Boomers Saw — and Heard — the Signs

Mister Boomer has written several posts about his Morning Jukebox Syndrome, the affliction that causes songs from the boomer era to play in his head upon awakening, practically every day. He has since learned many other boomers experience this same situation. It’s endless fascinating to him that songs that may not have been heard for 30, 40 or 50 years can suddenly appear in the brain, lyrics complete, as if they were playing on the radio. So when a few songs began to reappear in a bit of cluster in the past month, Mister Boomer had no choice but to take it as a sign he should write about them. The “sign” was songs that mention the word, sign. Here are the three songs:

Sign of the Times – Petula Clark (1966)
There’s not a shred of any Eve of Destruction in Petula Clark’s music. On the contrary, the beat is up, the mood wide-eyed and happy. The sign in this song is that a boy who previously didn’t give her the attention she wanted has now changed his tune. Her times are changing, in her song, for the better. The song peaked at Number Two on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary charts.

Gimme Little Sign – Brenton Wood (1967)
As in Petula Clark’s tune, this one is a straightforward love song. The sign here is the singer is looking for some reciprocity — a sign that the woman feels the same as he does. The song peaked at Number Nine on Billboard’s Hot 100.

Signs – Five Man Electrical Band (1971)
After touring with groups like The Allman Brothers, Edgar Winter, Sly and the Family Stone and Rare Earth, this Canadian band scored with a song that talks about signs as limiting dialogue and inclusion, a real boomer-era sentiment. First released as a B-side on a single in 1968, it was the 1971 re-release as a promo for their album, Good-byes and Butterflies, that caught boomers’ attention. Mister B could partially identify with it since, after being forced to keep his hair cut in parochial high school, he was then heading to college and free to grow it long, plus a mustache as well. So the lyrics, And the sign said long-haired freaky people need not apply were relatable. The song reached Number Three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the U.S.

In the end, what is Mister Boomer — or any boomer for that matter — to make of the sudden appearance of sign-related songs in his Morning Jukebox Syndrome? At this particular point in this particular year, when no news is good news, maybe the signs point to the variety and wisdom found in boomer music as a way to cope, if not to find hope and a path forward?

What do the signs tell you, boomers?

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?