Long-burnt incense and very old peppermints

As I write this, I am sitting at the counter in Denny’s, industriously shirking the work I came here to do. To help me in my efforts to avoid effort, a few minutes ago, the PA system played ‘Incense and Peppermints’, the 1967 hit by the psychedelic one-hit wonders, Strawberry Alarm Clock:

I paused to reflect, and it occurred to me that we are just coming up on the 50th anniversary of this song’s release. This made me feel old.

To distract myself from this feeling, I went looking on Wikipedia (that unimpeachable smorgasbord of occasionally accurate pop culture trivia), and discovered that Strawberry Alarm Clock still exists to this day, and continues to perform live, at least sporadically. Of course the entire membership of the band has turned over more than once, and those original members who are with the Clock today have rejoined (two or three times apiece) after quitting in the late Sixties. Like the knife that has had two new blades and three new handles, they are just the same band as they ever were.

(It may be worth noting that the lead singer on ‘Incense and Peppermints’ was not a band member at all. The regular singers for Strawberry Alarm Clock all hated the lyrics and refused to sing them, so they brought in a 16-year-old kid, a friend of the band’s, as a pinch singer. Lo and behold, the song with the terrible lyrics turned out to be their only #1 single. Shows you what they know – a lesson to all writers, I suppose.)

This information distracted me from feeling old, and instead made me feel a kind of general dislocated weirdness. It would seem that general dislocated weirdness is what you are supposed to feel when listening to Strawberry Alarm Clock, so all’s right with the world after all.


  1. I had no idea about the kid pinch-hitting the lyrics. But I agree, you never know what the public will like.

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