Showing posts with label april days. Show all posts
Showing posts with label april days. Show all posts

Friday, December 15, 2017

Jobs and Things

I was thinking about work tonight, which is not like me. When I leave my workplace on Friday afternoon, bye-bye! One needs to maintain a separation between work life and actual life. I know people who live for their jobs. That used to be me, but I'm older and much wiser now.

I got my first real job in 1973; and by real job, I mean one in which I didn't report to my parents. As a newly-minted high school graduate, with no idea why I would want to attend college, I realized that I needed to put my two years of typing class to use. I'd also taken two years of shorthand, but you know what? Nobody in the course of history has ever employed shorthand in an actual job. Shorthand was a scam, but I prefer to call it a "lost art", because it sounds mystic.

Living in the capitol city of my state, government jobs flowed like water. Luckily for me. I landed a job as a Clerk Typist I in the State Health Department, Division of Vital Statistics. The office housed all the birth, death, and marriage records from the early days of Dakota Territory to the present day. Of course, the first thing I did when I had the chance was scan the shelves to find my own birth certificate, and then my dad's. Then I located my mom and dad's marriage document. None of those records contained anything eye-opening. But, after all, who wouldn't have looked? There were rack upon rack of big dusty books in the bowels of the Vital Statistics office.

Folks would pop in from time to time, ride the elevator (that had its own valet) up to the seventeenth floor, fill out a form and leave with a certified copy of their record of birth. I typed up my own copy for myself; made myself three years older than I actually was, so I could go to bars and not get kicked out. (Is it okay to admit that now? I'm thinking after forty-four years, the statute of limitations has run out.)

After a few months of manning the front desk and trying to look busy during the quiet times, I was chosen to be part of a new (exciting!) project. The big dusty books had to go -- we were now going to microfilm all the ancient reposing records. Microfilm. Much like shorthand, microfilm is a remnant of a bygone era. A microfilm machine was a big camera that one slid papers under and pressed a round red button. Oh, but I bet everyone else in the office was keenly jealous! Who wouldn't be?

As an eighteen-year-old, I didn't fully understand the solemnity of my charge. We were a three-woman team -- our new supervisor and a girl named Alice and me. We had an office in the back with a door that we closed behind us. We sat at two desks -- one for the supe and one for Alice and me. And we lugged those powdery books from the shelves in the catacombs of the warehouse back to our little cubby and traced with pencil over the ancient typing that had turned faint from decades of being encased between stiff binders. Ahh, the glamour! Then each of us would take a turn behind the secret curtain and snap pictures for an hour. Over and over and over.

Do that for a day and you will never want to come back. Do it for a year and you will be tempted to hurl yourself out the seventeenth-story window.

Luckily, we had our radio. And cigarettes. It was a putrid, smoky closet that had nice tunes.

AM radio was our suicide repellent. It was all that saved us. KFYR featured all manner of songs; radio was not yet compartmentalized in 1973-74.

We heard songs like this:

That's when I realized Barbra Streisand was actually a really good singer.

Nadia's Theme, we knew, was the theme song for the Young And The Restless. You can call it what you want, but come on.

I wonder if they still use that theme song today. My soap days are long behind me, so I don't know. I suppose Katherine Chancellor is long gone. She'd be about a hundred and ten years old if she were still around. 

I told Alice she should use this next song in her wedding. She demurred. I still feel I was right:

I liked this one. I knew BJ Thomas had done the original, but Blue Swede took it to a whole new level:

I guess the bandwagon was filled to the brim with old songs done in new ways:

I never lie on this blog, or try to recreate history. This was a big hit in 1974, and we liked it:

I'm somewhat proud to say that one of the two worst songs of all time was released in 1974. It's a minor conceit, admittedly, but I'm going to claim it:

No offense to my little sister, but these next two songs remind me of her. While I, at age eleven, was grooving to the Beatles, she was stuck with tracks like this:

I won't delineate here why this next song is, to me, synonymous with tornadoes. That's a whole different scary story, but here it is:

We didn't exactly think Jim Stafford was funny, per se, but he was odd. If I was of a mind to look him up, I'd probably find that he had some serious songs. To everyone's dismay, though, he will be remembered for stuff like this:

"Star Baby" was a revelation and taught me that Burton Cummings was a sex-drenched god. But the Guess Who chose to follow that hit up with this one. Nevertheless, we liked it:

There was also this new guy who popped up around 1974. He was British. He could sing. He could definitely sing. He liked feather boas and humongous eyeglasses. 

