Smurfing Sing Song

Wait… That’s a Cover?! – “You’re a Pink Toothbrush” by The Smurfs

I had stacks of records as a kid. Some of them made sense, like the single about taking a walk down Alphabet Street, the street with 26 houses. Others not so much, like a random single for “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” by Tony Orlando and Dawn. We were big MASH fans, what can I say? I guess our house was just too mellow for Edwin Starr’s “War”. Anyway, with myriad options available for my listening enjoyment, one album rose to the top of the heap and logged several hours of playtime on my Fisher Price rig. And no, I’m not talking about the debut album from the Rock-afire Explosion. At this point those guys were still playing smoky pizza joints searching for their big break. The record I speak of was Smurfing Sing Song by the Smurfs released in 1980.

Smurfing Sing Song Cover

Smurfing Sing Song Back

The album was riddled with songs that would get stuck in your head for days. One track, however, went beyond being a minor nuisance and actually began to haunt me. It was written from the perspective of a toothbrush who had just discovered the love of his life. It was titled “You’re a Pink Toothbrush” and it chronicled the unrequited romantic affection felt by one lonely toothbrush toward a newcomer to the bathroom. I had always assumed this was an original tune, but recently learned the shocking truth about its origin. It’s actually a cover of an old song from the 1950s made famous by performer Max Bygraves. Damn, now I know what Millennials must feel like every time they discover a new song, tv show, or movie.

Here are both versions of the song along with the lyrics. I like to give credit where credit is due. Anyway, I need to track down a 45 of the original now because that’s the kind of OCD I’m cursed with each day.

You’re a Pink Toothbrush

(Irving Halfin / Dick James / David Ruvin)
Max Bygraves – 1955

You’re a pink toothbrush
I’m a blue toothbrush
Have we met somewhere before
You’re a pink toothbrush
And I think, toothbrush
That we met by the bathroom door

Glad to meet, toothbrush
Such a sweet toothbrush
How you thrill me through and through
Don’t be hard, toothbrush
On a soft toothbrush
‘Cause I can’t help loving you

Ev’ry time I hear you whistle
(Whistling)
It makes my nylon bristle
(Whistling)

You’re a pink toothbrush
I’m a blue toothbrush
Won’t you marry me in haste
I’ll be true, toothbrush
Just to you, toothbrush
When we both use the same toothpaste

(Instrumental Break)

Ev’ry time I hear you whistle
(Whistling)
It makes my nylon bristle
(Whistling)

You’re a pink toothbrush
I’m a blue toothbrush
Won’t you marry me in haste
I’ll be true, toothbrush
Just to you, toothbrush
When we both use the same toothpaste

Rock-afire Explosion

My Birthday with The Rock-afire Explosion

Looking back, there are three birthday parties from my childhood that stand out in my mind. The earliest one being my McDonald’s party. Yep, before today’s numerous birthday party options became available many parents just set aside some time at the local burger joint. And you know what? It was awesome. We played games, one of which involved trying to drop straws into a paper cup from a predetermined height, we ate burgers, and we just sort of ran around the place. Hey, it was a simpler time. The next memory would have to be my skating rink party. After all, it was the 80s and that was what we did. I remember trying not to fall down, and I remember the arcade games that were available. Double Dragon seemed so cool, edgy, and adult to my little 8-year-old eyes. Lastly but not leastly, I remember my Showbiz Pizza birthday party and the robotic rock band that melted my face as I munched on my slice of pepperoni with cheese, The Rock-afire Explosion!

Rock-afire Explosion Logo

After my party, I remember becoming obsessed with the animatronic band. I even tried to create my own makeshift robots in my bedroom to no avail. After giving up on a future in robotics, the art student in me eventually decided to simply draw each band member’s likeness on paper grocery sacks. I would then convert these sacks into costumes I could wear by cutting out arm holes, eye holes and a mouth hole. A photograph exists of me and my sister wearing these abominations, but since I wish to remain on speaking terms with my sister, I’ve decided to withhold them from the site.

Anyway, getting back to the party, I was the birthday boy so that meant I was to be presented with a free gift from the house. I think you can guess what I probably received, right? After all, if it was a rubber coin purse displaying the Showbiz Pizza logo or some such nonsense, I probably wouldn’t be writing this post. Indeed friends, it was the premiere album from what I had just decided was “like, totally my favorite band of all time”! Behold dear reader… Gee, Our 1st Album by the Rock-afire Explosion on vinyl!

I don’t think a day went by in the late-80s where I didn’t spin this bad boy on my small Fisher Price record player. I’m convinced this album is what first introduced me to the music of Billy Joel, The Doors, and Elvis Presley. So, I owe it a lot actually. Thankfully someone was able to digitally preserve this classic and post it up for the common good on YouTube as well. Enjoy!

One More Thing

If you were also obsessed with the Rock-afire Explosion as a child, I must direct you to the following documentary. It tells the story of a small town disc-jockey who acquired his own Rock-afire Explosion, and then tweaked things a bit to have them perform new set lists. It’s a bit of a bummer, but it beautifully illustrates the urge we all feel to remain young and to keep certain things from our own childhood alive. It’s well worth a watch.

