As I noted previously, I started this on Facebook. Before I continue, I wanted to recap the first 10 years of my journey here. These are the original posts from my FB page.
I have a birthday coming up, so I’m picking a song from each year of my life and posting one a day until I finish or get bored. (Obviously I crapped out on the whole “one a day” thing). The year I was born, the Beatles released their first single. (There is no correlation between these events despite what you might have heard.) I felt this was both appropriate, since they were my first real taste of rock and roll as a child, and it marks the beginning of the career of arguably the most important artists of any generation.
In 1963, I was celebrated my first birthday, and Surf Music was sweeping the West Coast, spearheaded by artists like Dick Dale and the Del-Tones, The Ventures, and The Beach Boys. Surf music helped usher in the widespread use of guitar effects like distortion and reverb, and its sound has been credited as the seeds of heavy metal. In April 1963, “Pipeline” by The Chantays reached #4 on the Billboard 100. This is the original recording, which is unique in that The Chantays had a keyboard player. Most cover versions feature the iconic piano parts on guitar.
In 1964 I was 2, and the Beatles held the top two songs of the year on the Billboard 100, followed closely by Louie Armstrong and Dean Martin. Quite an eclectic mix. The British Invasion was in full swing, and this catchy song by Manfred Mann with a unforgettable sing-along chorus hit # 15 on the charts.
Another entry for 1966, going from From West Coast Folk to East Coast Folk. My second selection is another example of the folk-pop movement that was exploding on both coasts, our theme today I guess. This one needs no introduction, but I will say this video is quite a gem, a rare live performance with excellent sound quality.
That’s the title of CCR Song, it goes like this;
Met myself a comin’ out the county welfare line
I was feelin’ strung out, Hung out on the line
Saw myself a goin’, down to war in June
All I want, All I want is to write myself a tune
Wrote A Song For Ev’ryone,
Wrote a song for truth.
Wrote A Song For Ev’ryone
And I couldn’t even talk to you
Kind of depressing, the inability to communicate. One of the things music does for us, is provide a common language. We express ourselves through song lyrics that resonate with us in some manner. We write a song if we can, if we can’t we burn a mixtape, email a musical meme, or whatever, when words don’t seem sufficient.
I never wrote a song. But I listened, oh did I listen to them. From the time I could turn that knob on the radio, there was music all around me. I carried a $5 Radio Shack “Flavoradio” in my back pocket. I don’t know how many times it was taken away in grammar school. I taped selfsame radio to the handlebars of my bike. I rode all around Castro Valley with it blasting (sort of) KFRC and KYA, the Bay Area’s two AM pop stations. Later I carried a little cassette player, squeezed into the pocket of my old army coat. And a bundle of homemade tapes, portable copies of any albums I could beg or borrow.
I bought 45s at Woolworths and Sears and played them on the humongous console stereo on which my parents played Motovani (and his cascading stings!) and Henry Mancini records. Later I got LPs. First, the Jackson 5 and those “K-Tel Hits!” albums, later the Beatles, Kiss, Chicago and anything I could get from our surprising hip public library. Yes indeed, I owe a debt of gratitude to the Alameda County library system for stocking The Doors, Yes, Rollings Stones, The Who and Alice Cooper.
I was an odd mixture of ADHD fueled mania and severe insecurity. People made me nervous, but when I took out my little tape machine and played something, people connected with me. Music became a bridge over troubled waters for me.
Music didn’t follow me, I drug it around with me wherever I went. I finagled cash for records by washing the car. We conned our parents to a) buy us concert tickets, and b) drive us to selfsame concerts. I’d like to publicly thank my mom, Mr Ward and Mrs Turner, for carting us to innumerable concerts, and dropping us off for Days on the Green concerts at 6 AM with our systems full of adrenaline and our pockets full of doobies, fields of musical Elysium awaiting on the grass beyond the chain link fence.
I drive myself to shows now. I play my music digitally on a phone that’s 1/4 the size of that old transistor radio. I traded in my boxes full of LPs for a hard drive full of MP3s. I went from being a music lover to a music writer, expressing my thoughts on music and the people who make it for over a decade.
Recently I had semi-retired from writing (he says as he writes), but I never lost the love of sharing music or discussing it. I came across an article about the Beatles, celebrating the 50th anniversary of their first single, “Love Me Do”. I remember that song from my childhood. I also noted that they were celebrating the anniversary of the US release in 1964. In the UK it was released in 1962, which makes both that song and I the same age.
So, I started posting a song from each year of my life. Not the top charting songs, I didn’t use any criteria related to popularity. My picks were simply songs that were important to me. In many cases these songs dramatically altered or expanded my musical world. Sometimes I pick one for historical significance, but ultimately it just has to be a great song that I love. That’s the final criteria. I started my little exercise on Facebook which has proven to be a royal pain, so here we are, and away we go…