Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Ten Great Songs From One Great Week
The songs the radio played this week in history
May 28-June 3, 1972
Lod Airport massacre (May 30th) - The Lod Airport massacre was a terrorist attack in which three members of the Japanese Red Army killed 26 people and injured 80 others at Tel Aviv's Lod airport (now Ben Gurion International Airport). Two of the attackers were killed, while the last survivor was captured after being wounded. The dead comprised seventeen Christian pilgrims from Puerto Rico, a Canadian citizen, and eight Israelis, including Professor Aharon Katzir, an internationally renowned protein biophysicist, whose brother, Ephraim Katzir, would be elected President of Israel the following year.
Because airport security was focused on the possibility of a Palestinian attack, the use of Japanese terrorists took the guards by surprise. The attack has often been described as a suicide mission, but it has also been asserted that it was the outcome of a larger operation (the particulars of which remain unpublicized) that went awry. The three perpetrators—Kōzō Okamoto, Tsuyoshi Okudaira, and Yasuyuki Yasuda—had been trained in Baalbek, Lebanon; the actual planning was handled by Wadie Haddad (a.k.a. Abu Hani), head of PFLP External Operations, with some input from Okamoto.
The men arrived at the airport aboard an Air France flight from Rome. Dressed conservatively and carrying slim violin cases, they attracted little attention. As they entered the waiting area, they opened up their violin cases and extracted Czech Vz 58 assault rifles with the butt stocks removed. Immediately afterwards, they began to fire indiscriminately at airport staff and visitors, and tossing grenades as they changed magazines. Yasuda was shot dead, and Okudaira moved from the airport building into the landing area, firing at passengers disembarking from an El Al aircraft before killing himself with a grenade. Okamoto was shot by security personnel and arrested as he attempted to leave the terminal.
The Japanese public initially reacted with disbelief to initial reports that the perpetrators of the massacre were Japanese until a Japanese embassy official sent to the hospital confirmed that Okamoto was a Japanese national. Okamoto told the diplomat that he had nothing personal against the Israeli people, but that he had to do what he did because, "It was my duty as a soldier of the revolution." Okamoto then asked the diplomat, "Hasn't my father committed suicide yet?" (He had not.) Okamoto was tried by Israeli courts and sentenced to life imprisonment in June 1972.
In the letter claiming official responsibility for the attack carried out by the Japanese Red Army, the PFLP referred to it as Operation Deir Yassin. This was to portray it as revenge for the 1948 Deir Yassin massacre by Jewish Irgun members. The letter also stated that the operation was carried out by the Squad of the Martyr Patrick Arguello. Patrick Arguello had been killed two years earlier, on September 6, 1970 on an Israeli El Al jet he had attempted to hijack together with PFLP member Leila Khaled.
Okamoto was released in 1985 with over a thousand other prisoners in an exchange for captured Israeli soldiers and he settled in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. He was arrested in 1997, but in 2000 was granted political refugee status in Lebanon. Four other JRA members arrested at the same time were extradited to Japan. On July 8, 1972, Ghassan Kanafani, Palestinian short story writer and spokesperson for the PFLP, was assassinated in retaliation for the attack. His niece also died in the Beirut car bomb. In early 1978, Wadie Haddad, the primary organiser of the attack, was assassinated by Mossad.
In June 2006, a legislative initiative by Puerto Rico Senator José Garriga Picó, Senate Project (PS) 1535, was approved by unanimous vote of both houses of the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico, making every May 30 "Lod Massacre Remembrance Day". On August 2, 2006, the Governor of Puerto Rico, Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, signed it into law as Law 144 August 2, 2006. The purpose of "Lod Remembrance Day" is to commemorate those events, to honor both those murdered and those who survived, and to educate the Puerto Rican public against terrorism. On May 30, 2007, the event was officially memorialized in Puerto Rico after 35 years.
In 2008, the eight surviving children of Carmelo Calderón Molina, who was killed in the attack, and Pablo Tirado, son of survivor Pablo Tirado Ayala who was wounded in the attack, filed a lawsuit at the U.S. Federal Courthouse in San Juan, Puerto Rico, against the government of North Korea for its involvement in the massacre as a sponsor of the PFLP and the JRA, for providing material support to both organizations, and for planning the attack. The plaintiffs claim their right to sue the North Korean government based on the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976. Preliminary hearings to examine evidence began on December 2, 2009, in the courtroom presided by U.S. Judge Francisco Besosa in the absence of any representatives of the North Korean government for their lack of response to the lawsuit. The victim's families were represented by attorneys from the Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center including its founder, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner. In July 2010, the US court ordered North Korea to pay $378 million to families as compensation for the terror attack.
#1 Single -- "A Horse With No Name" by America
#1 Album -- "First Take" by Roberta Flack
70 – Siege of Jerusalem: Titus and his Roman legions breach the Second Wall of Jerusalem.
