Archive for the ‘Rock and Roll’ Category
Has anyone seen the L’Oreal T-shirt commercial making the rounds on TV. No, let me re-phrase that – the skin care company isn’t selling T-shirts these days, they’re still pushing young-looking skin. The commercial points out how wearing one of your old concert t-shirts can give your age away. It certainly hit home. It even sent me searching through my t-shirt drawer for
The reason I had to search is that I never wear it because……because. Well, keep the premise of that commercial in mind. One picture is worth a thousand words, or in this case one T-shirt.
As if the date didn’t give away the fact that the shirt is 35 years old, take a look at the price of the tickets?
But wait, there’s still the story of what I had to go through to get the tickets. Hint – it involved starting the car. But for those not yet born on that day, let me describe what life was like before Stub Hub and Ticketmaster. Hell, before there was an internet!
It was about 9:30 AM or so when the phone rang – the kitchen phone on the wall – before there was such a thing as a cell phone. It was the man to whom I used to be married. His boss had just received a call from his daughter who had a summer job at KOME, the rather edgy local San Jose FM station. Nope, no such thing as Pandora or streaming. It was either AM or FM. (as in radio!) But back to the story….. Said daughter had just gotten the word tickets for the upcoming Stones convert would be going on sale at Tower Records at 11. The limit would be 6 tickets. He wanted to know if I could take some cash out of a dresser drawer (sigh, nope, no ATM’s yet) and dash down to Tower Records which was in Campbell, about a 20 minute drive as the crow flies from our apartment in Los Gatos. I could and I did!
With plenty of time to spare I got on the relatively short line of people outside the door and chatted amiably with a woman ahead of me, as the line steadily grew behind us and snaked around the corner. Yes, fancy that – talking to a stranger. Remember – no cell phones, no texting!
Well I bought my limit of six tickets and we sold the other four tickets to friends (at face value, no scalpers, we) and a happy time was had by all.
In writing this I realize that 35 years was a really relatively short period of time for life to change as much as it has, thanks to technology. Or no thanks to technology depending on how you feel about the turn life has taken.
I also realize that that T-shirt is the oldest article of clothing I own.
People of a certain age, my age, may (or may not ) remember the fear of 27 that was prevalent among the earliest wave of baby boomers in 1970. I wonder if there’s a name for the fear of 27. I know there’s a name for the fear of 13. It’s triskaidekaphobia. If you think that’s hard to pronounce, try spelling it.
(Since I went to the trouble of googling fear of 13 to find the term, I might as well share where it stems from. Wikipedia lists several sources, The Last Supper, being one. Judas was the last one seated at the table – the Twelve apostles, and then Mr Iscariot.)
As for 27, it was an age we feared reaching because of the “trouble comes in threes” deaths of three of our most beloved rock stars:
Jimi Hendrix on September 18, 1970
Janis Joplin on October 4, 1970
Jim Morrison on July 3, 1971
Since they were all 27 when they died, we Baby Boomers were sure we’d never survive that dreaded year either. I know it sounds dramatic, viewed this many years later, but hey, it was all about us. Wasn’t everything about us? Even though it would be another three years before we started to turn 27 in 1973, and we’d lost no one else in the intervening years, we all breathed a sigh of relief when we turned 28.
The deaths of David Bowie and Alan Rickman last week at age 69 brought it all back. Ironically those of us who were the first to blow out 27 candles are all 69 now. Just saying.
Keep in touch!
That’s the word I heard over and over on Monday morning as the news hit me in the face. And it was my own voice uttering it. It was 7 AM, and I had woken up early enough to have made coffee and fed the cats in time to catch the Today Show from the very start. There it was, a head shot of David Bowie filled the screen. And although the photo could have been a teaser, signaling anything, it being the morning after the Golden Globe awards, a sinking feeling in my stomach told me what it was. And sure enough my awful suspicion found confirmation in Matt Lauer’s voice. “Dead at the age of 69, after an 18 month battle with cancer.”
I must have stood there, protesting no! no! no! no! for at least 2 minutes before sinking to the recliner. I am still surprised by my numbness – akin to, but of course not the same, as when I got the phone call telling me my brother had lost the same battle over twenty years ago.
