So This Is Love, Real Love

It’s funny how you can immediately recognize a song you haven’t heard in decades. “So This Is Love” by an obscure California group called the Castells has been locked away in my brain since around 1962. I heard it the other day and it was like bumping into a very old friend.

The Castells lasted about five years but never had a big national hit. “So This Is Love” only got to #21 nationwide, but went all the way to #9 on KRLA in Los Angeles, my station of choice in the early 60s.

By the way, if you want to see how one of your favorite songs did on the record charts in Los Angeles in 1962, or New York in 1969, or Jefferson City, Missouri, in 1971, you can visitย It’s a non-profit site that does an amazing job presenting such information, especially for the mid-60s, when just about everybody listened to their favorite AM radio station.

Coincidentally, Chuck Girard, one of the Castells, later became a member of the Hondells, who I wrote about earlier this month. I hope he’s enjoying all this belated publicity.

Little Hondas, the Record Business, Summer Fun and Advertising

The Beach Boys recorded “Little Honda” in April 1964, when the Beatles occupied positions 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart (something nobody else has ever done). Written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love, “Little Honda” was released on the Beach Boys’ All Summer Long album in the summer of ’64.

Gary Usher (who had earlier written “In My Room” and “409” with Brian Wilson) heard the album and decided to include “Little Honda” on an album of car songs, mostly written by him and Roger Christian (who had written “Don’t Worry Baby” and “Little Deuce Coupe” with Brian Wilson).

Usher hired some studio musicians and singers to make the album, although it was supposedly recorded by the Hondells, a group that didn’t exist yet. Usher made up a story for the album cover explaining how the fictional Hondells had gotten together. In order to release “Little Honda” as a single, however, he needed a group to tour and promote the record, so four young men, one of whom had sung backing vocals on the song, became the real-life Hondells.

“Little Honda” was the only hit record the Hondells ever had, rising to #9 on the Billboard chart. Brian Wilson and the other Beach Boys went on to other things.

Here’s the Beach Boys’ version of “Little Honda”. I think that’s the late Dennis Wilson yelling “Go!” at the beginning. (From the advertising pictures in the video, it appears that young women weren’t supposed to drive Hondas in 1964, although they were encouraged to have fun and hang on tight.)

In 1997, the “alternative” rock band Yo La Tengo released their own “Little Honda” on theirย I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One album. It’s unlikely that anyone in Yo La Tengo ever had fun riding a Honda, but it’s a cool, rather disturbing version of the song.