Song Of The Day 10/3/2015: Jimmy Gilmer & the Fireballs – “Ain’t Gonna Tell Anybody”

The Hidden '60s, Part 2 – Couldn't wait for Sunday: I'm starting a theme week on a Saturday for the first time, 'cause of the jam-packedness of what's within. We’re going back to the well of memories that you swear you remember but which only partially ever happened. This is the second part of the theme week series celebrating songs from the ’60s that made the pop charts but missed the Top 40. (The story behind this whole concept can be found here.)

This installment focuses on the years 1964–66, when Beatlemania flourished and American music stars were left in a panic since many of them had receding hairlines. For Part 1, I auditioned 362 songs between 1960 and 1963 that peaked between positions 41 and 100 on the Billboard Hot 100. But for Part 2, which covers one less calendar year, I gave an ear to no less than 683 songs over about ten days. Are you kidding me? That’s a whole lot of teen death anthems, inarticulate dance numbers and Vietnam protest songs. And one protest song against Vietnam protest songs. I’m parched.

Anyway, let’s get started. Jimmy Gilmer & the Fireballs convened in Raton, New Mexico, in the way northern part of the state just a spit-take from the Colorado border. They recorded their hits down the road in Clovis at Norman Petty’s studio, the same factory where Buddy Holly & the Crickets made their best-known hits. The Fireballs pinned down a #1 hit in 1963 with “Sugar Shack,” an off-kilter number with a cutesy keyboard riff that foretold the U.S. espresso revolution about a quarter-century before full saturation. Much better was “Ain’t Gonna Tell Anybody” (#53, 1964), which shows off more than a little of Holly’s influence in its casual twang and hasty motion.

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