#518: Pushin’ Too Hard by The Seeds
The Seeds were a garage rock band based in Los Angeles that formed in 1965. They coined the phrase, “Flower Power,” and are regarded as pioneering a sound that would later evolve into 70’s punk rock. The band’s leader, Sky “Sunlight” Saxon, was born in Salt Lake City in 1937. His birth name was Richard Elvern Marsh. Saxon began his career performing doo-wop pop tunes in the early 1960s under the name Little Richie Marsh. In 1962 he changed his name to Sky Saxon and formed the Electra-Fires. Subsequently, he became frontman for Sky Saxon & the Soul Rockers.
The Seeds were formed in 1965 and the band became a regular act at the LA club, Bido Lito. Keyboardist player, Daryl Hooper, was among the first to make use of the keyboard bass, a signature of the Seeds’ “sound.” Jan Savage and Jeremy Levine were the bands guitar players and on drums was Rick Andridge. Sky Saxon was on lead vocals and bass. However, on the Seeds recordings, Saxon did not play bass. Session musician, Harvey Sharpe, was usually given credit as personnel for bass in the recording studio.
Jeremy Levine left the Seeds before they went into the recording studio. In 1965 the Seeds released their first single, “Can’t Seem To Make You Mine”. It became a Top Ten hit in Santa Monica. DJ Wolfman Jack decided to play their singles, making them a big sensation in southern California. The song only became a national hit in 1967 as their third release in most radio markets, peaking at #41 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #2 in Vancouver.
The Seeds first national Top 40 success in the USA was “Pushin’ Too Hard”.
“Pushin’ Too Hard” was written by the Seeds’ front man Sky Saxon. The song is about relationship problems, as seen from the perspective of a guy regarding his girlfriend. He thinks she’s “pushin’ too hard.” The pressure she is exerting concerns her expectations of what she wants him to be. Perhaps the kind of career he should have, the kind of people he should socialize with, the way he expresses himself, etc. The things she says about him are harsh, and she is nagging at him “every night and day.” In contrast, he asserts that he wants to be free, and make his own choices about how he wants each day to unfold. Most of all, he wants to have fun and “live my life like it’s just begun.”
When we are born and our life has just begun we have a beginners mind. There is curiosity, novelty, creativity and desire. When we are in our late teen years, or young adults, to live our lives like it’s just begun is a choice to break away from the constraints from the rat race and others expectations. But in the song “Pushin’ Too Hard”, the girlfriend has a need to control his desire for freedom and self-expression.
Complicating the problems in the relationship in “Pushin’ Too Hard”, he points out to her that she needs to stop all her “foolin’ around, stop your runnin’ all over town.” A picture emerges of a woman who is critical of her boyfriend because he isn’t living up to her standards. Then, when she is not with him, she finds someone else to fool around with. And from what we can tell, she’s got a number of guys lined up across the town. In the final verse, he gives her an ultimatum. He tells her he knows there are lots of other women out there, and he’s certain some of them would be faithful to him. He warns her that she better not press her luck. He’s not above breaking up their relationship and finding someone new.
In an article by someone named Trina, titled “I Cheated on My Boyfriend: 10 Reasons Why Women Cheat,” she offers these reasons. 1) Emotional Loneliness (from a lack of intimacy and tenderness), 2) Their Own Insecurity (a lack of self-confidence), 3) Temptation and Thrill (to feel alive when flirting with a new sexual prospect), 4) Just For The Sex (when getting aroused by another man was too much to pass up on), 5) Feeling Unsatisfied in Their Current Relationship (mentally or physically), 6) Unsure of Your Feelings (because you’re not sure the guy you’re with is “the one”), 7) An Excuse To Get Out of Your Relationship (cheating to create a crisis as a catalyst to end the relationship), 8) Desperation (an act of rebellion, feeling suffocated in present relationship etc.), 9) Fear Of Commitment, 10) Revenge (because he’s cheated previously).
