“Who cares what games we choose? Little to win, but nothing to lose”

From the song Incense and Peppermints, Recorded by Strawberry Alarm Clock, 1967. Credited Songwriters John S. Carter, Tim Gilbert (Original Songwriters Mark Weitz and Ed King)

A Serendipitous Million Seller?

A song that instantly evokes 1967’s Summer of Love, at its inception,  seems destined for obscurity.

By sheer alchemy, by serendipity the song channels the zeitgeist of 1967, secures a place in musical history and compensates for its problematic birthing:

  • The song’s lead singer wasn’t a band member and never joined the band.
  • The originating songwriters received no credit for writing the song.
  • On first release the song was not deemed a hit and was relegated to side B. The public had a different take in mind.
  • The song was released twice over a two month period. In April the band was called Thee Sixpence and the record company was All-American. In May the band was called Strawberry Alarm Clock and the record company was Uni. Branding experts today would call this marketing suicide.

Who could have predicted its success? : 4 months on the charts, peaking at No. 1 and selling 1 million copies.

– Douglas

“Incense and Peppermints”…  virtually the tonal equivalent of a Summer of Love flashback.”

Strawberry Alarm Clock occupies a peculiar niche in the history of ’60s rock. Their name is as well known to anyone who lived through the late-’60s psychedelic era as that of almost any group one would care to mention, mostly out of its sheer, silly trippiness as a name and their one major hit, “Incense and Peppermints,” which today is virtually the tonal equivalent of a Summer of Love flashback.

“it was the B-side… DJs were choosing and airing.”

“Strawberry Alarm Clock” scanned well and sounded playful enough in the tenor of the times, and the new name was in place by the middle of the summer. And at that point, with the new name affixed to the All-American 45, the single started to take on a life of its own — literally. The All-American single actually began getting airplay, but it was the B-side, “Incense and Peppermints,” that DJs were choosing and airing.

Source: All Music/ Bruce Eder


Incense and Peppermints

Good sense, innocence, cripplin’ mankind
Dead kings, many things I can’t define
Occasions, persuasions clutter your mind
Incense and peppermints, the color of time.

Who cares what games we choose?
Little to win, but nothing to lose.

Incense and peppermints, meaningless nouns
Turn on, tune in, turn your eyes around.

Look at yourself, look at yourself, yeah, yeah
Look at yourself, look at yourself, yeah, yeah, yeah!

To divide this cockeyed world in two
Throw your pride to one side, it’s the least you can do.
Beatniks and politics, nothing is new
A yardstick for lunatics, one point of view

Who cares what games we choose?
Little to win, but nothin’ to lose.

Good sense, innocence, cripplin’ mankind
Dead kings, many things I can’t define.
Occasion, persuasions clutter your mind
Incense and peppermints, the color of time.

Who cares what games we choose?
Little to win, but nothin’ to lose.

Incense and peppermints
Incense and peppermints

Sha la la
Sha la la

Advertisements