168 episodes

Each episode, I choose a song from the 50s through the 80s and dive into its history, the story behind the song and other items of interest. Find more stuff at www.howgooditis.com

How Good It Is Claude Call

    • Music
    • 4.9 • 22 Ratings

Each episode, I choose a song from the 50s through the 80s and dive into its history, the story behind the song and other items of interest. Find more stuff at www.howgooditis.com

    166: Daydream Believer

    166: Daydream Believer

    I think that by now the Monkees have overcome their epithet of "Prefab Four," which I suppose was clever but not especially accurate. At least three of the Monkees were musicians who could act. I'd argue that Micky Dolenz was an actor who could play music. (More on that below.) Having said that, however, he's got one of the best voices of the rock and roll era, so my label comes from the fact that he came from acting rather than from music, as the others did.

    That they didn't write most of their own music is really of no consequence, given that the pressure for artists to write their own material wasn't really there yet. Similarly, the Monkees were under a tight contract, which made that difficult. Every move they made toward autonomy was met with resistance. In Michael Nesmith's case, it meant some acrimony between him and the label.

    At any rate, as I mention early in the show, "Daydream Believer" was the Monkees' last Number One hit, but it was only  their second-to-last Top Ten in the United States.  (Their last was 1968's "Valleri," which peaked at #3.) After that, it was the bottom half of the Hot 100 for the band until a brief comeback in 1986.

    While the  band members had achieved the autonomy they sought, they were also drifting apart as a group. Dolenz had lost interest in drumming, preferring instead to let session musicians take over. Producer Chip Douglas also noted that Dolenz was the weak link musically. He said that Dolenz' work on Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. was cobbled together from several takes of the same song. The cancellation of the show and the poor reception of the film Head didn't help either. Finally Peter Tork quit the group by  buying out his contract at the end of 1968. By the time their television special 33⅓ Revolutions per Monkee aired in April 1969, Tork was long gone.

    Click here for a transcript of this episode.

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    • 12 min
    165: If You Could Read My Mind (featuring Mike Messner)

    165: If You Could Read My Mind (featuring Mike Messner)

    You might remember a few episodes back when I teamed up with Mike Messner. He's the host of the Gordon Lightfoot appreciation podcast Carefree Highway Revisited. Well, Mike is back, and this time around we're talking about Lightfoot's first big American hit, "If You Could Read My Mind."

    I actually went looking around for the album that I'd first heard this song on, and it turned out that I was exactly correct about its title:

    This was a four-album box set that came out in 1973, so clearly the folks at Warner Brothers didn't have a lot of hope for the rest of the decade, musically. However, this is a pretty amazing collection. I don't think K-Tel ever put anything like this together. And it's a shame that A) it's never appeared in cassette or CD format; and B) it's not likely to be, considering the nightmare it's got to be to get the rights to them by now. (You can get it on 8-track tape if you're so motivated, according to Discogs.)

    At any rate, I've actually wanted to cover this song for a long while, but didn't really have enough material for an entire episode, so I was glad to have Mike along for  the ride this time around.

    Click here to support the show  via Patreon. As a reminder: Patrons of the show get a newsletter in their email box every Sunday, whether there's a new episode or not. So I've been keeping them apprised of what's been happening in the news and in my life. They've been following me through the "medical issue" that I alluded to early in this episode. And they'll be getting something extra-special in the next week or two.

    This show doesn't have a transcript except for the one provided by the Blubrry player.

    • 33 min
    164: Chinese Food on Christmas

    164: Chinese Food on Christmas

    To be honest, I didn't really expect both of the musicians I approached this year to be both very open to the idea of an interview and so generous with their time. But I'm definitely glad that they were, especially because you get to benefit from the chats I had with them. And during this holiday season you get two long episodes instead of one semi-long one. Win-win all around!

    Brandon Walker's "Chinese Food on Christmas" isn't as Baltimore-centric as David DeBoy's song is, but it definitely has its origins in the fact that Brandon is from the Baltimore area, which is estimated to have about 100,000 people of the Jewish faith living here. Baltimore City is just under 600,000 people, so that's a pretty big chunk of matzoh, there. And, of course, he shot the video at several spots in the immediate area:

    * Hunt Valley Towne Centre is a local outdoor shopping mall just north of the city. And yes, they spell it like that.

    * The Senator Theatre is in the northern part of town.  You may recognize it from several John Waters films.

    * The Chinese restaurant (now gone) that appears near the end is in Owings Mills, MD. It's perhaps best known for being where the Baltimore Ravens' training facility is located.

    * And, of course, some of it was shot in his mother's basement. I don't think you can tour that or anything.

