Archive for the ‘1973’ Category

Full Moon Omens

Friday, September 13th, 2019

All week – perhaps a little longer – my news feed at Facebook and commentary at a few other places have been filled with folks’ anxieties about the confluence today of a full moon and Friday the 13th.

It’s an accepted part of modern folklore – and perhaps there are some studies out there validating that folklore, but I’m not going to go hunting for them this morning – that things get weird out there on the nights of full moons. Some folks swear that even if they didn’t know there was a full moon by the calendar, they’d recognize its existence by either the behavior of others or the workings of their own bodies.

I won’t gainsay those folks, as I don’t know. In my working life – as a reporter/editor and as an educator – I came across plenty of weirdness, but I never cross-checked its timing against the phases of the moon. I guess I just assumed that there was weirdness in the world.

And Friday the 13th has never meant much to me. Its notoriety as a day of bad luck is simply folklore. Here’s the history of it as presented by Wikipedia:

The irrational fear of the number 13 has been given a scientific name: “triskaidekaphobia”; and on [sic] analogy to this the fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskevidekatriaphobia, from the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή, meaning “Friday”), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς, meaning “thirteen”).

The superstition surrounding this day may have arisen in the Middle Ages, “originating from the story of Jesus’ last supper and crucifixion” in which there were 13 individuals present in the Upper Room on the 13th of Nisan Maundy Thursday, the night before his death on Good Friday.While there is evidence of both Friday and the number 13 being considered unlucky, there is no record of the two items being referred to as especially unlucky in conjunction before the 19th century.

An early documented reference in English occurs in Henry Sutherland Edwards’ 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini, who died on a Friday 13th:
“He [Rossini] was surrounded to the last by admiring friends; and if it be true that, like so many Italians, he regarded Fridays as an unlucky day and thirteen as an unlucky number, it is remarkable that on Friday 13th of November he passed away.”

It is possible that the publication in 1907 of Thomas W. Lawson’s popular novel Friday, the Thirteenth, contributed to disseminating the superstition. In the novel, an unscrupulous broker takes advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on a Friday the 13th. A suggested origin of the superstition – Friday, 13 October 1307, the date Philip IV of France arrested hundreds of the Knights Templar – may not have been formulated until the 20th century. It is mentioned in the 1955 Maurice Druon historical novel The Iron King (Le Roi de fer), John J. Robinson’s 1989 work Born in Blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry, Dan Brown’s 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code and Steve Berry’s The Templar Legacy (2006).

Interesting stuff, I guess. We need some music to match it, but as I wander through the digital stacks, I come up empty on both sides. A number of tracks have the word “moon” in their titles, but none of them seem to hit the mark today. And a fair number of tracks have the word “Friday” in their titles, but none hit the date or the mood.

So let’s go with the word “superstition.” Here’s Jeff Beck, Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice, recording as Beck, Bogert & Appice, taking on Stevie Wonder’s tune for their self-titled 1973 album.

Another September 4

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

As always, when September 4 rolls around, I’m taken back to 1973 and the evening I got a plane for the first time and began the nearly nine-month adventure in Denmark (and elsewhere in Europe) that became – as I’ve noted before – the single most formative experience of my life.

Even forty-six years later, the images, thoughts and sounds of that time are still vibrant, part of the inner furnishings that define me and much of my life. And it is on days like today that I am grateful for the gift (and occasional curse) of a good memory, as I recall the taste of my first meal in Copenhagen (a stew advertised as a Stroganoff but not quite getting there), my first attempt to find the correct train from Copenhagen back to a suburban hostel (a comedy of errors in two languages), the first time my arm slipped around the waist of a young lady whom I would come to love, and so much more.

Those and all the rest of my adventures have been covered enough here over the years, I am sure. Beyond what I’ve said above, I’ll not add to that word count today.

Nor will there be music here today. The song of love and memory and wonder that would fit how I feel today has never been written, never been sung.

