Boomers Got the Word

When it comes to the games people play, there may not be a category more popular than word games. The latest of these is Wordle, yet another popular phenomena that Mister Boomer knows as much about as he does nuclear fusion. Yet Mister B has been known to enjoy crossword puzzles, the kind that are published on paper in these things called newspapers. But that’s a story for another time. For Mister Boomer, word games bring songs of the 1960s to mind. There was a series of “word” songs released in that decade that became part of the boomer vocabulary.

In 1963, The Trashmen boldly told us the bird is the word (Surfin’ Bird, 1963). When the statement was punctuated with, Bahpa ooma mow mow, bahpa oom mow meh mow, well, who could argue with that logic? The Beatles took on the task two years later, and told us the word is love (The Word, 1965). A year later, The Mamas & The Papas wanted us to know that despite the pontification by The Beatles, words of love, soft and tender, won’t win a girl’s heart any more (Words of Love, 1966). Meanwhile, The Association chimed in to tell us cherish is the word (Cherish, 1966).

The battle of words was hardly over. Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart wrote a song called, Words, that struck a chord with several bands:

Words that never were true
Just spoken to help nobody but you
Words with lies inside
But small enough to hide
‘Til your playing is through

The Leaves were the first to record it in 1966. That same year, The Regents released their version. But more than likely, the version most boomers recall is the one by The Monkees in 1967. Unlike the other covers, their version hit the Top 20.

In the end, it’s only words. Actually, that’s exactly what The Bee Gees told us in 1968:

It’s only words
And words are all I have
To take your heart away

How about it boomers? Which song holds the final word for you?

Mister Boomer Presents the Boomies Awards!

It’s award season. You can hardly turn on the television at this time of year without seeing an awards show, or a commercial for one coming soon. In the spirit of awards season, Mister Boomer is presenting the very first (and probably last) Boomies Awards, dedicated to the culture of the Boomer Generation (insert overly exuberant audience reaction here). In order to keep our non-telecast down to a tolerable minimum, we’re only announcing one award this evening: the award for Best Use of a Boomer-Era Song in a TV Commercial.

Mister Boomer has penned several posts about how today’s marketers — more often than not Millennials and Gen-Xers themselves — are choosing boomer-era music to hawk all types of products and services. Who can forget recent nominees like Yoplait Yogurt’s 2015 puzzling use of All Day and All of the Night (1964) by the Kinks, or 2021’s Corona Hard Seltzer’s employment of I Like It Like That (1967) by Pete Rodriguez. Both of these examples had the temerity to use the original recordings. We see may current examples where a cover version is inserted. Nonetheless, in almost all instances, a full commercial-length snippet of the song is rare; usually we hear a hook, memorable melody or riff that is hand-picked for commercial purposes.

So, without further ado, the nominees, currently airing on a TV near you, for Best Use of a Boomer-Era Song in a TV Commercial are:

Walmart, Patio Furniture Ad: The Clapping Song (1965), by Shirley Ellis
Mister B is not quite sure if the original is what is heard in the TV ad. He thinks the snippet used may be a cover version.

Target, The Things We Value Most Ad: Best of My Love (1977), by The Emotions
The original recording is heard.

Whole Foods, Ad: Every Beat of My Heart (1964), by The Du-ettes
This may in fact be the 1964 version that is heard.

Grey Goose, Vodka Ad: Barefootin’ (1965), by Robert Parker
Again, this may be the original, but hard to tell since it’s just a small musical passage.

Samsung, Galaxy Mobile Phone Ad: Land of 1000 Dances (1966), by Wilson Pickett
This is another ad that uses a small sample of the song. Industry records say it’s the original we hear.

Ooooh, can you feel the excitement building across the country, boomers? What a night! Have we stretched the time enough now or have you changed the channel? (A model in a glittery gold evening dress walks across the living room and hands the envelope to Mister Boomer).

And the winner is … totally up to you, boomers! Do you find the whole kit and kaboodle amusing, amazing or appalling?

Mister Boomer has experienced all three conditions (amused, amazed and appalled) when confronted with TV commercials grabbing a part of our boomer history to market to a younger generation. One thing is for certain: now that so many boomer-era songwriters and performers have sold all or part of their catalogs, we are sure to hear more of them.

How about you, boomers? Does a TV ad come to mind that moves you to hate? Or have TV commercials reignited a passion for a song you may not have heard in years?