Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Bobby Goldsboro - "Watching Scotty Grow" (1970)

"Watching Scotty Grow" (1970) - Bobby Goldsboro 

Written by Mac Davis * Produced by Bob Montgomery and Bobby Goldsboro * 45: "Watching Scotty Grow"/"Water Color Days" * LPs: We Gotta Start Lovin', Watching Scotty Grow * Label: United Artists * Billboard charts: Hot 100 (#11), easy listening (#1), country (#7) * Entered: 1970-12-19 (easy listening), 1970-12-26 (Hot 100), 1971-01-23 (country)

Bobby Goldsboro's #1 hit "Honey" (1968), with its maudlin arrangement, gawky narrative, and crocodile tears, established him as one of pop music's emperors of melodrama. He'd been vying for the crown as far back as 1962, when his first charting single ("Molly") expressed the words of a soldier returning home and revealing to his family that he could no longer see.

Even so, throughout his entire eleven-year run of hits, Goldsboro's material would demonstrate the odd ability to yo-yo from bathos to pathos, drawing listeners into a realm of meaningful reflection against their better judgment. With "Watching Scotty Grow," for example, you hear its smiley-face trumpet hook and Mac Davis's lyrics about a little boy doing little boy things, and you grimace. But then you find yourself caught up in reflection. "You can have your TV and your nightclubs and you can have your drive-in picture show," Goldsboro sings. "I'll stay here with my little man near and we'll listen to the radio, biding my time and watching Scotty grow."

Because I considered the song, as I still do, to be a perfect signature record for the era's pop music preoccupation with children, I titled the first chapter of my Early '70s Radio book "Watching Scotty Grow: The New Top 40 and the Merging Spheres of Parents and Preteens." The song even presented the very scenario I was discovering, a world where kids and adults hung around together and listened to the same station, with everything that implies. ("This mutual radio-listening environment," as I put it then, "was a contradictory affair.")

"Watching Scotty Grow" originally appeared on a late 1970 Goldsboro album called We Gotta Start Lovin' but, presumably because of its radio success, it became the title song to a revamped early 1971 album (with the same track listing and United Artists serial number). Its new cover depicted Goldsboro and a youngster in father-son mode.

Billboard conducted a rather sloppy handling of this album's chart run. Released on November 20 (according to an 11/28/70 ad), it debuted on January 23, 1971, and resided on the chart all the way until March 6, 1971, as the mistitled "You Gotta Start Lovin'." On March 13, the album disappeared from the chart altogether, and on March 20, Watching Scotty Grow appeared as a new entry. On March 27, though, it appeared as an album that had been on the chart for nine weeks, ignoring the fact that it had vanished for one entire week. (It peaked at #120 on February 20, by the way.)

On the single's flipside is a badly dated paint stroke by Kenny O'Dell and Larry Henley. On November 11, 1970, Billboard had spotlighted this "potent interpretation" as the A side. (It also recommends a competing version by a vocalist named Randy Horan.)

Side A: "Watching Scotty Grow"

Side A: "Water Color Days"

See also: A KMPC Playlist circa 1971

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