At about half past nine tonight, I’ll tip my glass to the memory of the more than a hundred of us who made our ways onto a Finnair jet during that long-ago evening, the first step of more than a hundred individual journeys. Most of us are still living. Some have left us. But I remember them all, and so much more.

And I always will.

Saturday Single No. 656

Saturday, August 31st, 2019

The end of August hangs in the air this morning, and the first thing that comes to mind is acorns. As readers might recall, our acre-plus lawn on the East Side was blessed with thirty-four oak trees, and every other August or so, the lawn and adjoining street would be covered with acorns. We have none here at the condo; the three trees that guard our southern flank are flowering crab, linden and maple. I kind of miss the acorns.

But there’s more to the end of August than that. I still feel the pull of the school year; the end of the eighth month of the year and the beginning of its ninth still feels to me like a major point, an end and a beginning. That’s laid, no doubt to my long connection with education: one year of Kindergarten followed by twelve years of elementary and secondary education, five years of college, two years of graduate school, five years of college teaching, and about twelve years of newspapering in communities where all things school-related – from board meetings to athletics to the activities of the various clubs – were among the major topics of coverage.

Even though I’ve been long separated from reporting and from school matters, the end of August feels like a gateway into a new time. Things other than reporting and school signal that: Football season is here for the colleges, and my Minnesota Vikings take the field in a little more than a week. And then, autumn is my favorite season, as I’ve noted before. So there are those things.

I got to thinking about August’s endings in the past, and two a decade apart raised their heads: August 1983 when I was about to begin my two years of graduate study at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism and was concerned about how I’d fit in, and – inevitably – August 1973, when I was just days away from boarding a Finnair jet and heading off for a college year in Denmark, somewhat apprehensive of being away from home for truly the first time.

No such import attaches itself to this August about to end. This has not been an entirely uneventful time: The Texas Gal retired yesterday (though she will return to the same non-governmental organization next week as a part-time employee, armed with the leverage of being able to negotiate her tasks and her hours). Otherwise – and I find this reassuring regarding the tranquility of our current life – the only other news of the month is the welcome installation of a garbage disposal unit in the kitchen.

So how to find a tune? Well, we’re going to play Games With Numbers with today’s date – 8/31/19 – and turn that into 58.Then we’re going to drop into the earlier of those two Augusts that came to mind, 1973, and see what record was at No. 58 as August came to a close. I imagine it will be familiar.

And indeed it is: We fall onto “Ramblin’ Man” by the Allman Brothers Band, a record that was on its way to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 (and to No. 12 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart). And it’s appropriate, in that the first time I ever heard “Ramblin’ Man” was in the lounge of the youth hostel where most of us on our Denmark adventure lived for at least a portion of that school year.

But it’s overly familiar, too, so we’re going to make an adjustment and listen to the flip side of the single. That, too, is a track I first heard in that hostel lounge distant in both time and space, but it’s heard less often than the hit record. With that, here’s “Pony Boy,” today’s Saturday Single:

Saturday Single No. 650

Saturday, July 20th, 2019

I’m here briefly and woozily, following a night of poor sleep and heading into a day of a few unavoidable tasks. So this is a place-holder, just to show people that I was here today.

And since it is July 20, the fiftieth anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s “One small step,” I’m going with a moon song. I could have dressed it up with memories of that remarkable evening half a century ago, but you know, I have no great insights about that evening, at least on this rainy, blurry morning.

We sat in the living room – Mom, Dad, my sister and I – and, like everyone else, watched those ghostly figures move around on the moondust. I knew I was watching a miracle of science and courage, but beyond that, I got nothing this morning.

So here’s a somewhat moon-related tune I’ve been hearing a lot lately, as I listen to my new Jimmie Spheeris CD – it offers his first two albums, 1971’s Isle Of View and 1973’s The Original Tap Dancing Kid – as I wander through my errands. This is “Moon On The Water” from the 1973 album, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

No. 46, Forty-Six Years Ago

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

Having dabbled in 1973 the other day, looking at how I occupied my daytime during the summer of that year and what I likely heard on Chicago’s WLS during my nighttime ponderings, it seemed like a good idea to play our game of Symmetry with the early summer of 1973 and see what sat at No. 46 in the Billboard Hot 100 during that time forty-six years ago.

