45 years

Jun. 17th, 2017 03:50 am
mellicious: "I'm bored. Episode 1 bored." (Buffy quote - bored)
 Forty-five years ago this week (it was Flag Day, that's the only reason I remember the exact date still) I had heart surgery to fix a heart murmur I was born with. I was 12. I saw that it was Flag Day this week and I did the math and came up with that rather staggering number - 45 - and so I also noticed it tonight on MSNBC when they said that the Watergate break-in was 45 years ago this week. I didn't remember that, but then it wasn't big news at the time, either. It only became big news later on. But that means that happened while I was in the hospital recovering - I was really bored sitting in the hospital for a whole week, at least after a couple of days when I started feeling better. I remember that well. I don't specifically remember watching the news, but everybody watched the evening news back then (usually referred to as "watching Walter Cronkite" the way I remember it) and it's possible I did. I do think I knew about that break-in pretty early on.

But that might just be in my head. I do know I remember being mad about the Watergate hearings being all that was on on the TV - this was during the summer, I'm assuming that was in 1974. And I remember Nixon resigning and I know I knew the basics about it at the time, at least, but it's hard to be sure how much of all the stuff that happened in that two-year time period I really remember from the time it was happening and how much I learned later, from All the President's Men (both the movie and the book) and so forth. I do think now that all of that may be a lot of the reason I'm so interested in politics today, though.
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas list)
For the record, I'm probably going to go on with this for the rest of the month even though Music Advent will of course technically be over Christmas Day - so I'll get up to the early 90s before I'm done. And there will then be a part 3 recap at the end of the month, assuming I haven't run out of steam before that. (I don't know why I like the recaps so much. Seeing all my choices in a list somehow pleases me unduly.)

1963-1972 was here.

1973: Dr Hook, Cover of the Rolling Stone

1974: The Doobie Brothers, Black Water

1975: Elton John, Someone Saved My Life Tonight

1976: Barbara Streisand, In Trutina (my token bit of the classical repertoire)

1977: The Eagles, The Last Resort

1978: Todd Rundgren, Can We Still Be Friends
second choice: Patti Smith Group, Because the Night

1979: Supertramp, The Logical Song

1980: The Police, Canary in a Coal Mine

1981: John Lennon, Watching the Wheel
second choice: Billy Idol, Dancing With Myself (video directed by Tobe Hooper)

1982: ABC, Poison Arrow
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (UT tower)
I felt like the 70s should have an Eagles entry for Music Advent (just like I felt like the 60s should have a Beatles entry) and Hotel California was the Eagles album that was a huge thing in 1977 (although I think it was officially released in '76). I didn't especially want to be so obvious as to pick "Hotel California" the song, so instead I picked "The Last Resort," which was really my favorite one off that album anyway:

1977 was the year I graduated from high school. (Yeah, I know, I'm old, in case you hadn't figured that out already. I seem to be the oldest person doing Music Advent so that makes me feel it every day.) This entry from 2007 talks about how I ended up going to UT rather than somewhere else, so I won't repeat that. I wasn't at the very top of my class because I was kind of a slacker, but I was firmly in the top 10% and I had good SAT scores, so basically I could go just about anywhere I wanted, short of Harvard or Princeton. I was in All-State Choir that year and I was pretty full of myself, but I was geekier than ever, too, and I only turned 17 a month before graduation, so that kind of balanced things out. ("Obnoxious and immature" probably about covers it.) (The entry I linked above also talks about how my parents tried to get me to go to school somewhere closer to home, because I was so young. But I was adamant and I won that one.)

(I keep wanting to reference these: the posts I wrote for holidailies one year - 2007, apparently - about music: grade school, the breathing issue (which you could also call high school part 1), high school part 2, college ) Basically, I've been talking off and on this year about choir and how much I loved music and stuff, but I didn't try to tell the whole story about that, because I knew I had done that previously. So in case anybody is actually interested in hearing all that, there it all is!)

So, I had gotten into UT and I had gotten accepted as a music major, which was a whole separate thing, and sometime in the summer I went off to Austin for freshman orientation. You registered for classes and I think you could take advanced placement classestests, which I did, and they took you around on tours of campus and taught you the words to "Texas Fight" and all that kind of stuff. I mostly mention this because it intersects with the biggest cultural phenomenon of 1977, which was the original Star Wars. Somehow - I would really like to know how - the RAs running orientation had gotten their hands on a Darth Vader mask, and there were Star Wars jokes all over everything. (I particularly remember them acting out the Force Choke sequence.) I knew that there was a movie called "Star Wars" that had come out, and I think I knew that it was probably something I would like, but I hadn't seen it yet. Most people hadn't, I don't think. But you can bet that I went running to see it as soon as I got home (and for a miracle, it was actually showing at home). (Possibly they had subdivided the one big theater into several smaller ones at that point, anyway - and cineplexes were starting to pop up in Houston, as well. So it was not as hard to get to see movies as it had been previously.)

