Happy St. Patrick’s Day! An interesting day like most modern holidays that has a Different story behind it than you may know. The day is supposedly the day he died and was buried in his adopted Ireland, and to celebrate that, the Lenten season’s ban on drinking is lifted for this day – and probably why there is so much of it 😉 After 20 days without, and anticipating 20 more days until Easter, it is a day to let it all hang out. And while the Irish were hated by most Americans when they arrived in the 1840s, we were more than happy to embrace any holiday that allowed a party…
… it is estimated that only 4.5 million came to America, but that was almost one-third of the total during the 1820-1840s, and now nearly 10% of our population can trace roots back to that country. Fleeing their native land due to famine, persecution for religious reasons, they started at the bottom. Interestingly, they didn’t even like each other, bringing with them the Protestant/Catholic divide – the Protestants calling themselves “Scotch-Irish” not just “Irish”. Their accent made their Difference instantly recognizable even from the “recently” imported British settlers, and made prejudice against them particularly easy.
When Van signed the contract with Decca Records, he had to have his father sign as he was only 18, and the age of consent was still 21. He had already written a number of songs so they were swept off to a recording studio in London in early 1964 where they were recorded, along with cover tunes like You Can’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover (Bo’s hit). The recording sessions were amazing because they were very early “stereo” recordings, with 2 drummers, one in each channel. And a young session player would figure into the tracks – on rhythm guitar: Jimmy Page.
Their record partnership rewarded them a tour around the UK, and interviews with the press, including playing Top of the Pops – a show that required them to lip-sync. The beauty of “Them” was their live act, and they, like young people, rebelled against all of the “production” and by all accounts, that Difference had them on their way out of the business. However, today’s track was released – as B Side to Baby Please Don’t Go which was a minor hit at the time. It got to LA where it was also a minor hit, actually getting some air time on KRLA and was number 1 for 3 weeks in April of 1965. An American band, The Shadows of Knight, released a cover about a year later, and both songs charted nationally…
… just as the British Invasion was in full swing. Their producers capitalized on both and got them into a US tour, landing for 2 weeks in Los Angeles at the Whisky A Go-Go. Their raucous stage show attracted another band that was just getting started and became their opening act. Today’s track went back to being the 20+ minute version that Van would improvise at the Maritime Hotel back in Belfast, but joined by another legend to be – not related, but ironically also a Morrison that was about to skyrocket – Jim… of The Doors who stole much of stage theatrics from Van.
America has been gifted with so many talented peoples, all with Differences we have now benefited from. And in the workplace, we have the chance to partner with them on teams, and a renewed focus on ensuring all voices are included. The paths we have all taken to get here are varied, and while there is much attention to looking backward, I would simply offer that one thing that we can agree on is talent comes in all shapes, sizes, and … everything else. Each different type of person has a backstory of overcoming something – some are obvious, most are not. The challenge is to try to knit them together as partners that can bring out what the team and organization need.
It is probably why I enjoy musical groups so much. The partnership is palpable when it goes well, and also very noticeable when not. Them – the group – solidified a great live act, and even when they recorded it, they did their best to simply record in one take what that was like. As such their records are vibrant and a reminder of those amazing early days of Van’s career — the talent that the world would soon see, launched by this B side, and a reminder of how it feels when you get Differences to work for you in partnerships that are memorable.
A song that has been covered by The Doors (of course), Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith, and countless other garage bands. It has been inducted into multiple Halls of Fame (Grammy, Rock Hall) and as well as lists of greatest songs by VH1, Rolling Stone, and other publications. A rare TV recording from the era – on TV so VERY subdued…. But still G L O R I A – Gloria!!!