Tag Archive | the Beatles

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

Day tripper

Though I said I wouldn’t write more about it, people keep asking for details of the Paul McCartney show in Memphis, and since I’ve been a day tripper a couple of times lately, well, what the heck. I’ll write a bit about both trips.

And by now, you can find oodles and gobs of YouTube uploads of the concert, if you want to see more than what I’ve linked above. (Just put in Paul McCartney Memphis or Paul McCartney FedEx Forum.) They’re not bad, but they don’t do the eternal manboy justice. He was a 70-year-old doll and ball of fire.

Balls of fire were literally part of the show on “Live and Let Die.” Cathy and I were in the nosebleed section over the stage (actually good seats, just very high up), and we could feel the heat of the fire jets that shot up at the front and back of the stage several times. And who but Paul McCartney would be allowed to set off indoor fireworks, in addition to the flames?

But I get ahead of myself. Let me back up.

This little guy was sitting on my bed at the Econolodge four blocks down the street from the forum.

This little guy was sitting on my bed at the Econolodge.

Cathy and I checked in our slightly nappy Econolodge with a view of the Forum from our window, after being greeted by the sweetest hotel crew ever, then hoofed it over to Beale Street, where we quickly said “no, thanks.” Memphis, and especially Beale Street are not particularly vegetarian-friendly.

We backtracked a couple of blocks when I spotted Automatic Slim’s, which thrilled me to pieces. (For you non-nerds out there, Automatic Slim is a character in Willie Dixon’s “Wang Dang Doodle,” a marvelous blues song, though I prefer Howlin’ Wolf’s version.)

We sat at the bar and had a quick libation (vodka martini, me; Pinot Grigio, Cathy) and arugula, pear, blue cheese and walnut salads, with a big old platter of hot, fresh-made potato chips covered in blue-cheese fondue – and enjoyed our feisty bartender’s showmanship. She should have a reality show. Didn’t get her name, but you’ll know her by her long black hair and talent.

Then we hit the Forum.

The show kicked off at about 8:34 with “Eight Days a Week,” and we were instantly little girls again. (I know the time because I called Liz and held my phone up in hopes she could hear.) I called Ben at 9:23 when “We Can Work It Out” started, and “Hey, Jude” started just before 10:35, which I know because I recorded part of it for Jude. I don’t have the time of the pyrotechnics, but I filmed some of it before “HJ,” so it was around 10.

Oh, let’s see, what do I tell? “Maybe I’m Amazed,” which Paul mentioned writing for Linda, was the only old solo song Cathy and I remember. Earlier in the evening he did his solo “My Valentine,” which he wrote for his wife, Nancy. He rocked. He rolled. He played the hell out of the piano, either ebony grand or psychedelic-painted spinet, several guitars (including Les Pauls in assorted colors), and his familiar violin-style bass.

The man is immensely talented. If you ever wrote him off as “the cute Beatle” who rode on John Lennon’s coattails (yeah, I’ve heard you my whole life), you are ever, ever so wrong. Each one of The Beatles was an immense talent and together they were perfection.

Old Paul still is, even though his voice has aged and he sings in a lower key. He’s a testament to vegetarianism, I suppose, because he looks and moves years younger than he is (yes, he dyes his hair and eyebrows, but you can’t dye a body or that stamina).

He wore Beatle boots and made me feel old, young, nostalgic, happy, sad, tearful. Cathy and I laughed with glee and reminisced. And evidently sang along a lot, since I had laryngitis for two days after the show.

(I saw George Harrison almost 30 years ago in Memphis, and though he was quite divine himself and I was terribly moved by him, too, this show blew that show away.)

You can find set lists online – this one seems the most accurate to me, since some of the others don’t mention the instrumental “Foxy Lady” tribute to Jimi Hendrix. Paul played a cherry red Les Paul decorated with children with arms up-reached and told a charming tale about when Jimi Hendrix played “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band” while the Fab Four and Eric Clapton were in attendance.

He discussed how influential Memphis was to The Beatles, added that without Memphis music, The Beatles might not have happened. The man is quite chatty and can work a crowd. People of all ages were putty in his hands.

I didn’t scream. But I’m screaming in my head right now as I relive it. I SAW PAUL MCCARTNEY!

•••••••••••••••••••••••

OK, on to the other day trip. You may know that Arkansas is home to the divine Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. If you don’t, it’s a museum of such quality that visitors come from all over the country. Anyone who knows me is bound to know I’m no fan of Walmart, but I am a huge fan of art and appreciate the donation of such a fine, fine museum – with free admission, no less. So thank you, thank you, Alice and family for that.