We don’t know from the lyrics in “Pushin’ Too Hard” why the girlfriend is fooling around with other guys “all over town.” But it seems that having sex outside of the relationship has become a habit for her. Maybe she’s having sex with other guys because she is frustrated with her current boyfriend, that he just doesn’t seem to be the kind of guy she wants him to be. For whatever reason, the two of them continue to unhappily remain officially a couple.
“Pushin’ Too Hard” climbed to #36 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer of 1966. It peaked at #1 in Chicago, #2 in Montreal, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Gary (IN), Erie (PA), Winston-Salem (NC) and San Bernardino (CA), and #3 in Vancouver (BC), Phoenix (AZ), Manchester (NH), San Jose (CA), Fresno (CA) and Burbank (CA), #4 in Honolulu, Topeka (KS), St. Louis (MO) and Lowell (MA), #5 in Edmonton (AB), San Diego and Sacramento, #6 in Santa Barbara (CA), Denver, Tucson (AZ) and Springfield (MA), #7 in Detroit, Milwaukee (WI) and Columbia (SC), #8 in Sudbury (ON), Salt Lake City, Sarasota (FL), Albuquerque (NM) and Flint (MI), and #9 in Sioux Falls (SD), Dallas and San Antonio (TX).
Between these two singles was a third release titled “Mr. Farmer”. It climbed to #12 in Vancouver but only #86 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Seeds released just one other single that would break into the Billboard Hot 100 in June 1967 titled “A Thousand Shadows”. The release climbed to #72 in the USA and #26 in Vancouver. Several more releases augmented their repertoire in concerts. These include “900 Million People Daily (All Making Love),” “The Wind Blows Your Hair”, “March of The Flower Children”. The Seeds appeared before 18,000 fans at a concert at the Hollywood Bowl that year.
The Seeds were invited to play at Woodstock, but turned down the invitation to play at Yazgers Farm in August ’69. In hindsight, the band admitted it wasn’t their best decision. The Seeds split up in 1972. “Pushin’ Too Hard” has since been named by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
Years later, punk rocker Iggy Pop said in a press interview, “I’ve never liked the idea of putting on some music before sex, but if I was gonna put on some music to have some sex with, I’d put on The Seeds.” Many recording artists have covered material by The Seeds including Frank Zappa and the Strawberry Alarm Clock. Among the groups that credit The Seeds as an influence are the 80’s group The Bangles.
In 2003 the Seeds reformed with Sky Saxon and a mix of original and new bandmates. Saxon died of heart failure in 2009. Original bandmates, Daryl Hooper, Jan Savage and Don Boomer (Seeds drummer from 1968) have toured with newer members of the band in recent years. The Seeds’ original drummer Rick Andridge died in 2011.
In 2014 a documentary about The Seeds, Pushin’ Too Hard, was released and continues to be shown on occasion at art movie houses.
In 2019 The Seeds played concerts in San Francisco, Sacramento, Westlake (CA) and one concert in London (UK). The newest version of the Seeds features founding member Daryl Hooper on keyboards, and 60’s alumni Don Boomer on drums. Rounding out the band is seasoned session guitarist Jeff Prentice, Alec Palao on bass guitar, Jan Savage on guitar, and a dynamic lead man named Paul Kopf on vocals. The Seeds have also performed more recently in concert with the Blues Magoos and the Electric Prunes.
December 18, 2019
The Seeds, Classic Bands.com.
Neil Norman, Pushin’ Too Hard, GNP Crescendo Records, Hollywood, CA, 2014.
Shari Linden, ‘The Seeds: Pushin’ Too Hard’: Film Review – Sixties L.A. Hitmakers the Seeds are the Subject of a Documentary by Music Producer Neil Norman, Hollywood Reporter, August 8, 2014.
“Monkees On Tour,” The Monkees, NBC, April 24, 1967.
Cameron Crowe, Almost Famous, Dreamworks Pictures, 2000.
Sky Saxon Dies; Founder of 1960s Band the Seeds, Los Angeles Times, June 27, 2009.
Trina, “I Cheated on My Boyfriend: 10 Reasons Why Women Cheat,” YouQueen.com, December 16, 2014.
“Boss 40,” CKLG 730 AM, Vancouver, BC, December 31, 1966.
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