Wednesday, July 30, 2014

That Old Rock 'n Roll Music

     I confess, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the "oldies." For a long time I listened to radio stations that advertised they were playing, "The songs we grew up with." I kept my old albums and tapes and CDs.

     When I bought my last car, I signed up for Sirius XM Radio. Now I listen to the '50s channel, the '60s channel, and sometimes the '70s channel.

     Music from the 1960s is still my favorite, because that's when I was a teenager, and even though to this day I have mixed feelings about those years, the fact is, that's when popular music becomes internalized -- when you associate certain songs and bands with particular rites of passage.

     I remember my sister had a 45-rpm record player, and she would listen to Dion and Rick Nelson and Neil Sedaka all night long.

     I remember to this day, hanging out at a friend's house, and hearing those first strains of a Beach Boys tune.

     I hear "I've Got You, Babe" and I'm sitting on my girlfriend's front porch in the summertime.

     "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" -- I'm at school, just before Thanksgiving, looking forward to the long weekend.

     "Good Lovin'"  -- I'm at a party at a friend's house.

     "Sunshine of Your Love" -- at an outdoor concert.

     Rubber Soul -- Played over and over again on a three-day school trip. And later Abbey Road, played over and over again in a college dorm room.

    I've listened to so many of these songs so many times. But I've gotten tired of many of them. They've lost their emotional pull -- their lovin' feelin'.

     So sometimes I flip over to the '70s station. I was in college in the early 70's and still listened to a lot of music. But by the mid-'70s I'd graduated and was working and getting married, and I had better things to do than listen to the radio or sit around fiddling with my tape deck. Besides (wouldn't you agree?) by and large popular music from the 1970s was less compelling than the music of the 1960s.

     And '80s music? God only knows. I never listened to it. My children were born in the 1980s, and the song I sang along with for most of the 1980s was: "The eensy weensy spider crawled up the water spout . . ."

     Now I'm listening to the '50s channel more and more. I find that the songs are inventive, and they seem fresh to me. I was too young in the 1950s to hear most of those songs the first time around (except for Elvis, which my older sister liked; and The Kingston Trio which my older brother liked). And so, unlike the songs of the '60s, I am not yet sick and tired of them.

     Just so you know, I'm not a complete boob when it comes to music. Sometimes I listen to classical. I turn to the Bluegrass station every once in a while. I listen to contemporary Indie rock. And because I go dancing with B and we do cha cha, rumba, salsa and bachata, I also enjoy Latin music.

     But I admit, I spend most of my car time listening to the oldies. And here's the problem with that. You forget that time has gone by. The Beatles or the Rolling Stones or the Four Tops come on the radio; and in my mind (without even realizing it) it's 1966 and I'm in high school.

     "I've Got You, Babe" starts up and I'm driving around my hometown, going to see my girlfriend, and maybe over to the swimming pool. Then it hits me. Sonny died a long time ago. Cher is on Social Security.

     Two of the four Beatles are now dead. Two of the Four Tops. Two of the Beach Boys. Those gloriously youthful Mamas and Papas? Three out of four of them are long gone.

     We all know about The Day the Music Died, and we recall how Elvis tragically died in his bathroom. Do you know about the curse of 27? The rock stars who died when they were 27 years old:  Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones; Jimi Hendrix; Janis Joplin; Jim Morrison of The Doors; and more recently Kurt Cobain of Nirvana and Amy Winehouse.

     Jeez, 27? That's younger than my younger child!

     And when did Roy Orbison die? Wilson Picket? Marvin Gaye. Davy Jones of The Monkees. Harry Nilsson. Tiny Tim ... remember him? Laura Nyro; Dusty Springfield; Rick Danko and Levon Helm of The Band; and Andy, Robin and Maurice Gibbs. Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy Ramone.

     Suddenly, listening to the 1960s station takes on a sadder note, as you realize:  a lot of  time . . . has . . . gone. . . by.

     But wait. We know people die. As far as those of us who live on, maybe those old singers would be happy to know that we're still listening to their music, singing along, reliving our younger years. Here's one list of the Top Ten Songs of the Sixties, and another from Rolling Stone. And there are plenty of others.

     So let the beat go on . . . here's an oldie from Rick Danko and Levon Helm of The Band.


