Archive for the ‘1972’ Category

Saturday Single No. 594

Saturday, June 9th, 2018

I woke to the sad news this morning that Danny Kirwan, one-time guitarist and songwriter for Fleetwood Mac, died in London, according to a statement from Mick Fleetwood and the band.

Kirwan, who was 68, was a member of Fleetwood Mac from 1969 into 1972, an era when the band shifted its style from its blues-based origins to pop-rock, presaging the West Coast rock direction the band would take in the mid-1970s with the addition of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.

By that time, Kirwan was gone, having been booted from the band in 1972 for alcoholism, according to Rolling Stone. He released four solo albums during the second half of the 1970s, but then his fortunes deteriorated, the magazine’s website says, quoting from a 1993 interview with the Independent in which Kirwan said, “I get by and I suppose I am homeless, but then I’ve never really had a home since our early days on tour. I couldn’t handle it all mentally and I had to get out. I can’t settle.”

In that interview, Kirwan then added, “I was lucky to have played for the band at all. I just started off following them around, but I could play the guitar a bit and Mick felt sorry for me and put me in. I did it for about four years, to about 1972, but . . . I couldn’t handle the lifestyle and the women and the traveling.”

Kirwan’s high point during his time with the group is almost certainly Bare Trees, the 1972 album for which he wrote five songs, including the title track. That track been seen here before, but it’s been a while, so in memory of Danny Kirwan, Fleetwood Mac’s “Bare Trees” is today’s Saturday Single.

Trees Again

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

Rob’s wife, Barb, was correct: The tree at the corner of our condo is in fact a flowering crab. But unlike the one in their yard in St. Francis, which has pink flowers, ours offers white flowers to the world. Here it is about a week ago:

Flowering Crab 2

That was its peak. Overnight, the wind came up, and morning found the ground littered with white flowers. And over the next few days the flowers flew off like large snowflakes. If we get even a third as many crab apples as there were flowers, we’re in for a crabby autumn.

(We still don’t know what type of tree stands between the flowering crab and the maple. We’ve talked about taking pictures of its general appearance and close-ups of its leaves and posting them on Facebook for our friends to take a look at, but we have not yet done so. It’s in full leaf, however, and it looks quite nice, and whatever it is, it’s providing noon-time shade.)

And I thought, since trees have been a frequent topic of conversation around our place, I’d take a look at the digital shelves and see if I could find a few tunes with types of trees in their titles.

The first one is easy: “Tall Pine Trees” by Peter Yarrow. It’s beautiful, a song of farewell, but I think what captures my imagination is the tune’s Russian overtones. It’s from Peter, Yarrow’s first solo album, which was released in 1972 in conjunction with solo albums from Noel Paul Stookey and Mary Travers, Yarrow’s partners in Peter, Paul & Mary. When the Texas Gal and I took my mom to see Yarrow in concert six years ago, the second half of his show was made up almost entirely of requests; I asked for “Tall Pine Trees,” and he told us that it was the first time the song had ever been requested. Sadly, he didn’t perform it.

We move to the first hit by Dorsey Burnette. “(There Was A) Tall Oak Tree” starts with a retelling of the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden and then shifts for its second verse to a theme echoed by many songwriters: How humans have despoiled nature for their own ends. (Think, among many others, of Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi.”) The record peaked at No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 during the first week of March 1960, the first of six records that Burnette – the older brother of Johnny Burnette and the uncle of Rocky Burnette – would place in or near the Hot 100 but his only Top 40 hit. (He placed five records in the magazine’s country Top 40 in the 1970s.)