Is it necessary to say that I loved it? I loved it. I didn't buy a bunch of merchandise, because I was supposed to be too old for that kind of thing and because I was a poor college student and never had any cash, but my big Christmas present in 1977 was a stereo and at the top of the pile of albums was the Star Wars soundtrack. (The stereo also had an 8-track player, but 8-tracks were on the way out by then, although I obviously was unaware of that at the time. I think things I had on 8-track included some Aerosmith album with "Dream On" on it, and maybe some Steely Dan. But the Star Wars soundtrack was on vinyl.) It was also the first movie that I went to see multiple times in the theater, mostly with various groups of kids. My mother never understood going to see movies more than once, and for that matter she never understood Star Wars, - I remember at some point in the early 80s watching it on TV, maybe on cable, by that time - and my mother being flabbergasted that both my sister and I knew all these lines from it. (My sister was not what you'd call a geek, at all, so I think I was a little surprised by that one myself.)

Anyway - I duly moved up to Austin in August (and except for a couple of summers early on, I would stay for the next decade or so) - I lived in Jester, for those of you who know what that is (here's the inevitable Wikipedia article) - and actually you can more or less see my room in that picture. I lived in the smaller wing facing the picture there, on the first floor - which was not the ground floor, on that side. Our room was right above the entrance on that side and some previous occupant had painted a longhorn on the window, so it stood out. It was all girls at my end of that wing, but right down the hall were boys, which was sort of radical at the time and frankly I'm not sure my parents knew about that when they let me live there. (Mostly we didn't interact with them much, anyway.)

Oh, I almost forgot to say that my freshman year at UT was also Earl Campbell's senior year, and UT was ranked #1 going into the Cotton Bowl against Notre Dame - which we resoundingly lost - but Earl won the Heisman and football season was a blast. The football players lived in Jester East, which was the other building, and normal students didn't actually have much interaction with them, unless they happened to be in your classes or something. They even had their own dining hall. My one personal interaction with Earl was running smack into him in a stairwell later on - about all I can tell you is that he was huge. It was like running into a wall.

I was looking at 1977 in music and I don't see a whole lot there that I'm moved to talk about and this is plenty long already anyway. Well, maybe a couple of things: somewhere in that entry I linked is a note that "You Light Up My Life" is from that year and in fact is the #1 song of the '70s, which I'm not sure I knew. I do remember that it was a huge hit, and I really kind of liked it (I had the sheet music, inevitably), although we also mocked it a great deal. Another album that I know I had - I think I bought it when on some trip to Austin earlier in the year - was Dan Fogelberg's "Nether Lands" which I adored. I may get around to talking about him later in the next couple of entries, because he was one of my favorites for years. He was more or less in the same sort of country-rock genre as the Eagles - nobody called it that at the time, but there were definite country influences there - but more... bombastic than the Eagles. At least some of the time. Here, I'll give you an example. (Bombastic was kind of in at that time, anyway - I may get to another couple of examples, coming up!)
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas tree lights)
In the late 70s I was heavily into classical music, and '76 was the year that Barbara Streisand released a classical album, so I figured this was a way to slide in a little example of classical music and still be semi-current with what was going on that year. This was also the year that her remake of A Star Is Born came out, so it was a big year for her. (I saw it; it didn't seem totally terrible to me at the time, although I think I had seen the '50s remake and so knew it wasn't as good as that one. But in any case, however the movie itself was received, the music from it was a big hit that year.)

Here's a translation (I have no idea how accurate this is, it came from here:
"In the wavering balance of my feelings
Set against each other
Lascivious love and modesty
But I choose what I see
And submit my neck to the yoke;
I yield to the sweet yoke."

I never sang that song but I always thought it was really pretty - it might well have been deliberately left off the official list of appropriate music for high school singers, now that I think about it (there was one, for Solo and Ensemble contest) since I assume "the sweet yoke" is a veiled sexual reference. Anyway, it's from Carmina Burana, which hardly anybody - including me, frankly - knows much about after that one bit of it that you hear all the time. (I think that's "O Fortuna," right?)

Let's talk about the Bicentennial. 1976 was a year of American-everything - we sang almost exclusively American songs in choir, even. It was one big, mostly really boringly-presented and probably inaccurate history lesson that lasted for a whole year. It did leave a lasting impression on some things, though - like quilting more or less became popular again because of it. Schoolhouse Rock even did special Bicentennial segments. There was sort of a fad for things like the tall ships and of course there was a ton of merchandise. I remember somebody saying at the time "the big bore is almost over" and that's about how most people felt about it after it had been going on for a while.

