Friday, July 18, 2014

Rant #1,250: Bubbling Under

Today, I am going to talk about something so very benign that it probably is completely off most people's radar.

There are hit records. We all know them, we purchase them and listen to them, and well, for many people, music is the melody of their lives.

Then there are tunes that are released with very good intentions--artistic and monetary--that simply fall by the wayside for whatever reason.

Billboard magazine, which has been the home to numerous record and song charts for generations, has been the home to something called the "Bubbling Under" singles chart off and on for generations too.

It is a very short chart of tunes that, well, never had the popularity to be on their Hot 100 chart.

Certainly during the 1950s, the 1960s, and 1970s, these charts included songs that were regional hits, and songs that simply didn't have the strength--sales and airplay--to make the national chart.

And the Bubbling Under chart included music from just about every artists imaginable, everyone from the Beatles to Elvis to acts that never really made much of a music dent, such as the Robbs and Linda Lloyd.

Just as a side note, many tunes that became huge hits also started out on the Bubbling Under chart before becoming legitimate hit records. If I remember correctly, one was "For What It's Worth" by the Buffalo Springfield. Those songs are interesting, too, because it shows how exposure after the release of a song can catapult it to the upper reaches of the chart. In fact, there was also a Bubbling Under album chart, and I do remember that the Monkees' first album started off on there, and in one week, leaped like 100 places once their show debuted and "Last Train to Clarksville" was becoming a national hit.

But those aren't the songs I am talking about.

I am talking about songs like "Bittersweet" by the Robbs, a tune that was very popular in its day in some places, a tune that got lots of exposure on TV via the "Where the Action Is" show, but for some reason, never made it to the Hot 100, which measures sales, airplay and yes, it can be a very political chart too.

At least that is what it measured in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Today, with digital sales and YouTube being what they are, I don't know what Billboard's charts measure anymore, or even if they are relevant in today's world. What's the Number One song in the country now? Who knows? Who cares?

But back then, these things were important, because the music reflected the times we lived in, an extremely turbulent time in our history.

Anyway, why am I talking about the Bubbling Under chart like I am?

It is a strictly personal thing, nothing more.

I have always been fascinated with singles, what becomes a hit and what doesn't.

I love the hits, but I also love the misses.

I love "I'm a Believer," but I also love "Mommy and Daddy." Both are by the Monkees, but one is a classic and the other ... well, it simply wasn't a classic, although I do love the songs almost equally.

I have decided to get together as many of these Bubbling Under songs and put them on as many CD-Rs as possible for my own, personal listening enjoyment. I use a reference book about the Bubbling Under charts, which was compiled by the erstwhile Joel Whitburn, who has become extremely well know in certain circles for his books on the Billboard charts, as a guide.

I have chosen the years 1964-1971 to focus on, simply because to me, personally, those are the best, most exciting years of music that we have ever experienced. Those years mirror the period when the Beatles had their most incredible influence on music in the U.S., so those eight years are a good point to go with, at least for me--the years my ears were opening up to such things, from age seven to age 14, when I entered high school.

It has been fun at the beginning. I have a lot of the stuff on record, CD and MP3 anyway, but this is the first time I am putting everything together on CD-R.

So far, I have found in my collection just about everything I need, but I am sure there are going to be plenty of songs that I don't have, and that is going to be where the fun is, trying to search and find where I can get these songs so that I have a complete collection of those years.

Since I am just at the beginning of this, it is probably going to take some time to get everything together, so I will let you know in the future how it goes--and probably have a list of songs that I don't have.

It should be fun, a nice thing to focus on during my sparse down time.

I will let you know how it goes as I "Bubble Under" myself.

Speak to you again on Monday.

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