"Poetry in Motion"
Frank watched me struggle through my brief period as the National Fan Club president for a lesser light on Dot records, and Frank would tease me mercilessly throughout this entire period of my life. He could be absolutely merciless and utterly devoid of pity when it came to such things, but he did it in a much nicer and much funnier (believe me he could be funny) way than the kids at school. The artist in question would actually come visit me at the home in Claremont, and bring me small presents of records from Dot. They weren't small records, actually, they were big ellpees of the handouts even the disk jockeys would spurn as freebies and so there were stacks of them in the small two- or three-person office that made up Dot at the time. Records like "Lawrence Welk Plays Baby Elephant Walk". Frank and I would just laugh and laugh and laugh. I'd have to defend my choice of artist furiously to Frank: "He's an Eagle Scout!" "He hiked the whole of the Apallachian trail one summer to get that badge! 2-1/2 months walk, camping in the woods and hiking the trails all along the way!"
The reason I gave up on my artist was he made a snide racial slur to me when we went to a televised show in Santa Monica at POP about some black musicians who'd come into the green room. He was "trying to protect me from 'THEM' " and I just thought everybody was grooving and getting along and wouldn't have minded talking to anybody and I wasn't at all put off by the scene as everyone was well behaved, but I was SHOCKED! And it showed! I'd even told him in a mild polite way there was no need for that, which made him miffed so he went to talk to some guys at the door. So there I was suddenly, abandoned shocked wallflower, and an older lady who was well dressed and obviously worked high up in the industry asked me what had happened. I explained as best I could to this woman, a kindly stranger, what had transpired, and what the guy had said ("Jigaboo"! and "NEVER in MY LIFE! I was so surprised by that!" ... ).
Then guess what happened? I kind of wanted to get back at him for saying that, and teach him some manners, so she went into action. It was like a performance piece ... she went running down the hall to a door, after which Johnny Tillotson walked out, he was on the show, too, and he and I (and he was a BIG STAR then with "Poetry in Motion", the nation's current Teen Idol) swept into a side room and closed the door. And we weren't doing anything, he chatted on the telephone with somebody, and the lady was in the room with us as a chaperone anyway ... and she kind of prompted me, "Don't you want Johnny's autograph?" and I said "Sure!" So he took a 5x7 postcard photo of himself
and wrote on the back "Imperial 400, room 303 ... Johnny Tillotson" ... which I carried out with a smile on my face and showed to the artist who said "jigaboo" when I went back out. And it was all a contrived performance piece to put that guy in his proper place, you see. That was a riot! So I'll always like Johnny Tillotson, true Southern Gentleman, because of that (and that mystery woman who dreamed it up, I will toast her now with a brandy Alexander! )
(Though you must admit, even to yourselves, that Johnny's precise ennunication of the complex vocabulary of subject matter when singing "Poetry in Motion" and subject content could have done much to raise the standard for pop music of the day. The lyrical content was pro-girl and pro-women, because he wouldn't want to change her in any way. Very grown-up attitude there especially for a "teenage" love song.).
(There is an echo of this tune and this very story in the line Lowell George wrote "onamatapoetry, symmetry in motion
", because Lowell loved hearing stories about people in the business. And he loved telling them, too. )