Showing posts with label ace. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ace. Show all posts

Saturday, May 4, 2019

My Little Black And White Kitchen

If there was a worse cook than me in the mid-seventies, I don't know her. When I got married, I knew how to make absolutely nothing. I'd made Kraft macaroni and cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches. I'd heated up Campbell's soup on the stove. Why was I so inept? I simply never cared. I had a mom who cooked dinner.

I also rarely ate actual food that didn't tumble out of a vending machine. My parents owned a business that had magazine racks in the lobby and cigarette machines and spinning candy dispensers; not to mention cold eight-ounce bottles of Coca-Cola. Thus, I read every movie rag available and rotted my teeth on chocolate and developed a life-long nicotine habit. My sixteen-year-old dietary regimen consisted of menthol cigarettes, Seven-Up candy bars and sickeningly sweet Coke and Dr. Pepper. Not to mention refreshing Fresca, which contained enough saccharine to hobble an African elephant. Regrets? I have a few.

But cooking? That was so passe. Old women (in their forties) did that. I was young and hip and liberated. I had pantyhose and polyester mini-skirts and long swinging hair and Cover Girl makeup.  I had the Grass Roots on my transistor radio. Aside from the candy, I really didn't eat. I smoked a lot and hid the black plastic ash tray under my bed. Sometimes I drank a can of beer, if I was able to procure one. I was still pseudo-religious, so I gave up snacks for Lent, which meant I essentially ate nothing, since snacks were my only source of nourishment. My teenage years were a cornucopia of excess, as if life was tenuous. And it was, then.

At age eighteen, when it was deemed that life was passing me by, I became engaged. My fiance and I trudged the mobile home lots in the dead of winter to find a suitable home we could afford. Renting was not even a flitting thought. No one we knew actually rented except for my friend Alice II, and her apartment was only a brief stopover until she, too, became married and bought her own mobile home. We perused a few units, clambering the wrought-iron stair steps of each; and they were all essentially the same ~ except for the one that had a kitchen floor of black and white geometric linoleum. I became fixated on that floor, and no other selection would do. We purchased our first home based upon pretty flooring. The color scheme of the remainder of the home was burnt orange and lime green ~ long-stranded shag carpeting. And we didn't even yet own an upright vacuum cleaner. We hoped to secure one as a wedding gift. We owned absolutely nothing except the console stereo my parents wanted to be rid of.

Around '75 we splurged on a microwave oven. Mom and Dad had a microwave, a monstrous behemoth that claimed almost all the kitchen retail space.

It was good for almost nothing, but like halter tops and leisure suits, it was the thing to do. It defrosted ground beef defectively, but it did work for boiling water. There were no prepared foods created exclusively for microwaves, so using the noisy apparatus was trial and error...mostly error. Major companies did have the foresight to market special ceramic serving dishes exclusively for microwaves, so there was that expense (we were scared to use paper plates ~ they might burst into flame). There was also the niggling dread that these "waves" could potentially poison anyone who consumed anything nuked in them, but we were young and indestructible, so we took our chances.

I eventually learned how to cook ~ in fact, I became more and more adventurous as the months ticked by. I shed my fear of electric appliances and began experimenting. It wasn't so hard after all! As unschooled as I was, I developed an affinity for Chinese cooking (and we didn't even own a wok). Like every other thing in life, cooking is scary until one actually tries.

My black-and-white linoleum required a weekly pan of Spic 'n Span and sore knees to maintain. I still liked it, though. It was the centerpiece of my home. Everything else in my trailer was shit, but I had that floor!

I was learning how to be a grown-up, bit by bit. It wasn't necessarily by choice, but it was time. I also was learning about poverty and how to make a life out of nothing. Our first Christmas tree was a two-foot-high plastic proxy for the real thing that I set on an end table and trimmed with decorations I fashioned out of folded paper. I scoured my checkbook daily to determine if money existed with which to buy groceries. Benevolent gifts from parents saved us from starving.

But I had music. That hand-me-down console stereo in the living room kept me company as I "housewifed". Memory is a funny thing ~ when we think about music, we cull the charts for those tracks that are timeless, but that's not how music actually worked in real time. These are the songs I remember:

In retrospect, aside from America, the hit songs of '75 were kind of mopey. No wonder I spent a lot of time staring into the abyss that was my shiny new, scary microwave oven.

