Saturday, May 6, 2006

My Life's Music

I was nine at the start of the British Invasion. But I was also the youngest of five sisters, and wherever they went, I followed, as fast as my skinny little legs would carry me. Sister D was fourteen—a high school freshman—in 1964. The perfect age for a Beatlemaniac. And so she was, and dragged the rest of us right along with her. When a Beatles song would come on the radio, we would let out ear-piercing screeches and scramble into the living room to the vintage console stereo that we had got second-hand from some old aunt. The kind that looked like a piece of furniture. The record player, not the aunt. Four girls, ages nine through fourteen, ears glued to the booming tweed-covered speaker, leaving half-eaten plates of food cooling on the dinner table, to my dad’s immense annoyance.

We sang all the songs. Knew every word, all the harmonies. Sang while we cleaned up the dishes after dinner, or in the car on those six-hour station-wagon odysseys to campgrounds in the North Woods. The Beatles, of course—When I was younger so much younger than today… But there were others: Chad & Jeremy--…but that was yesterday, and yesterday’s gone… Peter & Gordon—Woman, do you love me… Herman’s Hermits –Mrs. Brown you’ve got a lovely daughter… Every Simon and Garfunkel song ever recorded. I handled the Garfunkel harmonies. At the ripe old age of ten. Hello darkness, my old friend

You were either a Beatles fan, or a Stones fan. Never both. I remember seeing the Stones on Ed Sullivan…the same place we had seen the Beatles for the first time. We had swooned over the Fab Four…and complained that the Stones were "ugly." Even in their sterilized, censored Sunday night American TV personas, the Stones were too high test for our vanilla suburban souls. To this day, I’ve never been able to warm up to Mick Jagger… And then along came the Monkees, spurned by the older, more refined fans, who were by now…seventeen. But, hell. I was twelve. I went for them ass over teakettle. Take the last train to Clarksville, and I’ll meet you at the station…  When I think of the old music, that's what comes tomind. My brain shorts out when I realize exactly how old it is.

Then there were the seventies…the longest decade of my life. From high school and graduation’s emancipation to marriage and a mortgage in ten jam-packed years. Rocky Mountain High to Saturday Night Fever. John Denver ‘round the family campfire to BeeGees disco lessons with the handsome young husband.

After that, my musical history smears to a blur. We threw over mainstream music for Christian Rock for half of the eighties. Though Heart of Glass and Sweet Dreams are Made of This penetrated sinfully past the halo. The Cars and the B52’s, Devo and Ten Thousand Maniacs dented my consciousness. And after that…I seem to have fallen off the face of the earth.

These days, my "new music" is a collection of New Age, Celtic and Acoustic CD’s. Which, I now realize, I started collecting in the early nineties. I wish I could say my musical tastes have become eclectic and refined. But I know the truth. I have finally gone down into the tarpit of old farthood. And I wonder how I look… On second thought, I don’t wonder; I know how I lookto twenty-first century fourteen-year-olds (I cannot possibly be old enough to be their grandmother.) Rolling my cart down the grocery store aisle singing out loud with the muzak tape--And as we wind on down the road, our shadows taller than our souls, there walks a lady we all know….


  1. BOTH.  Both Beatles and Stones!  Now and for the past 40+ years.

    OH, I had forgotten "Woman, do you love me?"  But I can hear it right now...  .

  2. I was thinking of an entry titled "the songtrack of my life" beat me to it!! lol!! I remember the contrast between the Beatles and the Stones...Beatles were singing  "I want to hold your hand" and the Stones were belting out, "Let's spend the night together."  It was 1978 when I warmed to the Stones, a Some Girls concert. Then I found some really great music from them, the Exile on Main Street album, Let it Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Beggars Banquet...but  they definately are an aquired taste.

  3. Ah, the good old days when long hair meant the guy had bangs. Never really got into the Stones. Loved Simon and Garfunkel. And Jethro Tull. I think I bought my first album because the guy on the front played the flute and I couldn't imagine a flute in a rock band. Now you've done it. I'm on my way to Amazon to see what's on cd. :-)


  4. I always wondered why I felt like a stranger at school.  It was because all my peers liked the Beetles and I hated them.  I could never see what all the fuss was about.  Years later, I understand all the fuss but I still don't like them.

    How can you compare your taste in music to that of today's youngsters?  We now have youngsters developing a taste for jazz.  Mind you, I'm not a lover of jazz either.  Oh maybe you are right Lisa....we are definitely about to disappear over the hill!

    Annie :-)

  5. lightyears2venusMay 7, 2006 at 2:38 PM

    Is Paul's trip to Liverpool evoking all of this?  I was mad over BOTH, too.  Putting a Beatles album on the record player (sitting under the Stones poster from one of those fanzines) to fall asleep to at night--the needle arm would raise automatically at the end.
    Once in a while I turn on my radio while my students are working during study hall.  The other day they were singing along together to Jimi Hendrix, the Eagles, the Beatles, and Paul Revere and the Raiders (Cherokeeee people, Cherokeeeee PRI-IDE).   We 60s kids didn't sing along to Sinatra or other 40s singers, but these 13 year olds seem to like a lot of old rock 'n roll.  Those kids in the grocery might have been singing along with you!