Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 07/08/2019

Perhaps the most famous (or possibly the most infamous) disk jockey of the early rock era was Alan Freed, who called himself Moondog. Alan heard the group Crazy Sounds perform at a club in Cleveland in 1952 and convinced them to let him be their manager. One of the first things he did was rename the group the Moonglows, a close alliteration of his own nickname.

The group had several hit records, including the original 1954 version of Sincerely. The Moonglows’ version reached #1 on the R&B chart but only #20 on the pop charts. The bigger hit version was by the McGuire Sisters, who took the record to the top of the pop charts.

By 1958, the group was billed as Harvey and the Moonglows, and their last contribution to doo-wop history was the 1958 recording of The Ten Commandments of Love.

The Book of Rock Lists (1982) and the New Book of Rock Lists (1994; chapter 27) have a list of the ten commandments of love, and they have an interesting item for the tenth commandment:

  • there is no tenth commandment of love

That stuck in my head when I first read the book nearly four decades ago, and when I picked out the Moonglows’ hit for today I naturally listened to it to check my memory.  And there, without question, are the ninth and tenth commandments (the spoken number is in parentheses):

  • (nine) Treat me sweet and gentle
  • (ten) And always do what’s right

A quick look at my copy of Dave Marsh’s book was enough to verify my memory. I jumped into the way back machine and found a copy of the Moonglows performing live in 1972.  That version included the following for the last two commandments:

  • Treat me sweet and gentle, when we say goodnight

Sure, somebody says “Ten” after “gentle”, but somebody else also says six and all they do after that is complete commandment nine.

I also found some sheet music online that matches this version of nine commandments and a sentence fragment. Other artists who used this version of the lyrics include:

  • Little Anthony and the Imperials
  • Aaron Neville
  • Peaches and Herb

In 1963, James McArthur used the same music but a completely different list of commandments, so (for now) we can ignore his single.

One collection of the Moonglows performed at the Grammy awards in 1983, but that time they only sang the first three commandments and the chorus and some ooh-ooh-oohs, so that wasn’t any help at all in untangling the confusion.

This far into the future, it’s difficult to determine when or why the commandments were changed!

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