Four days later, I’m still trying to figure out why I am so deeply affected. Maybe it’s because I feel that I “discovered” him. It was, I hate to admit, 44 years ago, and there I was, a romantic Yank who had fallen in love with a a Brit, and the city in which he lived. On vacation from my teaching job back in NY, I wandered London all day while he was at work.( I know a dirty job, but someone had to do it!)
On this day, I was in our neighborhood, Finsbury Park, and passing the renowned Rainbow Theater, the site of so many rock concerts.
On this afternoon, a line of people seeking to buy tickets, snaked around the corner.(Yes, this was before the age of Ticketron and Ticketmaster.) I looked up at the marquee and wondered “Who the heck is Ziggy Stardust? (it was also before the WTF era) It wouldn’t be until the next year that his song, Space Oddity, hit the New York airwaves, and I would learn that the voice singing Ground Control to Major Tom belonged to David Bowie whom I’d already “met”, as Ziggy Stardust.
The years passed and I moved into my own apartment and probably annoyed my neighbors with the Ziggy/Bowie voice. I do recall the upstairs neighbor banging on his floor(my ceiling? It’s a matter of semantics) with a broomstick but I was probably playing the Stones.
I still have the albums, and somewhere (?) a third one, Station to Station
but since I have no turntable, the neighbors are safe.
My Mile Marker
All the news reports made a point of pointing out Bowie died just four days after releasing his latest album on his birthday And this may have added to my emptiness. I was quite aware that January 8th was his birthday because I waited for it each year.
You see, I used to have a BFF, Rosalie, back in college and my early 20s. Her birthday was January 3 , four days after mine. I can’t believe that at such a tender age aging bothered me, but I would not call or see her for those four days until she “caught up” to me.
Rosalie eventually went her way and I went mine and we lost contact and somehow David Bowie took her place as my personal mile marker. He was born nine days after I was so I took solace each year when he caught up to me. If he could stay “young” and hip, so could I. I guess I’m on my own now.
Last Friday night, I went with friends to a new wine bar that opened up in the neighborhood. As a very effective means of introduction, they are offering free live music every Friday in August. And you know me. Free? I’m there!
We didn’t know that we should make reservations but fortunately there was one table left –right in front of the stage. I was happy about this. My friends weren’t. They thought the big speaker towering over us might be too loud. I looked up at the stage. I had to admit it was one big honking speaker. But hey, I survived two Who concerts and came away with my hearing intact and who’s louder than The Who? Not even The Stones and after a couple of their concerts my voice took a while to recover from all the screaming but I could hear.
When the warm-up band came on, playing a mix of 60’s through 80’s songs, my friend dragged the table back and out of the speaker’s aim. I stayed put. What wimps this younger generation is,I thought. Well we’re all the same generation, all ,but as much as I hate to admit it, I have over ten years seniority on all three of them.
“I’m fine,” I bragged. “I’m used to this kind of loud music,” adding as a half-humorous afterthought – “or maybe I’ve already lost a lot of my hearing.”
It turned out my original thought was accurate. The second, and arguably, featured band started up, (a nineties grunge band with a tall statuesque but definitely grungy female lead singer), it was not what I was used to. My ears could take but two songs of the strident guitar strumming guitar and the undecipherable, screamed lyrics. I got up and stood to the side. We left soon after.
Nirvana fans, forgive me but there’s nothing like classic rock, especially the songs that paint a picture, and draw you right into the scene. You see it, feel it, smell it. Know what I mean. No? Sure you do.
Let’s play a game. I’ll tell the story, as I see it and you tell me the name of the song; my version of Name that Tune.
Song#1 (In fact the warm up band played this one)
A young man pines for a particular summer of his youth, spent on his back porch with his buddies, playing his first guitar, one that he bought for practically nothing. But soon the old gang broke up. Some moved away, others got married. No other summer before or after ever matched that one.
A young country boy, probably blond, impossibly good-looking and naïve, decides he’s tired of living with the older rich woman in her penthouse. Tells her he’s leaving the city to go back home to the farm where he grew up.
Another young man, this one, a talented musician in the city plays music at a working man’s border-line seedy bar, and succeeds in bringing some joy to the aging, lonely clientele who drink there every night
Too easy, you say? OK try this one.
