The beat goes on …

Parade magazine, not normally my source of rock ’n’ roll news, says that 46 years ago today Sonny and Cher hit No.1 on the charts with “I Got You, Babe.” They certainly rocked my 9-year-old life – I read every word I could about Cherilyn Sarkisian Bono in my Sixteen magazines that I bought and studied religiously. (Never Tiger Beat – that was for boppers. It was Sixteen all the way for me. My walls were covered with their mini posters for years.)

If memory serves, Cher was billed as half-Cherokee/half-Armenian (maybe there was some French in there too – this is from memory). She dropped out of school for her music career. How romantic to a 9 year old. For a time, she drew my attention away from Pattie Boyd (soon-to-be Pattie Boyd Harrison, when she married – gasp – a BEATLE!), whom I considered the ultimate source for all things fashion and beauty.

She had a regular column in 16 and was a famous model in her own right before George married her then supposedly wrote “Something” about her. But that wasn’t enough – Eric Clapton wrote “Layla” about her when his love was unrequited, then “Wonderful Tonight” when they were married. She even claims “Bell-Bottom Blues” was written for her. Regardless, she was a highly influential person in my life.

I must admit to being disappointed to learn what a ditz her autobiography made her seem. Some people are better adored from afar – and when you’re in elementary school.

(Even her sister Jenny got in on the muse act; Donovan wrote “Jennifer Juniper” for her, then she was later married to Mick Fleetwood for a while.)

Getting sidetracked, as I was briefly by Cher. But mostly I dug the boy bands, the Beatles, of course, but so, so many others.

But here’s where I get to the point (about damn time, you may be thinking): Good music, contrary to what many of my baby-boomer cohorts say, did NOT end with the early ’70s. Au contraire; good music abounds.

Granted, there have been some musical-desert years. I would not have survived the late ’70s and early ’80s without my main man Tom Petty (he can do me like that, musically, anytime). That’s probably why son Ben used to beg, at about 15 months, for me to play “TP, Mama, TP” – he was my housework soundtrack in the stay-at-home mom days. Bruce Springsteen, whom Liz was determined to marry when she was a toddler, Dire Straits, Bob Seeger, then later, yes, John (briefly Cougar) Mellencamp all brought me comfort and joy.

When Tom Petty and I divorced our long-term spouses at about the same time in the mid-’90s, my kids teased me with “Now’s your chance, Mom. Your man’s free.”  Everything he does is gold. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better sound than the Travelin’ Wilburys came up with. (Hmmm, Pattie Boyd’s ex was a TW. There she is again.)

Dave Matthews has been around way too long to be considered new, but some of my boomer friends still don’t listen to DMB; some don’t even know who he is. If you’re in that category, you must learn now. Can’t let too many days go by without a fix. Maybe two. After that, the jonesing sets in (which reminds me of Counting Crows, another oldish “new” band. If you’re not in the know, check them out too.)

My kids introduced me to Jack Johnson when they were stationed in Hawaii, just before he hit it so big he became an Andy Samberg character on SNL. Even if you could possibly not love his music, you’ve got to love his big heart and green-living lifestyle. And he’s a surfer, dude.

My latest additions/addictions are The Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons. The Avett Bros. are southern, young and precious; Mumford & Sons are British, young and precious.

Hate to end on a downer note, but I’ve got to give the late Amy Winehouse her props. If she could’ve held out to our birthday (we were born on the same day), at least she could’ve beaten the cliche of the 27 club. Sigh. She should’ve lived long enough to catch up with her old lady voice. The child was even brave enough to tackle “Mr. Magic” – Grover Washington, Jr.’s groovy tune.

If she could only have hung on, she could’ve been a contender to be some young girl’s Cher or Pattie Boyd Harrison.


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