Friday, January 6, 2017

A Soundtrack Regained, Sort Of....Warhol's 1963 Road Trip

Deborah Davis's book The Trip recounts Andy Warhol's September 1963 road trip from New York to Los Angeles for his second Ferus Gallery show (Elvis and Liz) and for a promised "Hollywood party" courtesy of Dennis Hopper. Warhol made the journey in a black Ford Falcon station wagon driven in turns by Wynn Chamberlain and Taylor Mead, also along for the trip was Gerard Malanga, who occupied the roomy back of the wagon with Andy. Andy's star was ascending and he was just starting to move from painting to movie making, as well as making a transformation from his less studied "Raggedy Andy" persona to the soon to be iconic stripped shirt, leather jacket, boots and jeans Mid-60's monosyllabic Sphinx Andy. The book is a quick breezy read, and contains many digressions for context, or less charitably for padding as the actual details of the trip itself are probably more of a magazine piece than an actual book. I wish Davis would have attempted more of a novelistic approach to recreating the road trip itself as she did apparently have first hand source material from Malanga.  

Andy Warhol, Billy Al Bengston, and Dennis Hopper at Duchamp show 1963
Nevertheless I did enjoy the book (and many of the digressions) but what really set my imagination alight was a brief passage about how the four listened to top 40 radio during the entire journey. Below is a mix of many of the songs occupying the charts in September of 1963 that the four surely heard on their trip across the USA of 1963. This mix of charting records from September 1963 contradicts the traditional narrative that the early 60's pre-British Invasion was a dry period for music-what with Spector, Bacharach, Motown, Surf Music, R&B, Ray Charles, Brill Building Girl Groups and even the more commercial end of folk music there was an incredible variety of great music on the radio, it wasn't raw 50's rock n' roll, but it was great POP music. 

With the assassination of JFK only two months away and the arrival of the Beatles in four months America would be changed irrevocably, racing full amphetamine charged speed ahead into the turbulent and brilliant mid 1960's explosion of, well just about everything-admittedly another over-simplified narrative but hey nobody said those weren't fun to indulge in, and I gotta get mine. 


1. Mickey's Monkey-The Miracles
2. Walk Right In- The Rooftop Singers
3. Sugar Shack-Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs
4. Up On The Roof- The Drifters
5. Telstar-The Tornados
6. Sally, Go Round The Roses- The Jaynetts
7. Then He Kissed Me- The Crystals
8. Deep Purple- April & Nino 
9. Blue Velvet- Bobby Vinton
10. Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah- Bob B. Soxx & The Bluejeans
11. Surf City- Jan & Dean
12. Two Lovers- Mary Wells
13. Ruby Baby- Dion
14. My Boyfriend's Back- The Angels
15. You Are My Sunshine- Ray Charles
16. Rhythm of the Rain- The Cascades
17. Chains- The Cookies
18. Surfer Girl- The Beach Boys
19. The Kind of Boy You Can't Forget- The Raindrops
20. Heatwave- Martha & The Vandellas
21. If I Had A Hammer- Trini Lopez
22. The Lonely Surfer- Jack Nietzsche
23. Don't Think Twice, It's Alright- Peter, Paul & Mary
24. Don't Make Me Over- Dionne Warwick
25. Greenback Dollar-The Kingston Trio
26. Busted- Ray Charles
27. The End of The World- Skeeter Davis
28. Wipe Out- The Sufaris
Eight Elvises Silkscreen-1963
Andy becoming cool-1963

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