Painted Dayglow Smile b/w Editorial (Columbia 45 4-44379) | 1967 | Written by E. Levitt and Al Gorgoni | Performed by Chad and Jeremy

A story of a forgotten song, a passion for music, and a bit of detective work

Music is like a virus. It sneaks from person to person, worming its way into the mind and, sometimes, living in there for a while. You get a song stuck in your head and you can't release it, no matter how hard you try, until somehow it vanishes, perhaps meeting the same demise as a virus once your immune system has caught on to its false messages.

Painted Dayglow Smile is a mellow psychedelic pop song, recorded by British duo Chad and Jeremy later in their career, years after their early hits like Yesterday's Gone. In essence, Chad and Jeremy were labelled as being a "British Invasion" duo, and the "British Invasion" was over, man! It was their last single to chart in the United States, peaking at number #36 in the last week of 1967.

The song was just familiar enough to those chidren of the 1960s (i.e., the baby boomers) that if you were to hum a bit of it, some of them might say that it sounded familiar, but very few would be able to come up with the title or the artist, and thus the problem: the familiarity of the song made it possible for me to hear it, but the lack of popularity of the song caused no one to be able to identify it for me. It led to a fifteen year personal quest of mine to find Painted Dayglow Smile.

When she sleeps, dreams escape her
No one makes a sound and none would dare to wake her
When she walks, strangers follow
Calling for a look and still her eyes are hollow

When I was a child, my mother still had most of her old records from her childhood, and they filled up a closet upstairs. Record after record of late 1960s and early 1970s pop and rock music, from Jefferson Airplane to virtually every late Beatles single and album, and all sorts of stuff in between. There were literally hundreds of records floating around in there, and when I got my very own record player for one of my childhood birthdays, it didn't take me long to start listening to all of those records. I discovered Simon and Garfunkel, The Animals, The Kinks, Jefferson Airplane, and tons and tons of less well known groups.

The part of all of this that was a magnificent mystery to me was a handful of singles missing the information about the song title and artist that could be found around the spindle of most records. I listened to most of them, and they were either immediately identifiable (Paperback Writer b/w Rain was one) or completely forgettable. However, there was one of these "blank" singles that attracted my attention, and I listened to it over and over again, hoping I would get some sort of clue as to what it was.

What is it they see, could not find?
Is there something she believes
Save the stalk of hair she weaves?
And her painted dayglow smile to hide behind

The closing of the song featured a pair of singers repeating the lines isn't it great to be alive / live in the sun and never hide over a very peppy horn section and, since I couldn't really figure out a title from the main portion of the song, I labeled the single "Isn't It Great To Be Alive?" with a little sticker so I would know what was on it.

I asked my mother about it, and we listened to it together, but she could offer no better clue than "I remember hearing the song when I was in eighth grade or so... so it probably came out in about 1967, which sounds about right." So, I had a vague timeframe for the song (1966 to 1968) and a recording of it. The b-side wasn't much of a help, either; it was a song with a couple of acoustic guitar that kept talking about progress and reminded me of a bad Village Green Preservation Society knockoff.

The thing was, I really liked the song. I played it over and over again on my old turntable, reflexively dropping the needle back at the start of the song, and listening to it again, to the point that one night my heavily intoxicated brother, who would headbang around his room to the latest musical opus from Megadeth, beat on the wall and demanded that I turn off "that fucking lame garbage."

When she cries, no one sees her
Who is there to tell it to and who'd believe her?
When she loved, he forgave her
Leaving nothing more and it was all he gave her

I started to become something of a regular at a nearby record shop, run by a crusty old local fellow who claimed to have been to Woodstock and Monterey and who stocked thousands of records, most by artists I had never heard of. He seemed quite enamored with my budding interest in music, and was the first to turn me on to The Pixies, Joy Division, and Mission of Burma, among others.

Rather than getting an allowance like many of my friends did, I would get a small amount each day for completion of my chores, because my parents felt I needed to directly tie making money to actual accomplishments. I spent this almost exclusively on books and records, and most of my money went to whatever interesting thing that old shopkeeper would dredge up for me.

Anyway, about this "mystery single." I mentioned to the shopkeeper that I had a single that I quite liked, but I couldn't identify it. I attempted to sing it, but he got a terrible look on his face (my singing voice was as terrible then as it is now) and suggested that I bring in the single for him to listen to.

The next time we went to town (perhaps once a week; we lived a pretty isolated lifestyle), I took my record with me to the shop, hoping the shopkeeper would be able to figure out quickly what it was. Paint this picture in your mind: a ten year old boy, rushing along the sidewalk of a small town on a very rainy day, carrying a record under his arm. An obnoxious older kid with red hair on a bicycle goes flying by our hero, splashing him with water, but the greater damage was that the red-headed boy reached out and knocked the record out of our hero's hands. The record bounces to the sidewalk and winds up rolling like a wheel; our hero chases it as it drops down onto the pavement of the road, rolls out into traffic... and gets pulverized by a large truck.

The record was still mostly intact, but it was unlistenable at that point. I quietly took the pieces into the record shop and threw them away, realizing I would probably never hear the remainder of the song again.

Even that was hard for him to lend
How was he to know it then
Loving only frightened him
Now his painted dayglow smile had peeled away

I grew up and as the years passed, I forgot about the song. It flowed away into the nodegel of my mind, every once in a while popping up and running through my head for a bit, but then just disappearing again. I went away to college and on to other things, but I still kept a turntable, and one of my hobbies became going through old records in pawn shops and such places looking for interesting things to listen to. Most of them wound up in the dumpster, but every once in a while I would find a gem; it was through this method of musical discovery that I discovered Buck Owens and The Statler Brothers and The Cocteau Twins.