And for the second time this month, we come across the name of Gram Parsons, this time as the writer of a song recorded by Johnny Rivers. “Apple Tree” is the second track on Side Two of River’s 1972 album Slim Slo Slider. It’s a tale of love found and love lost, framed as a seasonal saga:

I used to sit in a big apple tree
Welcome the sun as he shone down on me
Watch the fruit ripen, smell the land grow
Felt the fall rains get colder and turn into snow

And then in the summer, I’d walk through the trees
Roll up my trousers way over my knees
Waded a stream ’til the rocks hurt my feet
The water was cool, and the summer was sweet

Autumn got lonely when harvest came ’round
Green leaves turned golden and fell to the ground
Clear nights got colder, with the stars bright above
And in the winter, I first fell in love

She loved me truly ’til winter passed by
Left without warning and never said why
Maybe she’s lonely, needs me somewhere
Maybe by summer, I won’t even care

And then Rivers lets us think about that as James Burton takes us home with a lovely guitar solo.

We’ll close our brief excursion through the trees with the Indigo Girls’ lovely but cryptic “Cedar Tree” from their 1992 album, Rites Of Passage, an album I love:

You dug a well, you dug it deep
For every wife you buried, you planted a cedar tree
The best, the best you ever had

I stand where you stood
I stand for bad or good
And I am green, and you are wood
The best, the best he ever had

I dig a well, I dig it deep
And for my only love, I plant a cedar tree
The best, the best we ever had

Album Chart Digging, March 1972

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

Just for fun, I thought I’d look at the top ten albums in the Billboard 200 from this week in 1972, during a time when I was spending many of my free hours at St. Cloud State on the couches in the lounge at KVSC, the college FM radio station.

The station was still offering a rigid format of classical music during the day, shifting to an album rock/progressive rock format at 6 or 7 p.m., but during the day, staffers would take over the turntable in the vacant Studio B, where they’d cue up records from the rock library – or their own LPs – and pipe the sound into the lounge.

I didn’t hear all of the following ten albums forty-six years ago in the KVSC lounge, but I heard some:

Harvest by Neil Young
America by America
American Pie by Don McLean
Fragile by Yes
Nilsson Schmilsson by Nilsson
Paul Simon by Paul Simon
Baby I’m A-Want You by Bread
Music by Carole King
The Concert for Bangla Desh
Hot Rocks 1964-1971 by the Rolling Stones

That’s a pretty decent helping of music, although I’ve never cared much for the Nilsson album except for “Without You.” But only four of those albums, from what I remember, found their ways to our turntables for lounge listening or for airplay: American Pie, Harvest, Fragile, and The Concert For Bangla Desh.

I imagine we aired tunes included on the Stones’ anthology, too, but I don’t specifically recall hearing them. And the listing of American Pie should likely have an asterisk next to it; I remember a staffer bringing the album in one day so we could hear the full-length version of the title track. I know we were interested in the tune’s coded history of rock ’n’ roll, but we needed to be cool about it because McLean was on the pop charts. Of course, so was Neil Young, whose “Heart Of Gold” was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 during this week in 1972, but that was somehow different.

As for me, I’d actually been enjoying The Concert For Bangla Desh for a couple of months when this Billboard chart came out, and most of the other albums on that list eventually landed on my shelves, though it took years, in some cases. The albums that didn’t make it to my vinyl stacks? Those by America and Bread. (Although they are currently on the digital shelves while the Nilsson album is not.)

Anyway, for purists and moral slackers alike, there was good stuff to find on the album chart forty-six years ago this week. If I were to pull one track from that week, well, I’ve raved enough here over the years about Leon Russell’s performance at The Concert For Bangladesh, and “Crossroads” from the McLean album has showed up a couple of times. So we’ll listen today to a track that I considered when I was compiling one-by-one a short list of tunes that should have been included in my long-ago Ultimate Jukebox: “It’s Going To Take Some Time” from Carole King’s her 1971 album Music.

On Patrol

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

The most direct route from our new digs to the local hardware store – and I’ve traveled that route many times during the past nine days – takes me along Twelfth Avenue North past the back of the Church of St. Paul, a Catholic church that’s home to All Saints Academy, an elementary school.