1975 was the last time I could label myself a "kid", albeit a married kid. The last time I would prioritize music over everything. Before long, a completely new experience would change my life forever.

In the meantime, I did have that floor....

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Philadelphia Freedom

1975 was a bridge year for me. I'd gotten married in '74, one month shy of age nineteen. I was a "housewife" who still worked part-time for my parents -- because I was essentially afraid of the world. Plus, despite the courage I'd had to muster by age twelve due to the family dysfunction that had reared its ugly head, I'd lived a sheltered life. If sheltered means cloistered behind a sliding chain-lock in my room. I'd gone from high school to my first real job working for State government, which lasted as long as it took me to realize I was now ensconced in another maladjusted relationship, and I wasn't even related to these people! So I'd scurried back to the devil I knew.

Life was quiet. Sometimes we'd have breakfast at the Country Kitchen, when we could spare four dollars. We fished. Fishing sounds quaint and bucolic. In North Dakota, fishing is finding a path through the overgrowth of weeds snagging the shoreline of a "lake", which is in reality a slough at the end of a cow path smack-dab in the midst of brittle prairie grasses. We'd pack an insulated bag with Cokes and bologna sandwiches and Old Dutch potato chips, grab a ratty blanket, and off we'd go to the middle of nowhere. If I hadn't had my Kool cigarettes, I would have passed out from boredom. I learned how to cast a line, but I hoped to God I wouldn't catch anything, because then what would I do?

My husband's boss had talked him into joining the local Moose Lodge, so sometimes on a Friday night we'd drive over for a steak dinner. I hated steak (I had a beef revulsion at that time), but the price was right; something like $5.99, and it included a salad and a baked potato with those little chive sprinkles; and the lodge had a live band. I was a bad drinker. First of all, I never knew what kind of drink to order, so I'd go with a Tom Collins, which included a skewer with a cherry stuck in it. Two drinks and I would be babbling incoherently. I made many, many best friends at the Moose Lodge that I never again saw in my life after that night.

I'd planned out my first pregnancy. I would be married for two years (two years was the prescribed duration of newlywedness before a baby should appear. That was the lay of the land in the seventies.)

So, as I said, 1975 was my bridge year. In '76 I would become pregnant. Thus, I did those things one does when they have few responsibilities. I worked, I came home, I took a nap on the couch. I watched afternoon TV. I "cooked" dinner. (I was the world's worst cook. I knew how to make Kraft macaroni and cheese, which was fine by me until my other half complained that he wanted meat for supper. I abhorred meat, so that transition was a struggle.)  If nothing interesting was on TV, I'd snap on the radio that was a component of my faux-walnut console stereo system.

I was in that uncomfortable place, with one foot in the country world and the other in rock. Honestly, in the seventies it all blended together. Most music fans weren't snarky and judgmental. They accepted a track for what it was. Now, I'll grant you, we were maybe too accepting. We accepted a lot of shit in the seventies. One must understand, though, that we weren't in control of our entertainment -- it came to us. Aside from LP's, radio was king. TV, too. We put up with a lot of sleazy middle of the road trash that showed up on our screens, because what were we to do? Turn off the TV and go to bed?

Looking back at the top hits of 1975, I'm surprised I didn't just die.

Hits like this:

It's weird that I always thought this next song was a hit in 1976. My baby was a bicentennial baby. That was a big deal! And I have the red, white, and blue certificates from the hospital to prove it! Apparently Elton wanted to get out ahead of the curve, so he recorded this song just in time:

If you don't get the Bee Gees, then you weren't alive in the seventies. Barry latched onto a winning formula and wouldn't let go. Barry Gibb's vision took the trio through approximately two years of hits. This is not their most familiar, but the message here is essentially the same:

There was a little basement bar not far from my dad's motel that featured live acts sometimes. It was a tiny spot that couldn't have possibly made up the featured band's expenses in cover charges. I'm thinking Lee Merkel's bar lost money on that venture, but I saw a few acts there, really up-close, and I remember them all.  To be frank, I didn't know who the Doobie Brothers were. I didn't know a lot of things. They performed this song:

It's funny how memory deceives us. My husband would tell you that the premier act of 1975 was the Rolling Stones; yet they had no single in the top 100 of the year. 

Instead, it was this:

I guess we get to watch still pictures as we listen to the number sixty-one single of the year by Grand Funk Railroad:

Another aspect of 1975 was Barry Manilow. Scoff if you will, but Barry Manilow was huge in the seventies. I saw him in concert. I saw tons of acts. I saw anyone who came to town. 

