At first, I wasn’t sure if it was a real song.
I discovered it while reading Stephen King’s “Hearts in Atlantis”, which was recommended to me by Jeff Cann, a fellow blogger. You can find Jeff’s wonderful posts at “The Other Stuff“. The book was an enjoyable read, set back in the days of the Vietnam War.
At several points, King mentions the song “96 Tears” by ? and the Mysterians. I had never heard of the song, or the band, so I did not know if it was just something King had made up.
So I decided to check, and lo and behold, it is a real song.
Here’s a performance from 1966:
Here’s some background on the song, courtesy of Wikipedia:
“96 Tears” is a song recorded by the American garage rock band ? and the Mysterians in 1966. In October of that year, it was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. and on the RPM 100 in Canada. Billboard ranked the record as the #5 song for 1966. It is ranked #213 on the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Known for its signature organ licks and bare-bones lyrics, “96 Tears” is recognized as one of the first garage band hits, and has even been given credit for starting the punk rock movement.
And here’s a little background on the band, also from Wikipedia:
? and the Mysterians (or Question Mark and the Mysterians) are an American garage rock band from Bay City and Saginaw in Michigan, initially active between 1962 and 1969. Much of the band’s music consisted of electric organ-driven garage rock and an enigmatic image inspired by the 1957 Japanese science fiction film The Mysterians. In addition, the band’s sound was also marked by raw-resonating lead vocals of “?” (Question Mark, the stage name of Rudy Martínez, making Question Mark and the Mysterians one of the earliest groups whose musical style is described as punk rock. Their music and imagery were highly influential on later bands.
The reason I was not sure if it was a real song was because of the strange name for the band – starting with a question mark.
But now that I found out it’s real, I’m wondering if some of the other stuff I’ve read about in King’s books might also be real, like a dome covering a city, zombified cats, or heaven forbid, a terrifying clown named Pennywise…
*image from Please Kill Me