But, boy, could he sing:

Yes, the tunes went on forever in that tiny, choke-filled room, and we tried to remember that there was actual breathing life somewhere far below the seventeenth floor.

This song was to I struggled to believe that blue sky existed somewhere...everything:

And yes, I wrote about that time. Of course.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

April Days Video

I played around a bit this weekend with creating a "video" for one of our songs. It's actually pictures set to music, but I'll just call it a video.

Here's April Days:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Do Also Write Songs

 Yes, it's true.

I don't only write about music, I actually participate!

Sometimes that fact gets lost amongst the blogging and ruminating about the music industry.

But the fact remains that I DO write songs. And I actually sing them; best as I can.

Pretty much, all my songs have a story behind them, and this is the story of "April Days":

I’ve had a few jobs in my life. I’ve been the lowest-level peon (cleaning motel rooms for my parents’ business) and I’ve been a manager of a 150-person department, and everything in between.

Doesn’t really matter. Work is not fun.

Oh, I remember back when I was just out of school. I was so excited to get my first job and to be out in the REAL WORLD.

I got a job as a clerk-typist for the State Health Department. And you actually had to take a test to even be considered for an interview!

I was eighteen and answering phones, basically.
Then, as a special bonus and a nod to my superior abilities, I was asked to become part of a “special project” for the department. All the birth, death, marriage, and divorce records were going to be microfilmed. (Before that, they were just bound in big books).

What was this special perk that I was chosen for? I got to go through all the records (starting back in the 1800’s) and trace over any printing that was too faint to be read by the microfilm machine! What an honor!

So, I was holed up in this back room with one window, with one other person my age and a supervisor.

We spent our days with our pencils, tracing over letters, and alternating using the microfilm machine to film the records. It was fascinating work!
I was eighteen! Who could ask for more??

The one saving grace in that dank, smoky room (yea, all three of us smoked) was the AM radio. At least we could listen to tunes as an alternative to blowing our brains out.

Gordon Lightfoot had a hit song at that time, “Sundown”.

Just to amuse myself and to break up the monotony, I would sing along with the radio whenever that song came on, in an effort to supremely annoy my co-worker friend. And it worked! She shot me some really evil looks whenever I would sing that song. Ah, good times.

We were on the 17th floor of the State Capitol building, and we had one tiny little window that we would sometimes walk over to, to see if there really was any actual life going on outside our little oxygen-starved room. You could hear birds singing! Well, sure, they were singing! They weren’t PRISONERS.

It was pretty much my worst job ever. At least when I was cleaning motel rooms in high school, I got to go out into the sunlight once in awhile.

My friend lived about a block and a half from the capitol building, so sometimes we’d walk down to her place for lunch — Spaghettios — because we were quite poor. But we did at least get to bask in the sun as we made our trek from the gates of hell down to her apartment. It was a welcome diversion, as we walked in our short dresses and platform shoes. (had to dress up for work, you know.)

I lasted there about a year. I had to either quit or commit myself to an institution for the mentally deranged. I actually went back to work for my parents (in the office this time, thank God).

It just occurred to me that I rarely left any job because I wanted to pursue a better opportunity. Usually I was just really bored or ticked off about something. I always told them, though, “It’s not you; it’s me.” But it really was them.

But anyway, that’s the TRUE story of April Days. Yes, it all happened the way I wrote it. Lo, those many years ago.

So, with that bit of background, here's "April Days":