Saturday, January 15, 2011


Three of the four members of The Shangri-Las...
and a bad boy.

"Past, Present and Future"

 "I Can Never Go Home Anymore"

"Past, Present and Future" isn't so much a song, than it is a monologue over music. It's a haunting, bare bones production follows the story of a young woman, considering the plea of a suitor. She consents, adding plainly: "But don't try to touch me. 'Cause that will never happen again." While the narrative doesn't tell us what has happened in the woman's past, it's obvious that it is far more sinister than just a previous broken heart. The song is almost frightening in its bleakness and simplicity.

"I Can Never Go Home Anymore" is the quintessential tearjerker in the Shangri-Las' special brand of tragi-pop. Mary Weiss' mostly spoken verses, along with the able backing of her sister Betty (not pictured above), and twins Margie and Mary Ann Ganser, build to a sumptuously overwrought climax in this tale of good girl gone bad, and regretting the choices she has made.

These drama queens from Queens were no strangers to melodramatic pop music when this side was released in 1965. The group had first come to prominence on the backs of two smash hit singles, the pseudo-Wall of Sound weepie "Remember (Walkin' in the Sand)" and the deliriously tragic and infectious "The Leader of the Pack."

The Shangri-Las time as hitmakers was relatively brief, and their revolving-door policy of sisters coming in and out of the group has caused a lot of confusion over the years. They began as a foursome, with both Weiss and Ganser sisters recording and making public appearances. Uninterested in touring, Betty exited early on, but had returned full-time by the time Marge Ganser departed in 1967. Mary Anne had also left by this point, but resumed recording and touring with the group upon her twin sisters' exit. Confused yet?

When the band's popularity wound down (and they were all but abandoned by those who handled their careers) the girls went their separate ways and rarely reunited for performances.

Tragically, Mary Ann Ganser passed away at the young age of 22, under circumstances that are still not clear. Her sister Marge proceeded her in death 26 years later, succumbing to breast cancer. Betty left the music business altogether, becoming a mother and a successful businesswoman. Mary Weiss returned to recording and touring in the late 2000s, releasing a new album to much acclaim.

The original members of the group have not performed publicly since 1989, so beware of another trio calling themselves "The Shangri-Las" and performing the original group's hit singles. The Weiss sisters and Marge Ganser filed suit to prevent the impostor group from using the name, but seem to have been unsuccessful. (See below link for more.)

Entertainment Tonight: The Shangri-Las on the "Fake Shangs"


  1. Good write up. The Shangs were/are very underrated - those girls could really sing, and not one of their 'B' sides was bad. 'Out in the Streets' isn't one of their more well known hits, but it is definitely a classic - a wonderful record! From what I have read elsewhere, they were taken advantage of by management/record company, and were not paid the full amount of what they earnt. Shame on those who did that! RIP Margie and Mary Ann.

  2. I once read that Mary said 'Past' wasn't about rape. That is hard to believe. She (the character) sounds like a rape survivor to me. Like the incident at the Tallahatchie Bridge, something happened to this woman!