Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

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Phil & Don’s “Talking to the Flowers” — A-Side in Disguise

How sad to learn of Phil Everly‘s passing – he and his brother Don (who left us in August, 2021) were once knocking at Paul McCartney’s door, you know.

Looking at the Everly Brotherschart history, I’m impressed by the broadness of their appeal in the early years of their career, when they recorded for the Cadence label.  Their first single “Bye Bye Love” went #1 country; #2 pop; #5 R&B, while their next single – “Wake Up Little Susie” – went to #1 on all three charts.  “All I Have to Do Is Dream” has the distinction of topping all 3 charts – country, pop and R&B – as well as Canada & the UK.

What’s intriguing is that every one of the Everly Brothers’ singles for Cadence went Top 40, if not Top 10, and usually in multiple markets – pop, country, R&B, Canada, Australia, and/or the UK – and yet their previous label, almighty Columbia, dropped them after their first and only single failed to chart.

Also interesting to note that once the Everly Brothers began recording for Warner Brothers in 1960, action on the country charts immediately ceased, with the R&B market to follow by 1961.  By 1963, the Everly Brothers struggled to hit the Top 40 and went several years without doing so, until “Bowling Green” hit #40 in 1967.

Their next single, I am convinced, would have been just as successful commercially had they used “Talking to the Flowers” as the A-side:

“Talking to the Flowers”     The Everly Brothers     1967

But alas, Warner Brothers released, as the A-side, “Mary Jane,” a paean to pot that (despite Billboard‘s pie-eyed prediction that it would reach the Top 60), unsurprisingly, failed to chart in any market, domestic or overseas – and “Talking to the Flowers,” a great single and fine production from pop’s peak year, 1967, got relegated to the B-side and lost in the shuffle, sadly.  


Q:  Did Terry Slater (or Did Not He) Compose “Talking to the Flowers”?

As Rhino points out in the liner notes to their 2004 Warner Brothers anthology, Come to the Sunshine:  Soft Pop Nuggets from the WEA Vaults:

“Talking to the Flowers” comes from 1967’s The Everly Brothers Sing album, which was their bizarre psych-pop melange of originals like “Mary Jane” and a cover of Procol Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale.”  “Flowers” is credited to Everly friend and bassist, Terry Slater, but the song may very well have been written by one of the brothers.  Both were in a dispute with their publisher at the time and placed songs in Slater’s name as a way around the situation.  Featuring vocal accompaniment from Ron Hicklin and assorted studio vocalists (architects of the early Partridge Family sound), the song focuses on a lovelorn individual who finds solace in search of ivory towers and talking to the flowers.  The song was later covered by Move/Wizzard member, Rick Price, on his solo album of the same name.

“Talking to the Flowers”     Rick Price     1971


Everly Brothers:  Toy Piano Innovators?

Zero to 180 — who is formally keeping score as to which recording is the earliest to include the sounds of a toy piano — reports in August, 2021 that “Lovey Kravezit,” written by Howard Greenfield and Jack Keller, and included in the duo’s 1966 Warner Brothers album, In Our Image, is the new world record holder, beating out Out of the Blue” by Tommy James and the Shondells from 1967.  Listen for the toy piano instrumental break after the second chorus:

Released as an A-side, Cash Box — who considered the single a “Best Bet” in their February 19, 1966 edition — described the song, ironically perhaps, as “gimmick-free,” despite the inclusion of a toy piano solo.  Record World and Cash Box both tagged the song as “infectious.” 


Note that this rare TV footage of “Lovey Kravezit” from Detroit in 1966 is a mimed performance of the studio recording (toy piano solo begins around the 1:53 mark):

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