Rhythm Tote

« previous episode | next episode »

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Rhythm Tote, manufactured by Date Line (photo: David Garland)

About 15 years ago in a second-hand store in Maine, host/producer David Garland's eye was caught by the vintage illustration on a "Rhythm Tote" carrying case full of 45 RPM records. Showing two teen-age girls enjoying their records (see photos below), the Rhythm Tote turned out to be a time capsule from a very particular moment in pop history. Several of the 45s have the name Diane Graham written on them, and apparently Diane collected these singles between about 1963 and 1967. If the character Sally Draper on the TV show "Madmen" were real, she would have been Diane Graham's contemporary. 

Diane had a good ear for good music. Her collection includes The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Elvis, The Supremes, and other popular acts, as well as intriguing tunes by less-remembered artists such as David McCallum, The T-Bones, and other surprises. Diane got plenty of use out her records, perhaps carrying them to school and to friends' houses in her Rhythm Tote. In the process, she personalized her 45s with the sweet murmur of vinyl surface noise. 

David Garland opens up the Rhythm Tote, and invites you to listen, dance, reminisce, or enjoy these old songs for the first time. Or think of it as research for a socio-political analysis of mid-century America. This show first aired September 16, 2012.

Comments [36]

Gail from New York

Oh what joy to hear this show and vinyls!! I grew up on this music - did my chores, partied with friends, dressed in the morning for school. I so rocked out hearing this!!! Thank you!!!

Aug. 18 2014 03:18 PM
Rosemary from Jackson Heights

"Rhythm Tote" was a great show. I was 11 in 1966 and still have my singles in a special "Disk-Go-Case" which is the same color blue as the blue on the Rhythm Tote. I loved hearing "Daydream Believer," and, a radio listener even back then (1967), I remember the night I listened to WMCA's survey to hear if the song would surpass "Hello Goodbye" as number one. The "B" side was "Pleasant Valley Sunday" and when that came in at number 3, I knew "Daydream Believer" had a chance. It was number one -- first time on the survey! I have both that and Hello, Goodbye in my Disk-Go-Case, of course. Thanks for a fun hour.

Aug. 18 2014 12:59 AM
Valari from Pompton Plains, NJ

Awesome! I love this music. There will never again be pop music like there was in the 60's and 70's.

Aug. 17 2014 09:51 PM
Rosemary from UWS Manhattan

Oh, what a lovely coincidence to have heard this show just now! Fifty years ago today I was was in Wales with my mother and grandmother. We had spent seven weeks visiting relatives -- more than 300 of them! I was 15 and ALL I was interested in was rock and roll music -- and boys, of course. I paid absolutely no attention to who all these people were and how we were related. Five years passed and my grandmother died. My mother didn't keep up the written correspondence my grandmother had maintained all those years. Now I'm 65 and I have spent the last three years doing online research online to try and find those Welsh relatives. (It's not easy to find the descendants of Thomas Lewis is a country where it sometimes seems as though everyone is named Thomas Lewis!) Today I made a wonderful connection online with some women in what I have finally come to realize is the village where my great-great-great- grandfather Thomas Lewis lived and is buried. I spent hours trading IM's with these women who volunteered to do local research for me. I finished and turned on the radio to find the soundtrack from that time period! Diane's 45's could have been mine. Thank you so very much for this wonderful show. It made my heart sing!

Aug. 17 2014 09:19 PM
michel dematteis from sunset park brooklyn

thank you David Garland, half a century ago and still these rhythms are fresh, or at least for me! I had coincidentally spent the late afternoon walking where I once listened to these tunes, in the old neighborhood. And at home now with a glass of good wine, your program from 2012 made my evening a blessing; You just simply let the songs play. You are the best.
from Sunset Park---thanks, Michel

Aug. 17 2014 09:07 PM
Barb Hertel from Brooklyn, NY

Loving this show in particular. And I adored the Monkeys in my youth and still love them. I would have been friends with her for sure. Thank you for sharing. I loved your show for years. Lucky to hear it tonight. back to listening and singing.



Aug. 17 2014 08:55 PM
Barb Hertel from Brooklyn, NY

Loving this show in particular. And I adored the Monkeys in my youth and still love them. I would have been friends with her for sure. Thank you for sharing. I loved your show for years. Lucky to hear it tonight. back to listening and singing.



Aug. 17 2014 08:54 PM
Barb Hertel from Brooklyn, NY

Loving this show in particular. And I adored the Monkeys in my youth and still love them. I would have been friends with her for sure. Thank you for sharing. I loved your show for years. Lucky to hear it tonight. back to listening and singing.



Aug. 17 2014 08:53 PM
Leslie from Hoboken

David, thank you so much. I'm loving this show! It's great to hear these oldies. I still have my 45s collection in a special collectors' box, but nothing as cool as Diane Graham's. Many of my singles still have the original jackets on them, with great pictures of the Beatles, Beach Boys and Supremes. I think I didn't handle mine as well as Diane did because mine are a lot scratchier. But I still play them sometimes.

