Showing posts with label tommy james and the shondells. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tommy james and the shondells. Show all posts

Friday, January 10, 2020

Getting It Together


Humans are funny. They have an innate need for order, yet if they are like me they subjugate it until things get completely out of hand or a new year begins; whichever comes first.

As the world's ultimate procrastinator, my trigger is irritation. "Where the *#!! is that ____? I know I have it...somewhere. This is *@*#! ridiculous!" Then, "I need to get organized."

As 2019 drew to a close I began re-ordering my life. Now I'm on a mission. Beware: Once you start, you are incapable of stopping. Not only have I undertaken an overall tidying of my home, but it has extended to my little office cubicle. December at my workplace is so ridiculously busy that papers and notes scribbled on yellow legal pads get tossed into a pile, and I can barely concentrate on the current email question without mentally scanning the other fifty unread missives in my in-box. Actual cognitive thought is relegated to auto-pilot with double fingers crossed. Now that it's January and things have cooled, I've begun sifting through all my scribbles and categorizing them or jettisoning them, whichever seems appropriate at the time. Additionally, Clorox Wipes are awesome. Today I cleaned, rearranged, shredded, and categorized three months worth of detritus. Look at me now!

I want to preserve it for posterity! I wish I had "before" pictures.

For the remainder of the day, I was gleefully productive. Many things cause endorphins to be released -- exercise, alcohol (truly), chocolate, music (duh), even lavender. But I submit that organizing is a gigantic endorphin generator. I'm almost looking forward to returning to work on Monday simply to gaze at my handiwork.

Granted, it won't last, but I have seven months, tops, to maintain a semblance of neatness. After that, welcome to my cube, replacement!

The pending end of my work life is rather bittersweet. My first thought is, good luck; nobody will do my job better than me. My second thought is, do you appreciate me now? Funnily, I'll miss it, though. I'm feeling wistful. I'll get over it, no doubt.

Finally, getting it together is a wondrous feeling.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Fly Me To The Moon

(Stop thinking about MTV!)

It was fifty years ago that man landed on the moon. One could say they remember the day with awe, or if you were fourteen-year-old me, you would say, am I supposed to be watching this?

Granted, science was never my oeuevre (at all), but my blase reaction to the moon landing could only be chalked up to youthful ignorance. My life in the summer of 1969 was comprised of transistor radios, gabbing on the telephone, and swimming pools.

It was a Sunday night and I happened to trounce through the living room, where my dad was settled into his corner recliner and Mom was perched on the sofa, and Walter Cronkite was intoning through the console TV's speaker. Dad uncharacteristically decreed, "You should watch this." So, I obediently slumped, cross-legged, smack-dab in front of the screen, and tried to decipher what was happening. The picture on the tube was wavy; jagged white lines skittering across the black screen. I was frankly bored, but Walter was excited. I watched Neil Armstrong descend a little ladder onto the surface of the moon and say something like, "That's one (static) step for man; one (static) leap for mankind."

Okay! Can I go now?

I was as unimpressed as only a teenager could be. As I stood up to leave, I sensed my dad's disappointment in my apathetic attitude. And Walter was surely disappointed in me. At least he didn't whip off his eyeglasses. Although I'm pretty sure he shed a tear.

To be honest, I couldn't grasp the magnitude of the moment. My world wasn't that big. At fourteen, one's universe doesn't extend much further than three feet in circumference; much less two hundred thousand-some miles. I thought walking across the Memorial Bridge to the neighboring town was an expedition.

And I can't use the music of the day as an excuse. 1969 was a putrid year for music, especially during that particular week. The number one song was by someone called Zager and Evans (Ooh! Not the Zager and Evans!)

Here's the number two song (no live performance video, but it's vital that I demonstrate what a fetid band Blood, Sweat, and Tears was):

And it actually does get worse. But why dwell on that? Here are some better songs from that week's chart:

(People actually thought like that in '69.)

(People actually thought like that in '69.  And I'm aware that this is a poorly-synched video.)

(Don't you love how the lead singer dances? Sort of like Beto O'Rourke.)

The first time I saw this next group on TV, I thought, "What did these idiots do to that nice Mel Tillis song?". My second thought was, "Hey, loser with the tinted glasses and the earring ~ enjoy your career while it lasts."

