Quarter to Three – Gary U.S. Bonds (1961)
This week’s dancing tune happens to be an all-time favourite of mine. I know I say that a lot, but it’s true!
I used to listen to this song all the time on a local oldies radio station in the early 90s. I was about 12 years old and totally obsessed with old-time rock and roll. I loved those two-minute pop songs filled with great energy, upbeat rhythm and fun lyrics. I still love them. Quarter to Three perfectly encapsulates all those elements. It’s even got a wicked horn section, which is a major plus for me.
The song was a number hit in the summer of 1961. Just one listen and you can immediately understand why everyone went crazy for it. It screams FUN. It sounds and feels like a pure party song from beginning to end. Note: Its fuzzy/distorted sound was deliberate. ” A one, a two, a one, two, three, four…”
One of the people who undoubtedly heard and loved this song on the radio was Bruce Springsteen. He used to close his marathon sets with this very track in his early touring days. (Please see Cover You, Cover Me post for details).
Bruce and I are not the only ones to praise the simple genius of this song. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame included it in its list of “Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.” They rightfully believe it and 499 other masterpieces have been most influential in shaping the course of rock and roll. “Quarter to Three” shares this prestigious title with songs by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, just to name a few.
I was fortunate to see Mr Gary U.S. Bonds last fall at Springsteen’s Metlife shows in New Jersey. Bruce had brought special guests such as Eddie Vedder and Tom Morello in other cities. While it would’ve been great to see those rockers, I was secretly wishing Bruce would bring Gary onstage as I was waiting in the pit line hours before the show. Needless to say I was in a state of elation when Bruce introduced him halfway through the show. It was literally a dream come true for me. They unfortunately didn’t perform “Quarter to Three,” but I was more than thrilled to sing along and dance to This Little Girl and Jole Blon. (See Glory Days: Seeing Springsteen Live post for further details on that show.)
Here’s a “live” TV performance of Gary U.S. Bonds’ infectious, feel-good, fun-times rock and roll hit. I hope you enjoy it nearly half as much I do! Bonds celebrated his 74th birthday on June 6. Check out his official website for live dates and news: garyusbonds.com