We’ve wanted to go for ages but since John’s sister, Kitty, was coming this spring, we decided to wait and take her to the crown jewel of Northwest Arkansas, which we did shortly before the scare with Silas. We took the new Cruze up the Pig Trail and stayed with my step-sister Lisa and brother-in-law Steve at their home overlooking Beaver Lake. Lisa, Mother, John, Kitty and I went to the museum the next day.

If you haven’t been, you must go, even if you think you don’t like American art. Even if you really don’t like the early, primitive stuff (which doesn’t hold a candle to the European masters), c’mon, they’ve got Andy Warhol’s Dolly Parton 1985. We saw Mark Rothko’s No. 210/No. 211 (Orange). (Forgot my camera, so forgive the fuzzy iPhone pics.)

Rothko

And this Maxfield Parrish. He’s one of my favorite artists in the world, so it was a superthrill. This one is called Lanterns.

ParrishOf course, you can see better versions at the website. And you should, if you don’t go.

What really tickled me, since I recently read The Devil in the White City (which I highly recommend), about the Chicago World’s Fair (and a serial murderer to boot), of which almost no photos exist, was finding Theodore Robinson’s World’s Columbian Exposition (1894). I might have to buy a print of it someday.

colombian exposition

Again, do yourself a favor and look it up.

Parts of the museum are interactive and the grounds are fabulous. We’ll go back – I hope to see the “Angels & Tomboys” exhibit, in fact, though we passed on the Norman Rockwell exhibit since we were short on time. We did see Rosie the Riveter, though.

Kitty’s trip was cut short a day by her getting stuck in Dallas the first night and coincided with Silas’s hospitalization, but we did have time to take her to some of our favorite restaurants around town. We had lunch at Trio’s and Loca Luna, dinner at Creegen’s and dinner on the deck at Brave New Restaurant, where her sweet brother proposed to moi in 2003. John and Kitty went to Bosco’s and Vino’s – and of course Community Bakery got a couple of visits for sweet necessities.

Even under normal circumstances, there’s just never enough time for visits from family.

And speaking of time, I’m out of it. John Lennon is singing on the iPod dock. Seems a good time to sign off.

Cathy, Paul, John, Kitty and me on the deck at Brave New Restaurant.

Cathy, Paul, John, Kitty and me on the deck at Brave New Restaurant.

Youngblood

The calendar tells me I’m 56 and any mirror I pass tells me I’m old (from the front or the back, these days), but my music tells me I still have young blood coursing through my veins.

I do believe in rock ’n’ roll and music saves my mortal soul, but time marches on.

Kind of crazy. But I’m feeling groovy.

There was a time in my life when I’d have wanted to run off with Leon Russell, given the chance. Now he’s an old guy who still has the power to move me to tears in a different way. (And check out John Mayer’s chops as he accompanies the old man. Don’t tell me JMs just a pretty boy, though he is that as well.)

I remember singing at the top of my lungs on my swing set in the backyard in the fourth grade. Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman” had just come out, and I thought there couldn’t be anything better than to have someone say that someday about a grown-up Laura.

“Do Wah Diddy” (Manfred Mann, remember?) was another swing-set bellower from the same time and also dealt with walking down the street. (Seems to have been a theme. I know I wanted to get out of there.)

That’s also the year “A Hard Day’s Night” came out and gave me an extreme reason to live. The first semester of the fourth grade was hellish – we’d moved to El Dorado temporarily and all my friends were back at North Heights in North Little Rock. Right after Christmas, we beat a retreat for home.

In the meantime, music, the Beatles and Bewitched got me through. The exploits of Samantha, Darrin and Endora officially came on after my bedtime, but I’d go to bed, then sneak back up and stand in the hall watching it over the shoulders of Mother and Daddy as they snuggled on the couch.

They had to have known I was there – during commercials, I’d jump back into my room to hide. Mother and Samantha had the same hair, which I thought was very cool. I tried for years to work magic by wiggling my nose.

Even if I could make it work, I don’t think I’d go back in time. I wouldn’t want to stop, stop, stop all the dancing through life, no matter what. Back then, I couldn’t wait to grow up to be a long cool woman in a black dress.

Never made that – stalled out at 5 ft. 4 in., but I did grow up to be a “Green-eyed Lady,” just as I used to go to bed listening to that song by Sugarloaf.

Things are pretty great these days, all in all. Music just makes life grander for me. Makes me feel like I’m driving Carl Perkin’s Cadillac. (And you thought this was just about oldies. No way, Jose.)

Do you know what I mean?

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.