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.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

RIP - Andrew Gold

Shadow Dancing by Andy Gibb (Summer 1978)

My cousin Debbie and I were major fans of Andy Gibb.  How could we not be - he was ADORABLE.  We were pre-teens and very susceptible to teen idols.  Andy Gibb's face was on our walls and in ours hearts.

Imagine how thrilled and excited we were when our moms told us they had tickets to see him at a venue called Merriwether Post Pavillion in Columbia, MD.  For months, Debbie and I would talk excitedly about it whenever we got together, flipping through the pages of Tiger Beat magazine to cut out more pictures.

The day of the concert finally arrived.  I was psyched; the day stretched out so long ahead of me.  And then it started to rain.  Then pour.  We had seats on the lawn, not in the pavillion.  Our moms decided they didn't want to sit in the rain to see some teen heartthrob and refused to take us to the concert.  We begged, pleaded, offered our souls.  Nope.  They obviously didn't love him like we did; we would've sat in the rain all day to see Andy perform.  We were crushed, devastated.

Why the hell couldn't they have just used umbrellas?

Debbie and I swore that next time he came back, we WOULD see him, rain or shine.

Well, we know how that sad story ended.  I'd never get the chance to see Andy Gibb perform unless I watched Solid Gold or some other lame, lip-synched show.

But here he is, in all his beautiful glory:

Monday, May 30, 2011

Harden My Heart by Quarterflash (Winter 1981)

My friend JoLynn, plus a couple other friends I can't recall, and I went to a Toys-for-Tots concert on December 6th, 1981.  The Toys-for-Tots campaign was run by the Marine Corps at Christmastime; donations of new toys and books were taken at donation sites around the area and the toys were given out to needy children.

The tickets for the concert were relatively inexpensive because you also brought a toy to the concert for the donation bins.  I don't remember what I donated, but I do remember all the hot Marines in their uniforms.  Playing the concert that night were Quarterflash, Juice Newton, The Spinners and a big name at the time, Rick Springfield.

That night was so much fun; I had no idea that the lead singer of Quarterflash, Rindy Ross, was also the one who played the saxophone in the band.  She really rocked it out; she was a blast to watch.

Although Rick Springfield was the main draw, I enjoyed Quarterflash's performance the most.  But I've always been a sucker for the saxophone.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Miss You by The Rolling Stones (Summer 1978)

My parents divorced when I was about six.  My dad moved to Texas, but visited whenever he could,, usually when he was in New York on business.  He'd detour to Maryland to see us before he headed back to Dallas.

My taste in music at that time pretty much reflected my mom's.  She was into 70s soft rock like The Carpenters, Carly Simon, John Denver, stuff like that.  Which is actually great stuff, don't get me wrong.  I still listen to soft rock; my taste in music is very diverse.

But there was no rock in my life; I didn't really even know what it was.  

On a weekend when my dad was visiting, though, my music world was turned upside down.  We were going somewhere; I can't remember where now, but Dad turned on the radio and the song "Miss You" by The Rolling Stones blared from the speakers.  Wow, this was a really cool song! I asked my dad who sang it, and he answered.  I replied I had never heard of The Stones - my dad was shocked.  "You've never heard of The Stones?"

I was twelve years old and had never heard of one of the greatest rock group of all time.  But Mom didn't listen to that kind of music, and I didn't really know the local radio stations yet.  We listened to whatever Mom wanted to listen to in the car (as my kids do now!).

So I got a bit of an education that day.  The station Dad had tuned in played Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, The Steve Miller Band, and other great bands of that summer in 1978.

"Miss You" is still my favorite Stones song, with "Gimme Shelter" a close second.  But I wasn't finished with soft rock by any means - it wasn't long before Andy Gibb and The Bay City Rollers came into my life.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Groove Line by Heatwave (June 1978)

I had gone to public school from Kindergarden through sixth grade, but since I was supposed to go to Glendridge Junior High in seventh grade, my mom enrolled me into St. Mary's Catholic School instead.  Glenridge would've corrupted me; there were kids that smoked in that school!  I was NOT happy; I wanted to go to school with my friends.  I had already had to move to a new school where I didn't know anybody when I was bused; why couldn't I catch a break?

But again, I settled in and made friends, although I was never really happy there.  