In the non-classical music world, it was the year of "Bohemian Rhapsody" - which I loved the minute I heard it - and "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" and I think disco was starting to be a fad by then, too, although it didn't hit its peak until later. I see "Convoy" on the top 100 list so I guess it was the year of the CB radio fad, too - one of the more inexplicable fads that I remember. There were a bunch of faddish songs that year too, like "Afternoon Delight" and
I think "Squeeze Box"  could sort of be considered one too, since it doesn't sound like anything else the Who did. "Welcome Back Kotter" was a huge thing, too. We were up to maybe 5 TV stations by then - in Houston it was 2, 11, 13 (which were the networks) and then 26 and 39, which were mostly reruns, so there still wasn't a lot of choice about what you watched on TV.
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas tree lights)
I loved Elton John when I was a teenager, and I remember I especially loved this song when it came out, so for 1975, I give you (a '76 live version, actually) of "Someone Saved My Life Tonight". (It's a long song; if you stick with this all the way through, you may notice that Elton appears to be running out of voice by the end of it, in which case let's hope it was the encore of that concert.)

The Wikipedia page for the song says that the length was supposed to be cut down for the radio, and Elton had enough pull at that time that he was able to force them to release it as is. (Before I started this, I didn't realize how many big hit songs had their own Wikipedia pages.) I think I responded to the tone of desperation in this song, as a teenager. I also think I was vaguely confused about what the song meant because I had gotten the general idea by then that Elton John was gay, but really I think the meaning was pretty clear ("altarbound, hypnotized/sweet freedom whispered in my ear") and what I thought it meant was basically correct.

I mentioned before (in the 1970 entry, I believe, if you really want to know) that at some point I was given a little dinky cassette player for Christmas, and at some point (maybe the same year or maybe not) I was also given a cassette of "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" - I'm not sure any more about what year was what, but GYBR came out in '73 so that's the earliest that part could have happened, anyway. I know I also got a Jackson 5 album and it's possible that all of that happened in 73, because certainly the Jacksons were still popular by then. (I think "Ben" had come out by then so Michael was already having some solo success as well.) I know I listened to the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album a lot because I still pretty much know every song on it. Later I bought or was given an Elton John songbook with the music to a lot of the early John/Taupin output - I remember picking out "Skyline Pigeon" on the piano and also some things I had never heard before, like "Where To Now St Peter?" - and I remember playing "Your Song" in the choir hall at some point and everybody singing along.

Elton John is not the most uncool artist to admit to having liked, so let me tell you about some of the less cool stuff: I know I loved The Captain and Tennille - everybody did. (Well, probably not everybody, but they were pretty popular in my circle of 14-16 year olds, anyway.) I loved Barry Manilow and especially I loved "Mandy" - I remember being at my best friend Julia's house and trying to call in to the radio station to request it. The Carpenters were still a big thing, and Neil Diamond, and The Eagles were starting to be a big thing. I remember at some point during high school being mad that my mother wouldn't let me go with some kids to an Eagles concert. (Until I had a car for my own use, the second half of my senior year, trips to Houston with other kids were not much allowed unless there was one or more adults along. And even then I couldn't go anywhere out of town without permission.)

In 1975, I of course did not have a drivers' license because I was just turning 15, but I took drivers' ed that summer and I had a learners' permit, and the fact is that my mother was sick of driving us everywhere, especially my endless choir practices and various related activities, and once I got the hang of driving, she let me drive around town without her along quite often - more and more as I got closer to being 16. She claimed later not to remember this.

Also in 1975, I suppose (or if there was a lag in such things getting to small towns it could have been '76), my mother actually allowed us to go see the movie of Tommy. I wonder if she knew about the part where Tommy gets molested as a child, or about the Acid Queen. Anyway, I liked the music - which I think was why we wanted to go see it in the first place, and I know I thought the film was interesting but I don't think I really loved it. (Which, if you've seen it, is pretty reasonable. I haven't rewatched the whole thing since I saw it in the theater, I think, but the three or four sequences I've watched in the last couple of days confirm the impression I already had that it was in fact a pretty bad movie. But in bits and pieces, it's still interesting. Tina Turner! Jack Nicholson - singing! Oliver Reed! Pretty shirtless Roger Daltrey!)

Bonus video: the Pinball Wizard sequence from the movie, with, guess who, Elton John:
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (cat - yuck)
So the song representing 1974 ended up being the Doobie Brothers:

I was thinking of "Sweet Home Alabama" just because I remember it so vividly from that year, but the whole Neil Young business sticks in my craw and I couldn't bear to use it. (Wikipedia has a whole page on the song including a section on the controversy in case you don't know what I'm talking about.) The members of Lynyrd Skynyrd have apparently claimed at various times that they didn't mean to say they supported George Wallace, but if that's true they should've made that clearer. I do buy that they may well have meant the lyrics generally as a sort of "not all Southerners" thing, in a way, but still, it's not much of an excuse. So as a general representative of that kind of music, I give you the Doobie Brothers instead. They're a California band, as I understand it, but it's about the South, at least! And I loved this song at the time, although I'm not sure I really knew who sang it back when I was 14. The Doobie Brothers were not as famous then as they'd become later on.

(Plus if I was still waffling about SHA, there's the Confederate flag on the cover of the single. Ugh.)

