AskTog: Interaction Design Solutions for the Real World
 
Interaction Design Section   Living Section   About Bruce Tognazzini

The Bizarre Demise of Mighty 690

The following is a true story. I know. I was there...

The year was 1961. The place was the sleepy little boarder town of Tijuana, Mexico, where a tiny radio station, the Mighty 690, was pumping out 100,000 watts of effective radiated power, blanketing the Western half of the United States with the hottest sounds around. Chuck Barry, Elvis Pressley, Little Richard blasted the USA from a downtown LA studio that routed its signal through Mexico for purposes of circumventing certain wimpy FCC regulations on transmitter power. Mighty 690 ruled the waves in a way in which no US transmitter could hope to compete.

The Finest Sound Around had millions of loyal fans that fateful April day, when the song from hell first hit the airwaves.

I never will forget turning on the radio that first morning to hear the announcer saying, "and now, Ricky Nelson, with 'My bucket's got a hole in it." I waited breathlessly for the Irrepressable Ricky, but it was never to be, for out of my radio came a most horrible monotone chant that I heard as:

Bompitty bomp bomp de bomp bomp bomp
Bompitty bomp bomp de bomp bomp bomp
Bompitty bomp bomp de bomp bomp bomp
Bompitty bomp bomp de bomp bomp bomp

When four of these utterances had appeared, I assumed a scratched record. (In the olden days, CD's [actually records] had these carved grooves in them and the laser [actually a needle] could become stuck in the groove, so that... never mind.) Suddenly, the lyrics changed dramatically, and we heard:

Oh, dee ya dee ya ya dee ya ya ya
Ya dee ya ya dee ya ya ya

Followed by one actual English word:

Goin' bompitty bomp bomp de bomp bomp bomp
Bompitty bomp bomp de bomp bomp bomp

All this time, mind you, the song, with exception of the "Oh" and the "Goin'," had consisted of a single note, A-flat, repeated over and over.

Just when I thought I must have lost my mind, the verse began, once again making all but exclusive use of that wonderful A-flat note:

Well, I just got back from outer space
Bompitty bomp bomp de bomp bomp bomp
The chicks out there ain't got no face
Bompitty bomp bomp de bomp bomp bomp
With three pair o' arms and four left feet
Bompitty bomp bomp de bomp bomp bomp
They do the hand jive with their feet
Bompitty bomp bomp de bomp bomp bomp
Ooo--ooo
Ooo--ooo
Bompitty bomp bomp de bomp bomp bomp
(Chorus)

To say that I was shaken after the first rendition of this song would be to put it mildly, but this was only the beginning. The announcer pitched a new housing development in Florida, then announced Pat Boone singing "Red Carnation for a Blue Lover," but instead we heard the graceful strains of:

Bompitty bomp bomp de bomp bomp bomp
Bompitty bomp bomp de bomp bomp bomp....

He went on to pitch membership in a tennis club in Connecticut, followed by, "Listen to the The Big Bopper with..."

Bompitty bomp bomp de bomp bomp bomp
Bompitty bomp bomp de bomp bomp bomp....

I couldn't stand to listen to it anymore, but I soon discovered I couldn't stand NOT to listen to it either. I tuned back in: "Now, Elvis sings his new hit song..."

Bompitty bomp bomp de bomp bomp bomp
Bompitty bomp bomp de bomp bomp bomp....

It went on like this for three of the longest days of my and my friends' young lives. Never an explanation. Never an allusion by anyone on the air to the demon that had captured our favorite station's very soul.

Soon, everyone in school was listening. Before school, after school, between classes. We were mesmerized, like cobras in a basket. After the first 100 playings or so, we had mastered the complex lyrics and found ourselves, in spite of our hatred for the awful thing, actually chanting along:

We heard ads for a local clothing store in Cincinnati, Ohio. We learned that the Fire Department in Schenectady, New York, was starting their annual Toys for Tots drive. But most of all we learned to sing a perfect A-flat with our eyes wide open and no one home inside.

Exactly 72 hours after the possession began, Mighty 690 suddenly signed off the air forever, taking with it a precious piece of our childhood.



A reader response:

I woke up this morning with that song going through my head.

In the early 60's, Chicago station WGES, 1390, was about to undergo an ownership change and become WYNR. They played that song for probably two weeks. also with wrong introductions and odd commercials. The one I remember best was the one for the Staten Island Ferry.

I am also looking for a copy of the song.

Please include my name and email address. Someone out there might have the song.

Ron Dombrowski

-----

Update: It worked! Someone sent Ron the name of the song! At long last, the mystery is over. The name of the song is... [drum roll, please]

Mope-itty Mope by the Bosstones aka Boss-Tones.

Per reader John in California, who contacted me at just about the same moment Ron's savior was contacting him, The Boss-Tones were "a Philadelphia Doo Wop group." Ron adds that the song "was released on the Boss label (#501) in June of 1959, and reissued on the V-Tone label (#208) in January of 1960."

Now that I've heard the actual title, of course, it's apparent that what we had all heard as "Bompitty bomp bomp" was actually "Mope-itty mope mope." (Others heard "Boggidy Bog.") Regardless, the song still lacks substance. Curiously, though, I'm finding myself playing it ten or twelve times a day again. Seek it out at your own risk.

-----

Updated again: Now available as an MP3 from Amazon:

Download via this link at your own risk. You may never be able to stop playing it.


Don't miss the next action-packed column!
Receive a brief notice when new columns are posted by sending a blank email to asktoglist-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

return to top

---
 
Contact Us:  Bruce Tognazzini
 
Copyright Bruce Tognazzini.  All Rights Reserved