On this the day that Led Zeppelin’s first single, the quite brilliant ‘Whole Lotta Love’, jumped from number 45 to 28 on its way towards peaking at number four on the US Hot 100 singles chart (the third of fifteen weeks spent on the chart… God, I love fiddling about with the Billboard Visualizer, even if seeing the month listed before the day confuses me so), with its instantly recognisable distorted guitar riff and intro*, it got me thinking of the cult Seventies game show (it was such two decades earlier in the States, actually premiering on NBC Radio in 1952, and since imitated all around the world), Name That Tune.
The show pitted two eager contestants against one another and invited them to name songs, played by the studio band, as quickly as they could, having heard the fewest number of opening notes. The round that most people remember with fondness, if not some disbelief, was named Bid-a-Note. The host gave a clue as to a song’s title and the contestants valiantly, brazenly, sometimes foolishly, bid for a chance to identify the song should the band play the chosen number of notes from its introduction. “I’ll name it in four,” announces one. “I’ll name it in three,” threatens the other. And so on until one is challenged to “Name that tune.”
This feat is often really easy, though. In the case of a ‘Yellow Submarine’, a ‘Pink Panther Theme’ or a ‘Moon River’, I dare say that many of us could effortlessly name it in just two or three. ‘God Save the Queen’. ‘Light My Fire’. ‘Wooden Heart’. ‘Unchained Melody’. All are easily recognisable. Recall, if you can bear to, those that cheer first and loudest at concerts before the majority have even registered that the next song has begun (I’m thinking of ‘Comfortably Numb’).
Can you think of any song that you’d be able to name in one, including the many from David’s solo catalogue and with Pink Floyd? No, please don’t say ‘Echoes’, I already thought of that one. And what of those you could be excused for mistaking it for? I leave this part for those of you who know all the notes – by name – and may even be able to clearly represent them on that funny lined paper with well-placed squiggles, scribbles and flicks. I’m in awe of you, I really am. That said, I like to think I could anticipate the coming of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ after its first note, and could quite possibly have a scarf or accepted equivalent held aloft before its third.
Which songs, liked or loathed, can you recognise after, let’s say we start the bidding at, four notes? If you think you can do better than someone else here, for goodness sake don’t be modest about it. Let us know how many you think you would need to correctly name that tune.
For nostalgia’s sake as well as your amusement, I hope, here is a clip from Name That Tune, NBC and the late-Fifties. Admittedly quite painful viewing in parts, do stick with it if only to hear the children singing with ten minutes remaining, because if you have unwelcome cats in your garden at this moment in time, with the right amount of volume, the little girl should be able to help with their hasty dispersal.
The chatroom will be open tomorrow from 3pm (UK), if you’ve nothing better to do for an hour or so. Hope to see you there.
* Name that year for a bonus point.