The sun is back today after yesterday’s rain. It’s a lovely day and I spent a good hour in the garden trying not to indulge in doomscrolling on my phone. I listened to a great podcast about The Beatles Anthology project. I hadn’t been able to listen to a podcast on my walk because Bruno graciously accepted my offer to go out with me for the first time in a week. In order to minimise his stress, I took him to Butcher’s Wood, well away from the noisy and scary building works on the old Hassocks golf course. In order to maintain the scrutiny demanded of me by my wife, I thought it best not to plug in the headphones. It was a beautiful walk and Bruno was well behaved. So, no podcast for me on the walk but I listened in the garden, in the sun. I also cut the grass for the first time in a month although very little grass had grown. So, a lovely couple of hours in the sunshine.
A few months ago, I read about the benefits of vitamin D and so I have been taking a supplement every day. I don’t think it wards off Covid-19 but it is supposed to be good for me in lots of ways. It is supposed to ward off depression – heaven knows I’d be even more miserable now without it. Research isn’t clear whether low vitamin D levels cause depression or whether depression causes low vitamin D levels. The production and release of serotonin can be encouraged by vitamin D and serotonin can help control bowel movements, deal with upsetting foods, help you sleep better, heal wounds, strengthen bones and prevent reduced libido. Most of those seem quite important.
Being exposed to the sun causes your body to produce more vitamin D so it must be a good thing to spend time in the sun and because of the connection between vitamin D, serotonin and warding off feelings of depression, I feel better – happier – sunnier.
Yesterday I wrote about how listening to dead miserable music can channel and release a lot of negativity. Today, I’m going to say that listening to “sunshine pop” can also make me feel better. It’s a great name – “sunshine pop” – and I know instinctively what that means. I instinctively think of The Beach Boys, The Association and The Mamas And Papas. Up tempo pop songs with lovely harmonies, maybe a flute or two, possibly strings and singalong choruses. Arguably, early bubblegum pop (e.g. “Sugar Sugar” by The Archies, “Dizzy” by Tommy Roe or “Yummy Yummy Yummy” by The 1910 Fruitgum Company) could be classified as “sunshine pop”. Whatever, good quality sunshine pop is uplifting and guaranteed to lift any dark thoughts.
In 2013, twenty six years after his death, The New York Times wrote this about Curt Boeetcher. “If his life had gone just a bit differently, he might have been another Brian Wilson. As it stands, Boettcher — a pop-music producer whose heyday was the late ’60s — now survives in rock history mostly as a liner-note credit. He could have been, but never was. Yet he enjoys a godlike status among a select group of music fans, for whom obscurity is more enticing than fame.” (It appears that his surname is actually spelt Boettcher but he released the album with the name deliberately misspelt as Boetcher).
In the mid Sixties, Curt Boetcher was well known as a record producer working with The Association and Tommy Roe amongst others. In 1968, he produced and played on an album by a group called Millennium that he assembled himself. The album, called “Begin” is generally regarded as a lost classic album of the late Sixties. Pitchfork described it as “probably the single greatest 60s pop record produced in L.A. outside of The Beach Boys”. After the release of “There’s An Innocent Face”, he worked with The Beach Boys and on solo projects by Mike Love and Dennis Wilson. He died in 1997 after a lung infection, aged only 43.
“There’s An Innocent Face” is the only album that Curt Boetcher released in his lifetime and it is classic sunshine pop. Every song is uplifting. Every song is memorable. Every song is beautifully sung, played and produced. How can I describe such glorious sunny uplifting music?
The last track on Side One is “Bobby California” which includes special effects to make it sound it’s recorded live. It’s about a singer who was born with “country ways”, who “always could smile for the ladies” and who quickly became a star, changing his name to Bobby California. It’s a magnificent uptempo rock song with fake crowd adulation and huge applause at the end.
“Wufferton Frog”, the last song on the album, is a song about a frog and sounds like a much more likeable version of “We All Stand Together” by Paul McCartney – also bearing in mind it was released eleven years earlier. The final sounds of the album are a heavenly chorus singing “la la la”-ing with tubas and strings. It’s a million times better than it sounds.
The other songs on the album are not like “Bobby California” or “Wufferton Frog”. Think of sunny West Coast country-pop; maybe “Take It Easy” or “Happy Together”. Lots of acoustic guitar strumming, tasteful electric guitar, sublime harmonies, great melodies and memorable choruses. It’s better than sunshine to lift my mood.