Yet another young man (hey what is this with the young men) comes home with a girl he just met. She lives in what we, in America, call a studio apartment, in England, they call it a bed-sitter. He sits patiently talking all night, and when she hints she has to get up for work in the morning, he goes into the bathroom to sleep in her tub. When she leaves for work in the morning he wakes to find himself alone and so proceeds to….. This song has two interpretations, the G-rated one – light a fire, or the X-rated one (send the children out of the room) he masturbates,
A man (young?) just can’t bring himself to end a beach town vacation. He spends his time wandering around, watching the tourists, and then limps home to make his favorite cocktail. Where is he? Puerto Vallarta? San Diego? I personally picture St Thomas, Virgin Islands but then the rum punch doesn’t go with the song.
Okay! Time for the answers
Drum roll please…….
Summer of ’69, from the album………..
Song#4, Norwegian Wood
Now I’m off on a mission – to find “story” songs about young (or not so young) women. And when I find them, we’ll have another round of Name That Tune.
I was driving south through Florida last month, surfing the radio stations and came upon a station that covered the widest range of classic rock I’ve ever heard. However, their catch phrase, “we play the songs you know every word to.” is a bold-faced lie. Are they denying the fact that most singers are graduates of The Bob Dylan School of Diction?
Singers like Mick Jagger, Tom Petty, and Stevie Nicks. Nobody knows every word of a rock song. How can you know what you can’t understand?
The station is very fortunate that I cannot recall their call letters because if I did I just might have reported them to the FCC. Why? Because it’s dangerous to propagate false confidence. When you’re sure you know the words of a song you have no hesitation singing aloud. And that just might lead to a rude awakening.
Take Jack S, a guy I knew at the Jersey Shore. It was 1969 and he had heard this great song by the Beatles.
He just had to sing it for everyone, “Hey Dude!”
And then there was Mrs. S, the mother of a friend and no relation to Jack S. It was 1974 and Disco was in full swing.
She loved to sing the anthem of the dance floor, “Do the Hot Dog.”
Speaking of disco, Eddie, the Best man at my wedding, couldn’t understand the story behind one of the songs from Saturday Night Fever. There’s John Travolta dancing under the disco ball with his sometimes dance partner, a woman with a full head of disco hair.
So why he wanted to know, were the Bee Gees singing
“Bald -headed woman, Bald-headed woman to me.”
And since people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, I’ll fess up. I recently heard my favorite Bruce Springsteen song, Born to Run, delivered directly into my head via an iPod I was on the tread mill, lip synching along until Bruce and we came to the part where we’re exhorting Wendy to come with him, flee New Jersey, start a new life and I nearly came to a halt. What? What was he saying? Tramps? “Tramps like us, Baby we were born to run.” You mean it’s not champs? Champs are born to run, not tramps!
Maybe I’ll write my own song, about the dude who meets a bald headed lady and they dance the hot dog and when they’re through, they jump on a freight car with all the other champs who were born to run, and they’ll all be wearing their gold medals and blue ribbons.
OK, it’s your turn. What songs did you think you knew? Use the comment section to share. Nobody will laugh, I promise.
A problem popped up the moment I drove my new car off the lot. But it’s only temporary. Come August it will vanish into thin air. How can I be so certain? Because that’s when my 90-day free trial subscription to satellite radio will expire.
Having three free months of free satellite radio is a heavy load to bear. So many stations, so little time. Did I mention it’s free?
Free Day One
On the Lot
I listen politely as my sales person goes over the small details she thinks are important – the location of the gas tank lock release, how to fold down the back seats, or since this is my first key-less entry car, which buttons to push on the little magic twanger. But within this polite shell, an impatient toe-tapping control freak grips the steering wheel biding my time until I can drive off the lot and set my stations.
On the Way to Work
All six FM stations set and I haven’t even reached the entrance ramp to the parkway. An all-time record. Thank goodness for red lights. But this is only a dry run. I have Sirius research to do.
I unfold the map-like Sirius XM brochure and lay it out on my desk. 170 channels. Be still, my heart. 90 days? Uh-oh. Can I get my money’s worth? (so to speak)? Let’s see
Live Sports? every MLB game, Is Detroit included? I would like to hear Tigers’ games. But then, no, I’m not going to be in the car for every game and certainly not for the whole two hour stretch. It’s not worthy of a pre-set. I can listen as needed. And if I don’t need baseball, I certainly don’t need every NHL, NFL,NBA or college sports game.
Exclusive Entertainment ? Hmm what’s this?
