The Merv Griffin Show

Neil appeared on the Merv Griffin show, a syndicated talk show. This show may not have been seen in all areas on the same day. It was shown in the morning on a Washington, DC, channel and in the afternoon on a Baltimore, MD, channel. And the Washington channel only showed the first hour of this hour and a half long show. Because it was spring break week for me and because we could pick up the Baltimore channel, I was able to see the first hour twice, plus the last half hour once.

As he did in the earlier Merv Griffin appearance that I saw on January 17, 1968, Neil sang a middle-of-the-road standard, “Softly As I Leave You”, instead of one of his own compositions. This was done in the first hour of the show. In the last half hour, which was not seen in all markets, he sang a song I had never heard before but which was obviously one he had written, based on the lyrics. It turned out to be “Brooklyn Roads”, and it became his next single release.

–Regina Litman

40 Years Ago Today – Merv Griffin and “Brooklyn Roads”
Posted by rslitman (profile) 2008-03-22 14:05:15.0

Seeing the On This Date for Neil’s “American Bandstand” appearance on this date in 1969 reminded me that I saw Neil on T.V. two years in a row on March 22.

On March 22, 1968, Neil appeared on the Merv Griffin Show. This may have been shown on different days in different places, but it was shown on March 22 in both Baltimore and Washington. In Washington, it was shown in the morning for just one hour. In Baltimore it was shown in the late afternoon for an hour and a half. I lived in Maryland much closer to Washington than to Baltimore, so we got Washington channels well and Baltimore channels not very well. Normally, I’d have to watch the Baltimore channel to catch Neil’s appearance, but we were on spring break that week, so I watched both of them.

In the first hour, which is all we saw on the Washington channel, Neil came on and did a rendition of the song “Softly As I Leave You”, which had been a hit for Frank Sinatra a few years earlier. I had read an interview with Neil in a magazine in which he said he performed this song in concert, so it was not much of a surprise to hear him sing this song. In an earlier appearance on the same show, Neil sang two other easy listening standards type of songs, “Stranger and Paradise” and “Jenny Rebecca”, probably aimed at this show’s main audience of middle-aged homemakers.

Merv then interviewed Neil, who looked very handsome in a double-breasted suit. We had a black-and-white T.V., but I fantasized that the suit jacket was green. Bright colors were in back then. Merv complimented him on the suit, and Neil said that he wore it all the time – that he had even slept in it the previous night but had it pressed before coming on the show. (I’ve always loved his sense of humor.)

I think that Neil talked about work he hoped to do against drug abuse. At this time, Neil was just becoming interested in the topic. A year and a half later, when he went on the Joey Bishop Show, he also talked about this. I learned many years later that when he went on the Bishop show, he had told them he didn’t want to discuss this topic any longer, but Joey had brought it up any way. Neil had probably realized that he was not able to be successful in this effort. Even today, it may be what’s keeping him out of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (just my opinion, though).

When I watched the Baltimore channel later in the day, Neil came back in the last half hour and sang a song I had never heard before. In his earlier Griffin show appearance, two months earlier, he had said that he thought his next single would be a biographical song. And this one sounded like it! It was highly personalized, starting out, “If I close my eyes, I can almost hear my mother, calling ‘Neil, go find your brother.'” I couldn’t wait to hear this song again. I didn’t even know what it was called, but he kept saying “Brooklyn [something]” a lot.

Finally, about a month after that, “Brooklyn Roads” was released as his first single for on Uni, a record company with which he had just signed.

So, 40 years ago today I first heard “Brooklyn Roads”. And Neil sang it wearing a nice-looking, 1968-style suit.

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