Two of the top three records in the Hot 100 that came out during this week in 1973 were also atop the WLS survey we looked at two days ago. At WLS, Paul McCartney’s “My Love” and Sylvia’s “Pillow Talk” were Nos. 1 and 2 respectively. On the Hot 100, they were Nos. 1 and 3, separated by Clint Holmes’ “Playground In My Mind.” As I indicated the other day, “Pillow Talk” really made no impression on me then, and I found the Clint Holmes record insipid from the start, and my distaste for it only increased.

“My Love,” though, I liked and still like. For some reason, it’s one of the two records that puts me in St. Cloud’s East Side Dairy Queen sometime during the summer of 1973, waiting in line with Rick and our pal Gary for some frozen treat. Even having heard the song live during a McCartney concert in 2002, it still pulls me back to soft-serve.

But let’s get to our game. What was it that sat at No. 46 in the Hot 100 forty-six years ago this week? Well, it’s a record that will please one of my long-time readers,assuming this blog is still on that person’s reading list: “Back When My Hair Was Short” by Gunhill Road.

The record – the band’s only Hot 100 hit – was in its twelfth week on the chart, heading back down after peaking at No. 40. I recall it only vaguely. I can’t find a survey from the Twin Cities’ KDWB for the time, but a WDGY survey from late May of 1973 I found at Oldiesloon shows “Back When My Hair Was Short” sitting at No. 10. So I likely heard the admittedly catchy record back then but paid little attention. My loss, I guess.

Gazing Out My Window

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

I got to thinking this morning about June 1973, recalling that by the time the month’s second week rolled around, I’d likely settled into my summer routine on the campus of St. Cloud State:

In the mornings, I’d spend four hours wandering around campus with about three other fellows employed by the Learning Resources Center (the library, in the vernacular), lugging cases filled with cleaning supplies and projection lamps. We’d spend about a week in each classroom building, moving from room to room and doing maintenance on projectors, noting as well which pieces of equipment needed more care than we could provide.

In the afternoons, I’d head to the Education Building and be a janitor for four hours, vacuuming, sweeping, washing blackboards and whiteboards, emptying trash and doing all the other things that janitors do.

The two half-time jobs were increasing the balance of my savings account nicely, so that in September I could add my funds to the vastly larger sum my parents were contributing to my college year in Denmark. In June, that September departure still felt a little distant, though I increasingly found myself gazing out my bedroom window during the nighttime hours, wondering what I would find in Denmark and how it would all feel. As it turned out, very little of my nocturnal imaginings came close to the Danish reality.

As I sat at the window during those nighttime reveries, I’d have my clock radio playing low, probably tuned to WLS out of Chicago. As it happens, the collection at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive has a copy of the station’s Solid Rock Music survey released on June 11, 1973, forty-six years ago today. Here’s the top ten there:

“My Love” by Paul McCartney
“Pillow Talk” by Sylvia
“Daniel” by Elton John
“Frankenstein” by the Edgar Winter Group
“I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby” by Barry White
“Hocus Pocus” by Focus
“Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)” by George Harrison
“Playground In My Mind” by Clint Holmes
“One Of A Kind (Love Affair)” by the Spinners
“Right Place, Wrong Time” by Dr. John

The only one of those I don’t recall hearing as frequently as its position might indicate is the record by Sylvia. And the only one of those I would never want to hear again is the record by Clint Holmes. (I disliked “Playground In My Mind” from the moment I heard it, and I disliked it even more after there had been a self-made disaster in my life involving a girl named Cindy.)

The other eight, I liked, although the yodeling in “Hocus Pocus” had a short shelf life.

