Guess Who – "No Time" (1970)

Seasons change and so did I

You need not wonder why

In August 1974, I got in my car and headed south from Joplin, Missouri to Houston to visit my college girlfriend one final time before she headed west to attend Stanford Business School and I headed east to attend Harvard Law School.

Instead of driving straight to Houston, I made a couple of stops along the way.  First, I stopped in Little Rock, Arkansas to visit a cousin of mine and her husband (who was a minor-league baseball player).  Next, I spent a night with a high-school friend and his parents in Alexandria, Louisiana.

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I remember some things about that long-ago trip vividly.  

For example, I remember that my old high-school friend was spending that summer working at a restaurant called “Po’ Paul’s” – which is how a Louisianan pronounces “Poor Paul’s.”  (My friend referred to the restaurant as “Piss-Po’ Paul’s.”)

A vintage Poor Paul’s matchbook

And I remember sitting with the wives and girlfriends of the players at one of my cousin-in-law’s baseball games.  While the players were teammates, they were also rivals with one another for a limited number of major-league roster spots – which meant there was no love lost between the “WAGs” (i.e., the “wives and girlfriends”).  When one of the pitchers got hit hard that night, the WAGs of several of the teams other pitchers made sympathetic noises to his significant other, but what they were really thinking to themselves was that their husbands and boyfriends had just moved up a spot in the organization’s prospect rankings due to that pitcher pooping the bed.

But most of all, I remember hearing that Richard Nixon had resigned the Presidency during that baseball game while I was driving south on U.S. highway 167 from Little Rock to Alexandria the next day.

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I also remember attending a Guess Who concert at Barton Coliseum in Little Rock the night before the minor-league baseball game and the Nixon resignation announcement.  

Nixon announced his resignation – which was to be effective the following day – the evening of August 8.  So that concert must have taken place on August 7, right?

I loved me some Guess Who back in the day, but I loved Blue Öyster Cult even more – and that’s who opened for the Guess Who that night in Little Rock.

Except they almost certainly didn’t.

I’ve found several online sources that agree that BÖC performed in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on August 8.  It takes about sixteen hours to drive from Little Rock to Harrisburg today, and I’m guessing the roads are better today than they were in 1974 – so it’s a safe bet that the band didn’t play in Little Rock on August 7 and then drove to Harrisburg to play the next night.

They could have flown, I suppose – but I found nothing online that indicates that BÖC was in Little Rock on August 7.

As for the Guess Who, they performed at the Wisconsin State Fair on August 9.  That’s about a ten-and-a-half-hour drive from Little Rock, which is more than doable if the band didn’t have a gig on August 8.

I have no evidence of BÖC opening for the Guess Who in 1974 or any other year.  It seems very unlikely that the two bands would have shared the stage on August 7 and then headed off in two different directions – BÖC to Pennsylvania to play with Uriah Heep and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band on August 8, and the Guess Who to suburban Milwaukee to do a show on August 9.

Barton Coliseum in Little Rock, Arkansas

What isn’t very unlikely is that my memory has failed me, and that a story I’ve been telling for years – decades, in fact – is completely wrong.

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My high school English teacher was a smart but very temperamental woman named Miss Jones.  Heaven help you if you got on her bad side.

One day, she asked one of the guys in our class what his favorite poem was.  With missing a beat, he recited this bit of doggerel:

No matter how you shake and dance

The last drop always falls down your pants

Fortunately for my classmate, the joke went right over Miss Jones’s head – either she didn’t hear what he said, or didn’t get the joke.  

For whatever reason, I never forgot that incident, which I found absolutely hilarious – I’ve told that story dozens of times over the years.

But when I told it to a group of friends at a high school reunion a few years ago, one of them told me it couldn’t have happened.

At least it couldn’t have involved the people I said it involved because Miss Jones sent that guy to the principal’s office for an unrelated offense about ten minutes into the first class of the school year, and refused to allow him to return – he was sent to study English with a different teacher.  (His offense?  He got up from his seat to use the pencil sharpener at the front of the classroom without permission.)

By the end of the evening, several other classmates had confirmed that – so what I remembered happening couldn’t have happened.

What did happen?  Maybe another guy recited the “shake and dance” poem – although I can’t think of anyone in my class who was both smart enough and ballsy enough to have come up with that answer to Miss Jones’s question.

Another possibility is that incident took place in a different English class.  (The year before we had Miss Jones, our English teacher was a younger woman who let us get away with quite a bit.)

In any event, I would have sworn on a stack of Bibles that the incident I had recounted so many times over the years had taken place just the way I recounted it.  But apparently it didn’t.

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I’m at a loss to explain how I came to believe that I saw Blue Öyster Cult open for the Guess Who in Little Rock on August 7, 1974.  I can easily believe that I got the details confused, but I can’t believe I just made the whole thing up.  

However, I’ve been unable to confirm that either band was in Little Rock that night – much less both of them.

BOC did play in Little Rock on March 19 of that year.  My college girlfriend and I came up with the bright idea of driving from Houston to Boston and back during our spring break that year – a roughly 4000-miles round trip in just nine days.  We gave up in Baltimore and turned around because it was getting harder and harder for us to find gas for our Ford Pinto rental car.   (Our spring break coincided with the peak of the Arab oil embargo of 1973-74.)

Waiting in line for gas in 1974

The first night of that trip was spent in Little Rock with my cousin.  It’s possible – unlikely, but possible – that night was March 19, and that we saw Blue Öyster Cult that night.

It’s also possible that I did see the Guess Who in Little Rock on August 7 sans BOC.  There are a number of websites that list when and where various rock bands played concerts back in the day.  But unless you’re talking about the Beatles, the Stones, or other very famous groups, the historical record is very spotty – so just because there’s no online record of Guess Who playing in the Arkansas capital on August 7 exists doesn’t mean that didn’t.

Bottom line:

1.  My memories of August 7, 1974 are all wrong.

2.  My memories of August 7, 1974 are mostly wrong.

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Between 1965 and 1968, the Guess Who – who got their start in Winnipeg, Manitoba as Chad Allan and the Reflections – released ten singles that were top forty hits in Canada, including a #1 hit and two recorded that reached the #3 spot.

But the band was largely unknown in the U.S. until 1969, when “These Eyes” and “Laughing” climbed to #6 and #10, respectively, on the Billboard “Hot 100.”

Their third 1969 release, “Undun” – one of the most distinctive and interesting singles of that era – wasn’t quite as big a hit, but their next record – “No Time” – went all the way to #5.

You’d best believe I owned
this album back in the day

Guess Who’s next single was “American Woman,” which held down the #1 spot on the “Hot 100” for three weeks in May 1970.  (The B-side of that single was “No Sugar Tonight,” which got a lot of radio airplay as well.) 

Guitarist Randy Bachman left the band that same month.  The Guess Who had several top forty hits after Bachman’s departure, but were never as successful as they had been in 1969-70, when they released six consecutive hit records – five of which made it into the top ten – in less than twelve months. 

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“American Woman” wasn’t the band’s biggest seller, but I think “No Time” is the Guess Who single that has aged the most gracefully.  That’s why it has been chosen for this year’s class of the 2 OR 3 LINES “GOLDEN DECADE” HIT SINGLES HALL OF FAME.

Click here to listen to “No Time.” 

And click on the link below to buy the record from Amazon:

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