Daily Archives: August 7, 2019

THE MERMAIDS / POPSICLES ICICLES

Black, white, male, female, gay, straight, soul, blues, rock, hard rock, boogie-blues, country, teeny-bopper, doesn’t matter. If I like it, I like it. This obscure but snappy 1964 tune, with great vocals and background, is from three Southern California innocents who hit the charts out of nowhere.  Right in the eye of an incredible pop-music hurricane that included the English Invasion, Motown, Country and endless varieties of everything in between. While  Popsicles Icicles seemed incongruous to its time, there were certainly enough record buyers who thought otherwise. I still like this record. That either makes me Pter Pan or someone with an eclectic appreciation of pop music.

Several television family comedies of the period were similarly out of sync. This form of escapism had its place then but was mostly phased out as the decade closed. Leave It to Beaver, Dennis The Menace and My Three Sons were popular during or a little prior to the civil rights movement and Vietnam in a convulsively changing nation. Don’t forget that in just three more years, many of America’s cities were ablaze during race riots.

While this song is about adolescent puppy-love, the TV shows portrayed an idyllic, secure and safe suburban lifestyle. This top forty tune represents to me one of the last cutesy, naive cotton-candy numbers of innocence in a culture as yet completely sullied by the rapidly darkening, fracturing, and turbulent society that was then in its infancy. Reality is here, there and everywhere. So are illusions.  The Dick Clark world of 45s, bubble gum, soda fountain drug stores, ice cream parlors, skating rinks, turquoise Corvettes, and checkered diner floors, would start to recede by the decade’s end.

Kennedy had been shot the previous year and the Cutler family of In Cold Blood had been brutally murdered five years in the past, but this tune might’ve played on the diner Seeburg not far from Beaver’s house. But now there’s an old drug needle on his lawn. Dennis The Menace went to a carnival and this played on the radio at the hot dog stand. But now Mister Wilson’s neighbor has an ugly gang tag on his fence. One of My Three Sons is trans and another is dealing. The cotton candy doesn’t do it anymore. And the wind blew the carnival of old illusions away. Only to replace them with new ones. Where have you gone, popsicles, icicles?  Illusions nowadays are not what I want to play.