I’ve been mulling over how to write about or respond to our high school reunion Saturday night. In thinking about it, and after watching Not Fade Away Sunday evening, followed by the season finale of Mad Men, I’ve gotten sidetracked by a theory about baby boomers, at least the mid- to late-’50s-born ones.
We’re the generation raised on “Not Fade Away,” which makes us the generation that won’t fade away – a criticism we get from those who say baby boomers are self-centered ex-hippies who won’t grow up and won’t get out of the way for younger generations.
We can’t help it, at least those of us whose hearts beat in 4/4 time (with a strong back beat). If you want to point fingers, blame Buddy Holly, who released his much-covered song before my 2nd birthday.
Some of my first memories are of sitting on the floor in front of the television watching kids dance (the girls in saddle oxfords and long skirts) on American Bandstand. I especially remember them doing the stroll to Fats Domino’s “Walking to New Orleans” — of course that was a long time ago, and maybe they strolled to “Blueberry Hill,” but in my mind, it’s the former.
Then, as the movie Not Fade Away strongly points out, the British Invasion brought American blues and rock ’n’ roll home to roost in the 1960s, with fabulous covers of old songs most American kids had never heard.
A little about the movie is required here: We rented it partly to pay our respects to James Gandolfino (even though we never really watched The Sopranos on a regular basis. Side note, though: My kids’ friends in the navy did call me Carmela, Liz says, because we were both little, angular-featured, um, “feisty” blondes, I believe is how she put it. Might have been “bossy.”). But we rented it mainly because I’ve wanted to see it for months and after reading about it on the box, John did too.
The characters were several years older than I am and a few older than John, but could we ever relate. And the soundtrack is a great trip down memory lane. The movie is solidly enjoyable (at least if you’re a music nerd), though a bit ambitious in story lines – without giving anything away, I’ll just say some of them fizzled out without resolution or left us hanging.
It’s not age; music’s always done me that way.
Sally Draper on Mad Men is one or two years older than I would have been during the episodes, so it’s like watching my life, minus the extreme drinking on the part of the adults, and the cheating and the wealth. But you know what I mean. Like reliving my youth, watching that show is. Makes me philosophical like Yoda it seems.
Anyway, we came to Mad Men late, though my sister had told me for years we’d love it, and binge-watched to catch up season before last, I think. Maybe this season. Can’t remember. I don’t want to give anything away for those of you who haven’t seen it, so just let me say that when the credits rolled to Judy Collins’ cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now,” yeah, yeah, you get it.
I played that one on the piano as a young teen. Sigh.
And that brings me back to the reunion, which I’ll bet you thought I’d forgotten. Nope.
It was fun. Though some of us looked different, none of us had changed much. We’re the kids who don’t grow up, the ones who grew up being told not to trust anyone over 30. We got past that (my kids are over 30!), but we’ve stayed pretty young, compared to previous generations.
Some of my closest friends didn’t come, but others did. Seeing my long-lost beloved Gina McDonald (now Wilkins) made me tear up for a sec – we visited most of the night and our hubs hit it off well. Seeing long-lost Al Martin tickled me so. Seeing Linda and Paula felt like coming home to Indian Hills and happy days.
And it’s always good to see the regular crew I keep in contact with. In fact, it was good to see everyone who was there. High school years for me were happy days.
But they can’t beat today.
Oh, here are a few more favorite “Not Fade Aways” for your listening pleasure.