05 May 2008

Battle of the Hits (or: I Can't Disappoint Tom York!)

The contenders:

CHICKEN FAT / Robert Preston (1961)

- versus -

FOOL (IF YOU THINK IT'S OVER) / Chris Rea (1978)

Tonight, after our Weight Watchers meeting (Seraphim's seventh; my first one), we stopped by Kroger to pick up a few needed things. While we pondered the regular cream of chicken soup versus the "reduced fat" kind ...... as I've long viewed it, "reduced fat" or "fat-free" translates to "reduced taste" or "taste-free." My wife said it was the chicken stock which provided the "chickeny" flavor, not the chicken fat.

Chicken fat! Suddenly two words of infamy in Birmingham, Alabama television sprang to my mind's forefront. That was the title of an exercise record from 1961 (listen to it here). Subtitled "The Youth Fitness Song," it became the bane of P.E. classes everywhere in Kennedy's Camelot.

But anyone who remembers morning television in my native city of Birmingham knows the song for another reason completely. The Morning Show was a 32-year fixture on WBRC-TV, and was hosted by the legendary broadcaster Tom York until his retirement in 1989. Far as I know, it still holds the record for longest-running local morning show in TV history. Well, Tom York used to have an exercise segment on the show, and the song he played was "Chicken Fat." Which means, Birminghamians of my age and older look at this song in a different, more nostalgic light.

The record you see above is mine. I scored a pristine-looking radio promotional copy of "Chicken Fat" some 15 years ago in, of all places, the rickety and decrepit building in Birmingham's Five Points South housing the beautiful Charlemagne Record Exchange. I saw it in a hodge-podge of old 45s, completely unorganized and without price stickers. White-label DJ copy, near-mint condition. Oooooooh, my heart went aflutter.

I then donned my best poker-face, and asked a nearby employee -- kind of young-ish looking -- "how much for this old thing?"

He answered, in an equally-dismissive tone, "Ohhhhh, a dollar."

YES!! This guy was too young to remember Tom York!! And nobody else was around to blow my "cover." Were one of the old-timers nearby, I'm sure he'd have asked ten bucks or more for that record.

A few minutes later, a late '70s pop song began playing over Kroger's PA system: Chris Rea's hit "Fool (If You Think It's Over)." And I thought to myself, "What a curious song to hear while I'm at the grocery store entertaining some smarter food items for my workday consumption."

It's as if my devil inside was openly mocking me, doubting I can pull off this Weight Watchers nonsense.

So, there you are. Chris Rea versus Tom York.

Who wins? Details after news with Bill Bolen, and a musical interlude from Country Boy Eddy and Three on a String.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Plump" Gleck

PS: One thing that just occurred to me .... my weight tonight was 295 and change (I'm very glad I never crested 300). When we first signed up for the Y in January 2007, I was fluctuating between 290 and 295. So I've kept my weight static over 16 months with my same (terrible) eating habits and woefully little exercise. So maybe with some adjustments I can make that 75 pound goal. Here goes somethin'.................

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