Regarding your comment about the "A" and "B" sides of the 45 -- it was really NOT up to the listener to decide which was which. Except for the Beatles, for whom every song was a hit, the radio determined the A side and that's all we heard. I never heard that weird B side by Lou Christie that you played. "Lightning Strikes" was definitely the hit! One of the best things about buying a single was listening to the B side to see if it was any good. (Usually it wasn't.) But once in awhile I felt like I had discovered buried treasure.

Last thing -- I still have the 45 of the Beach Boys' "Little Girl I Once Knew," and I think it's one of the most harmonically sophisticated, beautifully written and sung things those hot Wilson brothers ever did.

Aug. 17 2014 08:48 PM
Kate from Boerum Hill

Great serendipitous find and basis for a terrific show….
I knew most of these songs - loved hearing them and the ones
I didn't know. I used to have a Dansette box record player that
had a handle like a little suitcase that I covered in 'psychedelic' paper.
That was the vehicle that first played Sgt.Pepper over and over and over….
Also, thanks for reminding me that I wrote a play in school (just before I
dropped out - thank you The Who - My Generation) called The Girl From Auntie
We raised money for something - I forget what….It was a lot of fun...

Aug. 17 2014 08:45 PM
Eric G. from Astoria

What a great concept for a show. I love it!!!

Hearing all these tunes together on scratchy 45s is like stepping into a mini time machine.

Thank you, David! Another great SOA!

Aug. 17 2014 08:16 PM
H from NYC

I wasn't exactly in the mood to listen, but your show was just so good, here I am commenting!
I also disagree with your last comment about not being able to personalize MP3s. My iPhone consists
of nothing but mix CDs with songs that have all been "remastered" (bass/treble bump up, volume
pump up), some of the songs having been remixed. You won't find my versions of "Badge," "Watching the
Detectives," or Fleetwood Mac's "Never Going Back Again" anywhere else. Thank you for being so together
with your show and attitude. You keep me hanging on.

May. 26 2013 09:22 PM
Allen Bank from In Brooklyn with a transistor radio in my short pocket.

Short and sweet > I'm a regular listener to your program... maybe not the best you've ever done; but without a doubt the most entertaining. The music is only the starting point... who is this Diane Graham > one cool chick! Long live 45s.

May. 26 2013 08:59 PM
emily waters from East Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn

Hi David, I enjoyed the show. I have a different type of tote that I found on the streets of Brooklyn.
It was owned by a woman named Lou Ellen and it contains her roller skates and a picture of Elvis
(with her rendition of his signature) and another one of James Dean. The front of the tote is hand cut
letters that spell her name and the back is the address of her skating rink (which is now a church).
I took some photos to show you but don't think that I can attach them to this email.


Sep. 17 2012 12:29 PM
Grant Wiggins from Hopewell NJ

Utterly delightful show - hearing the scratches, envisioning the labels, hearing the trebly quality of the mix brought back instant memories. I was delighted by the Noel Harrison song - recalled it vaguely, but couldn't put my finger on the singer. I wished you had played more of the B sides as when you did it on the Lou Christie one.

I had no trouble remembering the alka-seltzer one but have no memory at all of the the David McCallum one - utterly bizarre. Not sure why you think she was 12 years old, though. I was 13-16 during those years and an avid listener of the radio (WABC then WDRC in Hartford) and her taste seemed more like mine and my friends.

I recommend a B-side exclusive show in the future...

Thanks for this. Great stuff.

Sep. 17 2012 11:11 AM
Michael Salomone from New jersey

A wonderful show, thank you. A few of the tunes i had never heard and I'm a few years older than Sally Draper. Many were my favorites and a couple were wondrous examples of overwrought social self-consciousness of the time. You have a most interesting and sensitive approach to the music.

Sep. 17 2012 01:47 AM
Vincent from New City, NY

I listened to your show as I drove home from work this evening. I felt as though I were I were a kid again. These were some of the songs that I remember hearing on the radio and playing on 45rpm singles back then. It was so cool to hear this young girls collection. How many records were in this case? Did she have any Mamas and the Papas or Simon and Garfunkel singles? Thanks for making me feel young again... at least mentally!

Sep. 16 2012 11:42 PM
kriti from NYC NY

we had just come back from the Rockaways and tuning into your show made the whole day at the beach even sunnier. I was transported back to listening to the radio as a girl growing up in the 60s 70s in NYC . Only I never had a red tote, alas!
A very poetic idea on your part to do a show around a serendiptous find in a thrift shop! Thank you

Sep. 16 2012 11:13 PM
becky from nyc

So sweet, thank you David for the loving, thoughtful tribute to Diane's & thus all our early days discovering pop music. Your narration betwixt her song choices made them special to hear indeed. Had to come & see. I urge everyone to continue scrolling from the cover pictures to the youthful handwriting documenting the collection.

Sep. 16 2012 09:05 PM
D Cortex

Love the sounds...but..
Totally incorrect to say you cannot customize your MP3's as the contents of my "Rhythm Tote" were digitized by me! You cannot buy an MP3 of a 45 that was never issued on CD, but my collection includes many.
Have you heard "butchie's tune" on the flip side of the Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer in the City"?

