Hey, guys, it's Mike Rowe, this is the way I heard it, the only podcast for The Curious Mind with a short attention span, it's episode number one 65, and it's called the Feel Good Hit of the Summer, the feel good hit of the Summer.
And why not?
Here we are in the midst of summer. It's been a difficult few months for a lot of people, catastrophic for some, annoying for others, unforgettable for all of us. So who couldn't use a feel good hit? I first heard that expression. Boy went to probably 1978, 1979, I was working for United Artists movie studios in those days, used to like to describe their little pieces of fluff for the summertime as feel good hits. Nothing too serious, just a bouncy little something, something to take your mind off your troubles.
Then the expression began to be used in the music industry. Well, the story I'm about to share with you does unfold in the music industry. Brilliant musician was challenged to crank out a feelgood hit one summer and and he did.
And this is the story of how that came to be. It is not the story of the song called the Feel Good hit of the Summer, which some of you may be familiar with. That came out in 2000, was a band called The Queens of the Stone Age, a terrific band.
If you if you like that sort of music, Hard Rock. They did the title track to Anthony Bourdain show Parts Unknown.
Those guys parts unknown, not exactly a feel good hit of the summer, but a fine show when I was when I was pleased to be bundled with for a time.
Once upon a time, I had a show called Somebody's Got to Do It, which was more of a feelgood hit that aired with Tony Bourdain show for a while now. I'm working on returning the favor, which is a straight up feel good hit for Facebook.
Now that I think about it, I've been involved with a fair amount of feelgood hits, but most of mine usually involve an element of something that's just a little nasty, like dirty jobs.
Dirty Jobs was a feel good show, but there was a lot of poo in it, a lot of misadventures in animal husbandry. Returning the favor is a feel good show, but we show you how the show is made, right? So you get a a sense of something else aside from all of that do gooder and earnest ness that can sometimes make your teeth hurt.
Anyway, the story's called the feel good hit of the summer. It's a true one and it's brought to you.
But by what I'm going to describe as the the feel good boots of the summer. Oh, yes. My friends at Wolverine are sponsoring this podcast.
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To be clear, it's a tank of a boot, but it is lightweight and super comfortable. And this is the first time I've seen a boot manufacturer actually check both of these boxes. Right. There are lots of there are lots of super comfortable walking boots out there and there are lots of super durable construction boots out there. But it's almost always been pick one. You can have both the Hellcat Ultra spring is both. They're good. And any whether the leather is waterproof, the lining is waterproof.
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Think of this as the feel good hit of the summer. It's the way I heard it. The brothers were summoned to the boss's office just before lunch. They dropped what they were doing, obviously, and fast walked down the corridor. Actually, the playful brother fast walked. The serious brother limped along as quickly as he could, trying to keep up inside the office. Both men sat before the boss and listened carefully as he explained the nature of their next assignment.
This is a tricky one, fellas. I need something peppy for kids of all ages. A bouncy little ditty that really sticks with you. Oh, and I need it yesterday. No problem, said the playful brother. We'll have something for you in no time. It'll be the feel good hit of the summer. The serious brother side. He didn't feel like writing the feel good hit of the summer and the summer did not feel all that good to him.
The Cold War was raging. A hot war was looming in Vietnam and writing one more bouncy little ditty held very little appeal. But the boss had been clear about what he needed, and the boss was not a man to be ignored. Back in their office, the serious brother limped toward the piano where his younger sibling was already seated, pulling another earworm from the keyboard. Where did they originate? He wondered. These effervescent melodies of relentless happiness and optimism.
How much bottomless joy could one man possess?
Congratulations, he said. You've done it again. I can't decide whether to shoot myself or jump off a bridge. The playful brother laughed and kept playing. Whichever you decide, Big Brother, can I have some lyrics before you check out, please? You heard the boss. Something for kids of all ages as the playful brother continue to hammer out the refrain over and over and over again. The serious brother closed his eyes and tried to recall the world.
They used to share a carefree world that existed before. He convinced his parents to sign the permission slip that sent him off on that field trip to Europe. Ever since his return from that little adventure, the two brothers had lived in very different worlds. Even though they collaborated in the same office. The serious brother sat motionless for several minutes before opening his eyes and speaking the words that would eventually become the lyrics to the most played song of all time.
It's a true but unlikely fact. Even though their composition was sung by no one famous, their bouncy little ditty would go on to be played more than any other song in the history of recorded music. More times the White Christmas. More times than my way, more times than yesterday, more times, in fact, than everything ever recorded by Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra or the Beatles combined.
Many years later, long after he wrote those now unforgettable lyrics, the serious brother got around to writing a serious autobiography. It's called Moose. And if you read it, be advised.
Unlike the grated lyrics that made him famous, this account of his life is filled with plain and brutal English.
He writes about the terror of battle, the depredation of man, the enemy bullet that shattered his kneecap and sent him home with a permanent limp. And of course, he writes about the day he became separated from his unit and stumbled across that strange encampment deep in the German countryside. I crouched in the bushes, he wrote and watched the gates open. I saw three trucks packed with Nazis' drive away in haste when they were gone. I walked through the open gate.
I could smell the stench as the prisoners ran towards me, scarecrows desperate with hunger, their scalps and eyebrows infested with lice. I saw an open trench piled high with rotting bodies. I saw the ovens filled with human bones. I saw children left to die in the dirt. I saw enough behind those gates to fill my nightmares for the rest of my life. That's the day the older brother became the serious brother, and if you listen carefully to the lyrics of his many songs, you'll detect a subtle undercurrent of seriousness beneath his younger brother's playful melodies, a challenge for his many listeners to see the world not through rose colored glasses, but as it really is.
That's exactly what he did when his little brother challenged him to write the lyrics that would accompany the bouncy little ditty he pulled from the keyboard way back in 1964, the very same tune their boss introduced to the crowds at the World's Fair that very same year and continued to share for many years to come over and over and over again.
Twelve hundred times a day in dozens of different languages, all the world over something to ponder next time you're stuck in line at the happiest place on earth, cursing the relentless ubiquity of the most played song in the world, the feel good hit of the summer commissioned by a boss named Walt and quickly composed by a playful songwriter named Richard Sherman and his serious older brother, a lyricist named Robert, the once carefree brother whose disposition was forever changed when he became the first American soldier to see the inside of a concentration camp.
A lyricist who later described his most famous words as nothing less than a plea for world peace, a plea that portrays our tiny planet as a truly miraculous place large enough to hold the wonderful world of Disney and the not so wonderful world of Dacko.
Perhaps you remember the tiny world that Robert Sherman once described. It's a world of laughter, a world of tears. It's a world of hopes and a world of fears. There's so much that we share that it's time we're aware it's a small world after all. Anyway, that's the way I heard.