I drove home along Twelfth Avenue the other day just as recess was starting. A batch of All Saints students, heavily bundled against the day’s cold, were making their ways across the street to the playground with a young woman standing guard with a school patrol flag. The woman – a teacher or perhaps an aid – extended the flag across my path as I approached. I stopped, and the last of the students made their ways across the street and into the snowy playground.

She lifted the flag and headed toward the church, her duty done. As she did, I rolled down my passenger side window and called out to her. When she turned, I asked her how frequently she had to stop a vehicle.

“About one or two times every recess,” she said. She, like the students, was dressed for the cold: A heavy coat, a scarf that covered her throat and chin, and a hat that came down to the top of her glasses. A few tendrils of blonde hair had escaped her hat and framed her face, and her cheeks were ruddy from the cold.

I told her that I’d been a patrol boy long ago at Lincoln Elementary and that there was hardly any traffic there, with Lincoln being at the end of a less-traveled street. “In two years,” I told her, “I got to stop one car.”

“That’s all?”

“That was it,” I said. “And it was a glorious day.”

She laughed, as did I, and then she turned to head into the church, carrying her patrol flag, and I headed up the street toward home.

Searches on the digital shelves for “patrol,” “traffic,” and “school” brought me nothing that I cared for this morning. So I searched for “saint,” given the name of the school whose recess parade I encountered. And I came up with “The Saints,” a cover by Little Richard of “The Saints Come Marching In.” It’s from the 1972 album The Second Coming. (Given Mr. Penniman’s diction and my unfamiliarity with anything but the song’s first verse, I’m not sure if the lyrics are the traditional ones or an alternate version, but according to the information at All Music, Little Richard and producer R.A. “Bumps” Blackwell claimed writing credits for the track, so who knows?)

An Unexpected Direction

Friday, December 29th, 2017

I’ve noted here several times that the Texas Gal and I have been thinking about finding another place to live. The house – where we’ve lived for nine years – is getting a bit too hard to take care of, and the stairs are becoming less easy to navigate as we get older. The Texas Gal has already fallen down the stairs from the second floor once, and that’s more than enough.

So we’ve been looking. In the past few months, we’ve scanned the ads for apartments and spent portions of a couple of Saturdays looking at a few places. We didn’t find anything we really liked, and we came face-to-face with the reality of renting in St. Cloud, which has one of the tightest rental markets in the state: We can’t afford an apartment.

Well, we probably could right now, but in a few years, when the Texas Gal retires, it would be tight. So we’ve been pondering that for a few weeks. And about ten days ago, the Texas Gal suggested we think about buying a place, maybe a patio home or a town home. We checked out some possibilities on line, and a week ago today, we spent an hour with a mortgage specialist at an area bank who’d been recommended by friends.

We came away discouraged. While we would likely qualify for a mortgage, the banker said, the cost of the patio and town homes we were thinking about would put the monthly mortgage payment right about where we’d found rents for apartments: within reach now but . . .

All the while, I was trying to wrap my head around the idea of buying a home. I’ve been a renter most of my adult life. I’ve owned a mobile home, but that’s not quite the same. Owning a place, well, that would feel different. I wasn’t quite sure how, but it would.

That evening, the Texas Gal poked around real estate listings on her laptop as we watched television. “How about a condo?” she asked me. There were some listed that were about two-thirds the price of the patio home and town home we’d talked about with the banker. It was worth a shot, I said, and she emailed a friend of ours who’s a realtor, and very quickly, he had arranged a tour of four places for Tuesday, three condos and a house that was included in the tour for its price and its location on a favorite East Side street.

We dismissed the house pretty quickly. We saw some things that needed attention, and the stairs were as steep as the ones we deal with now. We looked at two condos on the North Side, liked the first and weren’t crazy about the second, which was missing some appliances. Then we went to a place in the smaller city of Waite Park, just west of St. Cloud. We’d been very interested in that one, given the photos we’d seen online and its location not far from the Texas Gal’s office. But we saw some major flaws, and it just felt somehow not right.