It's a wonder I was preoccupied by music. I should have paid more attention to Dad and Walter. And my future science teachers would have appreciated my profound knowledge, as opposed to the befuddled looks I cast in their direction during lectures.

In hindsight, the moon landing was a pretty big deal. Sadly, I'm still not feelin' the love; but the mature me understands it was probably more extraordinary and earth-shattering than The Turtles' new hit.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Sixty-Four Years of Music ~ Yes, I Was Once a Tween

There's a certain age in a girl's life when her options for adventure are extremely limited. She's too young to drive, too old for a bicycle (which wouldn't take her far anyway). Luckily, helicopter parents hadn't yet been invented. Parents in the sixties were the opposite of helicopters ~ maybe more like Poseidon Adventure parents ~ sink or swim. It wasn't that they didn't care; but their lives didn't revolve around their kids, as much as shows like Leave It To Beaver tried to convince people. We were expected to show up for meals, kind of a "proof of life" gesture; otherwise it was preferable for all concerned that we find ways to occupy ourselves.

My friend Alice's parents were a bit more involved in her life. I remember riding the bus with Alice to her house after school and lazing about on kitchen stools and her mom asking how her day was. That was bizarre! I think she might have even asked me, which rendered me tongue-tied. I don't think my mom ever expressed interest in my daily life until I turned forty.

When Alice and I were on our own, we had very few diversions. Playing records, essentially. I'd almost gotten run over by a freight train at age ten when riding my bike across a railroad bridge, so my adventurous streak was by now muted. Alice lived out in the country, albeit in a facsimile of a neighborhood consisting of a strip of six or seven homes surrounded on all sides by tall prairie grass. It was too far to walk to any semblance of civilization, but those seven families held fifties-style parties on Friday or Saturday nights, with pot luck dishes, music, and gallons of booze.

I, on the other hand, lived sort of in the country, too, but my home was surrounded by businesses. My parents owned a 52-unit motel where we resided in a gloomy attached apartment; and there were eating establishments on either side of us and another motel across the highway, as well as a local Volkswagen dealership. Further down the road was Kist's Livestock Barn and another supper club and a watermelon stand (yes). When Alice stayed overnight with me, we feasted on candy bars from the lobby machine, purchased with quarters from the office cash register and ten-ounce bottles of Coca-Cola acquired in the same manner.

One warm night of summer when vacancies were abundant, Mom allowed Alice and me to stay in one of the motel's double rooms. We made a pact that we were going to stay up all night. Somehow we had secured a box of No-Doz, so fueled by white tablets and copious green-tinged bottles of Coke, we found ourselves wide awake at two o'clock in the morning. Like all adolescent notions, this journey turned out to be a bust. I'd brought my transistor, and we danced atop the beds to the grooviest hits of the day.

This video is a replication of what the actual song might have looked like performed live:

This performance actually does feature supercilious Graham Nash, before he was too haughty to perform pop songs:

At some point in the middle of the night, we decided to smear on white lipstick and tie cloth belts around our foreheads and venture out to act "cool". Lee's Steakhouse was just a short jaunt through the trees. Despite its name, Lee's was just a cafe; one that stayed open 24 hours a day. It was a magnet for late-night club-hoppers who had a sudden craving for pancakes and maple syrup. Lee's served up a mouth-watering fried chicken basket (in an actual basket) with fries and a tiny cup of cole slaw. Lonely guys would nurse a steaming cup of coffee in a booth alone and flirt with Hilda, the late-shift waitress. The family that owned Lee's lived in an actual house behind the restaurant and their kids were great friends of my little brother and sister. And I knew Hilda from having hung around the cafe on my bored days. She was twenty-something and very kind.

Alice and I had about thirty-five cents between us as we sauntered through the door of Lee's at three a.m., barefoot (which apparently was allowed back then), wearing shorts and sleeveless blouses; our foreheads encircled by macrame headbands. We slid inside a booth, sipped water, and when Hilda stopped by with her pad and a puzzled look, said "No thanks, just water". We chomped on crackers from the little plastic boats parked on the table and slurped water from beveled glasses through paper straws.

