Thursday, July 19, 2012

"Zag" Zigged for "Vegetable Love"

From a Google Groups post by Roger Ford, a Brit with an itch for C&W shit: "While I was out working last night I'm tuned into the local station here that plays old country stuff in the hour from 2100 till 2200 including some real oddball hillbilly shit. One they played I'd never heard before,dopey song but quite contagious and one I found myself liking  Zag Pennell and "Vegetable Love" from 1954 (according to the info I have) I can't find an mp3 on this. Anybody here have it?"

Yes, Roger, old novelty tunes can still be impossibly catchy and...still hard to locate. Even though mp3 downloads can be easily made from scratchy public domain 78's, there's simply no money in bothering — not with eekMusic and Spotty Pie paying a few pennies per 100 downloads, and a glut of songs making the supply greater than the demand.

So where do you turn except to some eccentric blogger or some oddball hobbyist on YouTube who might train a camcorder on a turntable? Oh, ten years ago, the answer might be checking an outfit like "Records Revisited," which had an office in the Empire State Building, and either sold the 78rpm outright, or put the tune on cassette for the price of tape and labor. But Morty Savada, the guy who owned it, is now dead. We no longer have many record store owners who serve as curators and trustees for finding and preserving rare music.

Below, your download of "Vegetable Love." These days, nobody much cares about album notes, and it's doubtful mp3 files will ever need to expand to include much information about the artist. But here? Here's a few words about "Zag" (Daniel) Pennell.

Like Don Grady (see obit below) Dan was one of the many who somehow managed to make it to another birthday before dropping dead (April 24, 1923-April 29, 2007). Pennell was primarily seen on stage and heard on radio in Virginia and West Virginia. He was a guest on the "Old Dominion Barn Dance" show via WRVA, and issued four singles for Columbia. His first caused the most commotion: "Vegetable Love." It was downhill after that, with not much play for "Some Kinna," "I'm Doing All Right," and "Everything Needs Something." The latter had the prophetic B-side, "How Could It Be Wrong." It could. Pennell fortunately had better luck inside radio than on it. His steady job was managing WXGI in Richmond. A few years after his last Columbia single, he moved on to become the station manager of WELD in West Virginia, and stayed there for 26 years until his retirement in 1985.

Now it's time for Pennell and his puns. Ow: "when we can elope... lettuce name the day…water meloncholy feelin' when I'm nuts with you, Olive for the time when I can spinach night with you…we don't need mush room to love, so love me honey dew…..."

Consider this song the primitive ancestor to Benny Hill's "Garden of Love," Kip Addotta's "Life in the Slaw Lane" and Steve Allen's "I Never Hurt an Onion." And speaking of primitive ancestors, the illustration for this entry is the classic painting by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, who was way ahead of his time. I had some fruit salad back on July 11th, commemorating the anniversary of his death, in 1593.

VEGETABLE LOVE: Forget Zab, try Zag, you corny Ziggy

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