I should note the presence of “Right Place, Wrong Time” by the recently departed Dr. John. I loved the record, just as I came to love the bulk of the good doctor’s work through the years. (There were a few albums and tracks over the years that left me wanting, but only a few.) And I was lucky enough to see Dr. John in 1989 as a member of the first iteration of Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band. So the news of his passing last week was another grief-bearing reminder that time is getting short – short for my generation, yes, but even more so for the generation that preceded us and brought us our music. I won’t write much about him after this, as I’ve read too many tributes in the past few days to separate my thoughts from the things I’ve read, but I’m doing the second-best thing a music lover and writer can do: I’ve put Mac Rebennack’s work on heavy rotation here this week.

Back to WLS’ Solid Rock Music from forty-six years ago today and a few other favorite singles from the time:

No. 16: “I’m Doin’ Fine Now” by New York City
No. 18: “Shambala” by Three Dog Night
No. 27: “Diamond Girl” by Seals & Crofts
No. 31: “Natural High” by Bloodstone

And we’ll close with the record that was at No. 13 on WLS that long-ago week, a record by another now-departed performer who was also on stage with Ringo Starr in 1989. Here’s “Will It Go Round In Circles” by Billy Preston.

Saturday Single No. 630

Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

Proving two things, the Faces’ “Ooh La La” – the title track to their 1973 studio album – has shown up over the last couple of months wherever there are televisions. It’s the aural centerpiece of a commercial for the Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker and its virtual assistant, Alexa, a spot titled “Dad’s Favorite Song.”

In the commercial, we get a montage of a girl growing up from tea parties with Dad to the moment she’s left alone in her college dorm room for the first time. Backing the montage at points is “Ooh La La,” Dad’s favorite tune with its chorus line, “I wish that I knew then what I know now, when I was younger.”

(The commercial seems to get a couple of vital points right the first time Dad play her the tune: The label of the LP seems to be the green Warner Brothers label from 1973, and it appears as if Dad lifts and then drops the needle of the record player close enough to the label to be playing the final track on the LP, which is where one would find “Ooh La La.”)

And at the end of the spot, the young woman lies on her dorm bed, in her first moments alone at college and tells Alexa to play Dad’s playlist: First up is “Ooh La La.”

It’s an effective commercial. I’ve never sent a child to college, much less to camp or kindergarten. But I remember how it felt to be sent to camp or off to a college year overseas. I recall how in those first moments alone there might easily have been an impulse to hold on for a moment to whatever anchor there might be before letting oneself go into one’s new world.* So, yeah, the brief film works. Viewers’ eyes around the target universe no doubt get a little misty (the two eyes here included).

That proves the first thing: Damn near anything can be commercialized. No surprise there. And as much as I might bemoan using music dear to millions to market another gadget, I can’t get too uptight about it. It’s the way of the world and has been for years. At least it’s done well.

And then to proof two: Earworms are insidious. In the weeks since the spot began to air, “Ooh La La” – especially its chorus – has become an earworm of massive proportion for me and for the Texas Gal. I have to admit that I did not recognize it when I first began seeing the commercial, at least not entirely. I knew I had heard the track but not when or where. It actually sounded like something that might have come out in the early 1990s, when a dad of today about to send his daughter off to college could easily have been in his early teens.

So yes, that means I did not recognize the Faces. Maybe I should have, but ever since I tipped to the Beatles in the late summer and early autumn of 1969, I’ve know that there has always been way too much music out there for me to know about all of it. There’s a lot I know. There’s a lot I am unfamiliar with.

I’ve known a few things by the Faces: The vinyl stacks used to hold Long Player, the Snakes & Ladders anthology and – from their days as the Small Faces – Ogden Nut’s Gone Flake, all picked up between 1997 and 2000 when I was bringing home more vinyl than I could listen too, much less absorb. I know “Ooh La La” was on Snakes & Ladders, so I know I’d heard it before the commercial came along. I didn’t recognize it.