More and more, we liked the first of the two condos on the North Side. It has stairs, but it’s a split entry, just six up to the main floor and six down to the lower level. It has a deck and a patio, two bedrooms upstairs and a large den/family room downstairs that could easily host a sewing area on one end and a music area on the other.

We talked about the first North Side condo with our realtor as we were about to leave the Waite Park place. He could easily put in an offer and reach out to the banker, he said, and we talked about things like closing costs, association fees and other pre-paid items. We told him to get back to us after he’d talked to the banker.

We heard from him Wednesday evening. The banker approved the mortgage. Our realtor put in an offer, and after a little bit of back-and-forth, we signed a purchase agreement yesterday. We’ll close at the end of January, and of course, something might yet go awry, but that’s unlikely. So we’re a little giddy and a little baffled at this rapid left turn. And we’re looking at our stuff and beginning to figure out where it’s going to fit in our new home.

And the most astounding thing? Our monthly payment will be only three dollars more than we’re paying now for rent.

I have many tracks with the word “home” in their titles. One of my favorites – and one that seems to have never been mentioned in nearly eleven years of blogging – is “Comin’ Home” by Delaney & Bonnie & Friends. Recorded in 1969, it was released as an Atco single that year and stalled at No. 84 in the Billboard Hot 100. It was also released in 1972 as a track on the Atco album Country Life and later that year on Columbia’s album D&B Together, which offered the same tracks as Country Life but with a different order. That album was the last work Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett would release together.

Saturday Single No. 568

Saturday, December 9th, 2017

My sister and brother-in-law and I stood in the cold for a little more than an hour yesterday as three guys from a local auction and estate sale company emptied one of Mom’s storage lockers.

“It’s an odd feeling, isn’t it,” my sister said, “seeing your parents’ lives go past piece by piece?”

She was right. We saw the foreman and his two young movers assess Mom’s china closet, a nearly six-foot tall piece with some curved glass windows on either side of its door. Mom and Dad got it soon after I left home in 1976, and I’d guess it dates from somewhere around 1920. As they maneuvered it toward the door of the storage unit and out to the rapidly filling truck, I held my breath for a moment.

But they got the fragile piece safely into the truck, draped it heavily with drop clothes and secured it to the side of the truck with bungee cords.

I remember the china closet being filled with dishes and pieces from Mom and Dad’s past: wedding gifts that they’d gotten in 1948, dishes from both of her grandmothers, and much more. For about thirty-five years, that “much more” included two painted tea glasses that I somehow acquired from a Tunisian restaurant in Paris in March 1974. Mom loved them (although I think she was unhappy with my means of acquisition). The china closet went with her to her assisted living apartment, and in recent years, she began to give away some of her treasures to me, to my sister, to her grandchildren. The tea glasses now sit on a bookcase in our dining room here.

We watched as the dresser and the bed headboard and foot board that Mom and Dad bought soon after they were married headed out the door and onto the truck. Then there was the teal couch Mom bought when she moved into her patio home after Dad’s death, followed the large brown kitchen table my folks bought in the early 1970s, a table at which several of my girlfriends had joined us for meals in the early years, a table around which we’d all gather on Christmas Eve through 2003 for a late evening snack of sausage, meatballs, pickled herring, crackers and flatbread. Then came the black wooden rocking chair – once my great-grandfather’s, I believe – that was my place on Sunday evenings when we all gathered together to watch Walt Disney’s show, a couple of sitcoms and Bonanza.

The last things heading out of the locker were two big cardboard boxes filled with heavily wrapped glassware, much of it antique. From another locker – filled mostly with furniture my nephew may want – the estate sale guys took the vanity and mirror from Mom and Dad’s 1948 bedroom set and the treadle sewing machine that had belonged to my dad’s mom. And they were ready to go.

