Oh, What a Night!

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The song, “December, 1963 / Oh, What a Night” leads me to

believe we all have wonderful memories of particular musical

artists for each period of our lives.  We may think of songs

which are sad and mournful, when we wish to ‘wallow’ in our

sorrow. Then there are the songs which transport us out of

ourselves to special places, soaring above or out of this world.

“Oh, What a Night” refers to new love found in 1963, but it

also stands for a different timeline in my own life. . .

I felt transfixed during each of the musical numbers in “Jersey

Boys.”  I felt that I was there in the midst of tragedy when one

of the members lost his daughter. I felt excited when another

of the members of the band  wrote a new song, one that had a

unique beat and message. Some of Frankie Valli and the Four

Seasons’ playlist, was like lining up memories of my own life,

where I was when I heard this one, who I danced with while

the other song was played by a small local band at a wedding.

If you have grown up in the fifties, sixties or even, seventies,

you may be a ‘fan’ or a fond listener to Frankie Valli and the

Four Seasons. I had heard the songs but didn’t really know

the way the group’s story began, nor what happened to the

members, causing them to ‘stall out’ for about 24 years.

Only to meet again at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Induction performance.

The director, Clint Eastwood, is known for wishing details

to fit the situations and fulfilling the character of the times

the movie is supposed to be set into.  A perfect example of

NOT following the book was when he filmed the movie

version of the famous book, “Bridges of Madison County.”

It is about an Italian homemaker and her adventures over

one weekend, while her children and husband are at the state

fair. Robert James Waller has the homemaker wearing jeans,

(possibly to emphasize her figure) while Clint explained in

an interview, he felt this woman could have been his own

mother, so she would wear a common house dress. There

are more examples in many of his movies, some where

the music takes a big part of the film and others where it

is just the background sound behind the story. I liked

finding out during the credits his son, Kyle Eastwood

was a musical assistant and helped with the soundtrack.

Also, Clint’s daughter, Francesco Eastwood plays one of

the wives in the film.

Frankie Valli’s character was played by John Lloyd Young,

who portrayed and sang on Broadway.  In “Jersey Boys,”

(up close and personal in the movie) he captures your

attention and his voice is very similar to Frankie Valli’s.

If you saw the musical play, you may know the characters

each take turns talking directly to the audience. It is a

very interesting technique for telling their individual

stories.

I felt sympathy for the way the real man became  part of

the underbelly of his neighborhood, by being  pulled into

the mob and illegal dealings by his friend and eventual

member of the band, Tommy.  You realize his gambling,

drinking and other vices, such as trying to trade with

stolen goods, would eventually ‘catch up’ with Tommy.

As a viewer, you may possibly worry about his pulling

his good friend, Frankie down.  Their musical career

eventually helps them to get out of their neighborhood

but they could barely escape the ties.

The raw emotions of a death and funeral of one of the

member’s children, still just a teenager, rocks their

group to the very core.

Christopher Walken’s scenes as the ‘benefactor’ and

supposed friend among the mob members ‘steal the

show,’ at times. He is a versatile and fine actor.

The executive producers are Frankie Valli and Bob

Gaudio. The slow building of the band, its members

and their story unfolds and is beautifully portrayed

with the songs many of us loved, sang and danced to.

In a semblance of order, illustrating the sequence and

growth of the band’s body of work is shown in this list

of songs,

“Who Loves You, Pretty Baby?”

“Big Girls, Don’t Cry”

“Walk Like a Man”

“Dawn”

“Rag Doll”

“Sherry”

“Bye Bye Baby”

“You’re Just Too Good to Be True”

“My Eyes Adored You”

“Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You”

and repeating the title song,

“Oh, What a Night.”

The members of the band, Nicky (Massi), Tommy

De Vito, Bob Gaudio (writer/lyricist) and Frankie

performed at the R and R Hall of Fame, after 24

years apart.

* They were inducted in 1990 into the Rock and

Roll Hall of Fame.

They joked,  saying singing together came natural,

even after all the years. They only had to lower the

octave and sing in a lower key.

*They were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of

Fame in 1999.

*In 2012, they performed together in England at

the Royal Albert Hall, honored for their body of

music which included 29 Top Ten (on American

music award charts) Hits.