- Howard Stern? He gave me enough boiling-over blood pressure when he was on AM. No thanks
- Oprah? I’m probably the only person who never even saw one Oprah!, so if I never saw her, why should I listen. No thanks
- Martha Stewart? Hmm, I like Martha. She knows the names of the most esoteric cooking utensils you never knew existed, let alone thought you needed. If Martha’s going to show me how to use little thingy to get the meat out of the walnut after I crack it open, I should be seeing, not listening. No thanks
With Live Sports and Exclusive Entertainment off my list I’m breathing a bit easier. Let’s see.
World-class News plus Local Traffic and Weather.
- Nope, I like my news served on paper.
- I like seeing those weather maps and graphics even if the meteorologist is standing in front of them.
- And as for traffic. By the time a traffic snafu makes its way onto the radio I’m either already in the middle of it, or it’s all cleared up.
Laugh-0ut- Loud Comedy. No, my singing out loud is enough to make people laugh
Commercial Free Music– Now that’s what I’m talking about. I fold back the rejected panels and flatten out the remaining sections on my desk. I don’t like classical or country; Pass on dance/electronic. Christian? Foreign language? No and No. That leaves Rock, Pop, and Jazz. I fold back, and out of sight, the pop and jazz sections. I don’t need any distractions
The Grateful Dead Channel? Pearl Jam Radio? E street Radio? Channel Margaritaville? I love Bruce and Jimmy, and enjoy the Dead and the Jams but that’s like listening to albums. I like the element of surprise while I drive.
Oops my lunch hour is almost over. I grab the guide and run outside to the parking lot. Let’s see I guess I have to push this selector marked XM. Okay, now for the stations.
Classic Vinyl, 60’s and 70’s Rock? Okay – button 1
Boneyard, Classic Hard Rock? Umm hmm! – button 2
Hair Nation, 80’s Hair Bands? Alllll Riiiiight!!!!! – button 3
Liquid Metal , Heavy Metal XL. What’s XL? I’ll try it – button 4
Soul Town, Classic Soul/Motown – that’s a good change of pace – button 5
The Joint, Reggae – Ya Mon! – button 6
I can hardly wait for the ride home!
Free Day Five (Saturday – errand day)
I’m not sure if I’m making the most out of this free trial. I think it’s time to try new stations. As long as I’m here in Kohl’s parking lot, let me get out that brochure
60’s on 6.
Oh, isn’t that cute, the peace symbol in the middle of the 0. 60’s pop hits with Cousin Brucie. Didn’t he die? Well, let’s give it a try.
‘70’s on 7.
You know, the 60’s were fun , but the 70’s, those were my glory days.
Wow look 80’s on 8.
My years in San Jose.
90’s on 9.
I like the soul and reggae. I’ll keep them.Next stop Walmart.
Free Days Six – Thirteen
I love my commute. Choose a decade and almost every song is a trip back in time.
I Got you, Babe
I’m in my freshman dorm. My room-mate, Regina and I are figuring out when it’s Sonny singing and when it’s Cher
Just the Way You are
The first dance at my wedding and the band leader is channeling Billy Joel
Start Me Up
Oh my God, Mick Jagger, right there on the field below us. We left the house at six to get up here to Candlestick Park. But snagging these seats make it all worthwhile.
Tears in Heaven
The dreaded call at 2:20 AM. My brother has surrendered to his cancer. As I fly home to NY, I look down through the billowing mounds of white blanketing the Rockies. Jim feels close by. Can heaven really be up in the clouds? Synchronicity strikes via my Walkman and I hear Eric Clapton in my ear. He’s wondering too.
Free Day 15.
“La-dee da dee da ..When you call my name, it’s like a little prayer, ” Oops here’s my exit.
This is the only Madonna song I like. Reminds me of my MTV midlife crisis. What a video…… and then there was the Super Bowl half time show this year ……when that big guy in the flowing cape rose up through the stage! At first I thought it was that Vogue editor guy – Andre something something. But then I realized it was the guy from The Voice – Cee Jay? No, Cee Lo something………
………..Look at that police car! He’s right on my tail………… Now he has his lights going and the siren whoop whooping. Me?
“Yes officer? ”
“You know you went through that Stop sign back at the corner, Ma’am. Do you have a reason for that?”
I do have reason, a Sirius one but I don’t think divulging it would further my case.