It was indeed an odd feeling, with the three of us watching as Mom and Dad’s lives, and – in large part – our lives, too, went out the doors and onto the truck. And it happened fast. An hour and ten minutes after the three fellows arrived, they secured Mom’s vanity and its bench in the back of the truck and headed to their warehouse on the southern edge of the city. They’ll organize everything into an on-line sale that will take place most likely next May or June.

Seventy minutes is a very brief time to watch more than sixty years of memories go by. But then, time and memory twist themselves in odd ways as we find our sometimes uncertain paths through our lives. As long as I live, my grandmother’s sewing machine will forever be next to the green couch in the basement rec room on Kilian Boulevard, the brown lamp upon it providing the only light as I sit back – maybe by myself, maybe with a sweet young lady – and listen to the Beatles or maybe Van Morrison or maybe the Moody Blues.

The green couch went in Mom’s garage sale in 2005, the sewing machine went onto the truck yesterday, the brown lamp sits on an end table in our living room just steps away, and my vinyl copy of the Moody Blues’ Seventh Sojourn is in the stacks just across the room from me. And they’ll all be in that basement rec room with me for the rest of my life.

Here, from Seventh Sojourn, is “Isn’t Life Strange.” The question in that title can only ever be answered with the words “Yes, indeed.” And “Isn’t Life Strange” is today’s Saturday Single.

Revised slightly after first posting.

Baby Grand? ‘Lucy Cain’?

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

Looking for a radio survey from today’s date in 1972 – forty-five years ago – I came upon only two such surveys at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive: one from WMEX in Boston and another from WISM in Madison, Wisconsin. And the latter result amused me, as I’m pretty sure that one of WISM’s listeners in those days – at times, anyway – was my pal jb, who grew up on a farm not far away from Wisconsin’s capital and lives now in a small city adjacent to Madison.

So I took a look at the top ten records listed there:

“It Never Rains In Southern California” by Albert Hammond
“Something’s Wrong With Me” by Austin Roberts
“Papa Was A Rolling Stone” by the Temptations
“Clair” by Gilbert O’Sullivan
“I’m Stone In Love With You” by the Stylistics
“If You Don’t Know Me By Now” by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
“Summer Breeze” by Seals & Crofts
“Me and Mrs. Jones” by Billy Paul
“Ventura Highway” by America
“You Ought To Be With Me” by Al Green

The top five has a couple of misses, at least to my ears – the records by Roberts and O’Sullivan never hit my sweet spot – but the other eight would make for a very nice half-hour of listening. The one I know the least is the Al Green tune, but listening to it this morning I’d be willing to put it in second place among those ten. (It would take a hell of a record to push “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” from the top of this heap.)

Even though – as I’ve noted before – my listening at the time was becoming more album-oriented as time went on, I still heard enough Top 40 around me that almost all of the records in the lower spots on the WISM survey were familiar as well. To be precise, as I scan the titles and artists listed in the thirty spots on the survey and the three hit-bound entries, there’s only one pairing that’s a mystery to me: “Lucy Cain” by Baby Grand, sitting at No. 23, up three spots from the week before.

I would guess that “Lucy Cain” would be a mystery to many: Out of the thousands of radio surveys cataloged at ARSA, WISM’s Music Guide from December 7, 1972, is the only one that lists the record. And it seems to have not yet been shared by any of the millions of folks who put tunes up at YouTube. (Although there are evidently three women with YouTube accounts by the name of Lucy Cain.)

So I googled. A copy of the record, which came out on the Hemisphere label, is available at Ebay, and a website titled That 70s Wisconsin Beat informs me that Baby Grand – as I suspected – was a local act. And the next entry in the googled results takes me to the lengthy comment section on a piece about the Wisconsin band Clicker by my pal Jeff at his blog AM, Then FM. A few commenters mention Baby Grand and “Lucy Cain,” but unless I missed something in the more than fifty comments, there’s no real info there.

