Friday, July 1, 2011

Rock and Roll All Night by Kiss (Winter 1976)

I really wasn't into "hard" rock and roll at the time.  I was still listening to The Bay City Rollers, Wings, and similar music.  So when this group came along, I had no idea what the big deal was. The boys at my bus stop would play air guitar and wear KISS belt buckles and t-shirts. And why the hell did they keep sticking their tongues way out?  It was bizarre.

One of the boys, John, got my brother liking KISS.  My brother was only five, but admired older boys, as little kids will do. So John would play KISS on his portable tape recorder for us after school.  I liked the music, but was really into it like so many of my peers were.  Plus, they looked a little scary.

Well, my brother begged my mom for one of their albums (look it up, kids).  They went to the record store and once my mother saw the cover and those made-up crazy faces, she said absolutely not.  Now, my mom wasn't really religious at the time yet, but we were Catholic and there were sins, and this group had to be committing loads of them.

Then she heard from someone that KISS stood for Kids in Satan's Service.  Well, that sealed the deal for my brother; he wouldn't be getting his own album anytime soon.  


I'm still not that into KISS, but I wouldn't mind catching them in concert now.  I read Gene Simmons's autobiography, and he's actually a pretty interesting guy.  And their music is pretty good (except I hate Beth).  But I will always remember John playing air guitar and my little brother wishing he could have his own copy of a KISS album.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Silly Love Songs by Paul McCartney & Wings (Summer 1976)

I was ten years old in the summer of 1976.  I hadn't really discovered The Beatles and Paul McCartney yet, but I liked "Silly Love Songs" a lot.  I didn't realize at the time that Paul was the be-all and end-all of music for me.

That summer was pretty cool.  My mom, grandmother, brother and I went to Disneyworld for their Bicentennial Celebration.  America's Bicentennial was all anybody seemed to talk about that summer; they even made Bicentennial quarters, which were pretty neat.

Click here for some images of Disney's Bicentennial Parade from 1976.

I was a voracious reader as a kid, much as I am now. One of my favorite places to hang out was the public library.  Back then, library cards were a little different - kids got a separate card, which only let them check out books from the kids' section.  That was fine for most kids, but my reading level was that of a high-schooler, and the little kid books bored the hell out of me.  The teen section was so forbidden, yet so amazing.  Judy Bloom, Norma Klein - they wrote the books I was dying to read.

The day finally came when my mom signed that precious teen section card for me.  Then my friend Trina and I were taken by her mom to the library.  On the way, "Silly Love Songs" played on the radio, and of course we sang along.  I'm sure her mom loved it.  We spent a good hour in the library that day, Trina and her mom in the kids' section, me in the teen section.  I left with an armful of books that I knew I'd devour in days.  I couldn't wait to go back.

"Silly Love Songs" will always take me back to that day.  I remember Trina saying the beginning scared her a bit because of the chains that sounded like a ghost haunting.  But she was a little younger than I was, so I didn't pay any attention to her silliness.

Since 1990, I've seen Paul McCartney in concert five times.  Number six will be next month, when my mother-in-law, my youngest daughter Becca and I go see him at Yankee Stadium in New York.  Can't wait!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

RIP - Clarence Clemons

Joy to the World by Three Dog Night (Winter 1971)

When I was five, I became completely obsessed with this ridiculous song about a bullfrog named Jeremiah.  I remember seeing commercials for the New Year's Eve celebration where Three Dog Night would perform this cool song as 1970 rolled into 1971.  My parents were going out and getting me a babysitter, but they told her to let me stay up and watch the performance.  I was so excited - I was allowed to stay up waaaaay past my bedtime and watch my favorite song being performed.

I fell asleep long before the show came on, of course.

But my babysitter Jill was pretty cool, and she woke me up when Three Dog Night came on, so I got to see the performance after all.  I know now that it was all lip-synched, but back then it was just the greatest thing ever.

The following year, Three Dog Night sang about the races getting along. I didn't know what it was about; I thought it was just a children's song.  It kind of sounded like one and they sang about children, so it really appealed to me.  My friend Theresa and I would play on my see-saw together, singing the few words we actually knew - "The child is black, the child is white, together they learn to read and write..." - over and over and over.  Those aren't the correct lyrics, just the words we knew.

Three Dog Night is touring this summer, and I was tempted - but apparently Chuck Negron is not touring with them, and as far as I'm concerned, it's not Three Dog Night without him.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Puppy Love by Donny Osmond (Spring 1972)

I was six years old with my first major crush - Donny Osmond.  I talked about him all the time, listened to his music and told everyone I knew that someday I was going to marry him.  I didn't see a problem with this; after all, nobody loved him like I did, right?  It was just a matter of meeting him at the right time, we'd fall in love and then get married.  I mean, he was singing "Puppy Love" to me; I just knew it.

It didn't work out the way I had planned.

But my love for him didn't wane for a very long time; I was a devoted watcher of "The Donny and Marie Show," and never missed an episode.  My mom even took me to see Donny and Marie perform at Hershey Park!  So close but yet so far away.  Maybe if I had been able to catch his eye...

But I got my Donny fix every week when I watched their show, and life went on.  I remember watching this when it aired:

I got grief for my Donny love sometimes; in a time when America, Chicago, Neil Young, Three Dog Night and other rockers were climbing the charts, I picked the soft-rockin' nerdy Mormon. I may not love him now as much as I did back then, but there's still a soft spot in my heart for my first crush.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I Only Want to be With You by The Bay City Rollers (Fall 1976)

A lot of people say the 70s were an embarrassing time for fashion and music.  Fashion I'll agree with, but not the music.  I will never be ashamed to admit my love for The Bay City Rollers. I will, however, admit that their fashion sense was a little...odd.  They dressed in tartan all. the. time.  But hey, they were from Scotland, so they were easily forgiven. Especially since they were so darn cute.  My cousin Debbie and I were so in love with them and bought every album they put out.  They were guests on The Mike Douglas Show for one glorious week and I melted at their accents when they talked.

It wasn't until a few years ago that I realized the lead singer, Les McKeon, was a bit of a jerk. I read a biography of the band and thought it might be exaggerated, but then I read his autobiography where he came across as a first-class jackass.  Sigh.  

However, the ten-year-old still inside me will always love Les and the band, and will admit it proudly despite the snickers and head-shaking I might get.