This was also the year of "Hooked on a Feeling" - people went around going "oohga-oohga-oohga-chaka" all the time - but that's gotten so much airplay from Guardians of the Galaxy that I didn't feel like that would be that interesting a choice. (I do still love that song, though.) (Incidentally, I watched GotG the other night on iTunes - it's still awesome. I don't know why I love it so much, but I do. Also the HD picture AND the sound were surprisingly awesome on my 20" computer screen and dinky little Dell speakers.)

Wikipedia lists the #1 song of the year as "Kung Fu Fighting" which I find a bit surprising, though I do know that when people weren't going "oohga-chaka" they were doing fake kung fu chops, that year. (But actually kung fu & karate had been sort of a craze for several years, as I remember it.)

Of course this was also the year that Nixon resigned. I remember that the Watergate hearings were on the TV endlessly in the summer, and we were mad because by then we were in the habit of watching soap operas when we were home, and they weren't on, most of the time, because they were pre-empted by the news. ("All My Children" was the one we especially watched, at that time.)

Added: One thing about Guardians of the Galaxy that I apparently failed to take in the two times I saw it in the theater, and I'm sure many or most of you are ahead of me on this - I didn't really snap to the big gap between the time Peter Quill was abducted by aliens (1988, the movie says) and the time the songs on the Awesome Mix were from, in the 70s. In other words, they were not the songs that he would have chosen at the time, they were the songs his mother liked when she was his age, maybe. Meaning that his mother was probably somewhere in my general age range, maybe a little younger, if anything. (I was 28 in 1988, plenty old to have a kid.) I only figured this out because I was looking up the songs of 1973 the same night I was watching the movie - although actually I think it was the date of his abduction that I was a bit unclear on.
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (not all who wander are lost)
(Be warned: I wrote this entry at work and the memories in it are disjointed even by my low standards.)

I have iTunes radio blasting rather loudly in the whole building trying to wash "Cover of the Rolling Stone" out of my head. (I'll put the video link at the bottom. This one has a series of Rolling Stone covers to go with the song, which is kind of neat to look at.) Not that there's anything wrong with the song, but it's been stuck in my head for two days and I'm ready for a new earworm. (Memo to iTunes: on what planet does a cover of "Falling Slowly" from The Voice count as "alternative" music?)

OK, so 1973, the year Rolling Stone became a household name  - well, in some households, anyway - was also the year I started high school. I had sung in choir through junior high, but high school "a cappella" choir was a whole new world. For one thing, it was full of people a lot older than me - there were only a handful of freshmen and I was as always the youngest freshman. (I was allowed in, I think, on the basis of being able to sight-read music rather than really on the quality of my voice.)

Choir was really the only thing I really cared about in high school. I could coast through most classes - with the exception of algebra, which I spectacularly failed to get the hang of and almost failed that year. I just squeaked through. I did better in geometry, the next year, but nobody found a way to explain algebra to me at that time in a way that made sense to me. I'm not sure anybody tried too hard to explain it to me, quite honestly - it was the 70s and the idea that a girl would need to know higher math was still pretty radical.

The choir geeks liked to hang out in the music building at all hours, and the choir director did not seem to discourage that at all. I use that term, "choir geek" - but actually in our school just being in choir did not make you a geek in and of itself, and a lot of "popular" kids were in choir. That said, I was totally a geek. I was smart and at the same time immature and socially inept and had a tendency to have fits of obnoxiousness besides. But I was not friendless; choir and music gave me a place to fit in. We did "Camelot" as the school musical that year and I was an accompanist rather than being on stage - which meant I went to almost all the rehearsals, and I loved it all. (I had attention-span problems with acting; when I tried it, I'd forget when it was my turn to say my lines. I never had that problem with music, somehow - because with music, I was singing along in my head even when I wasn't singing out loud, I think.)

The music that was most popular then is music that would mostly be considered very uncool nowadays: The Carpenters, John Denver, Olivia Newton-John. I do remember "You're So Vain" being a big thing - I think I started being influenced to some extent by hanging around with older kids - I had several friends who were juniors that year. That may be why I knew all about "Cover of the Rolling Stone" too.
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas tree lights)
I spoiled myself in the last entry, if you were paying attention, but here's my pick for 1972:

(I loved both Horse With No Name and Ventura Highway at the time, and they've both held up pretty well. Ventura Highway won the virtual coin toss because I still listen to it on iTunes pretty regularly.)

Remember how I said I was going to stop talking about my childhood so much because there weren't any big events after we stopped moving all the time? Yeah, well, I completely forgot about the year I had heart surgery. (Hey, it was 40-odd years ago. My cardiologist couldn't even find any records of it.) It wouldn't be as big a deal now. I had a heart murmur, they'd known it since I was really small, and 1972 was the year they decided they needed to fix it. Nowadays it would be three days in the hospital, but back then it was 10. They didn't believe in taking any chances in those days. The pedi unit was up on the top floor of that same building I later worked at for over 10 years; for that matter, they're still using the same operating rooms, although not for much longer. (There's a new hospital under construction and the pronounced need for a new OR suite was one of the driving forces behind that.) I remember that the doctors would do rounds, trailing a mob of medical students, who were still almost all male, back then, and at 12 I was aware enough of boys to enjoy that quite a lot. I remember being utterly and completely bored for most of the week after the surgery and listening to music a lot. One band I particularly remember listening to at the time was Bread, which is one that hasn't worn quite so well. (Everything I Own was maybe their big hit at that time; later they would have big hits with "If" and the theme from the move "Goodbye Girl" - they were a fixture all through the 70s, really.) Anyway, I had the surgery and everything went fine, but it was a big life event for a 12-year-old.

