Sunday, November 09, 2014

"Young as You Are" Sal Mineo and his bums

One of the odd things in music is how often you hear "bums."

While doo-wop produced a lot of nonsense words, and many singers can't resist an orgasmic "ooh," somehow there's been a fetish for "bums." Probably the record for the most "bums" belongs to The Chordettes: "Bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum, Mr. Sandman…"

In the days of madrigal (when you'd go find a gal in Madrid, on summer holiday) the nonsense words were "fa la la." Illiterates got a chance to sing choruses. People got bored with that, and looked to more interesting nonsense words, like "whack fol the daddio." Then pop music came along and things got simpler again. But why, you can almost hear Terry-Thomas sigh, "the preoccupation with BUMS?"

Why is it that singing "bum bum bum" is supposed to remind people of bells or something, when the actual word means hobo or butt?

Here, Sal Mineo's backing vocalists offer a lot of bums.

The BBC never censored a song for having too many bums? Maybe they would not have cared if the chorus was actually butts, butts, butts?? I don't think they even censored The Beatles when those cheeky monkeys chose a deliberate chorus of "tit tit tit tit tit." You remember that song, it was about the kind of girl you want so much it makes you sorry. Sorry you ever thought of ramma lamming your ding dong in her.

As to the singer, Sal Mineo, what can one say? He was one of the many straight/gay idols of the day who sang well enough to get a record deal. Movie studios liked a star who could self-promote via "The Ed Sullivan Show" and music on the air waves. Anthony Perkins made a lot of records, and not to long after that, Richard Chamberlain.

Sal remains a cult favorite thanks to "Rebel Without a Cause," (and to a lesser extent, his psycho-killer role in "Who Killed Teddy Bear," with comedian Jan Murray as the cop trying to track him down. Gays took him to heart after gossip had him stabbed to death by a jealous lover (no, it was just a burglary gone wrong). Mineo did seem to spiral downward after his "teen idol" years, but he was always more than just a pretty boy. In his prime he showed off a lot of ethnic diversity. He was a Sioux Indian ("Tonka," 1958), a speed-driven drummer ("The Gene Krupa Story" 1959) and a Jew ("Exodus," 1960). Perhaps somewhere, on TV, in a film, or on stage, he may have even played a bum.

Visit Mineola "Young As You Are (bum bum bum)"

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