30 Years of Loco-Motion

Today’s music pick honors the memory of Gerry Goffin who, along with songwriter and former wife Carole King, wrote some of the top songs of the 1960s, including number one hits “Will You love me Tomorrow”, “Take Good Care of My Baby”, “The Loco-Motion”, and “Go Away Little Girl.” Following their divorce he co-wrote several other number one hits, compiling eight number ones and over fifty US Top 40 hits. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 with Carole King. Goffen died on June 19, 2014, exactly one year after George Spear.

“The Loco-Motion” is a unique song that made number 1 on the US chart twice and number 3 on its third try, all in different decades with different style artists. The original in 1962 was released by African American pop singer, “Little Eva” Boyd, the Goffen’s baby sitter.

American hard rock group Grand Funk Railroad released it in 1974 after long haired lead singer, Mark Farner, came into the recording studio one day after lunch singing the tune, with band mates jumping in spontaneously to finish the chorus, according to Farner’s biography From Grand Funk to Grace. Todd Rundgren was producing the album and suggested the party style atmosphere ala “Barbara Ann” by the Beach Boys. It was the second straight number one hit for Grand Funk.

In the 1987 a young Australian pop star, Kylie Minogue, sang an impromptu version at an Australian Rules Football event that was so well received that she was signed to her first contract just to sing that song. The highest selling record in the decade of the 80’s in Australia, it also made number 1 in several countries and number 3 in the United States.

So which version do you like?
Being an ‘oldies’ fan, I always enjoyed Little Eva’s version, however the fact that a band named for a railroad would have a hit with a song about locomotion is too ironic to pass up. Plus, it’s fun watching those long hairs singing a party song! I go with Grand Funk’s version.

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