Occasionally I'd stroll over to the juke box, slip a couple of dimes in the slot and punch up records we liked:

Our thirst for attention went unsated. The only person in the place who found us weird was Hilda, and she wasn't thrilled that no tip would be forthcoming from the saltine munchers. There were two lone guys in the place who probably had issues of their own they were dealing with, and two spotlight-hungry pre-teens didn't warrant a speck on their radar.

After an hour we tromped back to our motel room. The night was black and the world eerily quiet. And we were still bug-eyed from the amphetamines. We crawled into our respective beds and gabbed until eventually we fell asleep and dozed until mid-afternoon.

Sorry this story doesn't have a blockbuster ending, but the life of a thirteen-year-old in the mid-sixties was drearily mundane. 

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Fifty Years Ago?

(Yea, all the posters looked like this in 1969)

1969 was fifty years ago. I would turn fourteen in May, and I was kind of a mess (but then again, when wasn't I?)

It's difficult to recreate that time, but I will do my best to remember. By '69 I had cajoled my mom into letting me move into my own room. We had 52 of them, so the loss of one wouldn't bankrupt my parents. (It was a motel; just to clarify. We didn't live in a 52-room mansion.) 

Just outside our apartment living quarters was a cavernous double garage that housed the laundry facilities and folding tables and miscellaneous detritus. Room #1 bumped up against all this rumbling uproar, so it wasn't an alluring rental. Thus, I determined that this room would be the perfect ~ absolutely pristine ~ new living quarters. It was like a little apartment, with a double bed, a 12-inch black and white TV, a big dresser with a mirror, and its own bathroom. Mom, in a lucid moment, most likely realized that sharing a bunk bed with my much younger brother and sister in a pseudo-closet wasn't the ideal arrangement for a newly-budded teenager, so she agreed. 

My big brother, who was a bona fide carpenter, carved a door into the wall between the deafening garage and the wondrous room; and thus, I could skit across the garage from our apartment and slip inside my very own private living quarters. The very first thing I did when I moved in was search out a sliding chain lock contraption among the clutter of odds and ends my dad owned and shakily twirl it into the wall with a screwdriver. 

For about a year and a half, I lived the solitary life of a cosmopolitan single ~ albeit a thirteen-year-old single who still needed to raid Mom's refrigerator for sustenance.

I still had my battery-operated phonograph because I didn't have a job at thirteen, at least not one that paid actual wages; but I had my eye on a JC Penney component stereo ~ black. Its price tag read $100.00 and I had nine dollars and change, but I knew one day I would definitely own it. The problem with a battery-operated record player was that it didn't have an auxiliary power cord and there was no such thing as alkaline batteries, so those four D's wore down much too quickly. I did have a transistor radio, though, so the air shimmered with music at all times. 

My new best friend Alice had reintroduced me to country music in 1967 and I'd embraced it wholeheartedly; yet I wasn't quite ready to give up my pop, so I had one size six-and-a-half sized foot in the country world and the other in the candy confection cosmos of KFYR-AM radio.

In January of '69 the Beatles performed a weird rooftop concert and Richard Nixon was inaugurated as the 37th president of the US, which sort of sums up the schizophrenic world of the last year of the sixties.

The Tet Offensive happened in February, and every single person alive (especially the boys deployed) were sick to death of the Viet Nam War. Meanwhile, this was the biggest hit in the country:

Down in Nashville, some guy named Cash had a network TV show that featured the Carters, the Statlers, and Carl Perkins. He also had the number one country hit of January and February. (For you trivia buffs, June Carter did not sing the "Mama sang tenor" part on the record. It was Jan Howard.)

Some guy hijacked a plane and diverted it to Cuba (yawn) in March. Hijackings were an every other week occurrence. At the Grammys, Simon and Garfunkel's Mrs. Robinson won record of the year, but not to be outdone, Glen Campbell won album of the year for By The Time I Get To Phoenix. Jose Feliciano was best new artist. Jeannie C. Riley and Johnny Cash were best female and male artists, and one of the all-time worst songs of all time, Little Green Apples, not only won best country song but best song overall (and you know how that song has stood the test of time, which proves that the Grammys are overall worthless).