I actually had a really long list of songs that I liked from that time - it was the year "American Pie" came out, and also "Vincent" and I remember that I had no idea what either one was talking about. I must have had the sheet music to Vincent or had access to it because I remember reading the words and going, "huh?" (I think it was years before I figured that one out. No internet, remember.) I almost picked a song called Alone Again (Naturally) for this year just because it's something you don't hear much now that I still kinda like. It was also the year of Brandy (You're a Fine Girl) and The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face - those were everywhere. (I see that Roberta Flack won back-to-back Grammys for Record of the Year, for that and for "Killing Me Softly" the next year, but awards shows other than maybe the Oscars were not something we paid attention to in those days.)

I just looked up the movies that came out in 1972: The Godfather was #1 (we weren't allowed to see it, and I can't say I cared at the time), #2 was The Poseidon Adventure, which I did see and loved, and #4, mind-bogglingly, is Behind the Green Door, which of course I didn't even know existed until later. Actually Deep Throat was apparently made around that same time, and I probably became aware of that one sometime in high school, at least, although I remember being unclear about why it was such a big deal. (I was appallingly naive, really.) In fact, I've seen most of the films on that top 10 list at one time or another (but still not Behind the Green Door, actually) but I don't think I saw any of the others until later. Things showed at the movies, almost always only for a week, in my little town, and if you didn't get there that week you were out of luck - they were gone until they came out on TV several years later, in most instances. Videotape got invented somewhere in the mid-70s, and cable started being around too, eventually, but we didn't have either at my house until much later. (TV was a wasteland, with a very few exceptions, but I'll talk about that another day.)
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas tree lights)
Mostly for my own use, because a list is easier to deal with, here's the songs I've picked for the first ten days (or rather years) of #musicadvent, and links to the videos:

1963: Peter, Paul & Mary, Puff the Magic Dragon (video is a BBC performance from a couple of years later)

1964: Julie Andrews (and children and an animatronic robin), A Spoonful of Sugar ("Mary Poppins" clip)

1965: Petula Clark, Downtown

1966: Nancy Sinatra, These Boots Were Made for Walkin'
second choice: The Hollies, Bus Stop

1967: The Beatles, I Am the Walrus ("Magical Mystery Tour" clip)

1968: Simon & Garfunkel, Scarborough Fair/Canticle

1969: The 5th Dimension, Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In
second choice: The Archies, Sugar Sugar (also there's some interesting info along with the video about the amount of stuff from that cartoon series that isn't known to exist any more!)

1970: The Jackson 5, ABC (really meant to post this one, though, because that other one is only about half the song!)

1971: Three Dog Night, Joy to the World (NOT the Christmas carol)

1972: America, Ventura Highway
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas tree lights)

So in 1971 was when I suddenly discovered radio. I don't know where I had been getting the music that I liked before that - TV, to a great degree, I guess, and my friends.

I just realized something, and I'm not going to try to go back and fix it in the past entries, but I got mixed up somewhere back a couple of days ago about what grade was what year. I started off right, but by yesterday I had it wrong.
1969 grades 4/5
1970 grades 5/6
1971 grades 6/7
That's partly why I was mixed up about when we moved that last time, for one thing. I was thinking that spring of 1968 would have been fourth grade, but it was third. So we definitely didn't move until '69, then. In the 1970 entry I was still talking about fourth grade, but actually I was in 5th grade at the beginning of 1970 - I remember that because it seemed so amazing that it was not the Sixties any more - it seemed like the future.

(In my own defense, I've been going back and forth between Twitter, for Music Advent, and Livejournal and the Holidailies portal, for these entries, and posting different things at different times, and it's really no wonder I got confused.)

So by the time I discovered the radio in the spring of 1971 I was in sixth grade, which sounds about right. I remember that it was spring because I spent the whole of our Easter break holed up in my parents' bedroom where the stereo was. (It was a big console stereo with a turntable, it would seem like an antique now.) I became obsessed with the music on the radio - it was AM radio, I'm pretty sure it was 610AM (which nowadays is a sports station). It was "top 40" rather than "album rock" - which was what the group a little older than me would have been listening to - but it wasn't the stuff the adults were listening to, either. It was a mix, I think, of sort of the softer end of rock, and some R&B and some novelty stuff. I can look at the Billboard charts for 1971 and pick out some of the stuff they played. Some of the songs from this page of one hit wonders were there. I remember being especially fond of "Chick-a-Boom" which I guess would count as a novelty song, but which my mother seemed to think was kind of radical at the time. (Some of the other songs that we later sang in choir, I have trouble remembering what I liked when. But Chick-a-Boom was not anything we ever sang in choir, for sure!)