This brief ‘sketch’ of the musical movie, “Jersey Boys”

which came out in 2014 is to persuade you to celebrate

someday soon, by listening to one or more of Frankie

Valli and the Four Seasons’ lifetime of songs. They grew

up together on the streets of New Jersey, sang and lived

quite fantastic lives.

The movie captured it nicely. Too bad it didn’t win any

awards for “Best Soundtrack” or “Best Song.” Tough year

and competition.

What is your favorite song from this group?

Which is one you played the most?

If you never really liked their music, did

one of your family members enjoy them?

You know, “You’re just too good to be true.”

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39 responses »

  1. Oh, this brings back such memories. They were a bit before my time but our dearest friends up in Massachusetts loved the Four Seasons. Don could do the falsetto and would sing along like the fifth member of the group. For me, hearing Rod Stewart’s Maggie May transports me right back to high school.

    • I am so honored for your sharing who transports you back in time, Barb. Rod Stewart is a classic!
      I am so glad this brought fond memories back. Also, sharing that Don could do the falsetto voice, he was one of the couple you have talked about being also friends of your parents, right? I appreciate that your dearest friends loved the Four Seasons. They were definitely an iconic group, Barb.

    • I am so thankful you added this “bridges” since i had forgotten this. I am also appreciative of your crying and sharing your love of every scene. I think the song, “Can;t Take My Eyes Off of You,” is one of my faves, too.

  2. So many great songs and memories. I remember torturing, er, I mean, serenading one of my coworkers named Sherry with the tune by the same name. We killed it. 😉 I also love “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.” I haven’t seen the movies. Should probably put this one on the list of ‘must sees.’ Thanks, Robin, your post did cause me to flash back to many events linked to Franki Valli and the Four Seasons’ songs. 😉

    • How could you not serenade Sherry with the song? Judy, this did make me smile and love the confidence you exude by saying you would kill it! Smiles!
      I could not resist bursting into Pure Prairie League’s song, “Amie” when I would see my friend and coworker, Amy nearby. “Amie, what ya gonna do?” then I would add, “Maybe I will stay awhile, maybe longer if I* do…” I am so glad you chose one of the Frankie Valley and the Four Seasons’ song playlist to tell us you liked it best. I am sure you would enjoy this movie, maybe watch it with your daughters, since they also love plays and musicals. It has the set up of a play, even in the movie version. I also am glad this sent you into some ‘flash backs,’ Judy! Hope you have a wonderful rest of the weekend, Judy!

    • “The Wall of Sound” was one of the best features of the times. I have seen several stage shows of other musicals but not “Jersey Boys.” I appreciate your sharing this was the ‘music of your youth,’ Pauline. Admitting our age around here makes us all feel good we made it so far.

  3. I remember Sherry being played so often in the junior high cafeteria (the student body had purchased a juke box) that the teachers unplugged it. The song was great, but bugging the teachers on lunchroom duty was the best part.

    I have this to add in the category of Forgive Me if This Is TMI:

    To this day my favorite Four Seasons song is their version of Stay, a doo wop song written by Maurice Williams in 1953 and originally recorded by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs. (He was inspired by trying to convince his girlfriend at the time to not go home by her 10:00 p.m. curfew.) He lost his appeal with his girlfriend, but the song became a hit. The song was released in October, 1960, and it hit #1 on the hit parade on November 21st, only to be bumped out of the top spot one week later by Elvis’s ‘Are You Lonely Tonight?’

    The song was released in the UK with a 1963 version by The Hollies followed in 1964 by The Dave Clark 5 on their album, Glad All Over. The Four Seasons version only made it to #16 when they released it in 1964. Other artists who released their own versions of Stay include Vee Jay, Andrew Gold, Jackson Browne (w/ revised lyrics), Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, and Cyndi Lauper.

    But I think most people think of the Four Seasons when they hear Stay.

    • Mike, I am so thankful for your history on the song, “Stay.” Which I do remember and could sing the tune, too. The song was a very nice, quiet one, it has momentum and energy, too, as it gets going. Mike, it was nice of you to do the research and background for us on this song.

      There is NEVER “TMI” in my mind. So, always feel free to share and know I appreciate the time it takes to look these things up!