But, as sometimes happens, the song would not leave me alone. “I wish that I knew then what I know now . . .” would flip through my head at odd times. The same thing happened to the Texas Gal, and at her urging late last evening, I dug into the tune finding – yes, to my chagrin – that it came from an album released during 1973, a year that’s smack in the middle of my sweet spot.

I knew a little about the album, if only because of the presence of the track “Cindy Incidentally,” a tune that showed up in one of my music books not long after an intense relationship with a girl named Cindy.

Well. We’ll harvest “Ooh La La” from somewhere – I may try to get past Uff Da Records on an errand outing today, but if not, there’s always Amazon – and add it to the stacks. I’ll likely listen to the rest of the Faces’ work (and their earlier work as Small Faces). After all, I wish I knew then what I know now.

And here’s “Ooh La La,” today’s Saturday Single.

*Musically for me, it was Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4,” which was playing on my tape recorder moments after I got up on September 5, 1973, our first full day in Denmark.

Saturday Single No. 627

Saturday, February 2nd, 2019

It was twelve years ago tomorrow, a Saturday, when I wrote:

As I was wandering through my music files, I came upon a single that was – for a few weeks, at least – omnipresent in Denmark during the nine months I spent there many years ago. No matter where my girlfriend of the time and I went that autumn, we heard – sometimes just off in the distance – Lecia & Lucienne singing “Rør Ved Mig” (which translates roughly, I think, into “Stay With Me”).

I now think it’s more likely that “Rør Ved Mig” means “Touch Me” or possibly “Make Love To Me.”

When I got back to the U.S. in the spring of 1974, I was startled to hear coming from my radio the same tune and nearly the same arrangement, but this time with the words in Spanish. I’ve never been able to determine whether Mocedades’ “Eres Tu,” was the original song and “Rør Ved Mig” was the second-language copycat, or the other way around. And it could be, I suppose, that there are other versions of the song out there in other languages, although in the more-than-thirty-years since I spent my time in Denmark, I’ve heard none.

In the eleven years since I wrote that, I’ve come across versions in English, Swedish and Norwegian, and the website Second Hand Songs tells me that there are also versions in Finnish, Dutch and Czech. As to which came first, the website shows it was Mocedades’ Spanish version.

A couple years after I came back to the U.S., my Danish brother visited, and during his visit, I mentioned “Rør Ved Mig” to him. After he got home, he mailed me a copy of the single. I don’t suppose I’ve played it often, but I did every once in a while. And then I got online about seven years ago and found an mp3 of the tune on the web. (When I got my USB turntable, I made a file from my own copy.) It pops up on the RealPlayer now and then.

And whenever I hear “Rør Ved Mig,” it has the same effect: For just a few moments, it is the fall of 1973, and I am walking somewhere inside the old portion of the city of Fredericia, maybe heading to have a beer with a buddy, maybe walking with that long-ago girlfriend, or maybe just walking. It’s a golden day in October, and somewhere, not too far away, Lecia & Lucienne are singing “Rør ved mig. Så jeg føler at jeg lever . . .”

And with that Saturday post in 2007 – after a month or so of false starts – I figured out what I wanted to do with this blog: Share the music that has shaped my life and share the tales that brought that music to me. I didn’t title the post “Saturday Single No. 1” – that came a week later – but I should have. In the years since, I’ve shared Lecia & Lucienne’s “Rør Ved Mig” numerous times. This time, as it marks the twelfth anniversary of Echoes In The Wind, it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 615

Saturday, November 3rd, 2018

It’s quiet and cool this morning in our little corner of the world.

The quiet, it turns out, is a near-constant thing. The four-plex that contains our condo – one of nine such buildings in the development – is tucked back on what is in effect an alley, so we have very little traffic noise, in fact very little noise at all. During the warm season just past, the occasional sound of the lawn service taking care of things made its way inside, especially when the fellow with the leaf blower worked on the patio just on the other side of the window where I write and putter.

And on occasion in the evening, Larry down the way shoots off some fireworks. That can be startling, but it’s not really a problem. Nor is the occasional noise we hear from the kids across the alley when they play on their trampoline.

