What you’re about to hear is something really intriguing. What if the one version of a song that you’re used to hearing was actually a song that was designed only for your home town or your home city?
Yep. It happened, at least more than once. And I have some examples on today’s K-Chuck Radio playlist.
Here’s the one that’s most commonly referenced. It’s by a one-hit wonder named Tommy Facenda; this is his hit song, “High School U.S.A.”
Decent 50’s rock song, has a nice beat and you can dance to it.
What you don’t know is that Tommy Facenda recorded over two dozen different versions of “High School U.S.A.,” with each one being sold in a regional market. For example, here’s the version that was sold in the Pittsburgh area.
Anybody from Baltimore? Washington DC? Here’s your version of the song.
The original version of this song was recorded in tribute to the high schools in the Tidewater, Virginia area, and has a slightly slower tempo.
Surprisingly, Facenda didn’t record a Capital District version… but I’m sure some enterprising musician can come up with lyrics that would fit an instrumental / karaoke version of this song.
Here’s another example of a customized hit. In the early 1970’s, bubblegum singer Joey Levine recorded a part of the studio group Reunion, with this early proto-rap hit “Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me).”
But when the record was shipped to radio stations, some of the stations received extra-special customized versions with their station call letters inserted into the song… including this version for WLS in Chicago..
And if you lived in Washington D.C., you might have heard this version of the song.
Now I know there are other versions out there of alternate recordings, but unfortunately they’re not available on YouTube for me to link. However….
True story. I was living with my father and stepmother in the summer / fall of 1978. At the time, Meat Loaf’s song “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” was all over the radio stations, including the Top 40 station WRKO. What I didn’t realize at the time was that the version on WRKO was different than the 45 RPM version that I purchased at the local record store. You know the song, don’t you? Right in the middle of the song, there’s a baseball game which is supposed to correlate to Meat Loaf and the female singer getting it on. You know, just before she screams, “Stop Right There!!!”
You know the song. Yes you do.
Well, on the radio I heard a different version. Oh, it had the baseball announcer’s radio call… but it was the radio announcer for the Red Sox. See, that was the year that the Red Sox and the Yankees were in that battle for the pennant (think “Bucky Bleepin’ Dent”), and there was no way in creation that WRKO – a station deep in the heart of Boston – would EVER willingly play a song that contained the voice of a New York Yankees announcer. So they edited the song and inserted (I think) Dick Stockton as the radio voice.
Another example of radio station customization.
Man, I wish I could play that Dick Stockton version for you. You’d definitely get a kick out of it.
Or maybe some day they’re re-record that Meat Loaf song with John Sterling doing the radio announcing. Oh please don’t. I’d rather pierce my eardrums with knitting needles than hear Sterling do his “mmm it is high, mmm it is far, mmm it is GAWNE!!” schtick.
At least not on K-Chuck Radio… 🙂