      I am smiling at the junior high school teachers getting annoyed and unplugging the Juke Box, which you had “Sherry” playing too many times in a row. It is such a silly thing that some adults do, wish to stop the ‘madness’ of repetition of songs. I always liked to play certain records over and over again. Thankfully, my parents (and brothers) didn’t get too upset about this!
      Our class’ song lyrics we featured in our senior yearbook were “Time in a bottle,” “The Cat’s in the Cradle” and “Bridge over Troubled Water.” In almost all of our dances, sometimes just ones after basketball games, we had the song, “Stairway to Heaven,” played. I think the chaperones didn’t even seem to mind our musical choices. My first husband and I liked this light weight group, “Bread.” I liked slow-dancing to many of their songs.
      Hope you have a great rest of the weekend, Mike!

    • Oh my goodness! This comment immediately sent me to rewrite or edit the author’s name as, Robert James Waller! Thanks for your gentle help for this, my friend. Interesting, you were the author or the photographer? Or both… smiles!

  4. Too many of the Four Seasons songs bring back too many memories to relate here. I mean it, from Sherry Sherry (which came out before I was in college, but which my college roommies sang over and over again), to My Eyes Adored You (while I was hoping a guy I had a crush on was singing that to himself, thinking of me). 🙂 I thought that “Oh What a Night” was about one of the singer’s first experience with sex – and was with a hooker (and I think that’s what Clint showed in his excellent movie). What say you? FUN post!!!

    • I appreciate your taking the time to explain some of your memories of the songs from the Four Seasons which were part of your life. I think it was great that you mentioned your college roommates singing, “Sherry” over and over again! I am smiling at this thought.
      I also felt the words, “My Eyes Adored You,” were special due to the idea of how you wish to be treasured. I would hope your first crush may have had those words vibrating through his mind, too.
      I am sure you are right about “Oh, What a Night!” I probably didn’t focus on this since they did use the song in a couple of places during the film.
      Lastly, so glad you felt this was a fun post and that Clint did an ‘excellent’ job directing this movie. I worry since I tend to post whatever is going on in my life, hoping to build connections. I feel closer to everyone who commented on this post.

  5. My iPod is loaded with songs by the Four Seasons, Robin…love them! My favorite will always be “December 1963.” Remember, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” from Dirty Dancing? I have an obsession with that movie. I watch it every time it’s on TV. 🙂

    • I believe the movie, “Dirty Dancing,” is a really great movie, Jill. I agree it is hard to turn it off, once it starts! Smiles.
      It is a powerful movie since it dealt with ‘coming of age,’ sibling rivalry, class status between workers at a resort and the people who they served, and of course, unwanted pregnancy. Not everyone delves into such a wide variety of topics in a dancing movie!

  6. This is wonderful, Robin. “Too Good To Be True” is one of my favorites from years ago, and even now, just hearing it can transport me out of the moment. So many memories can be triggered by music!

    • Marylin, I was so happy that I waited since January, was put on the waitlist to get this movie. I find this to be a fun thing to do, since it is like I ‘won the lottery!’ I have two or three more movies of 2014, that are available and am #30 out of 70 for one, #22 out of 60 for another.
      I am so glad people responded to this film/story about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
      Thank you for choosing which song is one of your favorites, Marylin. I like the idea of music not only transporting, but your use of ‘triggering’ memories was a great description, too. Thank you for this part of the lively conversation, this was special to me.

    • It is funny how easily the words come tumbling back into my mind, when I hear the opening words or musical chords to some treasured songs. Colleen, I am so glad you enjoy this kind of music, too. I can tell it would be hard to choose a favorite, since each one has a different message. The death of someone’s teen was the impetus for the song, “My Eyes Adored You…” so this one will now be associated in my future as a more solemn song.
      It is fun to enjoy music, gets you happy!

  7. HI Robin,

    I saw the play in New York, and the music was fantastic. What a trip down Memory Lane. (Sometimes, when I am home alone and painting a room or doing something mindless, I will play 70s music). I didn’t know they had made a movie of it. It’s on my list now! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it.

    • Naomi,
      Happy to take a walk down Memory Lane with you, too.
      I would like you to let me know, (if you remember to), after you watch this movie your reactions. Tell me, if you felt the movie was ‘as good’ or did the Broadway version of the musical ‘justice.’
      I think Clint Eastwood does well in his movies. I liked the way his cranky and judgmental character evolves and changes in the film, “Gran Torino.”