Sep. 16 2012 09:03 PM
David Garland

I'm glad so many of you have enjoyed Diane Graham's good choices! Here's the playlist:

The Beatles - Day Tripper, We Can Work It Out
Noel Harrison - A Young Girl
Lou Christie - Cryin’ In the Streets
The Animals - It’s My Life
David McCallum - Communication
The T-Bones - No Matter What Shape (You’re Stomach’s In)
Jan & Dean - Surf City
The Rivingtons - Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow
The Hollies - Look Through Any Window
Elvis Presley with the Jordinaires - It Hurts Me
The Supremes - You Keep Me Hangin’ On
Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs - Wooly Bully
The Beach Boys - The Little Girl I Once Knew
The Monkees - Daydream Believer
Marianne Faithful - Summer Nights
Travis Wammack - Louie Louie

Sep. 16 2012 09:02 PM
Carol from NYC

I knew every word to every song you played. What a great show . Thank you.

Sep. 16 2012 09:02 PM
Mimette from NY

Way cool! MY friend Debbie and I went downtown and bought singles every Saturday, until she moved to Iowa. Her collection by 1967 came to resemble Diane Graham's, whereas I switched out the Elvis, McCallum and Monkees for Stones, Kinks and more more Beatles.. This show was such fun!! Thanks

Sep. 16 2012 09:02 PM
Rosemary from New Jersey

Enjoying these wonderful tunes. Thanks so much!

Sep. 16 2012 09:02 PM
rd from NYC/Inwood

This show was worth the effort to register in order to tell you how much I enjoyed it. I sang along to nearly every song, and was transported back to my own Mad Men days! Thanks for the memories. What fun!

Sep. 16 2012 09:01 PM
Eduardo S de la Cruz from New York, NY

This brings back so many memories! My father basically owned all these records and I would listen to them with him all the time. Great collection! Love the Beach Boys "Little girl I once new", not one of their better known singles but a great song that showed the direction Brian Wilson was going to take the group! I am going to conitnue listening to the show to see what other gems get played, maybe some Kinks? :-)

Thank you Diane! And thank you WYNC!

Sep. 16 2012 08:58 PM
Ranjit from Brooklyn

I'm listening to this show on a little pocket transistor radio instead of my stereo, which somehow makes it sound even better.

Sep. 16 2012 08:56 PM
Alexis Kaloyanides from Astoria

I am absolutely loving this show! I am only 30 myself, but am really digging hearing all these great tracks from my one of my very favorite musical periods. I'd love to see a track listing from the show.

Sep. 16 2012 08:54 PM
Brooke from Bushwick


I love your show in general, have been listening for at least 10 years, but this show is totally amazing.

Thank you!!


Sep. 16 2012 08:50 PM
James Cathcart from New Jersey

The best show EVER!!!!!!! Thank you, David.

Sep. 16 2012 08:46 PM
Mark Mazur from Irivngton NY

Thanks for the wonderful show! My brother Ken & I had our own carrying case of great mid-60s singles. He still has it, out in Topanga Canyon. There's a unique magic to the era's 2- to 3-minute singles that's rarely been equalled, despite elevated musicianship & better recording technology. The show's opening 2-sided 45 of 'Day Tripper'/'We Can Work it Out' is exemplary mid 60s pop's commercial excellence - perhaps only surpassed by the incomparable 'Strawberry Fields'/'Penny Lane'45!

Loved your astute comment about personalizing discs by re-playing! As budding guitarists, we literally wore gray areas in the vinyl grooves learning solos by repeat playing. Still have my Byrds 'Mr Tambourine Man' LP & the solo on 'Feel a Whole Lot Better' is much lighter than rest of the track! Ken went on to play for Robert Palmer & did much NY studio work. I played with Stevie Wonder, Harry Chapin, & later was lead guitarist for NYCs groundbreaking Kid Creole and the Coconuts.

Yours is a great, unique show...tonite and always!

Sep. 16 2012 08:45 PM
joan keating from pound ridge

this is too much fun.... I was 5 when this was released, and I remember my brother singing the hmmm maw maw maw song.... and my sisters singing set me free why don't you babe????

great memories

Sep. 16 2012 08:42 PM
B R from New York

What a treat! Like Dine, I was 12 years old in 1966; so, I especially appreciate this time capsule and the memories it stirs up. Thanks!

Sep. 16 2012 08:37 PM
Michael Wenyon from Jackson Heights

Hooray! David Garland is back in the evening. Life is richer, music is joyful.

Sep. 16 2012 08:26 PM
Richard Kelso from NYC

What a fascinating idea for a show, David. Usually, I'm out of town on Sunday night, so I don't get your show. (I used to listen when it was on weeknights--maybe it still is, but I'm in bed.) In any case, the first three songs were fascinating for their harmonic and rhythmic qualities. I used to have a collection of 45's from the mid-fifties to the mid-sixties, mostly black rock 'n'roll, so Diane's collection is quite different from mine, though not entirely foreign to my interest. (And I've never heard this Stone's song, but it's unmistakably them!) Thanks so much.

Sep. 16 2012 08:20 PM
Daniel Schwarz from Brooklyn

Do you have a list of the singles found in the Rhythm Tote?

Sep. 16 2012 08:18 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.