1431 – During the Hundred Years' War, in Rouen, France, 19-year-old Joan of Arc is burned at the stake by an English-dominated tribunal.
1536 – King Henry VIII of England marries Jane Seymour, a lady-in-waiting to his first two wives. 1806 – Andrew Jackson kills Charles Dickinson in a duel after Dickinson had accused Jackson's wife of bigamy.
1879 – New York's Gilmores Garden is renamed Madison Square Garden by William Vanderbilt and is opened to the public at 26th Street and Madison Ave.
1911 – At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the first Indy 500 ends with Ray Harroun in his Marmon Wasp becoming the first winner.
1922 – In Washington, D.C. the Lincoln Memorial is dedicated.
1948 – A dike along the flooding Columbia River breaks, obliterating Vanport, Oregon within minutes. 15 people die and tens of thousands are left homeless.
1966 – Former Congolese Prime Minister Evariste Kimba and several other politicians are publicly executed in Kinshasa on the orders of President Mobutu.
1989 – Tiananmen Square protests of 1989: the 33-foot high "Goddess of Democracy" statue is unveiled in Tiananmen Square by student demonstrators.
Conquistador -- Procol Harum
This became a hit when Procol Harum recorded it live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra on November 18, 1971. It was released soon after on the aptly titled album Procol Harum Live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. Conquistadors were Spanish soldiers who set out to conquer the Americas after their discovery by Christopher Columbus in 1492. Procol Harum's lyricist Keith Reid told of the story behind this song: "Gary Brooker and I, before we formed Procol Harum, when we were just working together as songwriters and getting into it, we had this regular deal where he lived about 40 miles from London near the ocean, and I'd jump on a train once a week and go visit him. He'd have a bunch of my lyrics and he'd play me whatever he had been working on. This particular time, though, I'd got down there and he'd been working on a tune. He said, 'What does this sound like to you?' And I said, 'Oh, conquistador.' It had a little bit of a Spanish flavor to it. I went into another room and started writing the words there and then. 99 out of 100 of those Procol Harum songs were written the words first, and then were set to music. But that particular one, the words hadn't existed before he had the musical idea."
Take It Easy -- The Eagles
Jackson Browne wrote this for his first album, but he didn't know how to finish the song. He gave it to his friend Glenn Frey, who needed songs for his new band - the Eagles. Frey finished the song and the Eagles used it as the first song on their first album. Frey's changes to the song included adding the second verse (and the line "Standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona," and stretching out the "E" in "Easy." He considers the song one of the most important Eagles tracks. In an interview with Bob Costas, he said the song represented "America's first image of our band with the vistas of the Southwest and the beginnings of what became Country-Rock." The song became an instant hit and peaked at #12 on the Hot 100.
Suavecito -- Malo
Malo was formed by Carlos Santana's brother Jorge. This was their only hit. Most members of the band were from the San Francisco music scene. Malo is Spanish for "bad," but is also Mayan for good. There is a large Mayan community in San Francisco. "Suavecito" was written by timbale player Richard Bean, who initially wrote it as a poem for a girl in his high school algebra class. The song has been called "The Chicano National Anthem" and was arranged for Malo by Richard Bean, bassist Pablo Tellez, and Abel Zarate. Tellez and Zarate also received co-author credits on the song. Guitarist Abel Zarate gave Malo a distinctive two-guitar sound with intricate harmony and dual solos the norm. The band featured full horn and percussion sections in the style of contemporary bands Blood, Sweat and Tears and Chicago. Some of the best musicians in the Bay Area were featured in Malo, including Forrest Buchtel, Jr., Ron Smith, Paul C Saenz, Luis Gasca, and Tom Harrell in the trumpet section. Malo's music was also hugely popular in Central and South America, especially the songs "Chevere", "Nena", "Pana", "Cafe" and "Oye Mama". A vocal section of "Suavecito" was included in the refrain of Sugar Ray's 1999 hit song, "Every Morning."
I Need You -- America
"I Need You" may be seen as the other single from America's first album. Actually, "A Horse With No Name" was not part of the album at first, but when it became a huge hit, they re-released the album with the track included. This smart decision caused their eponymous album to reach #1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. Released as the band's second single (after "Horse") with "Riverside" on the B-side, "I Need You" is perhaps the one song from the first album that looks the most forward to where the band aimed to go. They got more ambitious with later efforts, going away from the quirky, folksy sound of "A Horse With No Name" to their later progressive-rock sound. Although not their first released single, it was the first song lead-singer Gerry Beckley ever wrote.
