Somethin' Stupid

by C. Carson Parks

The Greenwoods had done several albums for Dave Kapp, whose offices were in New York. We would pick 12 tunes usually, record them in Hollywood, make a “protection copy” and fly the originals to Kapp Records. He had liked the stuff we sent, so he had grown comfortable with our stuff. Wally Brady (Mgr. Of Terry Gilkyson & The Easy Riders, and also of The Greenwoods), was a long time friend of Dave & Ruth Kapp. At this time (Fall of 1966), there were a few boy/girl duets in the pop field (Sonny & Cher; Steve Lawrence & Edie Gorme, April Stevens & Nino Tempo), but there wasn’t much happening in the country field, and I thought there was a nitch that could be filled. So the Soprano in the Greenwoods, Gaile Foote, and I worked up maybe 4 songs “Cimarron, Role On” “Honkey Tonk Angels” and a couple others, with Wally’s ears in the studio, and we sent them off to Kapp, as usual. Dave liked the concept and told us to go ahead and cut an album. There were other country artists on the label (Mel Tillis, perhaps Bobby Bare, and pop people like Jack Jones, Ertha Kitt, the Hi-Lo), so it looked like we could be the duet for the label. By this time, I had formed Greenwood Music, which held mostly old folk songs that had been reworked my me and some other members of the group. Since Wally and Terry were fronting the money for The Greenwoods, we did mostly old Terry tunes from The Easy Riders. But now, with the Carson & Gaile album, I had realized that the writer makes money, too, so I wrote 7. One was a dog, and nobody ever recorded it, but the other 6 have been covered by many others, which I’ll describe elsewhere, under the specific titles. Our album was ready to go in November, but all the radio stations play until after New Years, as they’re doing Christmas stuff. Then, in January, comes a whole flock of new stuff by established artists. It was thought that we’d get lost in the shuffle, and we should hold off our release 'til February or so. Wally had a cassette of the C&G album which he played over and over in his car, and he remembered that one of the favorite put-downs in Frank Sinatra’s vocabulary was either “that’s totally stupid”, or “how could you do anything that “stoopid?” (With the New Jersey “double o”, or course. So, he hightails it over to Reprise Records, which was run for Frank by Mo Osten, an old buddy of Wally. So, Wally says to Mo: Mo, when the plane comes up to Burbank airport on Friday to get Frank’s mail and “walking around money”, I want this song on the top of the pile! Mo says: “I can’t do that Wally! You know how the man is! Wally says: “Mo, you owe me this one! Remember that girl!?, etc., etc! Mo: “Okay, Okay, now get the hell outta here, I got work to do! Then came a very long time in the life of this songwriter. Would Frank like the song? Perhaps he has a concert tour scheduled? What if he finds something he likes better and changes his mind? Maybe I should have put it in a higher key! On-and-on! Insecurities! One day, Wally called and told me: Well, Mo doesn’t think it’s Frank’s style, and for us not to be too disappointed if it doesn’t do real well. Mo said: I told Frank I thought it was a dog. Frank: well, I’m calling Nancy and it’ll be Top 10! Mo: Frank, I’ll bet you two bucks it falls on its ass! Frank: You’re on, now get me that guitar that played on this cassette. I want the same feel, but with strings. So, they got James Burton, did it in the same key, added strings and it went to #1 in every country in the world that had electricity or radios. Mo later gave Frank a $2 bill in a frame that said “Frank, you were right.” Nancy still has it. Frank & Nancy had never done a duet before, and he had never gotten a gold single, but he was still pretty hot, and accepted on adult station, which Nancy couldn’t have cracked because that audience thought she was a dizzy blonde in white boots, so all the doors opened. How lucky can one guy get?! Thank you, God! Wally later came over to the apartment and sketched on paper with a pencil what I might possibly earn. I was amazed, but even he under estimated it by a long shot! Wally: “Carson, how much money do you have?” Me: “Well, I think maybe 18 bucks and a gas card.” Wally: “Well, I’ll advance you $500, and you go down to BMI and tell them to front you a Grand. I’ll call ahead for you. Then, I want you to get the hell out of town! You’re driving me crazy! Go see your folks in Florida or something! So, that’s how THAT happened.