Reach Out of the Darkness

The Summer of Love - 1968??? Oops, not quite. Jim and Cathy Post missed it by a year. Guess it just takes some people a little longer to make the scene. In the mid-'60s, Houston-born Jim was a member of folk group The Rum Runners (they should have been successful on the coolness of the name alone). He composed a lot of songs during this time, mostly about his experiences and beliefs, and efforts like "A Wise Man Changes His Mind" suggested an advice-giving tendency, moralizing through his singing the logical way to go, since Dear Abby and Ann Landers dominated the print market for advice in those days.

While growing up in Chicago, Cathy Conn had wanted to be a dancer, appearing in some school shows and doing a little singing along the way. She was performing with a dance company at a state fair in 1964 when she met Jim, older (by six years) and more experienced, first becoming his friend, soon after his wife, later combining those emotional attributes as a gimmick, which can't hurt if you're trying to make any sort of impact in the biz.

The newlyweds worked club gigs, playing up their relationship as part of the act and gaining exposure that resulted in a debut single for Cadet Records as Jim and Cathy; though the title of "Santa's Got a Brand New Bag" is a play on James Brown's hit "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," it has an entirely different melody and set of lyrics, taking a novelty approach and referencing pop culture ('No more ho-ho-hos like the Jolly Green Giant!'). They spread their message of personal and social unity (through a proliferation of 'na-na-na's) with "A Town Called Love," produced by Joe South and released in 1967 on ABC-Paramount. With this they used the alias Friend and Lover for the first time.

Jim Post, Cathy Post

Jim attended a "Love-In" that summer, not in San Francisco (the most famous location for the popular gatherings of love, peace and good times) but in New York's Central Park. His experience became the inspiration for "Reach Out of the Darkness," recorded in Nashville with South and Bill Lowery producing. The infectious line 'I think it's so groovy now that people are finally gettin' together' got stuck in everyone's heads and the chorus of 'reach out IN the darkness' was, as many noticed, not the title shown on the label (an oversight or was there a specific reason?). The 45 on Verve Forecast Records hit the top ten the following summer. Though religion and politics don't usually mix, as they say, the song was interpreted as both inspirational and political, in a positive way all around, truly in keeping with the "love and peace" concept. Follow-up single "If Love is In Your Heart," an introspective complement to "Reach Out," hit the charts in September '68.

Friend and Lover can be counted among the ranks of a brief late-'60s trend towards male-female folk or folk-rock acts that included Ian and Sylvia, Jim and Jean and John and Anne Ryder (each married like themselves) and Jon and Robin, Gene and Debbe and Good and Plenty (not married, but similar in style and approach) and lest I forget, the biggest of all, Sonny and Cher (you already know their marital status). The couple later divorced, but unlike when Bono and Sarkisian split, their musical partnership was terminated post haste. Cathy remarried and raised a family, while Jim Post never stopped doing what he loved most, performing in folk clubs and festivals in Chicago and other areas. He recorded as a solo act for Fantasy Records in the early 1970s and continued making records for another 30 years.

- Michael Jack Kirby


Reach Out of the Darkness