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Anyone who knows me knows that I love me some Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. I have a general love of the genre unfortunately referred to as “oldies” and Frankie and the boys are among my faves. I know not everyone has the same appreciation for Frankie Valli’s notorious upper range, but often overlooked is his mid-range, which I am obsessed with – the gravelly rock n’ roll voice he uses to sing most of the verses.
The melodies, arrangements, and harmonies of the Four Seasons are an inspiration to me, and Four Seasons member Bob Gaudio who wrote the majority of the group’s 46 hits – yes, 46!!! – is arguably one of the best American songwriters of all time. The lyrics to songs like “Dawn” and “Rag Doll” address class issues as experienced by Italian Jersey boys in the early 60s.
I’m not saying the lyrics were revolutionary, but within the pop genre of the time, these songs had a little grit to them. Of course some are just pure pop ear candy – I don’t think “Sherry” has any agenda besides getting Sherry to come out toniiii-iiight.
The Four Seasons played instruments, rare for ‘vocal’ groups of that time. In fact, they weren’t a vocal group. They were a rock band who got their start playing live in bars, and who just happened to have sublime vocal arrangements. (Unfortunately most of their television appearances had them standing around one mic crooning like the Lettermen, but it is the actual Four Seasons playing on the recordings!)
About a year ago I did go see “Jersey Boys” on Broadway w/ my girl Katie Cassidy who recently developed an acute love of Broadway shows(!). Needless to say, it was about the GAYEST thing I have ever experienced, but the songs are timeless and the middle aged Jersey couples seated all around us were worth the price of admission.
In short, the Four Seasons. Take them seriously, or at least don’t let me know if you don’t. And if you find my passion for FV and the FS odd, don’t even get me started on Tommy James and the Shondells!!
p.s. If you are at all interested in this topic, check out this amazon link in which the author convincingly argues that the Four Seasons have more in common with the Beach Boys than any other group at the time (Both groups entered the charts with their first major hits in the same month, August 1962) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Frankie-Valli-The-Four-Seasons/dp/B001EE0SIK