Tag Archive | American Bandstand

Not fade away

NE Chargers

We’re the best of all you see – we’re the class of ’73!

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). buddyhollyIf 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.

Dick Clark started many of us on the rock ’n’ roll, well, sidewalk, because it was pretty tame. But we hit the R‘n‘R highway in the 1960s and never looked back.

Dick Clark’s American Bandstand started many of us on the rock ’n’ roll, well, sidewalk, because it was pretty tame. But we hit the R‘n‘R highway in the 1960s and never looked back.

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.

But when the credits started rolling, to The Beatles “I’ve Got a Feeling,” my heart leaped with nostalgia – and pure love. When Bobby D.’s “She Belongs to Me” followed it, I almost cried.

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.

One-two-thre-four …

Am.Bandstand

Oh, here are a few more favorite “Not Fade Aways” for your listening pleasure.

The Rolling Stones

Stevie Nicks

Tom Petty

Ride, captain, ride

You say it’s your birthday. It’s my birthday too, yeah. But that seems too cliché, as great as as the song is. And I’m not old enough for the other classic Beatles aging song, so I decided, what the hell.

It’s my birthday and I can go with any song I want and decided somewhat randomly on one of my favorite obscurish 45s that Pam and I practically wore the grooves out on.

It fits. Music is a huge part of my life – my parents even named me after their song. Daddy was a pianist and a trombone player in dance band, and he played it.  We had the sheet music, and I could play it too.

I always found that very romantic, as were my parents. Love the movie, am proud to be named after the song.

Daddy was 22, a college grad with his first job and on top of the world with his first baby girl.

Mother was a 20-year-old doll when she first became a mom. Check out that car – and that might be on Chester.

As you can see from these pictures, my parents were very young when I came along in 1955. Daddy had just graduated from the U of A with a civil engineering degree and had his first real job, at the Highway Department. We lived on Chester, just a few blocks from the LollyPop house, when I was born a couple of months after their birthdays.

Daddy turned 22 in July and Mother turned 20. (I got my first German Shepherd – Trigger – at 20. Didn’t have Ben until two months after my 23rd birthday. Old for my family back then.)

Mother used to walk me in my stroller down Roosevelt to my great aunt’s house on Howard Street, right next to the State Fair Grounds and Barton Coliseum, where I would later attend many, many concerts. You could do that back then; it was safe. Seriously.

First birthday, in Dallas. We lived in an apartment building and my cousin was nearby in Fort Worth.

I had my first birthday in Dallas, where we lived for a while when my dad changed jobs. Then El Dorado, then back to Little Rock, on Durwood. That was where at 4 I just knew I’d broken my finger when I fell on the ice Mother had specifically told me not to play on. (I didn’t mind well). It was only jammed, but it took her a long time to convince me of that.

That house had a cute red door. I had good times there. It’s now a parking lot.

They paved paradise.

Kindergarten was in Fort Smith. (There’s that “True Grit thing again. And, yes, we moved around a lot until settling in North Little Rock for my first through 12th grade.) A one-armed boy knocked one of my teeth out in class one day. Seriously. And I remember getting a serious shock from my red-and-white record player in my bedroom and screaming, “I’m electrocuted” over and over. Mother finally made me understand that, no, I did NOT get electrocuted (wouldn’t be here to tell the tale, would I?), I’d been shocked.

So I’ve always had a flair for drama.

I also sang some song about eskimos on a local kid’s TV show (don’t ask me why) and shook Clint Walker’s hand at the rodeo, he of “Cheyenne”. Be still, my 5-year-old heart. (But my heart really belonged to Bat Masterson and Paladin, then later Rowdy Yates and, I’ll admit it, Lucas McCain (well, actually his son).

But I lived and breathed “American Bandstand.” If it had a good beat and you could dance to it, I was down with it. Literally, seated on the floor in front of the TV. (Yeah, yeah, it’ll hurt my eyes to sit so close.) One of my earliest memories is watching saddle oxfords doing the stroll to Fats Domino’s “Walking to New Orleans.” I must’ve been 2.

I even got my nickname when I was young from a song, and that’s where John and I got our  grandparent names now that we’re old. Mother sang it a lot. That was just one of the songs she sang. Our house was filled with music. All of them were.

So is my heart.

I don’t mind being 56 – I’m glad to be here. Lots of good people I’ve known and loved didn’t make it that long. So hooray for birthdays, hooray for being oldish. And hooray for rock ’n’ roll and all the other great music that makes life so pleasurable.

I said earlier that “Ride, Captain, Ride” was chosen somewhat randomly. It’s partly by design. My beloved John, Pop to my Lolly, once set out sailing from San Francisco Bay, and, fortunately, that led him, in a long convoluted way, into my life. And he’s one of the best presents I’ve ever gotten.

And for my son-in-law Brent, here’s another version.

Happy birthday, Allison, Debbie and Ron, my fellow 9/14thers.