Showing posts with label kiki dee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kiki dee. Show all posts

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.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

November 4, 1976

1976 was a fun year in pop culture, if fun means cringingly awful. In fashion, women wore patchwork denim ensembles -- pantsuits, vests with skirts (what I will call the Little House on the Prairie look) -- while polyester leisure suits were de rigueur for men, complete with heavy gold chains (or "necklaces") and slippery patterned shirts with deep v-necks; visible chest hair required.

The top movies of the year included Rocky, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, All The President's Men, and Taxi Driver; only two of which I've ever seen, and one I only managed to catch for the first time sometime in 2016 (I won't say which one, but are you talkin' to me? You talkin' to me?)

In TV, we were diligent about not missing M*A*S*H and the Bob Newhart Show. ABC had a hit comedy that featured a real cutie. His character's name was Vinnie Barbarino. I wonder whatever happened to that actor. Fonzie was still saying, "Aaaayyyy" and weren't weren't yet sick of it. Most of the so-called comedies had terrible writing, but what were we gonna do? Sit in the dark and listen to Captain and Tennille on the radio? At least Johnny Carson showcased some new comics once in a while. George Carlin, of course, was my favorite, but I also loved Robert Klein and David Steinberg. And there was no one bigger than David Brenner (oddly).

We were desperate for laughs in 1976, because, well....

On Tuesday, November 2, I waddled into the Jeannette Myhre gymnasium, nine months pregnant, to cast my very first vote for President of the United States. I wasn't in love with Gerald Ford -- he was kind of hapless, really; but shoot, that peanut farmer? That grinning sanctimonious schoolmaster? No thanks. I had a bad feeling about that guy, and I, of course, turned out to be right. I would have to endure four years of economic hell before somebody special came along and saved the country. I don't think I've yet fully recovered from the financial setback Mr. Peanut thrust upon me.

On the late morning of Thursday, November 4, I came home from work (yes, I started work early and got off early), made myself my usual tomato sandwich on toast, sliced a couple strips of Colby cheese and settled at the spindly kitchen table to enjoy my lunch. I'd eaten exactly the same lunch for nine months. Pregnant women get a free pass for weird food cravings. Today I have no excuse, but I really don't need one. I'd informed Mom and Dad that since I was pregnant, I would no longer be their room-cleaning mule, and I demanded a front office job. It was the very first (and only) time they were taken aback by a demand from me, but to be honest, I'd never before made any demands -- I was too conditioned and too frightened.

I settled in to watch Days of Our Lives. Doug and Julie continued to be in love; and, of course, Dr. Marlena Evans was my very favorite.

Around 1:30 I felt a pinch in my tummy. I'd felt phantom twinges before; but then again, I was three days overdue...

By the time water gushed out of embarrassing places, I figured things were happening. I hesitated to call my doctor, because I really didn't want to trouble him for a false alarm, and frankly, I had no clue how this whole dance was supposed to go.

I didn't call anybody. I didn't call my husband. I sure didn't call my mom. Now, in 2017, I'm better about asking for help; but I was a balled-up mess in 1976; afraid to let people know what I didn't know. That came from no one ever wanting to help and everybody expecting me to just "handle things". It came from being the grownup to a couple of "parents" who forgot to grow up.

But I digress.

By the time my husband showed up around 5:00 p.m., I said "maybe we should think about going to the hospital"; hoping I wasn't about to inconvenience any of the hospital staff with a false alarm. Shoot, I could have had my baby at home, in my bed, if I hadn't summoned the courage to take a chance that maybe this was the real thing.

Baby Christopher was born at 10:19 that night. A seven-pound-six ounce baby boy with a full head of blonde hair.

And everything changed.

I don't know if my mom ever thought about the music on her radio in 1955. I doubt it. But I'm a music geek, so I was thinking today about the songs that came out of my home speakers and my car radio that year.

So, here you go, Chris:


This band should have a coffeehouse named after them:

Randy Meisner, what the heck happened to you? I don't care. This is the most enduring song from 1976:

Sorry, you don't get away from your mom's country that easily:

Oh, look! Vinnie Barbarino has made another appearance! Chris, if you want to know anything about the seventies, you need to know about the Bee Gees:

And if you ever care to know what kind of music your mom liked in 1976, here's a representation:

I could go on, but you're forty-one now and your patience with kitschy music is probably waning.

I have to say, though, as your mom, I like reminiscing.  

Years are like a leaf in the breeze. Once I was a kid, much younger than you are now, and I knew exactly what I wanted my son to be.

I hope those things maybe contributed somehow to the man you are today. 

I think they did.