PIG and PERRY

It was only last month that Iggy turned 71, remember?

This month however, we virtually celebrate the Birthday of a crooner of an entirely different stroke, but one no less impressive and influential in his own unique way than that head, headstrong Stooge.

But Don’t Believe A Word I Say! For today we turn the fond reminiscences and frank remembrances completely over to a proud parade of Pig pals who pay tribute to the one and still only Pierino Ronald Como, who could have – nay, should have been celebrating his 106th on the 18th… 

Perry “Me Stressed? Oh hahaha!” Como

Unlike most adult contemptuous crooners afraid for their careers with the advent of Elvis, the Perryman embraced rock by having the Everlys and Fats Domino on his television show …even though Mr. Saturday Night’s idea of “rip it up” usually involved a packet of Ovaltine.

Even though Como released records with kiddie names like “Hot Ziggity,” he resisted the urge to personally rip it up until 1961, when he released “You’re Following Me,” written by Burt Bacharach. The same man who scribed “Magic Moments.” With no Top 20 appearances since the “Magic Moments” era, Como decided to embrace the new rockin’ sounds.

Someone must’ve put something particularly strong in Como’s O-tine that session, causing him to sign off on uncommonly loud bass, drums, Scotty Moore-ish guitar leads and maniacal “sha da da”s from background singers who sound like they were hijacked at gunpoint from a Bobby Rydell record. While the authoritative finger snaps that open the song might make the Jets and Sharks jump into rumble stance, having Mr. C. make like the Fonz with lines like “When I’ve got the time I’ll slip you a kiss” must’ve had the kids doubling over with laughter. Still, it is a lot more rocking than the substandard material Como’s labelmate Elvis was releasing with frightening regularity by this time.

“After that, he gave himself fully to somnambulists and sweater wearers everywhere.” -Serene Dominic, “Phoenix New Times”

“He lived to be 88 and seemed a pretty centered guy, so good on him. Seems like it all worked out.” – Adam Marsland, Cockeyed Ghost”Well, part of the tragedy of guys like Como is that his brand of good, tuneful, light pop (“Magic Moments,” “Round and Round,” “Catch a Falling Star” – even 1969’s sunny “Seattle”) is all forgotten and dissed, simply because it wasn’t “rockenroll.” Yeah, we all dig rockstuff, but this behemoth/juggernaut – composed of music, marketing and a whole cultural aesthetic – has an uncomfortably fascistic bent:  i.e., it mows down everything else. So, Como’s (admittedly modest but surely pleasant) accomplishments are lost to future generations, as are Herb Alpert’s TJB, Jack Jones, Pet Clark’s post-“Downtown” stuff, Mancini’s Top 40 hits, et al.” – Gene Sculatti, Cataloger of Cool

It’s impossible

ask a baby not to fly

a life without Perry Como?

“Now whose schedule will Mick Jagger look at to see if he is too old to tour?” – Peter Noone, aka Herman, winner of VH1’s “Viewers Choice Award” Sexiest Pop Tart of 2000

I was reading a Brian Wilson interview and when asked what he’d been listening to, Perry Como was one of the “easy listening” singers he listed. The next time I came upon a Como album in the dollar bin, I snatched it just to check it out (remembering very little of his records …just the TV specials).

“He was a fine Crooner – no match for Sinatra, Bennett, Nat King Cole etc – a “pleasant sound” was what many wanted and that’s what he had! Though I can’t predict if his voice and those arrangements will cross many more generations as I think the others I just mentioned will.” – Bill Lloyd, Set to Pop as always

How many of us remember those Christmas eve get-togethers at Mom’s, sharing those old family anecdotes, sneaking shots from the already watered down bottle of Five Star, Mr. Relaxation crooning “Good King Wenceslas” in the background.

“Actually I have not one, but TWO Perry Como stories:  A good friend of mine who was then known as Little Brucie Griffin was actually booked to be on The Perry Como Show at the age of four. His shtick was singing and playing the harmonica in blackface. Also my idol, jazz singer Jimmy Scott, told me that Perry Como was his favorite vocalist. He may or may not have been joking; it was hard to tell.” – noted Canadian Ted Hawkins

Perry Como was one of the few singers who had nothing to prove with his voice. Every once in a while he’d let loose just to prove he could do it, but most of the time he just did his job: He quietly, comfortably hit the notes and sang the melody. No fuss, no affect, no attitude, no problem.

Other pop singers with that quality are few and far between (Rick Nelson comes to mind) and it is much easier to point out the anti-Perrys (Michael Bolton probably being the Prince of anti-Perrys). Anybody who needs a lesson on how to get there (wherever there is) with a minimum of fuss just needs to listen to Perry sing “Round and Round.” All you need to know about life is in there.