(My mother, incidentally, kept waiting for the day when we would start listening to "grown-up" music and forget that rock stuff. Along about 2000 - which was the year I turned 40! - I remember her finally saying that she guessed that wasn't going to happen.)

So here's one of the songs I loved. I didn't even realize it was the #1 song of the year, but that's what Wikipedia says.

mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas tree lights)
1970 was when the Jackson 5 were a new thing:

This is not the same video (although it's the same song) that I posted for Music Advent - I got my versions mixed up and the one I posted is a truncated version of their 1970 Ed Sullivan performance. I believe the longer Ed Sullivan one is out there, but I've lost the link.

One year (it might have been 1970 or it might have been later) I got a little portable cassette player for Christmas - not a Walkman, mind you, those didn't exist yet - and some cassettes to go with it, and one of them was the Jackson 5. Actually my memory is that I also got "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" which didn't come out until later, so I'm not sure. I may just be conflating two different years, though. Anyway, I liked the Jackson 5, but I wasn't obsessive about them or anything. I was obsessive about The Partridge Family a bit, and only the fact that I have other songs I want to talk about today and tomorrow may be saving you from getting a Partridge Family song. (I'm not sure about 1972 yet, we'll see.)

The teen idols when I was the age for that kind of thing were David Cassidy (of the Partridge Family, not to be confused with his brother who came later on), Bobby Sherman (who sang but was also on the series Here Come the Brides which was very popular at the time), Donny Osmond... and I'm sure there were some others that I'm forgetting. Davy Jones of the Monkees has to be thrown in there, too - that Brady Bunch episode where Marcia has a crush on him didn't come out of nowhere. Michael Jackson was also in that group to some extent but I read somewhere that the fan publications would not put a black performer on the cover at the time the Jacksons first became popular, so the Tiger Beat magazines in my head don't feature him. (Like many instances of racism at the time, I was completely unaware of that.) I loved David Cassidy and Bobby Sherman and I do remember loving Davy Jones when I was younger but not so much the others. I thought Donny Osmond was cute but I never liked The Osmonds' music that much. I think it was more age than race with Michael Jackson, for me - he was only about a year older than me and I just didn't see him as a sex symbol, then or later. Donny Osmond is about two years older than me; David Cassidy was about 20 when he suddenly became a teen idol and Bobby Sherman was closer to 30. Apparently I liked my men older! (Oh god, here is the motherlode of teen magazines. Jack Wild! - I know I had a huge crush on him at some point. And clearly Bobby was the big thing that year.)

In other happenings that year - I went and found this entry from several years ago where I talked about joining the choir in school, which happened in 1970. (I talk there about the difference between church choir and school choir, and the fact that you didn't have to audition for church choir, but I don't really have much memory of auditioning for school choir either. I think there was an audition but it was really just to see if you could carry a tune, and that was about it.) Actually I don't really remember choir all that well in elementary school, but then we only went once a week. I have a lot more memories of school and who was in my class and such, starting in 5th grade, but I think it's partly because many of them were the people who went on to be in choir with me for a number of years, and some of them were my best friends for several years.

I didn't talk about teachers. One thing that happened in fourth grade was that my teacher's husband died very suddenly over Christmas break - I think he had a heart attack. (Remember that my mother was a fourth grade teacher, too, at the time, so she was friends with all these people. But that would have been a big deal in any case.) My fifth-grade teachers were Mrs. Andrews and Mrs. Armstrong, who were both somewhat older ladies, as I remember it. (My mother would have been 30-ish at the time. I imagine that these two teachers were more like the age I am now, fifty-something.) Fifth grade was the first year we had more than one teacher; in sixth grade I think we had three, not counting the things you only went to periodically like music and art. We thought that made us very grown-up. In fifth grade one teacher taught language arts and the other taught science and math and social studies, but I am not completely sure which was which.

It's funny, I have a very clear picture of one classroom - I'm pretty sure it was Mrs. Andrews' and I think she was probably the one that taught English - but I can't visualize the other one. I can remember my 3th and 4th grade classrooms pretty clearly, and even the ones before that in a vaguer way. It's probably just because once we started having many classrooms I can't remember them all. I remember two of the 6th-grade rooms but not the third one. And after that I know I don't remember all of my junior high rooms too well.
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Xmas - purple star)
I saw the prompt from a few days ago about Christmas crafts, and it got me to thinking. The thing is, my mother was an elementary school teacher, and we grew up doing LOTS of crafts. It was how she kept us entertained, quite often. I'll have to go see what I can find as far as pictures. I know I used to have some of that old stuff still around. And well, I've looked, now, and I can't find pictures of anything that was one of my mother's projects, so far. I know that one thing - probably the oldest I remember - was pasta glued onto cardboard and spray-painted gold. And those were hanging around for a surprising number of years. And I think maybe there were some salt-dough ornaments, and I know there were some felt birds that were mostly Mama's doing, because they date from before we were old enough to have been much help, there. I'm pretty sure I still have at least one of those birds around somewhere.