One of my fondest memories is singing this next song with my little sister. We were on a road trip with countless family members -- my dad and my mom, my husband, a nephew or two; and Lissa and I were in the front seat with my dad. Everybody else was asleep in the back. Lissa and I did an awesome version of this song as it played on the car radio:

1975 wouldn't be complete without this song:

There are two songs that for me memorialize 1975. There is no rational reason -- they're not my favorite songs. They're just there -- there in my pea-brained memory. 

Here is the first:

And then -- ahhh -- this one:

1975 was a bridge. After that, life would be forever changed.

Friday, June 8, 2012

More One-Hit Wonders ~ 1970's Edition

As readers of my blog know, once I find a topic that's interesting (to me), I like to beat it to death.

So, here we go!

And let me just note that, it appears, the 1970's has the distinction of producing more one-hit wonder songs than any other decade.  Kudos, nineteen seventies!  I knew you were good for something!

Did you ever notice that some of the songs that get the most airplay on oldies or classic rock radio stations just happen to be the one-hit wonders?  See, that's where they fool you.  You think, hey, they're playing Norman Greenbaum again!  He must have had a ton of hits!

Apparently, this video is supposed to look like this (and here I thought it was just a really bad transfer).

Curious about this song, I surfed over to Songfacts, and found this:

"Norman Greenbaum was kind enough to tell us about this song. He set out to write a religious rock song, and he is Jewish. Instead of using a Jewish word for God, he used "Jesus" because he thought it would be more marketable. It took months for Greenbaum to finish the music, but the lyrics came really quickly. Interesting fact we also learned about Norman: he used to run a goat farm."

Nice juxtaposition of relevant facts!  It's like saying, "Paul McCartney, in addition to being the most famous living rock star of all time, also, interestingly, wears a size ten shoe."

Spirit In The Sky

The Free Movement only had one hit record as well.  Being unable to find an actual performance video of their song led me to wonder whether they actually were a band.  However, this "video" does show a picture of the album cover, so my suspicions were unfounded. I realize it was 1971, so in context, the name makes sense, I guess, but I still find it rather unfortunate.

Honestly, the only reason I remember this song is because country singer Cal Smith had a hit with a cover version.

I've Found Someone Of My Own

Speaking of unfortunate band names, Climax had a 1972 hit with this next song, which happened to be the theme of my junior year high school prom.  Oh, I didn't go....I saw it in the yearbook, though (look, I wasn't exactly an active participant in high school activities).

Precious and few are the moments we two can share
Quiet and blue, like the sky, I'm hung over you
(how about just "hung over"?)
And if I can't find my way back home (obviously because I am hung over)

It just wouldn't be fair 
Precious and few are the moments we two can share 

This is apparently the last surviving remnant of Climax's live performance of the song, and thus the quality is atrocious. One would think the videographer was hung over.

Precious and Few

This next one makes me laugh.  Because it's by a group that was slapped with the name, "Hillside Singers".  Know why they were called the Hillside Singers?  How old are you?  Because it was a Coca-Cola commercial, and they were all standing on a hillside!  In fact, the only rendition of this song I could find was the actual Coca-Cola commercial. 

Coca-Cola started a heretofore unexplored trend; that of turning a TV commercial into a hit song.  They did it with Dottie West as well, with "Country Sunshine".

Now, I drink tons of Diet Coke, but I think I'll go with, "I'm a Pepper, You're a Pepper" instead.

I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing

If you don't remember the 1972 version of this next song, you may remember the 1985 Motley Crue cover.  Regardless, you will remember it.

The main reason I remember this song so well is that my little brother loved it.  He was 11.  Here is Brownsville Station:

Smokin' In The Boys' Room

Before we go further down memory lane, let me just interject, B.W. Stevenson and Clint Holmes ~ sorry, guys!  Apparently, you don't exist on video!  But, alas, we remember your songs!

But moving on, and speaking of band names, I think it's good to call yourselves something that really denotes your standing in the musical community.  For example, First Class.  Sounds like a group that would really be rocking the charts, right?  Well, no.  They had but one hit, but we do remember it.

And, frankly, maybe it's just me, but the only part of the song I remember is:

Beach baby, beach baby, give me your hand

I have absolutely no recollection of any of the rest of it, but let's learn together, shall we?

