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.