Compositional Intentions: Suzy Creamcheese, the beginning of Influence number 1
During my time as National Fan Club president for the artist who would absorb pieces of "hip" culture and sometimes end a sentence with a rhetorical question framed in the au current slang of the day "Ain't That a Kick in the Head?", we'd tried to get along, he and I. He would visit me at my home in Claremont with his guitars and ukeleles and he'd entertain my mother and I, playing slack key guitar, and he played jazz as he'd studied under Joe Byrd (not the same as the fellow I would encounter in Venice in 1965). And talk to us and tell stories while he did. And sometimes he would ask me "out on a date", which my parents approved of wholeheartedly even though I was young, as it was not really "a date" we were having, it always involved fan club business somehow, and this time he merely wanted to take me out to eat at far away Tiny Naylor's, a hip hangout for any to do with Hollywood types of the time.
He sometimes would arrive in a car he'd borrowed from his grandmother, where he lived with her, though he was installed in a small beautiful wooden cottage behind her home while he was attending college classes at a junior college all the better to "acculturate" and stream his collection of academic requirements into a form recognized as necessary requirements to eventually continue on at a university. All while still pumping out the contractual requirements for the small record company. At the cottage, once, his mother who was also visiting made me a wonderful avocado sandwich on wheat bread. I'd met his sister, "Susie" there, and the family's black standard poodle named "Brutus". This sort of visitation, which was wrapped around my duties as National Fan Club president, was fine even with my father, as he and my mother both watched me and everyone I associated with, like a hawk. But as for fan clubs, "every body has one," I'd tell Frank, because I knew the ways of the world. "Even Bobby Rydell."
Though by the time we almost went to eat at Tiny Naylor's, the guy who was the real the power behind the throne of his own National Fan Club boasted a different set of wheels, his own car now, a very cool Corvair which he'd had custom painted a very nice turquoise.
When he arrived for that evening out, my mother had already prepared a fine roast beef dinner with small new potatoes roasted and sprinkled with parsley, and offered that to him instead. The table was set formally with linen and a small silver holder propping a candle. She knew he would like this dinner, and also knew he would abandon all prearranged plans for Tiny Naylor's. She did this purposefully, and while I wanted to dine at Tiny Naylor's and see the sights, to my shame I gave in to parental and peer pressure as did he. My mother could recognize that he, being descended from a Scots-Irish background, would prefer dining at someone else's expense ... as if to say she knew he was "cheap" sometimes, and could seem much like a leprechaun guarding his pot of gold (there is a very solid reason for all those cultural stereotypes and folkmyths, you know). Those leprechauns in all those stories .... wow! Even though they came from families rich enough to send them to private academies for high school, some still dressed in the deep green of the emerald forest. So I'd noticed earlier on with meals out, he would receive a bill at a restaurant and stare at it at the register, and as he slipped his hand into the side pocket of his hounds tooth checked jacket to retrieve his wallet to pay the bill, he would sometimes say "ouch!" and I'd had made the mistake of mentioning that to my mother, so I'd done it to myself, you see.
He'd regale me with tales of the record sessions, how one of the session guitarists somewhere would play with him and with the engineer in the studio during the first take, supposedly playing a lead-in to another song for the session (some teen longing tune), and the guitarist launch into the opening guitar lines of "Tequila
" as a joke.
Frank was merciless with me about this whole infatuation I had at the time. He and my sister and I would sit around and compare Pat Boone's version of "Tutti Frutti" (of one of the ellpees that had arrived from Dot records) where he sounded like he was talking the lyrics in his rendition of Little Richard's version, and we'd snap our fingers to his sings and laugh, then play them one after another like that, all afternoon long. Pat's this or that
("I Almost Lost My Mind" which was followed by the original by Ivory Joe Hunter
. And generally have a great time.
So I'd spin around Hollywood like that, because I was too young to drive, but at home I'd listen music exactly like this at home with Frank and my sister:
Stranded in the jungle
One time, I went with the artist whose National Fan Club I was running with his whole family (sans Dad) to the LA County Fair in Pomona one very hot summer day. He was steeped in Pat Boone culture, and would sing at Girl Scout Jamborees), and I'd seen movies like "State Fair" with Pat Boone, as that's mostly what they offered at the cinema houses in Pomona ... where Pat was a sulky driver and wore silk racing shirts. I would have to dress, according to my mother's instructions and my sister's guidance, in a special ensemble, hot for the state fair in August. And we'd pose for photographs together to commemorate the occasion:
Photos never lie, they always tell the truth especially when you catch someone offguard, in a moment that can reveal inner thoughts or doubts. I was drifting more towards Frank and his friends even at that early age, as suddenly I had real doubts about the entire culture I was moving into. I felt trapped in a sulky, at the State Fair. See that weak smile of mine in the photo below? My enthusiasm was flagging. I showed that picture to Frank as we always brought out photos in my home to help talk about people we knew ... and reminisce, visual prompts pointing to a recent or more distant history to help flesh out the memories and the stories ... it was right then, with a smile that I could barely muster, the voice of doubt was first a small chirping was growing LOUDER as a crazily echoing conscience.
blah blah blah blah BLAH Frank heard all those stories from me as he watched me grow up. There was another photo I'd had of that day, which I've since lost. Without my glasses, squinting into the sun, my mouth curling into the beginning of what could be seen as a sneer.
When Frank was a dj on a local college station, he knew where
ALL the records were in town in everybody's secret home collection, the ones that he wanted to play, and would borrow
them, or sometimes my sister would just take one of mine and I'd remind
her I WANT THAT BACK! It has MY name on it ... (because rather than
scrawling messages like "Kay + Tom" in ink on records as my sister had
on her 78s and 45s, I was exceptionally tidy and would buy small
perforated record identifying labels and neatly type my name in on a
As to where songs really come from, who knows? The teenage love song had the artist's little sister's name as a title. They were just songs, music and rhythms, with other things thrown in because they fell right. One time Frank showed up personally to borrow a record, and he
and my sister were rifling through a small stack of 45s in my
bedroom, that I had won honestly in a
t dice game in Compton a few years previously. Uh oh, I said to myself. I ran in and sat down on the bed to oversee his selection and make note of what he was borrowing like I was a very determined librarian or something. Then I lunged, and
grabbed a 45 and held it to my chest to protect it from his grasp. I
said, "ok you can borrow this one or that one" as he went through the records, and he did, "But don't
you dare touch 'Susie Darlin'". And Frank laughed at me, and eventually
sure enough he did.