- I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org). As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia! Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton. I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times. I also wrote the liner notes for the three THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me? My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored. Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.
Friday, May 5, 2017
My favorite decade of music has always been the 1960s. Even as a teenager in the '70s, soakin' up the wonders of AM radio (from Badfinger to The Isley Brothers to Alice Cooper) and then FM (from Graham Parker to Nick Lowe to The Sex Pistols), my true allegiance remained steadfast and true: The Beatles. Nothing could ever change that.
Although I was, technically, alive for all but the first sixteen (and much of the seventeenth) days of the '60s, a lot of my awareness and appreciation of the decade's music came well after the fact. I've been examining some of these stories on this blog, recognizing the dialectic and dialogue that reaches across the eras of one's own life. I became a fan of '50s hits by Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly when I heard them in the early '70s; I didn't discover The Velvet Underground, or Love, or even Otis Redding until the '80s.
But I do remember some stuff from the '60s, contemporaneous to the '60s. I remember "The Twist" by Chubby Checker--my Aunt Anna had the 45--and "Big Girls Don't Cry" by The Four Seasons, and "Save Your Heart For Me" by Gary Lewis and the Playboys. I remember my friend Willie singing Jan and Dean's "The Little Old Lady From Pasadena" in my friend Steve's back yard. Gene Pitney's legend loomed large in the Cafarelli household, with "Town Without Pity" and "Half Heaven Half Heartache" and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." Lesley Gore's "California Nights." Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'." The Rolling Stones' "Get Off Of My Cloud." Tiny Tim, too.
One presumes I must have heard The Kinks, James Brown, Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Righteous Brothers, and so many more, but I don't recall any of these prior to rediscovering them in subsequent decades. I knew of Chad and Jeremy, but I don't think I knew any of their songs at the time. There was an ad for We're Only In It For The Money by The Mothers Of Invention in the pages of Marvel Comics, but I didn't have the merest clue who Frank Zappa was. I saw Herman's Hermits in an awful movie called Hold On!, and while I'm sure I knew some of the Hermits' biggest hits, I didn't remember any of their songs in that film prior to buying a used copy of the soundtrack LP in the late '70s.
Here are a few others that I do remember:
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE: "Somebody To Love"
THE T-BONES: "No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach's In)"
THE BEACH BOYS: "Surfer Girl"
THE ARCHIES: "Sugar, Sugar"
THE BOBBY FULLER FOUR: "I Fought The Law"
THE DAVE CLARK FIVE: "Bits And Pieces"
THE CASTAWAYS: "Liar, Liar"
THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS: "Monday, Monday"
THE TURTLES: "Happy Together"
THE FIVE AMERICANS: "Western Union"
THE AMERICAN BREED: "Bend Me, Shape Me"
TOMMY JAMES AND THE SHONDELLS: "Hanky Panky"
BILLY JOE ROYAL: "Down In The Boondocks"
ANDY WILLIAMS: "A Fool Never Learns"
EYDIE GORME: "Blame It On The Bossa Nova"
DUSTY SPRINGFIELD: "Wishin' And Hopin'"
FREDDY CANNON: "Teen Queen Of The Week"
BEN COLDER: "Ring Of Smoke"
JEANNIE C. RILEY: "Harper Valley PTA"
THE SURFARIS: "Wipeout"
THE FIFTH DIMENSION: "Up, Up And Away" and "Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In"
I also knew a few of The Monkees' records--"She," "Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)," "Gonna Buy Me A Dog," "I'm A Believer," "Last Train To Clarksville"--and I certainly knew a bunch of Beatles tunes, from "All My Loving" through "Can't Buy Me Love" and "I'll Follow The Sun." That cumulative pop frenzy is why I still regard Beatles '65 and Beatles VI as my all-time favorite albums. But really, all of this stuff would come to mean even more to me as I looked back upon it in later years.
Is it nostalgia that makes me prefer '60s music to all that came afterwards? Yes, of course, but not quite in the usual sense of personal nostalgia for the cherished playthings of childhood. Although I have some contemporaneous memories of rock 'n' roll during The Great Society, I can't truly associate (The Association!) all that much of the era's music with specific warm 'n' fuzzies from my preteen timeline. There is, I guess, that prevailing image of Beatlemania, that lingering sense that pop music was ruled by The Beatles, and always would be; seeing A Hard Day's Night at the drive-in when you're four years old can have that kind of effect on your development, and then seeing The Monkees on TV can reinforce that, move it from the realm of shiny passing fancy into the bedrock foundation of faith and certainty. I may not remember all of the nuances and shades, nor even all of the broad strokes of the '60s with the crystal clarity of a reliable eyewitness, but I was there in just enough of its giddy heyday to retain that glow of affection, and to maintain that sense of familiarity and wonder. I remember what I remember; I embrace what I later encountered as a result of those memories.
Oh, and I remember some Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. I remember this one album cover in particular....
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