The Magical History Tour: April 3

As buzz ushers in the new season, we also celebrate the 94th day of the year by singing our praises of April 3, a date that might otherwise have gone by unappreciated. The beginning of April means a number of things: rain, taxes and tornadoes. Although that last unfortunate association pertains mostly to the Midwest, it still casts a bad omen over the rest of the month. April 3, 1974 — there is, in fact, a Web site called www.april31974 — one of the worst tornadoes in America ripped through our great plains, leaving 315 people dead. Toss in the torrential downpours and the IRS, and you’ve got a pretty rough combination. But there’s no reason to sulk — let’s leave it to the astrology writers to determine how your April 3 will pan out.
April 3, 1860
The Pony Express begins service between St. Joseph, Mo., and Sacramento, Calif., paving the way for mailboxes cluttered with Super Savers deals and Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes mailers.
Best paired with: “Please, Mr. Postman” by The Marvelettes (1961)
Although the song was eventually covered by The Beatles, the Marvelettes’ version is still the one that belongs in the time capsule. That Motown crew wasn’t messing around — this was actually the hit-making factory’s first No. one single. Plus Marvin Gaye played drums. Honestly, what more could the Pony Express ask for to honor their memory?
April 3, 1924
Actor Marlon Brando, who will eventually be revered both for his classically cool demeanor and his apparently insatiable appetite, is born in Omaha, Neb.
Best paired with: “China Girl” by David Bowie off of Let’s Dance (1983)
In the song, written both by Bowie and Iggy Pop, the narrator croons that he feels “tragic like Marlon Brando.” Bowie seems to have a knack for simple statements, but perhaps there is no better word to describe Marlon Brando than “tragic.” In spite of that undertone, the song is way danceable and not at all ethnocentric.
April 3, 1953
TV Guide, copies of which will litter the attics of senile old men for years to come, debuts.
Best paired with: “TV Star” by the Butthole Surfers on Electriclarryland (1996)
The Butthole Surfers have a talent for adopting seemingly inappropriate styles — in this case, ’60s-style pedal steel country music — that end up working perfectly for them. Frontman Gibby Hayes sings here about Christina, a TV star he has a crush on: “She drove me home in her Lexus car / Like her dog but I don’t watch her show.” Surely, if he plays his cards right and changes the name of his band, he’ll have a chance with her.

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