As far as I recall, other than deliveries and friends, our doorbell has rung only three times: two sets of school-age kids came by raising money, one seeking donors for a walk-a-thon and the other selling chocolate bars. We invested in both.

And we had one politician stop by, seeking re-election. I shook his hand and told him politely that there was little he could say that would earn my vote. We chatted for about ten minutes about why that was, and he went on his way. (About a month later, he ceased campaigning because of some unseemliness in his past; it was way too late for his party to nominate a different candidate, so it will be interesting to watch the returns next Tuesday.)

Anyway, it’s quiet in this little corner of the north side, something that we hoped would be the case when we moved here eight months ago. We’d become accustomed to the quiet at the house, when living on more than an acre kept us isolated for the most part from the rest of the city around us. So we’ve been pleased.

And as I make my way through tracks with the word “quiet” in their titles, I’m caught – as I am other times – by Carole King’s effort from her 1973 album Fantasy: “A Quiet Place To Live.” The brief song has some political and social overtones that don’t fit our specific living place but might fit into today’s world. And it’s worth recalling that things don’t always have to mesh perfectly to work well:

All I want is a quiet place to live
Where I can enjoy the fruits of my labor
Read the paper
And not have to cry out loud

In my mind I can see it crystal clear
Sharing my dreams with the people around me
Now they surround me
And I’m just a part of the crowd

What will become of us
What about the children
What will they do to us next time around
What will the answer be
What will it mean to me
When are they gonna see we’re underground
Here underground

And all I want is a quiet place to live
Where I can be free in a world of my making
Instead of taking
What they decided to give
I wouldn’t want what they have, no
If I could only find
A quiet place to live

So we’ll make Carole King’s “A Quiet Place To Live” today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 614

Saturday, October 27th, 2018

It’s cool and gray outside. Nevertheless, our plan is to head out this afternoon for a quick trip to the small town of Pierz, where we will stop at our favorite butcher shop to buy some bacon and other meats.

In the meantime, however, we’re going to play a quick game of “What’s At No. 100,” taking a look at the Billboard Hot 100 from October 27, 1973. That chart may provide surprises, as it came out during my time in Denmark. We’ll see.

We’ll start, as we always do, with the Top Fifteen:

“Midnight Train To Georgia” by Gladys Knight & The Pips
“Angie” by the Rolling Stones
“Half Breed” by Cher
“Ramblin’ Man” by the Allman Brothers Band
“Keep In Truckin’ (Part 1)” by Eddie Kendricks
“Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye
“Paper Roses” by Marie Osmond
“Heartbeat – It’s a Love Beat” by the DeFranco Family
“That Lady (Part 1)” by the Isley Brothers
“Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder
“All I Know” by Art Garfunkel
“Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan
“Yes We Can Can” by the Pointer Sisters
“We’re An American Band” by Grand Funk

Obviously, I know all of those now, forty-five years later, and most of them well. At the time, I knew “Angie,” having had help from my Danish brother in working out the chords on the piano and also having heard it live at a Rolling Stones concert a little more than three weeks earlier.

Stones Ticket

And it’s a decent Top Fifteen. I can do without the Marie Osmond and DeFranco family singles, but otherwise, it’s fine. Art Garfunkel’s record is a bit light, but it’s lovely.

What lies below, however? Dropping down to No. 100, we find a nifty piece of boogie new to the Hot 100 and on its way to No. 3: “Smokin’ In The Boy’s Room” by Brownsville Station.

The band – from Ann Arbor, Michigan, and not from Texas as its name might imply – would never again come close to the Top Ten. The group’s only other Top Forty hit would be “Kings Of The Party,” which went to No. 31 in the autumn of 1974. There were a few other records in the Hot 100 before, after and between the two hits in a time frame that began in late 1972 and ended during the autumn of 1977.

As with most tunes from the 1973-74 academic year, I learned about “Smokin’ In The Boy’s Room” long after the fact, so there’s no emotional hook here for me. But it’s a fun record, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.