance in my book. I’d estimate over 5,000 songs are listed.)

OMB: Were you lucky to live in the ’60s and to have a real feel of the whole music phenomenon?

I was not around in the 60s! I didn’t show up until the late 70s. I would’ve loved to experience Beatlemania, hear the Four Seasons and the Beach Boys live and in their heyday, witness the rise of Stevie Wonder, etc. I bet it was amazing. I’m just glad we have quite a bit of audio and video footage from that era.

OMB: What are your favourite ’60s songs?

Several of my favorite 60s songs are: “Good Vibrations” and “Fun, Fun, Fun” by the Beach Boys, “Be My Baby” by the Ronettes, “Runaway” by Del Shannon, and “Suspicious Minds” by Elvis Presley, among others.

OMB: What were the patterns of the ’60s? What were the most popular sounds/ instruments/ words used in lyrics etc.?

One trend was the shift from the easy listening, big band type songs of Frank Sinatra and Perry Como in the early part of the decade to the Rock and Roll sound of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Doors, Jimi Hendrix, and other similar artists in the last half of the decade. This shift is easily recognized if you listen to any ten number one songs from 1960, then listen to any ten number one songs from 1969. The difference in style and sound is striking.

If we remove drums and guitar from the conversation, since those instruments are used in basically every song, the most common instruments played in songs of the 60s were, in order, the piano, saxophone, violin, horns, and the organ. Those instruments are commonly used in pop/rock songs, and shouldn’t surprise anyone. The next most commonly used instruments might surprise you. They were the banjo, barred instruments (like the xylophone and marimba), flute, and harmonica.

OMB: Can you share three quirky facts about three songs?

One of the “instruments” used in the Beach Boys’ hit “Barbara Ann” was an ash tray. They also used empty plastic orange juice bottles on “God Only Knows”.

“The Twist” by Chubby Checker is the only song in the rock era to hit #1, then fall off the chart, then hit #1 again. It was #1 in 1960 and 1962. A new version, with the Fat Boys, made the top twenty in the 80s.

The Tokens did not think “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” would be a hit. They had 12 Hot 100 hits in all. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” was their only number one hit. It also charted in 1994.

OMB: Can you also mention three songs which mistakes?

“Mack the Knife” by Ella Fitzgerald was recorded live. She forgot the lyrics at one point, and ad-libbed. People still loved it- she won a Grammy with this song!

“I Saw Her Again” by the Mamas and the Papas- Near the end of the song, Denny Doherty sings “I saw her-” a full measure early. He stops, then continues at the correct time with “I saw her again…” Everyone decided they liked the mistake, so they left it in.

“Louie Louie” by the Kingsmen is filled with mistakes. The singer comes in at the wrong time, the band plays the chorus at the wrong time, an obscenity was shouted, etc. Of course, the song became one of the biggest hits of the decade.

Categories: Interviews, News

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