I don't put this in the "Mom craft" category because I'm pretty sure that these came from Sunday school (where they likewise had a huge arsenal of crafts to keep everyone occupied). I'm not sure if I made this one or my sister did, but I found it in with my mom's Christmas stuff after she died:
toilet paper clown
Not the nutcracker, the clown. Recycling (I won't try to call it upcycling) toilet paper rolls is not a purely recent idea.

Read more... )

mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Torchwood - 1899)
This is one of those entries.

It's cold. Well, cold by our standards. We didn't get any ice-storm like Dallas did (so far, at least) but it's 39 degrees (F) at 4 in the afternoon, that's cold for us. The good news is that - according to my phone, anyway - it's not going to get much colder. They had 39 for the low. This kind of seems like that kind of weather - it's still overcast and I can see that it might just stay the same temp. Which is good, I'm not even wearing socks. Socks do not like to stay on my feet well, so I don't put them on until I'm absolutely freezing. But much colder than it is now and I think I would have to!

I have been amusing myself this afternoon by looking at Tumblrs, because I happened on one Buzzfeed piece and then another one, as one does, both of which linked to various Tumblrs that they liked. (I've lost the links now, one was something like "best Tumblrs of 2013" and the other one was something like "57 cutest Tumblrs ever" - I'm sure you can find them from that much information if you really want to!) I really should be studying, but no, I'm looking at Tumblrs and writing blog entries. (I finished one about my nail polish earlier, complete with picture, so if that interests you, go on over there.)

One thing I found in that process was this great still from Dazed and Confused. I love that movie, and I can't believe it's 20 years old. (There's a Rolling Stone article about all the music that's 20 years old this year - two words: bee girl! - but if there's something similar for movies, I haven't stumbled across it so far.) D&C has always seemed really personal to me because most of the movie characters are the age I was at the time the movie is set - that is, finishing their junior year in 1976 - and because Linklater gets everything so unbelievably right. If you weren't around then, or were around but not that age, even, you just wouldn't believe how right this movie got everything. Just... everything. I can't even really pick one thing to talk about. Not just the colors, but the clothes, the cars - the hair, oh god - the way everybody talks and the things that they do, it's all like a time machine to me. I'm sure it helps that I grew up in suburban Houston, and the movie is set in Austin (which is where I went to college), so it's literally as well as figuratively pretty close to home for me. -- I haven't watched it in a while, either; it's clearly time for a rewatch.

mellicious: blinky lights (holiday lights gif)
Well, I was sort of saving this until closer to Christmas, but I don't seem to feel like writing anything else right now, so here you go! Some variation of this seems to float around every year, but I ganked this one from azurekitty, I think. (My way of doing this kind of thing is to copy it, delete the other person's answers and then let it sit for a day or two so I'm not just regurgitating their answers, hopefully! Which is why I also sometimes forget where I got them...)

1. Eggnog - Yay or Nay?
Nay - can't stand it. It's gross. (Don't worry, you're allowed to disagree with me. Just because I think it's gross doesn't mean you have to!)

2. Do you say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays"?
Really, I didn't used to think twice about it one way or the other. But nowadays, well, this is what the "War on Christmas" has done for us - every time somebody says "Merry Christmas" I wonder whether it's a greeting or a political statement. (This is especially true if it's a business we're talking about.) It's funny, though, "Merry Christmas" still pops out of my mouth sometimes - it's what I was brought up with, I guess. In writing I'm much more likely to say "Happy holidays" without even thinking about it. Kind of strange, but there you are.

3. Does your family have any special Christmas Eve traditions? Share them, if you'd like.
We say "Christmas Eve Gift!" to one another, along with a hug and/or kiss. I guess that's the gift, see. Also my grandmother (who is gone now) used to always try to open a gift on Christmas Eve, even though we don't do that in my family. That was a tradition, too - everybody waited for her to do it (and I suspect she knew that perfectly well).

Other than that, the tradition is that the grown-ups sit around and drink and the kids play games and squabble. (That's just what everybody does, right?) And we have some sort of casserole or something for supper that isn't too much trouble to prepare - we save the big meal for the next day. But you're allowed to dip into the desserts so everybody still gets utterly stuffed anyway. Some years we have gone to the carol service in the past, but the last time we went it turned out to be contemporary and not real carols at all, which infurated me. So I am on strike there unless somebody guarantees me the real thing.

4. What is your favorite Christmas song?
I think maybe I'd have to go with some of those real old-time Christmas carols on this - "Angels We Have Heard on High" maybe.

5. What is your favorite Christmas memory?
My mother pretending she heard the reindeer bells, when we were little. We got so excited.

6. What is your favorite Christmas movie?
White Christmas, I guess, even though I am not especially a Bing Crosby fan. (My sister and I particularly like to make jokes about the "Sisters" number.)

