I love music. I love humming along with songs that fly into my brain through my soul. The moment I hear a song that brings me back, way back to being a teenager, is exhilarating as I completely remember where I first heard it, who I was with, and what time of year it was. There were compilations of what I remember to be summer songs. The Beach Boys were the kings of summer with their California lyrics of fast cars, girls they loved, and lots of high school moments. Just writing this makes me smile and remember. The harmony and lyrics are so easily captured and oh so humm-able (a new word you are welcome to share). When they sang “See You in September”, there was never a July or August that didn’t make me think of what that meant. I was a counselor at a day camp for several years and there were the songs that you sang on the bus, including but not limited to “100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”. I was very shy and often listened and imagined singing along, and as I got older I joined in, as though my membership in the singalongs were part of my rites of passage. The songs that I associated with summer romances included lots of Gary Puckett and the Union Gap. When at 13 I had my first boyfriend, an older boy who was 16, and by the end of summer, it was a case of “Young Girl Get Out of My Heart” as I was dumped for someone else. I still like the song, not so much the creep who left me for someone else. I still had the music, if not the guy.
Growing up in NYC in the 60s and 70s meant I got to go to concerts in Central Park. They were part of the Schaefer Festival that included The Young Rascals, Hugh Masekela, Moby Grape (!), Sergio Mendes, Blood, Sweat and Tears and so many other historical figures in Rock and Roll. It was amazing to be part of this huge crowd, and be allowed by my very protective parents to take a subway into Manhattan with my best friend, and witness these amazing bands, some of whom were just starting out, and some of whom were the roots of a revolution. Tickets were $2.00, first come, first serve, pizza slices were 15 cents and 45 rpm records were under a dollar. The music resonated through the crowds and it was as though you were part of an undulating mass of people, sharing the energy. New York had the Fillmore East and I remember going to hear “The Band” and standing in line watching the people in all sorts “That 70s Show” clothing except that this was the real deal.
My friends and I collected small cases that we filled with our 45s. My best friend was much more organized than I was and she was the librarian of my collection,writing down the names and artists. They were covered in psychedelic prints called Op Art. Yes, I still have them,despite giving up my record player and turntable long ago. Listening to them over and over and over again till the grooves were like worn down tires. We were the groovy generation and it was sweet. At the end of the year, Cousin Brucie a.k.a. Bruce Morrow at WABC radio, did his countdown of the Top 100 hits of the year and my best friend, Judy (the 45s librarian) and I kept lists of what we listened to as we filled in our top song list to capture them all. We would talk on the phone to update our lists. The music was the history of our times as teenagers and it made the culture of our lives rich. It was wartime, again, and we heard our history in the songs around us. It was the time of racial unrest and the conflict between keeping the peace and fighting for what we believed we believed. Not so different from today…..not so different at all.
So now it’s 2016 and I can look back in the rearview mirror and remember the songs that formed my being in so many ways. The music captured my soul and my sometimes broken heart and I like remembering the good times and wish that history did not repeat itself but rather made some gains for all of us. Peace out, brothers and sisters. Love one another, always and forever.