11/4/19 – The Five Man Electrical Band “Signs”

Here comes a medley of THE FIVE MAN ELECTRICAL BAND’s greatest HIT! What a great song it is, though, enough to put this Canadian band on the map for the rest of rock and roll history! In 1970, the song was on the group’s “Goodbyes & Butterflies” album. And it was released as the “B” side to another song, “Hello Melinda Goodbye,” which turned out to be only a moderate hit in Canada, and didn’t do anything at all here in the states. Apparently, someone at the record company didn’t think much of “Signs!” The following year, they decided to put “Signs” out again…..and this time, given the proper attention and respect, the song went all the way to #4 in Canada…and made it to #3 in America….It ended up selling well over a million copies, giving it Gold Record status.

Les Emmerson was The Five Man Electrical Band’s lead singer, and he was inspired to write the song when he was traveling on Route 66 out in California, and noticed all the billboards blocking out the beautiful scenery there. He expanded it to become a protest song against all kinds of signs—no trespassing signs, no admittance signs, employment signs that clearly discriminated against certain people, and the list goes on and on. He sang about a sign that said, “Long-haired freaky people need not apply” for a job opening. So he said, “I stuffed my hair up under my hat,” applied for the position, and once hired, he took off his hat to reveal his long hair, saying, “Imagine me working for you!” He sang about being told to get out of a fancy restaurant because he didn’t comply with the dress code, and some other signs he didn’t care for…and finally, he sang about a sign welcoming everybody to come inside a church, and when the collection plate came around, he didn’t have any money, but he put a note into it, thanking God, and saying he was “alive and doing fine.”

It’s a great song, and even though this video says it has the lyrics, it doesn’t. Not to worry, though, because it’s one of those songs where you can hear very clearly what the vocalist is saying, and it’s impossible to miss the message. It’s abundantly clear. This tune has been covered by other acts, including Tesla, but in this case, the original is the one to hear. In fact, it’s the one I heard to start my day, and the message still applies here in 2019. Here’s The Five Man Electrical Band with “Signs!”