Anonymous said...

Some of the songs you mentioned ring a bell. Though I studied music with the goal of becoming a music teacher or professor, I rarely listen to music anymore. David is busy watching TV and I read the computer, so our home is quiet. This is why I find it such a treat to go to symphony concerts.

DJan said...

You bring back memories for me just thinking about those songs, Tom. When I was growing up, my parents listened to lots of music on their Hi-Fi. I learned about the Ink Spots (I loved them) and the light music of Gershwin, among others

BTW, the reason skydivers wear helmets is to keep their brains in one place if they "frap" in. The soft helmets, therefore, are called "frap hats." I laughed at your comment on my blog. Thanks for reading it; and I love your "sightings."

Olga Hebert said...

The music my grandson (7) had on his iPad, the music we listened throughout our road trip was mostly 70's--Carole King, Janis Joplin, Cat Stevens, Canned Heat (!), Bob Dylan. It was great.

Anonymous said...

I like to listen to the iTunes radio (it's free and I can blast it anywhere). The have specific categories for 50's, 60's and 70's music etc. My favorite? The disco channels, especially the ones streamed in from Paris. Those French still know how to give good party. They play retro 70's disco so well that, I'd swear I was still back in Studio 54!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes the oldies remind you of boyfriend or wannabe bf. my friend Herry hates the song of the same name. Reminds her of a jerk who followed her around school singing Shereee when ever he saw her.

Anonymous said...

You are younger than me, I graduated in 1966 from high school and college in 1970's! I listened to those tunes' the 60's while volunteering at the USA in san diego and when I got married the songs of john Denver were going strong in Colorado who deemed him their adopted son. Sweet tunes for sure, I cannot phanthom the younger set today, I picked berries to Sonny & Cher and the Beach Boys, songs that in my opinion seemed corny but great rythem and corny words, who cared we were slaving away in the berry fields and bean fields, then off to san diego to work like hell to go to college and the tunes sustained us after 2 shifts at a restaurant and babysitting kids and working like hell..Will never be another 60's I lived it and it ain't coming back. ciao!

Anonymous said...

I meant to say volunteering at the USO during the Vietnam conflict, they blasted all the 60's tunes, food, coffee, tea, pop and dances..We the ladies worked the record machine, served the beverages and listened to fellows who were shipping out to war, it was something else, many sadly did not return to San Diego or their hometowns..My hubs was in the Army and he survived being sent to Vietnam instead to Europe and then Hawaii, he was a most blessed young fellow, only married 40 years this past May, he loved the Supremes and the song Winchester Cathedral and going to double feature movies and after for burgers/fries the size of the plate and real milkshakes with me his soon to be wife, the good times don't seem to be there for the young people, our only is still single at nearly 37 and she never cares to marry unless she meets a fellow like her Dad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gabbygeezer said...

Good old Plainwell, MI, still has a radio station dedicated to playing songs from the past (the 50s and 60s). I have an old AM radio in my office permanently tuned to it. Unfortunately, the signal seems to travel only about 10 miles with any semblance of clarity, so you and your readers will have to visit us to enjoy those great tunes.

Stephen Hayes said...

I remember going to see Joan Baez in the '70s (?) and heard her play "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." It was a magical moment.

Kirk said...

Sirius XM has a channel dedicate to 60s music (as well as one for each decade from the 40s on).

Deborah Drucker said...

After reading your blog I had to go on You Tube and find more of my favorite oldies. We have Sirius XM in our cars and we listen to the 50s and 60s among others. I have to mention Jefferson Airplane and Grace Slick "Somebody to Love" since I am from San Francisco. Also The Ronettes "Be My Baby",The Shirelles "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" Ben E. King, "Stand By Me",The Drifters "This Magic Moment",The Grass Roots " Live for Today", The Supremes "Baby Love" and there are many more from the the 50s and 60s. " Age of Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" 5th Dimension reminds me of the stage production of "Hair" which I saw in SF that was quite avant guard at that time with nudity on stage and all about peace and love. Which was a big theme in the 60s.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tom! My name is Judy. I was hoping you could answer a question of mine when you get a moment! My email is judy.cohen (at) recallcenter (dot) com

Talk to you soon!