Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: As a professional writer, here's a little trivia question that you will probably get right. However, I have stumped a number of ordinary folks with it.

Listen to “I Saw Her Again,” by the Mamas and the Papas, and identify the grammatical blunder that they make. In fact, they even repeat it a few times, indicating they didn't really know of their mistake.

Do you know the line of which I speak?
—Milton Connell, Bridgeport, Ala.

DEAR PROFESSOR CONNELL: To prepare for this surprise test — which I plan to ace — I just listened to “I Saw Her Again,” specifically with your question in mind.

The flub is with the line “Every time I see that girl, you know I wanna lay down and die.” Since the singer is not an object, it should be “Every time I see that girl, you know I wanna LIE down and die.”

I can see why you stump a lot of people with this question, since the confusion between lay and lie is extremely common.

Come to think of it, pop music writers have never been overly concerned with proper grammar — and that's no lie.

DEAR JERRY: A friend who is pretty knowledgeable about music really startled me recently with one of his trivia facts.

I always regarded Jimi Hendrix as primarily a soul, funk, or R&B, artist. Yet my buddy says Hendrix never had a single hit on any of the black music charts.

Is he right? If so, how can that be?
—David Trimble, Madison, Wisc.

DEAR DAVID: Remember the lesson learned in “Forrest Gump”? Stuff happens!

Jimi Hendrix made the pop charts with seven singles and three dozen albums, though most of the LPs are posthumously-issued repackages.

Your pal is correct about the singles, which seems to be the focus of his question. None of those made the R&B charts at all.

However, each of his first three Reprise LPs — “Are You Experienced; Axis: Bold As Love;” and “Electric Ladyland” — did very well on the R&B charts.

How the albums charted, all three in the R&B Top 10, and the singles did not is a mystery for which there seems to be no answer.

DEAR JERRY: Return with me to early February, 1946, and a song about atomic power.

We were finally coming home from the southwest Pacific, bringing our DE-140 to Brooklyn Navy Yard for the start of decommission process, to end by late May at Green Cove Springs, Fla.

This song, titled “Atomic Power,” was beginning to assail the ears of the northern boys and give comfort to those we termed Rebels.

I once had the 78 rpm of this, sung by male unknowns. The sound is etched on my subconscious, not even displaced by Roy Acuff wailing about the “Wreck on the Highway.”

Can you shed some light on this unforgettable tune?
—Dick Nolte, Clearwater, Fla.

DEAR DICK: “Atomic Power,” a tune inspired by the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that brought about Japan's surrender in World War II, is a Top 10 hit by the Buchanan Brothers (RCA Victor 1850).

The Buchanans, two boys with rhyming names — Lester and Chester — had no hits before or after “Atomic Power.”

There is, of course, no connection to the Buchanan Brothers that sent “Medicine Man” to the Top 30 in 1969.

IZ ZAT SO? Though the Buchanan Brothers of the late '40s were really brothers, the Buchanan Brothers are a sibling-free trio: Terry Cashman, Gene Pistilli, and Tommy West. In the '70s, they recorded as Cashman, Pistilli, and West, as well as just Cashman & West.

Return to "Mr. Music" Home Page