Showing posts with label ringo starr. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ringo starr. Show all posts

Friday, August 9, 2019

Around 1974

I was a sheltered girl. Much as I try to deny it, I knew nothing of real life at age eighteen. I'd reluctantly secured my first "real" job in 1973 right out of high school, because that's what I was expected to do. I'd never learned how to drive, so I depended on my dad or my brother to drive me to work every day. Why they agreed to it, I have no idea. I have a faint recollection of asking one of my co-workers, who had also been a high school classmate, if I could "carpool" with her and she said, "no.". I was taken aback; my sense of entitlement jarred. I'd been too scared to venture forth behind the wheel after one stressful outing with my dad and a short-lived attempt at driver's ed, during which the elderly instructor hyperventilated into a paper bag. So, I was helpless, frozen with highway fear.

It wasn't entirely bad. I made a friend at my new place of employment, a girl my age who actually knew how to navigate the world. She had a VW ~ not a bug, but some kind of passenger vehicle ~ a Golf maybe. I think it was yellow. Not that we drove much. Alice Two had an apartment about two blocks from the State Capitol where we worked, so we'd clomp down the sidewalk at lunchtime in our platform shoes to her place and she'd heat up a can of SpaghettiOs. I convinced myself I was sophisticated. I was an eighteen-year-old rube.

I can't even begin to describe the depths of my naivete. Even though my mom and dad were not model parents, I leaned on them as much as I could and allowed them to care for my needs, which essentially consisted of food and transport. It was a confusing time of transition. My best friend since sixth grade, Alice One, and I had begun to drift apart, despite my struggle to hang on. I desperately needed to maintain the mirage of normalcy, but nobody cooperated. It was almost as if I was being elbowed into maturity.

I was still living at home and not contributing any of my paycheck towards shelter, so I bought clothes and records. I obtained a JC Penney charge card (my very first!) that had a $75.00 credit limit and I ordered items from the catalog, took them home and tried them on; then returned most of them. It was, I guess, a semblance of the "grown-up game".  JC Penney, in fact, was the go-to store in town. It had clothes and shoes and a basement full of record albums. Montgomery Ward and Sears were a bit more low-rent.  There was also a local discount department store called Tempo, which was definitely inexpensive and definitely shoddy. Its tissue paper clothing almost disintegrated before my eyes as I lifted it from the shelf.

I had a boyfriend I tolerated, just so I could say I had one. I wasn't sophisticated like Alice Two, who had boys practically breaking down her apartment door, but then again, she did have her own apartment and I had a bedroom in my parents' house. My boyfriend wanted to get married, so I said okay. I was eighteen, after all ~ practically an old maid ~ and this might be my only chance.

My position with the State Health Department was called Clerk Typist II. The "II" was very important to me, because I was at least better than a "I", although the cache was imaginary. I began by typing up birth certificates for walk-in customers on an IBM Selectric; then toddling back to my director's office so she could emboss her official stamp on them. Sometimes the clients would want something that was stuffed inside a dusty file drawer in the back room, so I retrieved that. I must have either been a good retriever or a typist who employed Liquid Paper sparingly, because soon I was singled out to join a new project along with Alice Two; a vast undertaking to commit to microfilm every birth, death, and marriage certificate in the state of North Dakota from the beginning of time. It certainly sounded auspicious, but it quickly became as dull as dirt.

Alice Two and I and our new supervisor were cloistered inside a smoky back office, where we employed number two pencils to trace over the faded typeset (and in some cases, handwriting) of each document bound inside powdery albums dating back to 1889. Then we took turns inside the curtained microfilm booth sliding said records under the camera eye and clicking a button, over and over and nauseatingly over. It was scintillating work for a girl still in her teens. Worse, everyone else in the department grew to hate us, because we closed the office door behind us and smoked our guts out; carcinogens wafting out from beneath the door jamb.

We did have an AM radio for consolation and it buzzed out tunes all day long. 1974 was an odd year in music. There were breathtaking songs and then there were novelties. There were also tracks that were somehow taken seriously, but were actually revolting. In fact, 1974 most likely racked up some of the worst songs ever recorded.

I'll begin with the intentional novelties:

Then the unintentional:

It was AM radio ~ they weren't playing Led Zeppelin.

