Friday, January 25, 2019

Everything Old...

(It didn't do anything else. It was just a radio.)

At my 5:00 a.m. daily stop at the convenience store yesterday, the piped-in music was playing a song from 1976. I thought, well, that's interesting. Are they trying to bring 40-year-old music back? I can't blame them, really. Number one, it's good to keep in mind the clientele. Who else is stopping in for a $1.49 styrofoam cup of coffee but doddering oldsters? Additionally, is there actually any real current music?

The song playing took me back ~ back to my poor times, when all I had was (essentially) the radio pictured here. It was on my bedside table, and I left it on all night, which made for some odd dreams at times, but it was my conduit to the outside world. I didn't have a TV in the bedroom (who owned more than one TV?) and wouldn't have had a place to put one if I had it.

I was newly pregnant and alone in my euphoria, with no one to confide in who'd understand. My little sister was fourteen and my mom was dealing with issues of her own (Dad). That portable radio was my lifeline. My husband was working the night shift, so it was just me alone in a little trailer that suddenly seemed cavernous and eerily dark. The DJ would announce around midnight that radar indicated a strong thunderstorm was rumbling across the prairie, and I'd shift my body to a more baby-pleasing position and try to remain awake in case I'd need to flee, but would ultimately drift off, with no ultimate harm done.

Remembering that time, I don't recall feeling lonely or afraid. In hindsight, it was a trailer park, with its requisite miscreants; but we had a stable couple living on one side who were clearly biding their time until they could move on out...and up. It would take me nine more years to move on. The neighbors on the other side liked to crank up AC/DC 'round midnight and guffaw and shout a lot through their open windows.  No wonder I shoved up the volume on my bedside AM radio. My pitiful "partying" days had ended long before I found I was pregnant. I'd attend my husband's company Christmas party and down two glasses of champagne and stagger out of the Elks Club dizzy and nauseous. I also may have danced.

But I was more than ready to get on with life. I wanted a baby. That tiny trailer had a second bedroom that I constantly fussed with, hauling home pieces of baby furniture; attaching a musical clown mobile to the crib rail, installing a rocker in the corner; tacking cheap art to the faux-wood paneled walls.

And the radio was a constant backdrop for my contemplations.

Convenience Store Song:

This song sort of took me back to my two-glass champagne days, because it was so vomit-inducing. It was a hit during the summer of '76. I was on a fishing trip to (aptly-named) Fish Creek and clearly baby-bumped, enough so that I had to accede to maternity wear. I was wearing a lime green eyelet-trimmed tunic and the radio was playing, as it always was, and this is what came out:

1976 was the nadir of Wings. John Lennon was hiding somewhere in LA, so I was left with a bunch of silly love songs. I was torn. It was like a lullaby from the womb, hearing Paul's voice; yet the songs were lacking. Nevertheless:

I sort of dismissed this at the time, but I was wrong. I know about Dan Seals; have no idea what became of John Ford Coley. I think this song may have been too "soft rock" for me at age twenty-one. But it was everywhere ~ and deserved to be:

I still maintained a friendship with Alice II. After we resigned from the State Health Department simultaneously, she got a job...somewhere...I can't remember...and I scurried back home to work for Mom and Dad. Alice II had gotten married a couple of months after me and our lives sort of paralleled one another. She was the first to become pregnant and was living in a mobile home in the country (mobile homes weren't looked down upon in the mid-seventies), on a ranch where her new husband worked. As I always had, I took my cues from her. I admired all her baby paraphernalia and immediately went to the mall to purchase the exact same items. Neither of us knew what sex our babies would be ~ technology hadn't advanced that far ~ but both of us gave birth to boys.

Meanwhile, music was changing imperceptibly.  Neither Alice II nor I knew that something that will forever live in the annals of infamy would rear its ugly head, but it started then, in 1976:

If you listen to, God forbid, classic rock radio, you'll eventually hear this song. It's not because it's by The Who or Aerosmith, but because the song is great. It's, in fact, one of the best things, musically, to come out of the mid-seventies:

But let's get real. This is the song that's powered so many commercials for forty years and the one that screams "1976" (sorry for the poor quality, but this is the only version I could find that doesn't feature seventy-year-old Orleans hawking their greatest hit in 2013):

Work friendships ultimately don't last, because the ties that connect you only exist in the work world. I'm not sure which friendships last; maybe high school bonds. I didn't have that luxury, because Alice One's life and mine had diverged so jaggedly. Alice II and her husband and baby eventually moved about a hundred miles away, and I visited her one more time, in '77. We cooed over each other's baby boys and laughed and drank iced tea, and then she was gone.

But we'd always have Elton John:

Other artists took their bow that year:  Chicago, featuring that new lead singer who'd anchor every soundtrack of every single eighties movie, Peter Cetera; Hall and Oates, who would explode in the following decade. Who could forget Barry Manilow (even if they tried)? Some band called "The Eagles" crept up. Boz Skaggs hadn't yet hit his stride as a balladeer, but would soon. Some dude named Peter Frampton was coming alive for kids like my little sister. A band called KISS wanted to rock and roll all night (right after they removed their makeup).

There was goofy shit, like "Convoy" and "Disco Duck" ~ nothing like the seventies for crappy novelty hits. John Travolta was everywhere, especially on ABC TV, where my lovely John Sebastian was now shilling for sitcoms:

1976 was still mining the fifties (yes), with a remake of an Everly Brothers song:

This song encapsulates music in 1976:

Looking back, that year was rather frenetic, musically.

But meanwhile, come November, I had my baby boy.

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