Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Cyrkle 'Tis A Little Broken

Another piece of the veneer of rock 'n roll history has chipped away with the passing of Thomas W. Dawes, a co-founder of the Cyrkle and the composer of some of advertising's best-known commercial jingles, including "Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz" for Alka-Seltzer and "7Up, the Uncola"; he died on October 13 in Manhattan.

The Cyrkle was one of the better known folk-rock groups (a collection of crew-cutted students of Lafayette College) in the mid-60s that was an amalgam of the Beatles, Byrds, Dylan, and Paul Simon. They even had actual ties to the Beatles and Paul Simon. They were discovered by Nat Weiss, a lawyer/partner of Brian Epstein, the Beatles' manager. According to Dawes, John Lennon suggested the Cyrkle's name and distinctive spelling. The Cyrkle opened for the Beatles on their final American tour. And their biggest hit the 1966 single, "Red Rubber Ball," was "penned" by Paul Simon and Bruce Woodley. In 1966, I ran into a professor at Penn who thought that "Red Rubber Ball," was the perfectly constructed song--"a work of true art," he called it. While probably not works of art, the Cyrkle songs were certainly very hummable, and are on a number of soundtracks of the lives of baby-boomers.

After Dawes left the band, he turned to writing commercial jingles in the 70s and 80s, and a number of his jingles became "immortal in pop culture"--somewhat of a non sequitur or oxymoron. In addition to writing for Alka-Seltzer and 7Up, his catchier tunes appeared in ads for L'eggs hosiery ("Our L'eggs Fit Your Legs") and American Airlines ("We're American Airlines, Doing What We Do Best"). He and his jingle-writing wife collaborated on music for "Coke Is It," the McDonald's "You, You're the One" and, for American Airlines, "Something Special in the Air."

Dawes and his wife also wrote the book, music and lyrics for "Talk of the Town," a musical about members of the Algonquin Round Table. The show, first produced in 2004, had a nearly two-year run at the Bank Street Theater in New York before it moved as a cabaret show to the Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel.

With Dawes passing, it is a "Turn Down Day" and "I don't dig it." But lo the memories will make us "think its gonna be alright..the worst is over now..the morning sun is shining like red rubber ball."

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