Not exactly sure what this was:

Don't care ~ I like this ~ and yes, it's strange;

The radio even played songs my little sister liked:

Ringo was trying to be relevant:

Then there were the good songs:

This one goes out to my little brother:

These are for me:

And most especially this:

Things did not end well in that little smoky back office. Alice Two's and my supervisor, an old married lady around age 26, insinuated herself into our friendship, desperate to regain her lost youth. As inevitably happens among a party of three, Linda did all she could to rupture Alice's and my bond. Fortunately for me, she focused her energies on Alice, setting up hapless blind dates and couples nights out. Alice was the cool one, after all. That experiment ended abruptly the night Linda's husband came a'knockin' on Alice's apartment door. While the whole imbroglio was never mentioned (expect in a whisper to me), the oxygen became heavy soon after. Linda turned brittle toward us. The AM radio was suddenly switched off. The three of us scribbled in silence.

Alice eventually met the man she would marry and we served as bridesmaids at each other's weddings.

And we simultaneously quit our jobs, leaving bitter Linda to sort out her life and find two new rubes to intimidate.

The joys of one's first job ~ little life lessons, even if we are merely innocent bystanders. We learn about allegiances and how much we're willing to assert them. And what the stakes are either way. Earning minimum wage helps in our decision making. I chose friendship over a job I didn't even actually like.

Nevertheless, for a time in 1974 we had the radio.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


I've been seriously remiss. I realized tonight that I haven't written a blog post since early September, and even that was a cheat, because I essentially reposted a dusty opinion piece from three or so years ago.

Where have I been? Well, I've been laboring away on my novel. One minute I feel triumphant, and the next, I feel like the sorriest loser on the planet. This novel is going to kill me, I swear.I've essentially gone incognito, not answering emails, brushing off personal connections, all in the quest to write something decent that has one chance in hell of getting published.

You see, here's the deal: it's now or never. The clock is ticking, faster and faster every year. If I don't finish this thorn in my side, I'm never going to finish anything. That's the sad truth.

If you want to share my pain, drift on over to my writer's blog here

In the meantime, I had an itching to hear some rockabilly tonight, so sit back and listen with me to Carl Perkins (turn it up):

Friday, June 13, 2008

Are You Old Enough To Remember This?

I remember it well. 1964. I was across the street from Valley Elementary, talking to Debbie Lealos about this new group that we were hearing on the radio. I probably was walking to Wednesday catechism, no doubt. My absolute FAVORITE thing to do in the WHOLE WORLD!

We were talking as only nine-year-old music critics could, about the merits of the latest single from this British group called the Beatles. Having a sophisticated conversation about "I Want To Hold Your Hand".

In the course of our discussion, we also reached a consensus that Paul was the "cutest" Beatle.

Painful admission: I thought that the best singer in the group was Paul, but I actually had the guys confused at the time - not having videos to watch - so the one who I thought was Paul singing was actually John. So, I guess John was my favorite singer, in hindsight.

A while later, it was announced that the Beatles would be performing on the Ed Sullivan Show! (Maybe now I would be able to discern who was singing what.)

Well, this was the absolute highlight of any nine-year-old girl's life, or of any girl's life who was old enough to know what music was. (My two-year-old sister probably didn't meet the criteria).

But, you know, why the heck was the Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday nights? What worse night of the week could one choose? You know how Sundays were. All you did was mope around, thinking about how you had to go to school the next day. (Sort of like now, when I mope around, thinking about how I have to go to work the next day).

But on this particular Sunday, I was filled with anticipation. I think I talked to a few friends on the phone....."Hi, what are you wearing for the big Beatles debut?" I probably never actually said that, but you know, we did have to make our preparations for the big TV event.

Around six-ish, I parked myself in front of the Zenith, tuned to CBS, of course. I think there was something on like "Lassie". (Man, how lame were the shows back then? That Timmy didn't even have any friends. His only friend was his dog. PLUS Timmy was always falling into a well or something. The clumsiest kid ever. I say, if I was his mother, I'd have just left him there. That'd teach him to be more careful.)

But the bottom line was, I was parked there, and I was in charge of the TV. No way was I going to let my mom turn the channel on me. Not that she would. I think everybody watched Ed Sullivan back then. I shudder to think what the competition was, if everyone was content watching Topo Gigio or the guy who talked out of his glove. Remember that dude? And he made money! He sewed some buttons on a glove for eyes, and he drew a mouth on it, and this is how he made his living!

Finally, Ed came on. He probably said something like, "Tonight, we'll have a re-enactment of a scene from the latest Broadway show, starring Ernest Borgnine, the guy who does the glove-puppet thing, The June Taylor Dancers, Topo Giogio, and...........THE BEATLES!" (scream)

And finally, after weeks of anticipation, there they were!

