I grew up in Manhattan's Washington Heights and had the best of both worlds. My family lived in the citywhich meant pizza shops, candy stores and movie theaters. But P.S. 187 was a short bike ride to Fort Tryon Parkhome of the Cloisters [pictured above]. For those unfamiliar with Fort Tryon Park, it sits high above the Hudson River and it's thick with flowers, foliage and panoramic views. It's probably one of New York's most tranquil spaces and still among its best-kept secrets.
In the spring of 1967, the song Groovin' by the Young Rascals was released, and by late May the song was playing everywhere on transistor radios, including in the park. I loved itthe smooth beat, the song's message, the bird calls, the harmonica and the soulful vocals. For me, the song sounded like the music for the day of your life. I just couldn't figure out why life would be ecstasy, you and me and Leslie." Seemed strange but how bad could it be.
A week ago I finally had a chance to ask Felix Cavalierethe song's co-writer, the band's leader and its lead vocalist. In today's Wall Street Journal (go here), my Anatomy of a Song" column for the paper's Arena section looks at Groovin'why it was written and recorded, the song's inspiration, and those birds. I also asked about Leslie."
JazzWax note: On April 15, the Rascals begin a 15-concert run in New York at Broadway's Richard Rodgers Theater. For more information, go here.
JazzWax clip: Here's a video the Young Rascals made in Central Park for Groovin' back in '67...