7. What's the best gift you've ever gotten? What about the worst?
We had a discussion on Twitter the other day about toothbrushes as a bad gift. (It began with talking about giving toothbrushes at Halloween, which is a whole different matter.) I think it was when I was 17 that we were on a trip and my mother wrapped up toothbrushes and gave them to my sister and me as gifts. We both thought that was very silly, although I suppose we should have been more gracious about it. (We were 17 and 16, it's not an age where one tends to be gracious about things like that.) I know we got some other gifts that year but that's the one I still remember. On the other hand, we were in TELLURIDE. SKIING. That was a damn good gift, right there. So maybe that year was the best and worst all wrapped up in one.

8. Do you leave cookies out for Santa?
Only if there are kids around, which in recent years there haven't been. The kids presumably go through this ritual at their own houses.

9. Do you believe in Santa? If not, who convinced you that he’s not real?
I'm a natural skeptic, I stopped believing when I was 7 or 8. I pretended I did for a couple more years, though - I was afraid if I admitted it I wouldn't get presents any more!

10. Do you go caroling?
Not in years. In high school I was in choir and we did actually go around and carol at people's doors in the old-fashioned kind of way. Even in the 70s this seemed pretty retro and a lot of people didn't seem to know how to respond.

11. Have you ever gotten a kiss under the mistletoe?
Yes, but mostly not anybody terribly interesting. Seems like back in high school, a million years ago, some boy that I thought I liked did kiss me, but I don't even remember who it was any more. That's sort of sad, I wish I remembered!

12. Who would you most like to encounter under the mistletoe?
I dunno, Karl Urban, maybe. Sadly, I can't even think of a particular celebrity crush to mention right now.
mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Default)
From Rivka

(I'm doing this instead of finishing the entry about marathon weekend. Go figure.)

Twenty acts I've seen live, with annotations.

(It's been damn close to 20 years since I've been to a concert - isn't that pitiful? - so let's see if I can remember 20 of them. Almost all of these were in Austin, in the first half of the 80s. I'll put the year and/or tour if I'm fairly sure I really remember that.)

1. REM - Municipal Auditorium, 1985?

2-3. Echo and the Bunnymen, probably 1984, Ocean Rain tour? We were right up front and almost got squashed, thanks to my friend Rick who was not quite an E&tB groupie. Some terrific band opened for them but I can't think who it was (dammit), but I know that Billy Bragg was the middle act. Really great concert.

4. Stevie Ray Vaughn - at The Ark Co-op, 1981. (That was where I lived, and he played our Halloween party and we paid him the unheard-of - for us - sum of $1000. We made tons of money and bought all-new washers and dryers. True story.) And everybody who was there says he was fabulous but to be honest, I was so drunk - and possibly otherwise chemically altered - I don't remember one way or the other.

5. The Police - 1981 or early '82, at the Drum/Erwin Center/whatever it's called these days. (Hereafter referred to as the Drum.) Ghost in the Machine tour.

6-8. Fleetwood Mac - on Halloween, I think, in the Drum. Stevie Nicks wore a witch's hat and disappeared backstage between every number, and since this was pre-rehab days, we thought we had a pretty good idea what she was doing back there. But they were good. And Glenn Frey was the opening act, rather strangely, and I want to say the Fabulous T-birds as well.

9. Frankie Goes to Hollywood, at Municipal Auditorium at the height of their "Relax" success. Surprisingly fun.

10. New Order - at Municipal Auditorium, 1985. I fell asleep. Seriously. They were that boring.

11. Katrina and the Waves, at the Austin Opry House (isn't that what it was called?) - I seem to recall that this concert was $6, which was cheap even then. And worth every penny. (Really. Not bad at all.)

12. The Cars - another one at the Drum (you notice that's where the big acts played) - I used to have a t-shirt that said "THE CARS ON THE ROAD 1982" and it had a tire track across the back. I wonder whatever happened to that shirt. Seems like I remember Rob wearing it not too many years ago.

13. U2 - seems like it was the "Bad" tour. I was disappointed, really, I had heard so much about how great they were live. They were fine, but if you've seen that old "Live at Red Rocks" video? It was exactly like that. Except without the rocks.

14-15. Tom Petty - man, I almost forgot about this one. At the Drum, with Lone Justice opening.

16. Jerry Jeff Walker and Gary P. Nunn, at the Opry House for some political benefit, 1981.

17. Dan Fogelberg, twice - 1979 and 1981, I think. Shut up, I was still a teenager.

18. Jackson Browne, c. 1980. This one also falls into the hall of shame nowadays, doesn't it? But I loved him at the time.

19. Michael (Martin) Murphey, 1977. It was free.

20. Howard Jones, with somebody cool and completely off-kilter opening for him. Unfortunately I can't remember now who that was.

21. (Because I just remembered another interesting one) Timbuk 3, at the Texas Union, probably in '85. Right on the cusp on their one-hit wonder fame.

Man, and I left off David Bowie, too. How could I forget him?

(And I think it was Marshall Crenshaw who was the opening act for Howard Jones.)


mellicious: Narnia witch in a carriage pulled by polar bears, captioned "OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!" (Default)

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