Swingin Medallions music is a gift that endures

I first heard them play at a UGA fraternity house in 1965

This article by the late columnist Lewis Grizzard was originally published Nov. 7, 1993

We had the Swingin' Medallions for a pre-Georgia-Florida football game party here on this lovely isle, home of the five-star retreat, The Cloister.

They come to the Georgia coast by the thousands annually for the game, played in nearby Jacksonville.

The Swingin' Medallions. I have asked often what, if anything, endures? Well, the Swingin' Medallions and their kind of music - my generation's music - has.

I first heard them sing and play in the parking lot of a fraternity house at the University of Georgia in 1965. They had the land's No. 1 rock 'n' roll hit at the time, the celebrated, "Double Shot of My Baby's Love."

That was so long ago. I'd never been married and my father was living with me. He had appeared at my apartment one day after one of his long absences, hat in hand.

I gave him a bed. He got a job running a local cafeteria. He paid his part of the rent out of what he would bring home to eat each night from the cafeteria. I never had a better eating year.

We were strolling along the campus together and heard the music. We went to the fraternity parking lot from whence it came and listened for a half an hour.

Daddy said, "Marvelous music. Simply marvelous."

My daddy said the same thing about World War II.

"Marvelous war. Simply marvelous."

The major thought practically everything was marvelous, simply marvelous, except women who smoked. I'm not sure why he thought more of world wars than women who smoked. I never got to know the man that well.

The Swingin' Medallions at the party were one original and the sons of originals. How nice to see one generation pass down its music to another. That rarely happens.

What clean-cut, personable young men they were. They let the more celebratory join for a few numbers behind their microphones.

There is something about a microphone and an amplifying system and a little see-through whiskey to bring out imagined musical talent.

They did "Double Shot" twice. And they played all the other great shagging sounds from the '50s and '60s.

Sure, I'll list a few of them:

"Stand By Me." Haunting melody if you listen to it very closely. Will you just hang around, darling, even through the bad times?

"My Girl." The Temptations' finest, in my mind.

"Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy." The Tams greatest hit. I know a lady who wants it sung at her funeral.

"It's funny about this kind of music," one of the younger Medallions was saying. "We play for people your age [high side of 40 and up] and we play a lot of high school proms.

"The kids like it as much as you do, and they think it's something brand new."

Compared to what rock 'n' roll became in the '70s, it's tame music, soft music. It is music to which there are actually discernible words.

And, perhaps the best thing about it is, you can actually talk above it.

My generation hasn't given what others have been asked to give. We've been through no depressions or world wars, for instance. We've given you Bill and Hillary.

But we have left our music, the kind the South Carolina-based Swingin' Medallions still play with great feeling and just the right amount of showmanship for a group that didn't riot when it was announced the bar was closing down at 10:30.

It was a nice party and nobody is young enough to jump in the pool anymore. Marvelous. Simply marvelous.

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