Monday, October 31, 2011

96 tears

Question Mark and the Mysterians' garage rock classic prefigured punk when it topped the charts in 1966. Bandleader Rudy Martinez describes the genesis of the song: "Naturally, it has a long history. It was written even before I was in the group. I had these sounds coming into my head and I wanted to learn how to play the piano. So, I went to this old man, around fifty years old, and I sang him this tune, because I wanted to learn how to do this music. That's when I first sang "96 Tears". Years went by and we formed a group in 1962. We started jamming and were together for four years. The drummer went into the service and then the guitar player went into the service. So, I had to find a drummer and a bass player right away to fill in, and capture the sound we had, this tightness we had in four years. They couldn't do it. It sounded terrible. I was strictly into originality. No harmonies like The Beatles. I didn't want to have that kind of sound. Well, the thing is, Little Frank (Lugo) came up with the riff. I was told it was going to be a million seller. So, everything was already planned out. It just had to be brought back to the surface again. "

'96 Tears' was recorded in Bay City, Michigan in a converted living room and released in a limited pressing of five hundred copies on their manager's Pa-Go-Go Record label. It was picked up for national release by Cameo Records. It went to number one in the US and Canada. The lineup of the band at the time was Rudy Martinez on lead vocal, his brother Frank on keyboards, Bobby Balderrama on lead guitar, Frank Lugo on bass, and Robert Martinez on drums. They got their name from a Japanese science fiction movie. Martinez says, "It was always The Mysterians. Question Mark was my name. We played around the Flint, Saginaw, Bay City area. Never Detroit. We were called The Mysterians, X, Y, Z and I was Question Mark. I thought the three letters were mysterious letters of the alphabet and my thing was 'why can't those letters start the alphabet? Is there a reason why ABC has to be there and not XYZ?' When you look at it that way, everything in life pertains that way too. The DJ at one radio station kept saying Question Mark and The Mysterians. People thought it was two groups... Question Mark and the other group was The Mysterians. Nobody told people there's only one band. So, before '96 Tears', we had to go on the radio and say 'when you hear Question Mark and The Mysterians, it's gonna be one group, not two groups.' So, that's how it got from The Mysterians to Question Mark and The Mysterians. "

Too many teardrops for one heart to be cryin'
Too many teardrops for one heart to carry on
You're way on top now
Since you left me
You're always laughin'
Way down at me
But watch out now
I'm gonna get there
We'll be together
For just a little while
And then I'm gonna put you
Way down here
And you'll start cryin'
Ninety-six tears

And when the sun comes up
I'll be on top
You'll be way down there
Lookin' up
And I might wave
Come up here
But I don't see you
Wavin' now
I'm way down here
Wonderin' how
I'm gonna get you
But I know now
I'll just cry, cry, I'll just cry

Too many teardrops for one heart to be cryin'
Too many teardrops for one heart
To carry on
You're gonna cry ninety-six tears
You're gonna cry ninety-six tears
You're gonna cry cry, cry, cry, now
You're gonna cry cry, cry, cry
Ninety-six tears c'mon and lemme hear you cry, now
Ninety-six tears (whoo!) I wanna hear you cry
Night and day, yeah, all night long
Uh-ninety-six tears cry cry cry
C'mon baby, let me hear you cry now, all night long
Uh-ninety-six tears! Yeah! C'mon now
Uh-ninety-six tears!

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