I had been a bus safety patrol in Matthew Henson, so I signed up to be patrol at St. Mary's.  I wasn't a bus rider; I lived in the neighborhood, so I was stationed at various danger spots for walkers.  I enjoyed it; in the winter we got free hot chocolate, and my best friend Susan was usually stationed with me.

Cool story about Susan and me - we found out after we met and became friends in seventh grade that our mothers had been roommates in the hospital when we were born - she was born December 15th and my birthday is the 16th.  She used to hold it over that she was older, especially milestones like turning 13, 16, etc.  Yeah, she doesn't do that anymore.

The summer after seventh grade, Susan and I, along with a few other safety patrols attending a safety patrol sleepaway camp for a week.  It was a BLAST.  Unfortunately, Susan got sick the first night and had to go home.  I was a little lonesome, but got to know some of the girls I bunked with and had a great time.

We spent days learning safety procedures, which took up maybe an hour each day.  The rest of the day we were able to go swimming, play games and hang out.  On the final night, the counselors held a dance for us.  I had a HUGE crush on one of the counselors, Steve Fox.  Back then, "fox" was used to describe a hot guy or girl, and he lived up to his name.  He was only 15 to my 13, but he seemed so much older - he was in high school.

I'm pretty sure he knew of my crush; thirteen-year-olds aren't very subtle. The highlight of my week at camp came when Steve asked me to DANCE!  It was my first dance with a boy ever, and although it wasn't a slow, romantic dance, it was still magical.  The song was "The Groove Line" by Heatwave, and whenever I hear it now, I'm instantly transported back to the night in June 1978.

Steve and I actually corresponded a few times, and I even ran into him at a carnival when I was about 14 and we rode the ferris wheel together.  But no romance ever came of it, and sometimes I wonder where he is today and how he's doing.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Got to Give it Up by Marvin Gaye (May 1977)

In Spring 1977, I was in sixth grade, close to moving up to Junior High.  We called it Junior High back then; there was no middle school.  Junior High was 7th, 8th and 9th grades. I attended Matthew Henson Elementary School in Palmer Park, MD, although I lived in Landover Hills and there was an elementary school right up the street.  I was one of the lucky kids who got sent to another school when they started busing kids to get schools integrated better.  They bused me in the middle of second grade, which was really hard. The black kids weren't thrilled about us white kids taking their friends' places at the school, and some were pretty mean about it.  Some of the white kids started fights to secure their places.  It was pretty scary for me.

But by sixth grade, I was an old-timer at the school, had lots of friends, black and white, and got pretty good grades.  I was also president of the Student Council, which didn't really mean anything, but got me out of going to recess when it was cold outside to help teachers put up bulletin boards or correct papers.

That Spring the school had a talent show.  I didn't participate; my shyness and lack of any discernible talent kept me from trying out.  But I did get to help out backstage, which was fun.  One of the coolest acts was by a girl named Kim - she brought in her dog, a little Dachshund, that she had trained in all sorts of cool ways.  A dog in school!  The whole school was excited about it.

Another act was the girls who were in gymnastics classes - they showed off their flips and cartwheels while I wished I could do a somersault without getting a headache.

But the funnest act to watch was the group of dancers who boogied down, "Soul Train Line" style, to Marvin Gaye's song "Got to Give it Up."  To this day, whenever I hear that song, I can still see the two lines of girls, each girl grooving down the middle when it was her turn.

Check it out - I think this is a performance from "Soul Train:"

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


If you're a reader of my other blog, Chaos and Contentment, you know I'm really into music, especially the 60s, 70s and 80s. I write a regular guest blog called It Came from the 80s at a site called Forgotten Flix, in which I reminisce about movies I saw in the 80s and what was going on my life at the time.

Why not do the same thing with music, only not limiting myself to one decade?

At least once or twice a week I will pick a song from a day in my past and write about what I was doing, how I was feeling - maybe even reveal a secret or two.

We'll start with a quick and easy post today. I first became aware of The Beatles when I was about four or five years old, listening to "Yellow Submarine" on the radio. I remember sitting on a friend's porch while the radio played, while a bunch of us kids sang along very off-key. I didn't know who The Beatles were or that they were a major force in music; I just knew it was a fun song. Many years later, I would be a Beatles FANATIC.