any years ago, when FM was freeform and radio announcers still sometimes made their own choices of what to play I heard a song on an album-oriented rock station that stood out for me. For one thing, it was obviously not rock. For another, it was at least mildly amusing. The singer regrets speaking to a reporter when he reads the result: “Doggone it I said it, and now that I read it sounds so funny to me, so dumb and so foolish, so just out of schoolish, and it came so naturally … Doggone it I said it and now I regret it and I read it in Rolling Stone.”
Now, this was part of a set and the announcer never did give the name of the track, let alone the artist, leaving me wondering. I didn’t hear it again on the radio, so I asked people I knew about it, people who knew records, people who had played them on the air. I even asked the ignoramuses who sold records in stores.
And that’s when I ran into a rather puzzling phenomenon. Everybody had an answer. It was a wrong answer, and always the same wrong answer. As an ex-dj friend of mine put it, it’s a Shel Silverstein song done by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show called “Cover of Rolling Stone.” And I would reply in effect, no, it’s not—I know “Cover of Rolling Stone” and this was something else.
At some point I just gave up on it. I wasn’t that interested and it seemed to make people angry when I insisted that I had heard a song that was not “Cover of Rolling Stone” that nonetheless mentioned the magazine. I would have liked to hear it again, but it was a rather country-sounding thing that wasn’t really my kind of music—whatever exactly that was. And so I let the matter drop for four decades or so.
One of the nice things about the advent of the internet is that old mysteries sometimes can be solved with no more than a quick question to Google, or Wikipedia, or some other internet genii. Sometimes a scrap of misremembered lyrics is all it takes. And on the other hand sometimes even fairly complete information leads nowhere. (I still have failed to identify the exact version of “No Moon at All” I used to listen to on a tape my father made, or whose performance of “I Enjoy Being a Girl” was being played in the summer of 1968, though I can hear both quite clearly in my mind.)
So today, when that old Rolling Stone related song popped into my mind briefly again, I thought I’d try my luck with the web oracles—and it proved to be relatively simple. A few minutes of searching using the fragments of the song I do remember produced the information that the song’s title was “I Read It in Rolling Stone” and that the singer-songwriter in this case was a fellow named James Wesley Voight (stage name Chip Taylor) whose songs included “Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)” and “Wild Thing” which I had heard before in versions done (respectively) by Janis Joplin and Senator Bobby. I even found the song on YouTube, and it was unmistakably the piece I remembered, at least as far as the bits I did remember went. Not bad for a song I heard exactly once some forty years ago.
So thanks internet for clearing up that minor mystery for me. Now, if only you can tell me from what misbegotten piece this floating line comes from: “Highest praise a lover can bring, thou art groovy.” I know I heard it somewhere but (perhaps mercifully) I have forgotten where.