Cauli Le Chat

Cauli Le Chat
Cauli Le Chat, MPL Roving Reporter

Sunday, February 26, 2012

For Pete's Sake!

For Pete's Sake!  That's today (February 26), sure enough.  You can look it up.

The phrase, "For Pete's Sake!" has long been used as an alternative to expletives.  I have used it myself, as you might recall.

So, how should we celebrate?  Listening to "For Pete's Sake" is as good a start as any.

"For Pete's Sake," composed by Peter Tork and Joseph Richards, appeared on the Monkees LP Headquarters (1967) and was selected to play over the closing credits for the group's second (and final) television season on NBC (1967-1968).  It should have convinced doubters that there was genuine musical talent among the Monkees--Tork could play an assortment of musical instruments and, along with group-mate Michael Nesmith, could compose music as well--but critics were too deeply entrenched into the "Prefab Four" image of the group to put that aside. Headquarters was a bona fide group effort, with the four Monkees themselves playing their own instruments (with a few session players helping out), arranging the album's songs, composing some songs of their own, and handling all of the vocals.  Any pop band from the 1960s would have been pleased to have presented such a collective creative effort as its work, but it didn't sway any critics.  They blasted the group just the same.

Headquarters immediately shot to number one on Billboard's Pop Album charts, where it remained for a week.  The following week, the Beatles LP Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) assumed the top position and remained there for 15 weeks.  But Headquarters stayed on the charts and eventually sold over two million copies.  It was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die (2006), right along with Sgt. Pepper's and many other grand albums.

So, why is it For Pete's Sake Day today?  Who is this Pete, and why are we doing everything for his sake?  Well, there is the Apostle, Saint Peter. Maybe that's who we're saking for.  (If that's not a verb, it oughtta be.)

Peter the Apostle, by Guiseppe Nogari (1743)

Of course, the Monkees' song title was a play-on-words about Peter Tork, but we should remember that one of Tork's major musical influences was folk legend Pete Seeger.  Could For Pete's Sake Day be for Mr. Seeger? Probably not, but, then again, why not?

Pete Seeger performing "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" on a
Stockholm television program (1968).

Pete Seeger wrote the first three verses to "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" (1955), to which Joe Hickerson appended additional verses (1960). The song was re-released in 1961.  Seeger's original composition was published in the folk magazine Sing Out!  Like many of Seeger's folk tunes, it carried a political message that resonated with many people (and still does), while irritating the establishment (and still does).

What other Petes could we be celebrating today?  Peter the Great?  Peter Piper?  Peter Pan?  Peter Peter, Pumpkin-Eater?

Perhaps Peter Graves, Peter Yarrow, or Peter Sellers?  I could go on like this for hours.  Days, quite possibly.

Whoever the Peter whose sake you're celebrating today, I hope you and Peter have fun and enjoy yourselves.  Open some canned tuna-in-oil. Works for moi.

Have Fun Today, For Pete's Sake,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Holiday News Beat

P.S.  When Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1993) spoofed the movie The Beginning of the End (1957), one of the host segments featured Crow T. Robot doing a play about the life of the film's star, Peter Graves, when he attended the University of Minnesota (at which Graves studied drama. Truly.)  Much of the joke here is that the segment drags on, like the movie, waaaay longer than it should.  The MST3K gang were absolute comic geniuses about such subtleties.

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