Beach Baby

You know, some songs, for various reasons, just stick with you.  Let me tell you why George McCrae's song sticks with me.

I woke up one summer Saturday morning; my husband (at the time) was at work.  I had left the AM radio on throughout the night.  I was all alone.  I heard sirens.  Yes, the tornado sirens were sounding.  We lived in a trailer.  You know what they say about the worst places to be in a tornado?  Yes, that's right.  We owned one car, which was currently with my husband, at work.  I frantically dialed my sister, who lived a couple of miles away.  She, too, was carless that morning.  She said she would call me a cab to take me to her house, which had a basement.  So, as I waited and grew more agitated by the second, this song was playing on the radio.

Rock Your Baby

Before I send my camel to bed, I thought I would like to hear Maria Muldaur's hit song:

Midnight At The Oasis

Picking on 1970's band names has become a fun part (for me) of this whole undertaking tonight.  Here is a helpful hint, nineteen seventies up-and-comers (again, you have to climb inside that time machine to hear it); just put any two words together!  A good tip is to make two columns; then try various combinations of Column A and Column B, until you come up with just the right cool-sounding name.  It's really pretty simple.

Now, Paper Lace, while pretty!  Sounds a bit twee.  At least for a male rock group.  All Valentine'ish.  Perhaps you should go back to the east side of Chicago and rethink your name choice.

The Night Chicago Died

There is a grainy, skippy live performance of this next song, but it just doesn't convey the awesomeness that is Blue Swede.

We all remember B.J. Thomas, right?  Great singer.  "Raindrops Keep Fallin'....", etc.  He had a really nice poppy record called, "Hooked on a Feelin'".  Unfortunately, now, I can no longer hear the B.J. Thomas version without inserting my own, "ooga-chawka ooga-chawka's", thanks to Blue Swede.

And what is a Blue Swede, actually?  A Swedish guy who got stranded out on the iceberg?

Hooked On A Feelin'

"Ace" is a nice, masculine name.  "Hey, Ace!"  "How ya doin', Ace?"  "How long has it been, Ace?"  "Hey, you ain't quite as dumb as you seem, Ace!"

Yes, Ace, with its homage to the piano/organ stylings of Steely Dan, had an unforgettable (even if we try) hit, that goes a little something like this:

How Long

Spain, heretofore only known for its catastrophic financial situation, did also produce a one-hit wonder band.   A band whose name, in English, translates to "youth".  Again, not to quibble, but really?  This is the best you could come up with, even in Spanish?  Youth?  You know, Paper Lace in Spanish is "Encajes de papel".  I'm not saying that sounds any more masculine than Paper Lace.  I just thought I would throw that out there.

Sure, Mocedades doesn't exactly roll off the tongue (or the brain, if something can roll off one's brain), but you, trust me, will remember them when you hear this song.  "Eres tu", meaning, (from my two years of high school Spanish, twenty thousand years ago)  "it's you".  That's all you need to know, really.  Just make up your own words to sing along.

Eres tu

Eres tu reminded me of this next song, which, inexplicably, is not listed on the One Hit Wonders site, but it was absolutely a one-hit wonder for Barry DeVorzon and Perry Botkin, Jr.  (Again, not to quibble, but that's the worst band name ever.)

You can call it by its original title if you want.  We all know, however, that it is actually the theme from the Young & the Restless.  Ahhh, Jack Abbott.  Ashley Abbott.  Victor Newman.  Kate Chancellor.  Yes, I remember them well.  I haven't seen that show in about 20 years, but I loved it.

Nadia's Theme

Around that same time, Minnie Riperton also had a hit.  Not to speak ill of the hits, but this is a song that would drive my dog nuts.  I, personally, am not able to hear the high notes, but Josie can.  I think it's all fine and dandy to show off one's extensive vocal range, but not to the point of driving the listener insane.  Forget the theme from Sesame Street.  I think they should play this song for the Gitmo detainees.  They'd be begging for Sesame Street, truly.

Lovin' You

Believe it or not, I have only begun to scratch the surface of one-hit wonder hits from the decade that was the seventies.

I realize, however, that this post is getting long, so I will save more hits for next time.

I leave you, and me, to wash out our ears with something a bit more pleasing.  I can't find any decent performance videos of this song, but I love it; always have, so we'll settle for this:

Elvin Bishop ~ Fooled Around and Fell In Love

Can't believe this guy only had one hit record. 

There is more to come, folks!

The First Episode of One-Hit Wonders