Official Site: http://www.rockafiremovie.com

Feel free to share your childhood birthday memories in the comments section below as well!

Dark Wave to the Rescue! Part 4 I Must Fight This Sickness, Find a Cure

I sure hope I’m right about finding solace in the abyss because that’s exactly where The Cure’s 1982 release Pornography fixes its gaze. To those only familiar with The Cure’s radio friendly releases, I say buckle in. Robert Smith is about to give us an education. People don’t toss around the term “goth” when speaking of The Cure because the band once wrote a song about falling in love on a Friday. The band won that moniker because they put together this freaky little musical suicide note and scared the crap out of suburban moms and dads everywhere. Let’s proceed, shall we?

January and February with The Cure’s Pornography

As the dead of winter lowers my seasonal depression to a critical level, I reach for my copy of Pornography and once again drink in the album art. I see the band’s name in a new typeface along with the album title, Pornography. Below this information, I find a nightmarish image of the band. Reds, violets, and blacks dominate the color palette. Fitting for an album about death and sorrow, no? The visuals let the listener know immediately that Robert Smith wanted this album to be an unbearable experience. It dabbles in the obscene and finds a fitting name in Pornography. Its lyrics exploit and expose. Its instrumentation is chilling and unrelenting. It quickly becomes apparent that this recording was crafted by a man well acquainted with depression and personal suffering.

So… are you ready to dig in?! I should note, if you think we are going to be able to ease into this one, you are wrong. The album’s first song is about to repeatedly beat you about the face with your own mortality for six minutes and forty-one seconds.

One Hundred Years

It doesn’t matter if we all die.” What a way to start things off, right? Pornography goes beyond Faith’s fearful realization that death is imminent. Instead, it opts to hurl itself toward its own demise willingly at 90 miles an hour. The opening track, “One Hundred Years”, begins with an up tempo drum beat and then launches into a bending guitar riff, packed with enough sustain to make Nigel Tufnel jealous. In January, everything has a tendency to seem pointless to me. I never want to start anything new, always hoping the motivation will eventually arrive when the weather improves. “One Hundred Years” is a song that helps me pass the time and survive the “everything is futile” phase of my depression. “Over and over we die. One after the other. One after the other. One after the other.

A Short Term Effect

“A Short Term Effect” is written from the perspective of a man ready to die. Burial analogies run rampant, along with an analogy referencing a radio or television set that is no longer receiving a signal. “Cover me with earth. Draped in black. Static white sound.” It’s also impossible to escape the nods to suicide. The lyrics depict a harrowing scene of a friend finding a lifeless body of a loved one. “Scream as she tries to push him over. Helpless and sick. Jump, jump, dance and sing.” Here we see some poor soul begging the universe to once again reanimate the recently deceased. While I’ve never entertained suicidal thoughts, I’ve certainly had my dismal moments. Most often, early winter seems to trigger these thoughts for me.

The Figurehead

Robert Smith has said in an interview that this song is about guilt. In “The Figurehead” we find a man on the edge, feeling as if he can never be redeemed for his past sins. “I will never be clean again.” The song also illustrates those moments where depression and guilt can break the mind, causing the afflicted to act a bit nutty. “I laughed in the mirror for the first time in a year.” As the new year begins, I too find myself thinking of the poor decisions I’ve made or things I’ve done that have hurt people in unimaginable ways. “The Figurehead” captures the unclean feelings that often overwhelm me, and it reminds me that I am not alone in my grief.

Cold

The instrumentation for “Cold” gives off an evil vibe. The lyrics once again deal with death, this time seeming to focus on the death of a loved one. “A shallow grave. A monument to the ruined age. Ice in my eyes, and eyes like ice don’t move. Screaming at the moon. Another pastime. Your name, like ice into my heart.” This song is a perfect fit for the chill of late February with its many references to ice and the coldness of death.

Pornography

The last album of The Cure’s dark trilogy fittingly ends with another title track, “Pornography”. Wow, this song is unsettling! It begins with garbled voice recordings. It’s hard to make out what is being said and often some of the speech sounds reversed. Strange scratches and scrapes ring out and an overall feeling of uneasiness grows in the heart of the listener. Is this what death is like? Holy crap, are we dying?! I’m honestly not sure if I’ve ever survived all six and half minutes of this track.

Anyway, the speech fades out and we are met with a tribal sounding drum beat. It sounds as if a horde of demons is coming from the shadows to carry us away to the devil’s inner sanctum. We eventually hear voices again, shouts, and maybe animal noises? About three minutes in we realize there is a synth bed playing in the background as we are being marched to our doom… and then Robert Smith sings. He sings of death, suicide and the vanity of existence. “In books, and films, and in life, and in heaven, the sound of slaughter. One more day like today and I’ll kill you. A desire for flesh and real blood. I’ll watch you drown in the shower.” As dark as this all sounds, the song resolves in sort of a hopeful way. I find this small glimmer of light inspiring as I sit in late February, wondering if spring will ever come. Robert concludes by showing that he still has an inner determination to persevere. “I must fight this sickness. Find a cure. I must fight this sickness.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series dealing with my personal struggles with SAD and greatness of The Cure’s early 80s trilogy. Please check out these records if you haven’t. I glean something new from them with each listen.