Music is good for the soul…but is it also good for the immune system?

Anything that can help one’s immune system during these times is a valuable tool. There have been runs in the stores on physical boosters like Zinc and Elderberry. And one streaming service has documented a 50% increase in listening time for classical music during the stay at home orders. Does that help?

According to an article in the Chicago Tribune on May 6, written by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Jeremy Reynolds, it can give you a boost. He cites a 2019 article from the journal Annual Research and Review in Biology that found both listening to and performing music can have a significant impact on one’s immune system.

This is in addition to a consensus among music educators and medical researchers that listening to music reduces anxiety, something very necessary in these trying times. A 2007 study in the Journal of Music Therapy by A. J. Ferrer found that music can be “as effective as diazepam” in reducing signs of anxiety. The key is that one has to LIKE the music.

So I have not been off base with the amount of music to which I have listened the last several months. My choices are oldies 60s and 70s stations on Sirius, and Pandora’s Tommy James Channel and The Guess Who Channel. It’s Tommy in the house and Guess Who in the yard when working outside.

The final part of the story is my interest in old rock trivia for lack of a better term… the story behind the song. Especially the one hit wonders who many times were not even groups until after a record made it and the record company needed a group to go out and perform it.

The other day I twice heard a one hit wonder song with a great back story and is one of the most sung songs of all time, probably only surpassed by ‘Happy Birthday’. It was an unknown band named Steam singing ‘Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye’. So I started investigating and found several magazine and newspaper articles about the song, beginning with the correct assumption that there was no Steam before the song. It was just three friends, Paul Leka, Gary DeCarlo and Dale Frashuer.

There are two versions to the tale, but either is believable. DeCarlo scored a record deal with Mercury Records, thanks to Leka, and the label wanted B sides for all four songs he sent them. So the three heroes went to work resurrecting a song they had done in the early 60’s, ‘Kiss Him Goodbye’. They needed it to be bad enough so as not to outshine ‘Sweet Laura Lee’, De Carlo’s first release. The song was not complete with only two verses, and the filler of Na Na’s were added by Leka as he was playing the piano, and it was decided to leave them instead of wasting time with lyrics. They figured if they stretched the song out to four minutes it would certainly be unpalatable to AM radio stations. Leka did the Na Na and, as a joke, DeCarlo and Frashuer added Hey Heys. They didn’t even get studio musicians since that would be a waste of money. They just played it themselves

Here the story splits but with the same ending. One version said Mercury liked it so much that they sent it to a subsidiary to release under another name. Another version had a Georgia DJ playing the B side, and getting it off and flying. Since the name Steam was used, not DeCarlo’s name so as not to confuse the record buying public, the first story seems to ring truer. Of course none of the original four songs made it, Steam did not use DeCarlo as its singer, and Steam never made it with another hit. But in December, 1969, this throw away song was number one on the Billboard chart for two weeks, replacing The Beatles “Come Together”/“Something”.



So that’s the end to a cute little rock and roll story, right? Until a year later when the song about a love triangle was totally repurposed. DeCarlo said in an interview years later that somebody from LSU contacted him about using the song at sporting events. I can remember singing it at Blue Devil gym when an opposing star (we did not use it indiscriminately) fouled out or a game with a rival was ending in our favor. But the big boost came in 1977 when Chicago White Sox organist, Nancy Faust made it part of her repertoire. White Sox fans, prompted by that big stadium organ, taunted pitchers being removed from games or when the Sox won.

Now it is sung around the world at sporting events in many languages, inserting ‘Adios’, ‘Ciao, Ciao’ or ‘Sayonara’ but maintaining the Na Na Hey Heys. It is so well known that it’s kind of like a trash talking ‘White Christmas’. Over six and a half million copies have been sold in various versions. Everyone knows the song but no one knows the lyrics. “He’ll never love you/ The way that I love you/ ‘Cause if he did, no, no, he wouldn’t make you cry.” So, “go on and kiss him goodbye.” As Leka said in an interview, “anyone who has been in a love triangle can identify with this. trying to make the girl realize that he’s not the guy for her.”

Now, be at peace with that song stuck in your brain for the rest of the day. Na Na Na Na!

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