“I’d have to say that of all the singers my parents listened to, Perry Como probably had more to do with the way I sing than just about anybody.” – Shane Faubert (whose Cheepskates actually recorded an entire EP’s-worth of Comosongs

Among my earliest musical memories are hearing Perry Como singing “Round and Round” and “Hot Diggity” on the monophonic AM radio in my parents’ ’57 Plymouth. I loved those songs, because to my impressionable adolescent mind they sounded exciting.

“When I discovered Top 40 rock in the early ’60s, I tossed aside Como as hopelessly uncool – my parents’ music. But around the time I began broadcasting at WFMU in 1975, I encountered Mr. C’s Greatest Hits in a used LP bin and was sufficiently over my (then) prog-rock snobbery to recognize that the guy had style, class, charisma, and a soothing way with a song. I’ll take him over Sinatra or Tony Bennett any day.” – Irwin Chusid, with Songs in the Key of Z

“Como made musical history with the outspoken December 1945 political single “Dig You Later,” which commemorated the Allied victory in World War II with no small amount of bravado. He also championed the crossover of country music into mainstream acceptance with his December 1952 cover of Slim Willet’s “Don’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes” and by being one of the first television hosts to spotlight Hank Williams Senior, who appeared on Como’s long-running (1948-1963) variety show in 1951.” – Mike McDowell, “Blitz” Magazine

Other things about the Son Of The Barber:  His fans are many and from all walks of life. The late Flip Wilson loved Como. So did country singer Don Williams. Sinatra didn’t understand his appeal, but Bing did and was flat out jealous. Dean Martin knew he could sing rings around Como, but that such a stunt would make him look bad. There would be no Andy Williams without Como’s influence. Of course, Pat Boone’s favorite singer of all-time is Perry Como, which speaks volumes without actually saying anything.

My wife loved watching Como on the tube when she was a child, and that seems to be where (despite several dozen hit records) he made his greatest mark. Less an icon than a popular artist, he wore well on TV, like a sleepy uncle who had to be begged to sing a ditty or tell a joke.

I’ll never forget his on-air interview with Carl Perkins, at the time fresh off the accident that allowed Elvis to take the Rock ’n’ Roll throne unopposed. An obviously contemptuous Como noted the sales of “Blue Suede Shoes” (about a million, 200 thousand and counting), to which a grinning Perkins replied, “Yes, Perry, it’s made me very happy.” Deliberately looking away from the grinning rockabilly titan, Como muttered smoothly “Yes, I suppose that would make you very happy, Carl.” Then he intro’d the song and ran off stage as fast as possible.

Como lasted longer than Perkins, yet is not as revered today. There is no Perry Como revival. He was just another singer, while Perkins was at the forefront of a revolution. Would Perkins liked to have changed places with Como? You bet. So would most anyone in rock at the time. He was a huge star, much loved, and bankable as all get out. Perry Como knew that a pleasing personality would make you more money than would all the fireworks and artistic pretentions in the world.

“A final word: “Como” is Spanish for “what?”” – Ken Burke, still continuing on the Saga of Dr. Iguana

I talked to my grandparents on Mother’s Day and the subject came up. They said, “Nobody ever had anything bad to say about Perry Como” (as opposed to many of today’s stars). Of course, my grandfather related that he wasn’t thrilled when he had to wake up at 5 AM one Saturday morning to take my aunt to the airport to see Perry off on a tour.” – Blair Buscareno, “Teen Scene” Magazine

“How could you not like him? I mean, what was there to possibly piss anyone off?” – once and future Waitress Chris Butler

Exactly, Chris.
Happy Birthday then, Perry.  and Thanks for the Pop.

=GPG=

Gary appears here whenever he wants

Contact us at: segarini@rogers.com. 

DBAWIS_ButtonGary Pig Gold may have grown up in Port Credit, run away to Hamilton to join his first rock ‘n’ roll group, hung out with Joe Strummer on his first-ever night in the UK, returned to T.O. to publish Canada’s first-ever rock ‘n’ roll (fan)zine, run away again gary pig gpld facong leftto Surf City to (almost) tour Australia with Jan & Dean, come home again to tour O Canada with that country’s first-ever (authorized!) Beach Boys tribute band …but STILL, he had to travel all the way back to the USSR to secure his first-ever recording contract www.GaryPigGold.com

One Response to “PIG and PERRY”

  1. […] unimpressed Elvis circa G.I. Blues and – now THAT’S more like it – Debby Boone’s own godpaw Perry Como. Boones on stage and backstage with the Osmonds in Japan, in the recording studio, at prayer (on […]

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