How Soon They Forget

Scott does as much as anyone to promote knowledge of the history of popular music, and yet memories fade as the years go by. I found this correction in today’s New York Times depressing:

An obituary on Saturday about the former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Harvey Pitt misstated the name of a pop group that had many hits in the 1960s. They are Herman’s Hermits, not Hermit’s Hermits. The earlier version also referred incorrectly to a remark Senator Phil Gramm made about Mr. Pitt. He said, “I forget what the old song of the 1960s was, but Harvey Pitt has seen it from both sides.” He did not specify that the song in question was by Herman’s Hermits or anyone else.

The obituary is here. Apparently the original version attributed the “old song of the 1960s” that had something to do with “see[ing] it from both sides” to a group called “Hermit’s Hermits.”

Sigh. Admittedly, Herman’s Hermits were not the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, but they were part of the British Invasion and did, as the correction said, produce a string of hits in the mid-1960s, some of which are still remembered. For example, “There’s a Kind of Hush.”

Far worse, of course, is the obituary writer’s apparent ignorance of “Both Sides Now,” which was written by Joni Mitchell and performed in a hit version in 1967, not by Herman’s Hermits, let alone Hermit’s Hermit’s, but by Judy Collins. This is Mitchell singing the song in a 2021 remastered version:

Once in a college class, one of my professors was stunned to find that the phrase “ecce homo” meant nothing to most of the students. After a moment he said, “Oh, well. The culture is dead.” I was shaken by that. To be sure, loss of the popular culture of the 1960s is of far lesser magnitude. Still, it is sad to see it fade away.

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