California Nights by Lesley Gore, 1967

Apropos of the time travel topic – years ago, I had a very vivid dream, one of those that really sticks with you. I was traveling back in time. I have no idea why I had to do it, or how it was accomplished, but I materialized in the cool, breezy dusk of Friday, April 14, 1967 (yeah, I remember the date), crouched down in the parking lot of a garden apartment complex in Santa Monica. A couple was standing silhouetted on one of the balconies, smoking and chatting. I could hear the ocean a few blocks away, and next to me was a red ’65 Mustang convertible with the top down. The radio was on in the car, and “California Nights” by Lesley Gore was playing. I don’t know how it turned out, but it was one hell of an opening scene for something.

Lesley did some great stuff back east, but this song, written by Marvin Hamlisch of all people, is the most California song ever recorded. And what make it special double extra great is that she premiered it on, believe it or not, an episode of “Batman.” In what was one of the strangest moments of that already strange series, everything stops so Lesley, one of Catwoman’s henchcats, can sing the song wearing little cat ears. She was freaking adorable. She even made me stop looking at Julie Newmar for a few seconds. (Watch the video quick – I had to upload it to YouTube myself, and it will probably be taken down.)

Lesley died earlier this year, way too young. Rest in peace, kitten.

And, on a side note, I’ve always been a nut for those damn AIP “beach party” movies from the ’60. But I caught a great non-AIP beach movie on Amazon Prime last week – “The Girls on the Beach” from 1965. You’ve gotta see this. Not only do you have Noreen Corcoran from “Bachelor Father” playing the lead in an awful blonde wig, and Lori Saunders from “Petticoat Junction” (one of my all-time crushes) as a belly-dancing coed – but you also have the Beach Boys, the Crickets, and the ever-adorable Lesley Gore doing multiple musical numbers. And the finale – well, the girls have to raise $10,000 real quick or the bank will foreclose on their sorority house. What would you do? Why, the same thing they did – dress up four girls in wigs and Edwardian suits and pass them off as the Beatles. I kid you not. I wonder if Noreen Corcoran (who I’m friends with on Facebook) ever wakes up in the middle of the night and thinks, “Good Lord – I played Paul McCartney in a beach movie. My life is full.”

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