David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 76: The Vogues (Five O'Clock World)

July 11, 2020

Hanging out in Tionesta, Pennsylvania, this weekend, enjoying my family, I think of a 4th of July concert we attended a few years ago in the bustling metropolis of Franklin, Pennsylvania. I remember how tickled I was to hear that their local Independence Day concert would feature The Vogues, the 1960's group most famous for "Five O'Clock World," a 1966 song brought back to national attention by the opening credits of "The Drew Carey Show," which is where I first really heard . . . and loved . . . it.

Turns out that The Vogues are from Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh, which meant that these were relatively local heroes.  A number of my family went to the outdoor concert, situated in a classic small town county courthouse square. The setting was perfect, a slice of small town Americana with a true American band celebrating the country's birth.  Weather was great and fireworks afterward delighted the locals.

When The Vogues played, at least for me, I only knew one song, "Five O'Clock World." The band was old, but what else could they be, forty years on?  They sounded good enough that I would buy the live CD sold at the merchandise table. It was pretty cheaply produced and looked more like the self-made CD of a group opening for a larger band, but I figured, oh well, it's not like they have been particularly relevant in 40 years, so cut them some slack.

Turns out that I might have seen "The Vogues" or I might have seen the trademarked "The Vogues" or I might have seen any number of counterfeit Vogues. It's a freaking mess. If I am to trust Wikipedia, multiple versions of "The Vogues" toured, limited to some degree by what court decisions had determined. One version of Vogue was limited to 16 Pennsylvania counties, one of which I am guessing is Venango County, for which Franklin is the county seat.

Of course, I knew none of this as they plowed through a number of 50's and 60's covers, Righteous Brothers' medleys, Coasters' medleys, and the patriotic requisite "Proud To Be An American." However, when they did "Five O'Clock World," it was everything I hoped. The chain gang worksong-sounding "Up" or "Yep" or "Hep" or whatever they're saying running throughout, the tinkling piano riff, the random background "yeahs" culminating in the "yeah, yeah, yeah."  All climaxing in the feel good chorus, "and there's a long-haired girl who waits I know/to ease my troubled mind." The song is over before you even know it and you don't want to stop dancing. Meanwhile the vocal gymnastics stay stuck in your head.

It was a feel good moment, until I went back to my sister's and researched the band (again, I had never known a thing about them outside of "The Drew Carey Show" opening sequence). That's where I first learned all of this Vogue doppelganger crap. I no longer knew who I had seen and felt cheated all the same.

Here's the kicker. One can't trust anything including memory. This Fourth of July concert I reference must have been at least 11 years ago, because as I look at the live CD I bought at that merchandise table, I see that I purchased the Stan Elich version of "The Vogues." Not sure what that means, as I can't even understand all the legal gobbledygook on the Wikipedia page about Elich's version of "The Vogues" versus other versions of "The Vogues." (It clearly was vogue to be Vogue.) The CD cites Stan Elich as the baritone voice in the group; Wikipedia says Stan died in 2010. There is a chance they were still mass producing the CD at these local concerts well after 2010, but I no longer feel confident I saw them in the last decade. The CD also says it was recorded at Lake Michigan College, basically down the road from where I work and live now. I like to think that would have been noted and retained in my memory if I bought this after moving here in 2011.

Trying to sort this all out is exhausting. Apparently for the last twenty years anybody could strike a pose and be a Vogue. I should stop trying to ease my troubled mind and accept that.

"Five O'Clock World." Five O'Clock World. The Vogues. 1966. Link here.

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Day 77: CSNY "Ohio." ->

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