    So anyway, here's my chat with Brandon:

    And here's the second, fun version of the video, which Brandon posted about  13 years ago:

    As usual, interview episodes don't have a transcript created by me, but I'm curious to know whether the transcript generator provided by Blubrry gets the job done for you.

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    • 52 min
    163: Crabs for Christmas

    163: Crabs for Christmas

    Over the last several years, radio stations have been snapped up by large corporations. Then, as a cost-cutting measure, certain functions have been centralized. One of these has been the stations' playlists, the literal list of songs that a station has in its rotation. This has led to a homogenization of radio stations and it kind of makes them not as much fun to listen to when you travel.

    That said, there are going to be variations to the playlists depending on requests and local tastes. For instance, Billboard lists the Top Song of 2022 as "Bad Habit" by Steve Lacy, but in Charlotte, North Carolina it comes out as #16 for the year.

    In Baltimore, there's a Christmas-related song that's a perennial favorite among the locals. However, it gets next to zero airplay anywhere else. And the song's author and performer is fine with that, because he knows that the song is very Baltimore-centric. His name is David DeBoy, and his song is called "Crabs for Christmas."

    David DeBoy is a local  theater actor, a television and movie performer, a voiceover artist, a motivational speaker, and a generally cool guy. And I'm not saying that because he responded so quickly to my request for an interview. In today's episode we spend some time talking about his career overall and some of the stories connected to "Crabs for Christmas." And I think my opening question may have caught him by surprise.

    Later this week I'll have another Baltimore-oriented holiday song for you, and a chat with that song's composer and performer.

    Click here to visit Dave DeBoy's website. 

    Click here to support this show through Patreon. 

    (Sorry, no transcripts for interview shows. However, the Blubrry podcast player is now supposed to generate one automatically, so let's see how well that works. )

    • 54 min
    162: Reach Out (I’ll Be There)

    162: Reach Out (I’ll Be There)

    Such a life I've had lately, what with getting Covid and then getting part of the house renovated...four weeks of a two-week project. And the job isn't even done, but that's not the contractor's fault. (Replacement parts, don'tcha know.) And for some reason it's taking forever to put the kitchen—the whole downstairs, really—back together.


    This episode takes a peek at the song that arguably became the Four Tops' signature hit. The funny thing is, none of the Tops thought it would be a hit. What's more, none of them thought it SHOULD be a single, never mind a hit. But Berry Gordy isn't called "genius" for nothing, and he not only released the single, he made it the lead (and title) track for their fourth album. Reach Out (the album) is definitive Four Tops, and marks the bridge between early 1960s Motown and the sounds they were producing in the second half of the decade.

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    Click here for a transcript of this episode.

    • 11 min
    161: Stagger Lee

    161: Stagger Lee

    If you haven't been paying attention (and, based on the download statistics, you haven't), I'm part of a second podcast, where I take on more of a support role than as the lead voice. The show is called Words and Movies, in which my partner Sean Gallagher and I choose a pair of films and find the links between them.

    In an upcoming episode, we discuss a film from 2007 called Honeydripper, starring Danny Glover. There's a scene involving Glover's character and a blind musician played by Keb' Mo', who sings a couple of bars of "Stagger Lee," causing Glover to mutter, "I hate that song." We don't find out why until later in the film, but (spoiler alert) it's because when he was younger, he'd been in an incident similar to the one outlined in the song.

    The interesting thing here, though, is that the song "Stagger Lee" was always about one man killing another. But when Lloyd Price recorded the song, he recorded two versions: one in which one man kills another over a dice game, and another where they merely get into a fight over a pretty girl. (The second version was for American Bandstand and for radio consumption in more conservative areas of the country.) The experience that Glover's character went through as a younger man appears to be a mashup of both versions of the song.

    At any rate, "Stagger Lee" as a song has a very rich history, and it turns out to be rooted in a true story. Many times, when doing the research for an episode I reach a point where the more I dig, the more I find myself going in circles. This time, I tapped a rich mine of information, to the point where I found myself having to decide what to keep and what to toss to keep the episode to a reasonable length.


    Click here for a transcript of this episode.

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    • 18 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
22 Ratings

22 Ratings

mikecohn ,

Love it—I’ve learned so much!

I love this podcast. I’ve learned so much from the stories behind these songs. And even if I sometimes know part of the story, Claude usually stumps me with the trivia question or shares covers I didn’t know about.

Start with an episode on a song you like and then branch out. If you’re like me, you’ll find you’ve soon listened to every episode of this great podcast.

SLC Film Fan '18 ,

Very good music pod

This is extremely well done, informative, charismatic, and GOOD 😌.

🐈🦙 ,


Makes me deeply fascinated with things I’d just skipped over. Very good.

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