One cold day in late 1998, probably ten years after I watched that single shatter in the street, I walked into a used record shop in Des Moines, Iowa and started sifting through their piles and piles of records when I came across an interesting LP: Of Cabbages and Kings by Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde. I recognized the names as Chad and Jeremy and recalled their song Yesterday's Gone, but this record was very different. The front of the record screamed 1967: the pair were seated on the ground wearing psychedelic colored and patterned robes in the midst of a painted scene straight out of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Needless to say, I had to have it, and noting the fact that it was three records for a mere dollar, I picked it up with a couple other choice items that likely wound up in a dumpster.

If you ask him, he'll say it's too late, too late

I took the records back to my apartment and proceeded to listen to them, starting off with Of Cabbages and Kings. It turned out to be a pretty good psychedelic pop record, sounding like a mix of The Kinks and The Beatles and not much at all like their earlier stuff, which is definitely not a bad thing. The second side of the record professed to be a "progress suite," which basically meant that they were five songs about the general theme of progress. Interesting, but not particularly notable, until the third song in the suite, Editorial, started.

As soon as I heard the first three lines of Editorial (Look at the progress we've made / get your vitamin quota in your soup ready made / forget that there's hunger around you), I literally dropped my pencil because it sounded so familiar, but I couldn't figure out why. It seemed like a rather ordinary acoustic guitar-led song that sounded a lot like a mellow Kinks knockoff. I listened to it through, then repeated it, then repeated it again, and I still couldn't figure out why it sounded so familiar to me.

Three days later, while sitting in an organic chemistry lecture, I figured it out: Editorial was the song on the other side of the "mystery single" from so long ago!

Isn't hers the gayest laughter
She can wash it off the morning after
Isn't it great to be alive
Live in the sun and never hide?

I turned, naturally, to the internet, hoping to figure out what the song on the other side of the Editorial single was, but there wasn't a web site then that had detailed information on Chad and Jeremy singles (unsurprisingly, there is one now, thus proving that there is a web site about everything). So, I moved on to Amazon and looked at every CD they had in stock from Chad and Jeremy, and found nothing that provided much of a clue about anything. On a whim, I ordered another psychedelic-style album by Chad and Jeremy, entitled The Ark, mostly because I enjoyed Of Cabbages and Kings quite a lot and the reviews of The Ark were largely positive.

A few days later, I received my copy of The Ark in the mail, popped it into my CD player, and flopped down on my bed to do some reading for a class while it played. The Ark is one of the great forgotten albums of all time, and it didn't take me long to realize this: the second song, Sunstroke, is pure genius. But we're not talking about The Ark here; it's just a part of the tale. After a while, the album reaches the sixth track, and when it begins to play, I literally dropped my book. There it was, that song... but in a weirdly butchered form! The mystery song's name was Painted Dayglow Smile, I had finally discovered, but... but... the version on The Ark destroyed it. It was much like listening to the song Let It Be on the album with the same name; there's so much overproduction that the great qualities of the song were just buried, or at least transformed greatly from what made me love the song in the first place.

So, I finally discovered the name of the song, and thus had the name of both sides of the single, but my quest was still not over. I wanted to find a copy of the "original" Painted Dayglow Smile, not the version I had here.

Wondering why she's lonely
When she has a mirror to see
And isn't hers a gay reflection?
No demands and no objections

I attempted to look for a copy of the single on record, but I soon discovered that it is very hard to find thirty five year old singles that weren't hits by a band that never really made it big. I put out requests on various messageboards, but to no avail: it looked like I wasn't going to find it.

As time wore on, I gradually began to replace many of my records with CDs, particularly when special editions with additional tracks appeared on the market. I slowly began to convert all my old, worn out Stones and Dylan records to CD, and as time went on, most of the records I kept as part of my permanent collection were replaced by compact discs, with the exception of a few that had not been released on CD as of yet (I didn't trash the original records, just moved them to storage; most were in pretty poor shape, anyway). Of Cabbages and Kings was one of these.

One warm summer day in 2003, I celebrated my birthday, and as a gift, my soon-to-be-wife surprised me with a gift of a CD recording of Of Cabbages and Kings, which had just been released. She seemed particularly happy about it, though I didn't really understand why, so I asked her. She grinned, and told me to turn it over and look at it carefully.

There it was. There were six bonus tracks on this CD release, and the fifth one was Painted Dayglow Smile (single version). Almost immediately, I put in the song, turned it up, and heard something that I hadn't heard in fifteen years, something that had run through my head time and time again over all those years.

Isn't it great to be alive
Live in the sun and never hide?

When I listen to Painted Dayglow Smile, I hear a lot of things.

I hear an elegantly crafted pop song from the psychedelic era, incorporating and representing many of the elements of that time. It sounds like a collaboration between The Beatles, The Kinks, and Jefferson Airplane if all of them got together and enjoyed a big hit of LSD and had access to a horn section.

I hear words of melancholy over a pop melody. It is the story of having to put on a happy face to cover up a terrible sadness.

I hear the sounds of my mother's laughter and her dancing about in a tie dyed dress made out of bed sheets, recorded on an old 8 mm camera. She was a flower child, and she glowed with a magnificent life as she moved about in those grainy old images; every day I am thankful that I got the opportunity to be the child of such a vibrant woman.

I hear the wheezing Tom Waits-esque voice of the old record shopkeeper where I grew up, his weathered hands digging out a record that my young ears are ever eager to hear.

I hear my wife's happy tone as she watches me discover something else beautiful in the world.

I hear all of it, at once.

If you ever happen to find Columbia Records single #4-44379, please let me know; I would still love to have it, as so many memories are tied up in it.

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