I Saw The Light -- Todd Rundgren
This song is about a mixed-up young man, perhaps a teenage boy, who stumbles into his first affair and doesn't know if he loves the girl. It was a solid hit for Rundgren, reaching #16 on the Billboard Hot 100, but far from his favorite. He explained: "'I Saw The Light' is just a string of clichés. It's absolutely nothing that I ever thought, or thought about, before I sat down to write the song." Originally conceived to be the big hit from his album Something/Anything?, it was overshadowed by the LP's 3rd single, "Hello, It's Me," which peaked at #5.
Song Sung Blue -- Neil Diamond
This was inspired by Mozart's "Piano Concerto no. 21." It's probably the bounciest hit inspired by the classical composer. Said Diamond: "This is one to which I never paid too much attention. A very basic message, unadorned. I didn't even write a bridge to it... I had no idea that it would be a huge hit or that people would want to sing along with it." While Diamond didn't think this song had hit potential, Russ Regan, who ran his record label Uni, was a believer, telling Diamond it would be his "biggest copyright ever." Said Diamond, "Although the lyric says everything I wanted it to say, there's not much meat to it, but it turned out to be a major, major copyright."
Sylvia’s Mother -- Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show
Shel Silverstein wrote this as a parody of teen-heartbreak songs. It was delivered with very dramatic emotion. This flopped when it was first released, but when the record company started promoting it, it took off and became a hit. In 1972, Silverstein told Rolling Stone magazine that there was a real Sylvia: "I just changed the last name, not to protect the innocent, but because it didn't fit. It happened about eight years ago and was pretty much the way it was in the song. I called Sylvia and her mother said, 'She can't talk to you.' I said, 'Why not?' Her mother said she was packing and she was leaving to get married, which was a big surprise to me. The guy was in Mexico and he was a bullfighter and a painter. At the time I thought that was like being a combination brain surgeon and encyclopedia salesman. Her mother finally let me talk to her, but her last words were, 'Shel, don't spoil it.' For about ten seconds I had this ego charge, as if I could have spoiled it. I couldn't have spoiled it with a sledge hammer." Silverstein was a popular author and songwriter, who wrote for both children and adults. He was a writer and cartoonist for Playboy magazine, and a best-selling author of children's poems. He wrote "A Boy Named Sue" for Johnny Cash and another hit song for Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show: "Cover Of The Rolling Stone." He died of a heart attack in 1999 at age 68.
Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard -- Paul Simon
When asked what "Mama Pajama" saw that made her so distraught in this song, Paul Simon has said that he's not exactly sure, but he assumed it was something sexual. Simon made up a crazy little story for the song, and named the main character Julio because it sounded like a typical New York neighborhood kid (Simon grew up in Queens). What Paul didn't realize until years later was the impact the song had on Spanish-speaking listeners who were thrilled to hear a song coming out of America with a Latin name in the title.
First Time Ever I Saw Your Face -- Roberta Flack
This was the breakout hit for Roberta Flack and it was #1 in the US for 6 weeks. Flack had released 2 solo albums without commercial success, as her blend of Jazz and Folk styles struggled to find an audience. Folk singer Ewan MacColl wrote this in 1957 for his wife, Peggy Seeger. She was in a play and phoned him for suggestions on a song for a romantic scene. MacColl wrote this on the spot in less than an hour, playing it over the phone for his wife to use in her play. This was used in the 1972 Clint Eastwood movie Play Misty For Me, which gave a great deal of exposure to the mostly unknown Flack. On the strength of that, this song won the Grammy in 1973 for Song Of The Year and launched her very successful career.
Oh Girl -- Chi-Lites
This was written and sung by group leader Eugene Record. The other three Chi-Lites (pronounced "Shy-Lites") contributed a few wordless harmonies and one line per verse. Of the many cover versions (by Paul Young, Leo Sayer, Smokey Robinson among others), nearly everyone swipes the harmonica part, proof of how key it is to the song's arrangement. According to the Independent newspaper from July 25, 2005, Eugene Record initially dismissed this song. Record is quoted as saying, "I gave Carl Davis 7 songs on a tape and he called me to say there's a #1 tune on there. I named them all before 'Oh Girl' and I thought he was kidding."
Love Theme From “The Godfather” (Speak Softly Love) -- Andy Williams
Also known as "The Love Theme From The Godfather" or "Speak Softly Love," this is a song that featured in a film. The Godfather is a novel by Italian-American Mario Puzo (1920-99). A time-serving author in an albeit unheralded genré, he published his most famous work in 1969, and the novel was adapted faithfully for the big screen in 1972 for what is universally acclaimed as one of the best films ever made. The hero, if one may call him that, is Michael Corleone, who was portrayed by the A List actor Al Pacino. After murdering two fellow gangsters in cold blood at a restaurant, he is packed off to Sicily where he meets the love of his life. Alas, if Michael is beyond the reach of American justice, he is not beyond the reach of the mob, and his new wife is killed by a bomb that was intended for him. After returning to the States, Michael remarries; this return is facilitated by da family who persuade a dying man to confess to the double murder he committed.