      Thanks for sharing, too. I am glad you put on music while alone and engaged in activities.

      Music makes time go faster, I miss that our warehouse used to play a different radio station every week, now it is silence or listening to the whirr or clanking of machinery…

      • Hi Robin,

        I will be sure to let you know after I see the movie. I went for the music, and was not disappointed.

        I haven’t seen Gran Torino, but I heard it was good.

        I wonder if they stopped playing music for safety reasons. It certainly makes time fly.

  8. Robin: The Four Seasons will always be right up there with my favorites in the pantheon of memory makers! They were so good. “Sherry” will always transport me back to sixth grade and Friday night high school football games in Indiana and that cute girl I was always trying to impress with my wit and charm! It wasn’t long after when my life took another turn when my family moved to Ohio and I had to meet an entirely new bunch of friends. Not sure whatever happened to that cute girl from 6th grade, but “Sherry” always seems to remind me of her. 🙂

    • I love this special memory, Mark! I think she may very well be holding you in a special memory, too. “Sherry” seems to be one of the favorite songs, a few stories shared about this one!
      I like the way you said that first introductory comment.
      You could use it in a book, save this, Mark!
      “Always be right up there with my favorites in the pantheon of memory makers.”

    • Brenda, I am so excited! I like to sing this on long car trips, as well as during my children (and now, grandchildren’s) baths. It is such a positive song and brings smiles to their faces.
      My Mom could sing, “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles,” but I am lost somehow with this one.

      I usually used the chants of “Five Little Monkeys” or “This Little Piggy,” while changing diapers, since it would distract them a bit longer.

      While rocking them to sleep my song was the same as my Mom’s while we were little, then I had a chance to see her use it while rocking her grandbabies: “Hush, Little Baby…”

      Now that the grandies are bigger, I have been using various longer songs, “Old McDonald” (allowing them to pitch in on different animals) and for some reason they love, “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” especially the part where it goes over to “Dinah, won’t you blow,” and when we are in the kitchen, “Someone’s in the kitchen with (Dinah) Nana…”

      Hope this wasn’t too long a reply. You sent me into the ‘vault’ of songs and tricks, Brenda with your suggestion of, “You Are My Sunshine!” Hugs!

      • The songs we sing our children become so precious. I’m grateful to know “Hush little baby,” I learned it to sing to my kids. I would make up lyrics, too. Sometimes my son plays Greensleeves on the piano when I’m sad, because he knows it’s one of my favorite tunes, and I know he’s talking to me. 🙂

      • I was thinking of trying to circle back to tell you, Brenda, that I used to make up words about what I would ‘buy my babies,’ if something broke (or bit them!) The way the song goes, it lends itself to adding your own imaginary gifts. This is so true, glad you also did this with your children, too. My grandson’s bass is called an 1/8th my oldest daughter says. I am trying to get him to ‘stick with it,’ since he has the ‘ear’ for music. My youngest brother and I did not (he played the trombone for years but not with any real enthusiasm, I played both the sax and the clarinet, but really could not play well.) Skyler knows how to ‘thump’ the beat so well, Brenda. I forgot to tell you this, since your children play strings, I knew you would be ‘proud’ like I am of him. I also am ‘proud’ of Carrie for paying the monthly instrument cost. It is hard being a single mom, but her son, Micah’s Dad helps with the daycare costs, watching the boys. Hugs!

      • It’s hard to afford and find the energy to motivate kids to continue with music, especially in face of youtube and recorded music always being perfect. Live student music isn’t perfect, which they can hear, and it bothers them. But it’s so important, I believe to stick with it. Everyone brings their own voice and rhythm. It’s important that kids get to make themselves heard, however it comes to pass, through writing or music. I’m so glad your grandson is learning bass. That is a very cool instrument.

      • I appreciate your advice and encouragement, Brenda. I agree, times may seem like we are leaning towards synthesizing music without live instruments, at times. Skyler seems to have the beat and the energy, the sensitivity of a musical soul, too. Thank you for this response and I just knew your ‘pep talk’ would help to be able to support his pursuit of the bass, too.

      • “Greensleeves” is one I remember, too. It is a very bittersweet song, it is a nice characteristic of our son, Brenda. “Talking to you” through his music is a warm and magical trait. What a very special Mom (and Dad) who made this son who he is, too.

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