Meanwhile, this was the number one pop hit:

I'm a bit queasy from watching this video. Tommy Roe filled a niche, if that niche was toothache-sweet marshmallow confections. He actually recorded a decent song a few years later and then was never heard from again (okay, I don't actually know that for a fact).

In country, nothing good happened until April. My country station just kept playing Daddy Sang Bass over and over. Album-wise, Wichita Lineman was number one for fifteen straight weeks. Now, I like Glen Campbell a lot, but back then I truly hated him. The songs would have been okay, but the hideous strings he put on all his records made me nauseous. I liked twin fiddles and a good steel guitar solo. And don't even get me started on Jimmy Webb.

A word about TV:  Even the shows I liked were awful. For those who exist in a Netflix world, let me explain how television worked in 1969. There were three networks (PBS didn't count) and that was it. If one wanted to watch TV, not only did they need to suffer through commercials, but they also had to suffer through the shows themselves. Frankly, the only good program in '69 was the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Shows I watched essentially against my will:  Gomer Pyle, Laugh-In, Green Acres, Hawaii Five-O, Get Smart (okay, Get Smart was good), something called Here Come The Brides, Mannix and Mission: Impossible (again, these two are exceptions to the rule); Petticoat Junction, Ironside, I Dream Of Jeannie, Family Affair. As bad as almost all those were, there were programs even I refused to watch, such as Adam-12 and Hogan's Heroes.

Alice and I attended a lot of movies that year, too, because what the hell else would thirteen-year-olds do for fun? We saw Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Paint Your Wagon, which featured a painful vocal performance by Lee Marvin. We saw True Grit with John Wayne and (hey ~ again!) Glen Campbell.

Thus sums up the first quarter of the year 1969. In retrospect, country music basically sucked and pop was hanging on by a thread. 

Personally, I slathered a lot of Clearasil on my chin and dotted clear nail polish on my snagged nylons. I wore too much liquid makeup, in the wrong shade for my skin tone. I still worshiped my big brother, but he was barely around. My little brother and sister, though cute, were "others" that I scarcely interacted with. My parents were to be avoided at all cost. Life Science was an alien proposition; US History was interesting, but I was loathe to admit it to anyone. School was in essence a day to get through.

1969 does become more interesting, however, as the pages turn. 

Stay tuned.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Happy Bir....

(To my friend, "Your Name Here")

My birthday isn't until tomorrow, but I'm choosing to celebrate it tonight. 

When I was a kid, I considered the year 2000 and thought, wow, I'll be forty-five! Essentially on my death bed! The good news is, it's 2018 and I'm still kickin'. And I know now that forty-five is nothing. When I was forty-five, gravity was still averted. You know that picture you run across from 1945 in the ragged family photo album and you think, really? That's my mom? Turns out that, yes, we all were young and dewy-skinned once. I don't look like myself anymore, but I'm so used to my countenance in the morning mirror that I don't give it a second thought. It's only when I (accidentally) see a photograph of myself that I realize some grievous calamity has apparently occurred.

I've given up on regaining my lost figure. It just doesn't work anymore. I'm not going to become one of those delusional fitness fanatics. I've never exercised more than ten days in my life and I'm not about to start now. Plus, I deserve to eat.

The thing about turning 63 is that I spend more time looking back than forward. I mostly choose to remember the good things. It's not that I've forgotten the bad. I can conjure up those memories in a snap if I choose to, but when I do, I tend to view them philosophically, like a neutral bystander. Humans do the best they can do with what they have. I don't hold it against my parents for what they did. They didn't damage me on purpose. 

Today I received some birthday wishes from my co-workers. My best work friend Barb brought me a single-serve DQ cake. It was awesome. The cake had a cobalt-blue plastic butterfly ring atop it and I slipped it on my finger and wore it throughout the day. Everyone I encountered chose to ignore the humongous butterfly encircling my finger; sure (no doubt) that I'd made an unfortunate fashion choice. That made me giggle. A boy (really) that I trained four years ago asked me about my birthday plans and we got to talking about retirement. I told him that 2020 is the year. He said, "It won't be any fun here without you." I didn't realize I was still "fun". I used to be fun back in 1997, when I commanded a department at Aetna (US Healthcare), but I essentially just feel tired now and don't have the energy to be engaging. How lame must everyone else be, that I am regarded as the "fun" one?

