POP CULTURE

A Little Backstory on Paul Revere & the Raiders’ “Kicks”

How do you keep the music playing? How do you make it last?

Pandora is a free internet music site that enables you to choose music of nearly any genre which they supplement with additional tracks of the same style. If you pick the Beatles, they do not play just Beatles music but rather contemporaries to the Beatles as well. It’s a good way to become acquainted with other artists, or re-acquainted. And it isn’t just pop or rock, but includes jazz and even classical.

While listening to some Sixties group my Pandora channel played a song by Paul Revere and the Raiders, a group I’d utterly forgotten about but which had produced a sound I liked at the time, as well as a number of hits.

What’s interesting is that while your online listening to the music you can flip over to Wikipedia and read about the groups you once listened to on Top 40 radio. (Don’t do this if you’re listening to Pandora at work.) What you learn will often surprise you.

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Illustration by the author.

For example, Paul Revere & the Raiders were not from Boston like I imagined. Yes, they dressed in those Revolutionary War outfits, but the group got its name from the founder, a fellow named Paul Revere Dick of Boise, Idaho. Of interest to me was that Paul Revere was no kid with a group, but a seasoned veteran. Born in 1938 he had a band going before he was twenty, but it would be almost another ten years before catching the national spotlight. In between, Revere owned a batch of restaurants.

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Illustration by the author.

SideNote: A lot of performers were fairly seasoned by the time we “discovered” them. I remember when Petula Clark’s “Downtown” became a hit in that same time frame. I only learned last week, again through Wikipedia, that she was nearly as old as my mother (born this week in 1932), not the teenybopper attracted to the big lights, big city that I imagined. No wonder she could sing with such force.

One of Paul Revere & the Raiders’ hits was a song called “Kicks”, which remains on the charts as one of Rolling Stones’ 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song has a serious edge to it. It also has a Dylanesque style of scripting so that the English teacher might give it low marks for improper punctuation. Along with “Hungry” and “Him or Me (What’s It Gonna Be?)” this was one of the songs I liked around my freshman year in high school.

To some the song’s message may seem simplistic, but it’s a serious issue for people from all walks of life. What happens when your ambition to win a Super Bowl or walk on the moon is fulfilled? Maybe you’re a daredevil and thrills are your kick. Or a magician whose kick is thrilling others. Maybe your kicks come from power, or from Dionysian sexual encounters. Or travel and adventure.

In this song it’s a drug kick. Unfortunately, the effects just don’t do it for us and we need a little more to get that amped feeling which is so fleeting and temporary. Real life satisfaction is about something more than this. But then, that’s another story.

Meantime… Listen to the music.

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon https://tinyurl.com/y3l9sfpj

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