Sunday, March 9, 2014

Life is a Rock, But the Radio Rolled Me

I was pretty young when I figured out that music was something that would be a constant in my life. I remember learning how to do “The Twist” as a very young girl, and moving to the music of the 1960’s. I was too young to faint for Elvis or scream for The Beatles, but they still drove the evolution in music that I became immersed in.

The music of the 60’s went from the chorale sounding groups like Frankie Valley and the Four Seasons (Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You, My Eyes Adore You), the Shangr-Las (Leader of the Pack), into a blues-driven sound of the Isley Brothers (Who’s That Lady, It’s Your Thing) and Wilson Pickett (Mustang Sally). Some of my favorites from that era:

         Incense And Peppermints---Strawberry Alarm Clock
         Venus---Shocking Blue
         Time of the Season---The Zombies
         Lightenin’ Strikes---Lou Christie
         Sounds of Silence---Simon and Garfunkel
         To Sir, With Love---Lulu
         Dizzy---Tommy Roe
         We Gotta Get Out of This Place---The Animals
         Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In---5th Dimension
         Crimson and Clover---Tommy James and the Shondells

The socially conscious era of the Vietnam War and changes here at home had begun to surface in music. Many groups addressed the political and social unrest of that decade through music, creating some of the most powerful songs to date:

         War---Edwin Starr
         Ohio---Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
         Paint It Black---The Rolling Stones

The 1970’s moved us into even more of a rock mode. The heavy hitters of the early 70’s were still influenced by the evolving technology of recording. The 60’s were dominated by vinyl records, but there was a new chick in town—the multi-track tape recording.  The 60’s had moved us from 4-track to 8 track recording. Our first car audio system was a 4-track, installed by my brother. It was not long until it progressed to 8-track, and I lugged those cases of tapes all over the country.  I was one of the few who had a quadraphonic stereo at home that simulated surround sound, after purchasing that specific type of 8-track tape.

A few of my 70’s favorite singles:
         Holdin’ On to Yesterday---Ambrosia
         A Horse With No Name---America
         In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida---Iron Butterfly
         Mama Told Me Not To Come---Three Dog NIght
         Dream Weaver---Gary Wright
         Never Been Any Reason---Head East
        The Rapper---Jaggerz
         My Sharona---The Knack
         Bad Motor Scooter---Montrose
         Rock N Roll Hoochie Koo---Rick Derringer
         Reelin’ In the Years---Steely Dan
         Ride Captain Ride---Blues Image
         Come and Get It---Badfinger
         Hooked on a Feeling---Blue Suede

Also, I want to thank pretty much all the biggies: Creedence Clearwater Revival, Kiss, Bad Company, Led Zepplin, The Who, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Boston, The Doobie Brothers, The Eagles, Elton John, The Guess Who, Heart, Jethro Tull, Queen, Seals and Crofts, Rush, Steve Miller Band, and ZZ Top, just to name a few. I knew the words to every song on every album , and you made it heaven on earth for me. Disco made a short visit, and while I loved me some BeeGees and Donna Summer, it was not altogether my favorite. I went to bed listening to KIXZ, Amarillo TX, or KOMA, Oklahoma City, OK. I woke up to the same thing. In Hartley, TX , those two radio stations were the only musical influence I had.

But the world was about to change again. Those big bulky 8-tracks were about to be replaced with slim little cassettes. I actually still have my first cassette tape—“American Pie” by Don McLean. This meant those huge tape carriers could be replaced by a much smaller version, and might even fit under the seat. And, I had a little portable player I could cart around! 

As we slid out of the 70’s into the 80’s, things really began to change. August 1, 1981 the way we look at music as well as TV was altered forever. A little channel called MTV (Music Television) debuted with a video of the song, “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles, and the era of the music video was born.  Oh my goodness, this time period was the heyday for magnificently hokey videos. The special effects were not special, the themes were ridiculous, and I loved every second of it. The hair was big, the pants were tight, the sets were crappy, but the music was awesome!  For the first time you had a visual to go with the music. I still remember so many of the videos—they did not really have to have anything to do with the song, but they always made you remember it! I can still hear my girls, at four or five years old singing "The Warrior" by Scandal, and "Sara" by Jefferson Starship.

Some favs:
         Take On Me---A-HA
         Girls Just Wanna Have Fun---Cindy Lauper
         Karma Chamelion---Culture Club
         How Will I Know---Whitney Houston
         Cradle of Love---Billy Idol
         Pour Some Sugar On Me---Def Leppard
         Sweet Dreams---Eurythmics
         I Want A New Drug---Huey Lewis and the News
         Like a Virgin---Madonna
         Beat It---Michael Jackson
         She Drives Me Crazy---Fine Young Cannibals
         We Got the Beat---The Go-Go’s     
         Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go---Wham

Who can forget Tawny Kitean writhing around on the hood of that car in the video for “Is This Love?” by Whitesnake? Or what ridiculously good dancers Paula Abdul and Janet Jackson were? Or any of Madonna’s or Michael Jackson’s outfits?  How about those gorgeous models in black dresses in Robert Palmer’s video “Addicted to Love”?   Or the chicken dancing in “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel? How about the Thompson Twins’ goofy haircuts?  Was it only me, or were all of Duran Duran and The Car’s videos really odd? 

And then there was Rick Springfield. Oh. My. Goodness.

I still love to watch those old videos.  Somewhere things went awry with the video channels- they started adding regular shows and movies, then reality TV, and then it was no longer about music. I can’t quite figure it out, we have more artists out there now than ever before, but they lost a great platform when MTV and VH1 stopped music video programming 24/7. Youtube is great, but you have to be looking for that particular artist. And let’s face it, the videos today are just not the same. There is not a sequined glove or mullet in sight. No weird costumes, fake space ships, or over-stretched spandex.  No Walking on Sunshine, Dancing in the Dark, Bette Davis Eyes or Sunglasses At Night. 

I have found a couple of Youtube channels that have some good videos. Here is the link for the 70’s one- since videos were not that popular yet, a lot of them are from TV shows, which are just as good-some are just still photos. Either way, it will stir a memory.

If you are lonesome for the 80’s, go check out this video on Youtube. It is 5 hours of 80’s videos in one link. Take a look and enjoy!

If you don't recall these songs I listed above, check them out. They are the building blocks of pop culture for the last 30 years! And, in case you don't remember the song I pulled the title of this post from, listen to it here:

Please comment about the cool bands that were your favorites!  I love remembering good music!
Peace friends!  Rock on!

1 comment:

  1. I commented on this post right away, but I'm not sure what happened to it!!
    *I was right with you until you hit the 80s. I was busy raising kids and playing my oldies!
    *I remember order my first record from an advertisement on TV....and I used to spend my money on 45s to add to my collection.
    *We still have our 8 track player and 8 tracks. Not sure if they work or not though.
    *Funny how just the right song can put you back in time to a certain event in your life or a certain time of life.
    *My selections saved on my radio now range from 40s, Elvis, 60s, 70s, country,and Margaritaville, but mostly I listen to talk radio in the car.
    *I have my dad's music library which is a precursor to a jukebox. It has 70 of his original 45s and 30 of mine. This is what I listen to when I clean, or just want music.

    Great post!