I blame (or credit) Sirius Radio with my current state of look-back. Every single song I click on evokes memories. I hover between classic country and sixties and seventies rock; and sometimes fifties rockabilly. Some of the songs make me cry, for reasons only known to me. My best friend died in 2000 (when she was only forty-five). The songs we shared together are bittersweet. I almost feel embarrassed to still love those songs, because Alice is gone and she and I can't share them. 

When I hear John Lennon's voice, my heart breaks a little. John was my education in "real" music, beginning when I was nine years old or so. 

I don't "sum up" when it comes to music. Songs are quicksilver. Songs are not dissectable, like some scientific experiment. Anyone who slices and dices music is not a music lover. I love a song by the Honeycombs and one by Tommy James, and one by Steve Wariner and "God Bless The USA" by Lee Greenwood just because. I like Boston and Gene Pitney and Bobby Bare and Dobie Gray. Nobody needs to know why. 

Happy Birthday to me.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Summer of 1967

My parents moved us in the gloomy month of December, 1966. Three kids, two of whom were barely toddlers; and me, an awkward, bashful eleven-year-old. Like most things we humans think will be magnificent experiences, reality is a letdown. Initially, in the late summer of '66, when my parents casually informed me we would be moving far away, I was elated. Country life had its virtues, but I'd experienced (tiny) city life by then, and I was sick of being isolated. All I had was my bicycle, after all, and it was a long trek into town on a bike.

In my fanciful notion of a new life, as I twirled down the dirt road on my bike, arms outstretched to the winds, I pictured a quaint town where I would window-shop, drop the kickstand down on the concrete, mosey into a little store and purchase an emerald frock. The shopkeeper would smile benevolently and perhaps pat my hand as I proffered my four dollars.

Reality was a sun-dimmed, dirty snow-pile parking lot and a musty apartment far from any town I could traverse on a bicycle. The motel my parents had laid down their life savings for was nineteen rooms laid out in a semi-circle with a cement speed bump smack-dab in the middle and a three-foot-high American elm holding on for dear life poked up through the concrete. Welcome to upward mobility!

The dank apartment attached to the motel's office had two full bedrooms with one microscopic bathroom between them. Thus, I became ensconced in a bunk-bedded room with two waifs sharing the bottom bed and me on the top. "My" room was so minuscule, I could extend my arms and touch the opposing walls.

I hadn't even met my new school yet and I was miserable. It was winter break, so I had approximately seven days to acclimate to my new home. I hated everything about it. Back in Minnesota, I had my own room (albeit shared with my tiny sister) upstairs, away from everyone, where I could play my records as loudly as I pleased, and nobody bothered me, ever. I had privacy. Now I could hear every snap of the bathroom tap; every time my dad got up in the middle of the night to fetch a drink of water.

I set up my battery-operated record player inside the three-shelf recessed closet in my room, stuffed my (two) albums in the cubbyhole above, and made believe that this was "home".

My best friend's brother had warned me that North Dakota was backward. When I spied my new sixth grade classroom, his words scorched my ears. I showed up in the tall-windowed eighteenth century chamber, settled into my third-desk-from-the-back, cracked open my fat World History textbook and pretended not to notice that everyone in the room was eyeing me. I looked around and didn't see one friendly face. It took a couple of months (which seemed like years) to find one single person who would deign to talk to me.

I desperately wanted to go back home. Sadly, "home" was now occupied by a family of strangers, which was an insult in itself. They'd probably changed things -- ruined my basement Imagine Land by turning it into a carpeted den or something. Replaced the breezy lace curtains in the living room with heavy damask draperies.

I ached to go home right up 'til the day a girl in my new classroom shot me a grin at something ridiculous Mrs. Haas had uttered, and I instantly realized this skinny blonde girl was somebody simpatico. And just like that, I had a best friend.

Life didn't suddenly become sublime -- I hated, hated my apartment (I refused to call it "home"). I hated the claustrophobia of being tightly packed among people I could barely tolerate on good days. I hated that I couldn't take a walk outside without running into complete strangers.

But, even though she lived miles away and traveled a different bus route, my breath was lighter knowing I had a friend -- Alice.

