Mitch's finest hour awaits Davidians: Sing along, Waco!

MIKE LITTWIN

March 26, 1993|By MIKE LITTWIN

The standoff in Waco has resurrected a dark, nearly forgotten period in the American century.

I'm talking, of course, about the days of the "Sing Along with Mitch" TV show.

Many of you are too young to remember Mitch Miller. And, unless I'm mistaken, certain shadowy government figures, perhaps with the financial backing of the pop-music industry, have removed all references to Miller and to his particular genre from U.S. history books.

You doubt this? Then I challenge you to find a single shred of evidence that the show existed.

And yet, the FBI is assaulting David Koresh and his followers with Mitch Miller music in an effort to roust the Branch Davidians from their compound. No word yet on whether anyone from inside is singing along.

The idea, apparently, is to drive the Koresh gang crazy (well, crazier) with the use of really annoying music. So far, the FBI has tried blasting them -- this is true -- with Miller, an Andy Williams album and chanting by Tibetan monks, who once briefly toured with the Singing Nuns.

But what's stunning is that they've actually used Nancy Sinatra's unforgettable "These Boots Are Made for Walking," with the amps turned up to 11, and still the siege continues.

If it's me, I'm out of the house and got my wrists ready to be cuffed by the time they get to "You keep lyin' when you shoulda been truthin'." Just the mention of the song, also the thought of Nancy in those white go-go boots, gives me the shakes. The hippy hippy shakes.

Many people are asking how the FBI picked the music. When the Army was storming Noriega's compound, they used hard rock music. That wouldn't work with Koresh. The way I understand it, they just took the local bureau chief's record collection and used that -- figuring any music someone from the not-always-hip FBI would like, Koresh would hate.

Koresh is, you'll recall, not simply a cult leader, but a guitar-playing, rock-and-roll singing cult leader. In fact, he once had to make a career decision, choosing between being a rock star and the self-proclaimed son of God.

He went the messiah route, presumably because he figured he could get more women that way. From what we hear, it has worked for him. As you know, most guys who become rock stars do it to get women, and also so promoters will stock their dressing rooms with only the red M&Ms.

Anyway, you figure Koresh isn't going to enjoy non-stop Andy Williams, even the Christmas album.

Soon, though, it could get really nasty.

Wait till they bring out "Wildfire" by Michael Murphey. Or "Indian Lake" by the Cowsills.

"Take a Letter Maria"?

Anything from the Tony Orlando collection, but especially "Knock Three Times."

Debby Boone singing "You Light Up My Life." "Lady Willpower" from Gary Puckett and the Union Gap.

The 74-minute (in other words, the short version) "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida." If the FBI boys use the long version on their custom-made compound blasters, they could precipitate a

power outage in the greater Waco community.

But if they truly want to get this thing over with, all they've got to do is dig out their scratchy (from overuse) "Bobby Goldsboro's Greatest Hits" album. If anyone can get through an entire day of "See the tree how big it's grown, well it hasn't been too long it wasn't big," then we're talking one truly tough individual.

It needs to end quickly. Already, we're in trouble with this Mitch Miller thing. I'm going to try to write the truth here and hope it doesn't get censored.

There was a time, I believe in the early '60s, in the era known as pre-cable, when actual law-abiding Americans sat around in their living rooms and sang songs with Mitch, a goateed band leader regarded in some circles as the anti-Elvis.

It's worse than that. Here's how it worked (seriously): Mitch, who hated rock and roll, and his band would play your basic standards, Leslie Uggams or someone would sing them and the words would flash on the screen with a little bouncing ball moving from word to word so all America could sing along.

I never knew anyone who actually did. Of course, that's what everyone says now.

But the show was on for five years. Somebody watched. Somebody, I'm guessing, even sang along. Maybe somebody who lives in your own house.

You might want to point this out to the parents next time they tell you to turn down that damn MTV.

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