Tag Archives: John Phillips

The Long Lost Song

It only took forty-one years.

Have you ever heard a song, really liked it, and then never heard it again?  And then, periodically over the years, you’d try to find it but never succeeded?

That’s what happened to The Curmudgeon.

In the summer of 1970, The twelve-year-old Curmudgeon and his family took a car trip to North Carolina to visit family friends.  If you know anything about AM radio back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, you know that once you drove south of the Washington, D.C. reception area, all you heard was country music.  Not Lucinda Williams, Keith Urban, or Emmylou Harris country, either; this was the 1970s, which meant Conway Twitty country, Loretta Lynn country, Eddy Arnold country.  Just execrable.

Amid all that pretty awful stuff, The Curmudgeon heard a song he liked – liked a lot.  He heard it several times, in fact – enough for the tune and the words (or at least what he thought were the words) to make an indelible impression.  Once he returned home to Philadelphia, he spent days scanning up and down the AM dial in search of the song – the family wouldn’t have an FM radio for a few more years yet – but found nothing; the song was gone.

But not in his mind it wasn’t.  For the next forty-one years, the song played on in The Curmudgeon’s mind.  Occasionally he would hum it to someone, or even sing it to someone if he was feeling particularly uninhibited, to see if they recognized it.  No one ever did.  No one ever came close.  A few wondered if The Curmudgeon was delusional.

Parenthetically, The Curmudgeon worked his way through college in part by working in a large record store, where customers – usually people our parents’ or even grandparents’ age – would come in search of a song they heard on the radio, only they didn’t know the title and sometimes didn’t know the singer, either.  There was no internet for us to look up a radio station’s play list, so the only thing we could do was ask them to hum or sing the song for us.  On such occasions, all of the employees on the sales floor would gather ‘round while our customers made semi-fools of themselves.  Usually, the song they wanted was one of three songs:  “What I Did for Love,” from “A Chorus Line,” as sung by Johnny Mathis; “I Go Crazy,” by Paul Davis; or “Hey, Won’t You Play Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song,” by B.J. Thomas.  After a while, The Curmudgeon and his co-workers would know what song they were looking for as soon as they started to describe it, but we got such a mean kick out of watching these authority figures sing in the aisles of Peaches Records & Tapes that we’d feign ignorance and ask them to sing anyway.

What did we know?  We were just kids.

Deep down, The Curmudgeon knew that eventually, the internet would enable him to find his long lost song, and on several occasions in recent years he tried, but without success – without success, yes, but now, for the first time, with real hope.  He knew it was just a matter of time.

And that time finally arrived last weekend when, after a few quick Google searches and a visit to You Tube, he found his song:  it’s called “Mississippi,” and it’s by the late John Phillips, co-founder of the Mamas & Papas.  The song is almost exactly as The Curmudgeon recalls it:  a little jauntier and more “country,” perhaps, but the very song he’s been hearing in his mind’s ear for the past forty-one years.

So now, for your listening pleasure, The Curmudgeon is pleased to present “Mississippi,” by John Phillips, notorious boinker of his celebrity daughter.  Enjoy it here.

And here’s hoping you find your own long-lost song before it slips free from your memory.