My big brother was an apparition. Some days he was there; some days no one had any idea where he'd gone. He'd ostensibly moved to North Dakota with the rest of us, but he was his own man, at age twenty. There obviously wasn't room for him in our little dormitory, so he got a motel room all his own; exactly what I yearned for, but didn't possess the requisite number of years to claim. Fortunately for me, my brother was gone a lot, and the motel office had passkeys.

I slipped the lock on his door, dropped the phonograph needle on this 45 and exhaled:

I loved The Turtles, to the point that I memorized the number of times Flo (or Eddie) sang, "so happy together" at the end of the song. And no, Ferris Bueller didn't invent this song:

I loved this one even more:

I almost feel sorry for those who weren't yet born in 1967, because they missed songs like this:

...but not really. Maybe I'm not "cool", but I was at least alive (and kicking) when some of the best music of all time burst into being.

My brother was a carpenter and an entrepreneur, and he knew a good gig when it stabbed him in the eye. He hammered together a fireworks stand and perched it on the edge of our new motel property, placed his mail order requisition, and proceeded to rake in the bucks. 

By late June the sun was hot and I was barefoot, scorching my toes on the melting asphalt. My little brother, Jay, and his best pal Royle, pedaled up to the fireworks stand on their bikes and tried to wheedle Rick out of giving them free bottle rockets (he did).

Dad had invested in an outdoor swimming pool to drive new business, so I reveled in this new windfall. I slipped on an orange two-piece, donned my cheap plastic Woolworth sunglasses, tiptoed across the driveway in front of Rick's little kiosk and settled on a chaise lounge beside the turquoise waters, flipped up the volume on my transistor, and heard this:

And meanwhile, Felix sang this:

This song was so sixth grade:

Not to be outdone by Ray Kazmarek's organ riffs, Procol Harem showed they were no slouches. The only quibble I have with this track is that it unnaturally fades. They could have tacked on another 30 seconds or so, because it seems to end weirdly:

Another of my clandestine break and enters featured this song (which was, in fact, the only song by Herman's Hermits I ever actually liked):

Yes, I liked this one a lot. The Grass Roots don't get the acclaim they deserve. Aside from being the first live rock 'n roll concert I ever attended, these guys had scores of hits in the sixties:

The best thing Graham Nash was ever a part of:

God bless you, Neil Diamond -- you're still going strong -- and you had one of my favorite singles of 1967. I still remember that black and yellow BANG! record label:

So, while 1967 personally sucked mostly for me, I can still say that the music was awesome, and I was there.

So life, in essence, is a series of yins and yangs; searing pain and soaring heavens.

We take what we get and try to remember the joys.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Transitions ~ 1969 In Music

I "graduated" from junior high in May, 1969 and transitioned to Mandan Senior High that September. I was grown-up! Shoot, I was fourteen going on fifteen! On my way to freshman renown!

Richard Nixon had become president. I'd pissed off my dad by tacking my eighth grade history project (a campaign placard) up on the wall right outside the kitchen door ~ "This Time Vote Like The Whole World Depends On It ~ Nixon/Agnew". Dad was reliably perturbed and baffled. I think he literally scratched his head as he alighted the stoop. My work was done!

That summer odd things happened. Teddy Kennedy killed a girl and the Manson Family killed a bunch of people in gruesome ways. Woodstock happened and most people didn't give a shit. My best friend Alice and I went to the Mandan Theater and saw "Butch Cassidy" and "True Grit". We learned that Glen Campbell was a terrible actor and that Paul Newman still had the bluest eyes under the sun.

Oh yea, there was some kind of "moon landing" that summer. Unfortunately, it was a Sunday night, which was really bad scheduling. Plus the optics weren't good. It was hard to make out what exactly was going on. I did park myself in front of our console TV, and I think my dad was there, too. Maybe Dad was more impressed than I. I didn't grasp the enormity of the event, but I was fourteen. I was more excited anticipating the next "World of Beauty" kit that would land in my mailbox.

(I hope it has white lipstick!)

I'd abandoned rock and roll. But old habits died hard. I still had one foot in AM radio, but mostly, thanks to the influence of my new best friend, I became immersed in country music. 

