Wednesday, September 17, 2008

96 Tears

96 Tears - Garland Jeffreys's latest newsletter contains the following article about "96 Tears" - discussing both the original song by "? Mark & the Mysterians" and Garland's cover version on his "Escape Artist" album (check out the audio broadcasts and music-related articles on the site at

--DW, Assistant to Garland Jeffreys

Garland Jeffreys at The Ritz in NYC

I'm On The Hunt For Some Compelling Music, For Example...."96 Tears" (no analysis required) by Bob Davis (

Some songs just plain old make me smile, there is no logical explanation for it, and they just do. It isn't even worth the time to try to figure out why, no analysis is required. They just make me smile whenever I hear this song. I guess that is the magic of listening to so called "oldies."

Perhaps it was a time in my life that made me happy? Perhaps it was a situation in my life that today I can't even remember? Perhaps it is a simple as hearing the song, playing thru the static of my father's AM car radio on WMCA, while sitting in the back seat?

I dunno what it is, but anytime that I hear the song "96 Tears", it just makes me smile. The song was originally done in the mid - late 1960's by a wild azz Chicano group, led by Rudy Martinez called "? Mark & the Mysterions". However I assumed (along with everyone else), that it was the Rolling Stones.

The song features a hypnotic 1950's R&B/Rock n' Roll groove, driven by an ultra funky organ that just won't quit. Lyrically it's not much different than any standard Motown/Pop song of the era. It's all about a lost teenage love that anyone can instantly relate to. "96 Tears" is one of those songs that Black people secretly love, but never discuss, because it wasn't played on Black radio stations at the time. You always found it by accident on AM stations like WMCA or WABC and when you did, you always jacked up the volume. Turning up the volume on an AM radio back in those days of course meant that in addition to getting more sound, you also got more static playing thru those "powerful" 2 1/2 inch speaker cones. In fact back in those days most people who had either car or transistor AM radio, also had cracked speakers in their radio's. It was songs like "96 Tears' that was the cause of those cracked speaker cones."96 Tears' is one of those songs that deserves to be placed inside of a time capsule, because it provides for us a definition of something that actually defies definition.

Over time I forgot all about the song "96 Tears", then at some point during the 1980's, I rediscovered the song. I rediscovered the song thanks to a "cover" version of it, that was done by our friend from Brooklyn, Garland Jeffreys. His version of the song, while true to the original, is for some inexplicable reason, better. Perhaps because Garland brings just a "little mo'soul" to the table? Who knows why, but his version of the song is just better. It's one of my all-time favorites. It's one of those types of songs that you knew so well, that you knew exactly when it was going to end, and seconds before that would happen, you would rush over to the turntable, lift the tone arm, and start it all over again.

The environment we live in today is pretty damn discouraging. High taxes, high gas prices, crime, drugs, violence, no medical insurance, the home mortgage crisis. If you want to make yourself smile, just take a listen to 3 minutes of "96 Tears" by Garland Jeffreys for and watch that 3 minutes turn into 6 minutes, then turn into 9 minutes and more. Then go out and fact the challenges of the day and you fill find yourself able to face them with a smile, because I guarantee you that for the rest of that day, the song will be "on replay" inside of your mind...

I would like you to scroll down and check out, the reviews below, the music of these artists make me feel the same way as "96 Tears". Some of the music is old and some of it's new, but it all makes me feel the same way. And if you feel so inclined, tell him what cha think...

Check it all out and let us know what cha think?
Thanks in advance...

--Bob Davis

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