Song Of The Day 1/26/2016: Casey Kasem – “A Letter from Elaina”

When DJs Sing (or Speak Over Musical Accompaniment) – The storied life of Casey Kasem came to a sad end about 21 miles from where I now sit. Although in his waning days his greatness was unfortunately overshadowed by exhortations of the Psalmist King and the flinging of raw meat, the original Shaggy was sort of the prefect of my childhood musical education via his hosting American Top 40 every Sunday. I used to listen religiously and keep track of all the chart movements. This experience taught me that power-pop was a noble failure and that Kenny Rogers would eventually be promoted to Commandant. Anyway, the point being, out of all the dudes here this week Casey probably means the most to me personally, and it's a shame his widow Loretta Tortelli went all tinfoil hat and fell back on the ol' ground chuck defense.

But in 1964 things were still looking up for Casey, and he released today's quizzical single in the hot throes of Beatlemania. "A Letter From Elaina," of course, is sort of a precursor to Casey's "Long Distance Dedication" feature on AT40, in which a party from Point A would channel a sense of yearning, good fortune or pleas for bail money to another party in Point B, which was hopefully at least a plane ride away from Point A so as not to compromise the geographical integrity of the title. Casey was conduit, messenger and song-player for these admittedly implausible stabs in the psychic fabric, but man did he give us all the feels.

"A Letter From Elaina" is strictly a letter from a listener, not a dedication, but it captures almost everything you need to know about the Casey Kasem text-reading experience. The letter's from a girl who manages to squeak past lax security at a Beatles concert in San Francisco's Cow Palace and grab a breathless hug from an amused George Harrison. I'm a little uncertain why this particular letter was chosen to be recorded -- really, nothing unexpected nor out of the way happens -- but I thought I caught a very subtle tone of irony in Casey's recitation, mixed just a tad with his patented, molasses-rich empathy. 'Cause he was the master, dawg.

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