I was still aware of certain '69 hits, like this:

And this song, over and over:


This was catchy:

I liked this one because I watched Hawaii Five-O every Thursday night at nine p.m. on CBS television (Book 'em. Danno):

But frankly, the number one song of the year was one my seven-year-old sister really liked, because it was a cartoon. This is where pop music was in '69, as much as one wants to wax nostalgic over "Get Back" and "Lay Lady Lay":

On the home front, life had settled into a routine. Dad was sober "sometimes";  Mom was a harpy, mostly. I retreated to the room I now shared with my adolescent sister and spun records on my (still) battery-operated turntable. 

TV was supreme. After all, that's where I basked in Hawaii Five-O and Medical Center, and that's where I found the Johnny Cash Show on ABC TV. 

1969 was Johnny's year. He was insidious. Johnny, with his black waistcoat and his Carters and Statlers and his Carl Perkins and Tennessee Three climbed inside one's brain matter and made himself at home.

But, try as he might, Johnny could never supersede the artist of the sixties, or basically of ever; Merle:

Glen Campbell had his Goodtime Hour on CBS. It was a summer replacement for that subversive Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. I was so oblivious I didn't know the Smothers Brothers were incendiary. We tended to overlook the political screeds, because they appeared nightly on the network news, and focused instead on the comedy. 

Glen Campbell, on the other hand, was an artist I despised. Fortuitously, I later came to my senses ~ but it wasn't entirely my fault. Glen played the hayseed role so well, he was one of the prime reasons I disavowed any familiarity with country music anytime I was pinned down about my musical tastes.

"Hi! I'm Glen Campbell!" he piped up through the cornfield. If it hadn't been for John Hartford, I would have clicked my TV dial to whatever medical drama was playing out on NBC. 

It didn't help that Glen insisted on recording Jimmy Webb songs, although this one, in retrospect, is not bad:

My musical tastes ran more towards:

As a (bogus) CMA member, I voted for this next song as Single of the Year. Freddy Weller had once been a member of Paul Revere and the Raiders, whose posters from Tiger Beat I had tacked to my bedroom wall. I didn't actually like Paul Revere and the Raiders, but I thought Mark Lindsay was cute, with his ponytail. 

This Joe South song didn't win, despite my best efforts. 

Nobody (but me) remembers Jack Greene, but he had the number one song and Single of the Year in 1967, with "There Goes My Everything". 

In 1969 he had an even better song (as Ricky Van Shelton can attest). 

Porter Wagoner actually had a career without Dolly Parton, believe it or not. Alice and I sat cross-legged in her living room and played this LP (and made up our own lyrics to the song (that are NSFW):

Transitions, yes. Confusion, yes. 

Music was my lifeline. And I was just trying to get by.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Doing It Right ~ Breaking Bad

Dave Porter can create the soundtrack of my life anytime.

It takes a rare talent to do it right. When it's right, you know it. When someone is phoning it in, you know that, too.

I confess, I am obsessed with Breaking Bad. My life partner and I have watched the entire series twice now, and damn, I forgot a lot of stuff from the first time! If there is a more perfect TV show,, there just isn't.

Aside from the cast and the writing and the cinematography, there is the music. If I was a music supervisor, I would luxuriate in my serendipity. But it's a hard job, matching the quintessential track to that breath-stirring scene.

I could create a complete album of tracks from Breaking Bad, and relive each moment in infinitesimal detail. And I think I might.

Gale Boetticher dripping coffee into a carafe:

David Costabile must have had to study that song for weeks to be able to sing along. 

It was a touch of genius to use a dusty cassette tape of Marty Robbins in the last episode:

The most obvious reference that nobody thought of:

Walter White, singing:

The most ingenuous use of a song I never liked:

I could watch Breaking Bad over and over and over. It gets inside your bones. I'm smitten with Jesse and Mike and Hector. And Badger and Skinny Pete. And mostly Hank and peculiar Marie.

It's mostly thanks to Vince Gilligan and Bryan Cranston, but also to Dave Porter, for creating the soundtrack to a bizarre world.

SPOILER ALERT:  Don't watch this if you haven't watched the series in its entirety (and you really, really need to):

Superb doesn't even begin to describe it.