You just wanted to die; it was that good. They kicked it off with "All My Loving", with Paul playing that backwards guitar. (I saw Paul in concert a couple of years back, and surprisingly, he still does that famous head bob. Pretty spry for a guy in his sixties.)

Notice how the girls in the audience are all having conniptions, while the one lone guy is like, "Yea, whatever. I'm WAY cooler than that." (He wasn't).

I also like how John, Paul, George, and Ringo do their very proper bow at the end of the song. Very respectful.

Then they launch into a lame cover song, called, "Til There Was You", again with Paul singing lead.

I'm thinking that John lost the coin toss backstage, because he didn't get to sing lead on any of the songs that night. "What the hell, mate? You mean I don't get to do ANY songs? What am I supposed to do? Just stand there, strumming my guitar and smiling like an idiot?"

They actually showed more shots of RINGO than they did of John!

And notice how this video has their first names superimposed over their images? "GEORGE". Okay, thanks. I know who George is. I was just having a problem figuring out who was PAUL and who was JOHN.

And, of course, all the time, John's thinking, there you go, Paul. You and your self-indulgent Broadway tunes.

Finally, they break into "She Loves You", which is memorable because of the dual head-shake of both Paul and George.

And poor George. He has to keep moving from Paul's mic to John's. No wonder he was so skinny. But at least he got air time. Unlike John.

Then Ed breaks in to announce that he just got a telegram from Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis, wishing the Beatles all the best on their American debut.

Yea, for sure.

You know that Elvis was sitting at home (in the jungle room) watching this telecast and thinking, "Well, it was a good run while it lasted. I guess the "Teddy Bear" songs aren't going to cut it anymore."

Ed also announces that the Beatles will be on NEXT WEEK'S SHOW, along with Mitzi Gaynor. Oh man. I can't miss Mitzi! (Who's Mitzi Gaynor again?)

For their final number, the boys do "I Want To Hold Your Hand" (again with Paul singing lead).

So, there you go. This is when rock 'n roll began. Elvis Presley was all fine and dandy, but he was small potatoes compared to the Beatles.

And I was there. And I watched it.

So, I guess I was privy to the rebirth of rock 'n roll music. Oh, you can quibble, and say that Chuck Berry invented rock 'n roll. I don't disagree, in theory.

All I know is this: Nobody got excited about rock 'n roll until 1964, when the Beatles showed up.

And nothing's ever been the same since.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Okay, yes, American Idol featured the Beatles songbook this week (and next week, I hear), so I'm reminded of the Beatles once again.

But does one ever actually forget the Beatles? Of course not. I submit that, for 99.9% of the population, if one could see the results of their brain scan, there would be at least ONE Beatles song roaming around back there in the recesses of their brain.

So, did you ever ask yourself, what's your favorite Beatles song? Well, that's a trick question, isn't it? Because the answer is ever-evolving.

P.S. Those who say that "Yesterday" is their favorite Beatles song are lying or hopelessly lame. I'm not saying it's not a good song, but c'mon. You've got the entire Beatles catalog to choose from, and you pick, "Yesterday"? No way.

So, I thought I'd do a little test.

Pick a few (cuz you can't narrow it down to one) Beatles songs that are your favorites, and also give your reasons why.

I'm going to severely limit myself, since I'm stuck with whatever I can find on YouTube, but I'm hoping I can find a few favorites there.

So, here's one:


This was from the movie, "Help!" and the soundtrack of the same name. I'm really hesitant to commit, but I do have to say that this is one of my very favorite Beatles songs. Nobody ever mentions "Help!" as one of the Beatles' best albums, but I happen to like it........a lot.


Early Beatles. Very early. One thing I do admire is George's lead part on this song. Simple, yet memorable. I remember this song from way back in the olden days, when all we had were "record players". 1963, I'm guessing. Also, I don't want to only single out John. I liked Paul, too, although John was the better singer.


Yes, everybody lists this one. But I can't really let that deter me. This is a glorious song, from John. It's not "Yesterday", by any means. Sorry, Paul, but this one is sublime.


This one is from the album, "Revolver". One of the top two Beatles albums, in my opinion. And, of course, my opinion is CORRECT.

So, there's four. It's difficult to do this post, because all I want to do is listen to more Beatles songs, and I get sidetracked from the task at hand.

But I'd be interested in YOUR favorite Beatles songs, and why they're your favorites. Sentimental reasons? Reminders of a special time in your life? Just good songs? (duh - that kind of goes without saying.)

And, P.S., looking at these videos, I really miss John.