Saturday, August 29, 2015

1965: Go Now

purchase Go Now

I've said it here before: writing a post generally involves learning something new.  1965 was the year I started listening to pop/rock, but my interest wasn't particularly academic. For the most part I couldn't name the members of a band or who played what. Hence the need to research today when I go back to 65.

My weekly allowance wasnt enough to cover the cost of an LP, so my record collection was built mostly of 45s, and by the end of 65, I had probably 25 and a couple of LPs. I can recall, for example, when and where I first heard "Like a Rolling Stone" or "Eight Days a Week".

My exposure to the top hits - like most American kids of the time - was through Hullabaloo, American Bandstand, Shindig and AM radio. (FM radio listener numbers didn't surpass AM until the 1970s.) Aside from the in-dash car radio, the device of choice was a battery operated portable transistor radio, maybe with a single ear plug. It seemed to me like it was a good year for American kids.

It was also a good year for pop music. A turning point. Bob Dylan goes electric, playing a Fender Stratocaster for the first time on stage. 65 is also the year that Leo Fender sold his company to CBS. 1965 was the year that Ford began installing 8-track tape players as an option - the simplicity of a cassette that could be inserted and removed with minimal distraction was a factor in its success.

Justin Hayward is the name most commonly associated with the Moody Blues. In actual fact, the singer/guitarist didn't join the band until 66. Before then, the Moody Blues, under various names and combinations were mostly trying to get noticed. It happened in 65, with Go Now. Without Hayward.

Monday, August 24, 2015

1965: Oh Sister

Dan Bern: Oh Sister [purchase]

There was a hell of a lot of great music released in 1965.  Other writers have posted about some of it, and I hope that more posts about this music get written before the theme ends. But when I looked at a list, while I acknowledged that, yeah, there are some great songs there, nothing jumped out and said, “J. David (or whatever you real name is), you need to write about me.”

Instead, I decided to go with my first reaction to hearing the theme, which is that in 1965 my incredible sister was born. Although I was just shy of 4 years old when it happened, I do have some clear memories of the day, or at least the first time that I saw her at the hospital. And since then, I don’t think a cross word has ever passed between us.

When we were kids, we would get up early on Saturday to watch cartoons and eat cereal and Charles Chips pretzels from those big cans. And as we grew up, we always had each other’s back. My parents drilled into us from an early age that we were each other’s best friend, no matter what, and I suspect that there are still some things that went on that my parents don’t know about. Which is a good thing.

Interestingly, although we have always been close, we didn’t really share too many interests—she was not a big sports fan, we never really had the same musical taste (and music was much more important to me than it ever was to her), and history wasn’t her favorite subject—and four years (and five school years) can be a big age difference when you hit your teens. She went through some difficult times in high school while I was off in college, and in the pre-Facebook, pre-cell phone era, I wasn’t really around, and I’ve often felt bad that I wasn’t there for her, although she got through it, and turned out great.

I’ve always envied my sister because she found work that she loved and was good at, and which benefited humanity, way more than I ever did, and although her personal life hasn’t always been easy, right now she has two wonderful kids and seems happy in her personal relationship with a guy who, amusingly to me, drags her to concerts that she never would have imagined a few years ago. I’ve also envied her large group of close friends, with whom she regularly travels and socializes, although to be fair, with my borderline loner personality it isn’t surprising. Luckily for me, she lives only 15 or 20 minutes away, depending on traffic and how fast I drive, so we get to see each other fairly regularly. A few weeks ago, we were walking in town, and she and her boyfriend coincidentally stopped at the light as they drove through and were able to join us for dinner.

We’ve been able to watch her kids grow up, as she has watched mine. She babysat for my kids, and we have done the same with hers. She shops with my daughter and I’ve seen hers play soccer (and fed her dinner last night).

When I thought about writing about my sister, I thought of Dan Bern’s song, “Oh Sister.” Now, the song really doesn’t exactly fit our situation—Dan’s sister was the older one, who he credits for teaching him stuff and being there for him, and my sister is the younger one, although, to be fair, she’s taught me stuff and been there for me. And Dan’s family situation was different from ours, but the song works here for a couple of reasons. First, despite the differences, the song is about the love of a brother for a sister, and that definitely applies. And second, Dan Bern was born in……1965.