Perhaps jb or Jeff can clue us in, or maybe our pal Yah Shure. Or someone.

Regrouping, I dropped to the bottom of the WISM survey and picked out the third listed of the three hit-bound singles. I remember hearing and liking the Hollies’ “Long Dark Road,” but I haven’t heard it for years. It’s not on the digital shelves here now, and I doubt that it was there before the recent hard drive crash.

It wasn’t one of the Hollies’ biggest hits, reaching No. 26 in the Billboard Hot 100, but it’s worth a listen today:

Saturday Single No. 561

Saturday, October 21st, 2017

I’ve been digging around in 1972 this week, mostly in the car. I’ve got a couple of CDs I’ve burned that are nothing but tunes from 1972 – mostly hits but some deeper tracks – and those are what’s kept me company as I’ve driven on my errands this week.

So I thought I’d take a quick look at the Billboard Hot 100 from forty-five years ago today – October 21, 1972 – in a search for a single for this morning. Here’s the Top Ten from that long-ago date:

“My Ding-A-Ling” by Chuck Berry
“Use Me” by Bill Withers
“Burning Love/It’s A Matter Of Time” by Elvis Presley
“Everybody Plays The Fool” by the Main Ingredient
“Nights In White Satin” by the Moody Blues
“Ben” by Michael Jackson
“Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me” by Mac Davis
“Garden Party” by Rick Nelson & The Stone Canyon Band
“Popcorn” by Hot Butter
“Go All The Way” by the Raspberries

Well. It’s truly a crime of history that Chuck Berry’s only No. 1 hit was a piece of gleefully bawdy crap. He came close a couple of time with a couple of his greatest records: “School Day” was No. 3 for three weeks in 1957, and “Sweet Little Sixteen” was No. 2 for three weeks in 1958. But if we ignore Berry’s record, the Elvis B-side and young Michael Jackson’s love song to a rat, there’s a good half-hour of listening in there. What, though, is lower down the list?

Well, looking at the bottom ten records, we find Joe Simon’s sweet take on “Misty Blue” sitting at No. 95. That’s a song that I know far better from Dorothy Morrison’s No. 3 version from 1976, and it’s one that has a longer lineage than I suspected, based on what I see at Second Hand Songs. I’ll likely have to do some digging among the many versions of the tune sometime soon. All I’ll note this morning is that the first version of the tune to hit the charts came from Eddy Arnold in 1967. His take on the tune went to No. 57 (and to No. 3 on the country chart). Simon’s cover of “Misty Blue” hung around in the bottom portion of the chart for five weeks, peaking at No. 91.

But it’s a nice version of a sweet song, and that’s enough to make Joe Simon’s take on “Misty Blue” today’s Saturday Single.

‘Where’

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Today, we’re going to open our textbook and take on the third portion of a project we’re calling Journalism 101, looking for tracks that have the word “where” in their titles. And it has to be a stand-alone word; “nowhere,” “somewhere,” “anywhere” and all the other possible compound words won’t cut it.

The first run through the RealPlayer nets us 947 tracks. But we lose a number of entire albums (except, in some cases, the title tracks): Where It All Begins by the Allman Brothers Band, Come To Where I’m From by Joseph Arthur, Where Is Love by Bobby Caldwell, Eva Cassidy’s Somewhere, Judy Collins’ Who Knows Where The Time Goes, Somewhere My Love by Ray Conniff & The Singers, Bo Diddley’s Where It All Began, and that just gets us into the D’s with so much more of the alphabet to go until we run into Bobby Womack’s Home Is Where The Heart Is.

Lots of titles with those compound words are culled as well, including six versions of “Somewhere My Love.” (I also have ten versions of the tune under the title “Lara’s Theme.”) We also lose four versions of Neil Young’s “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere,” twelve versions of the Beatles’ “Here, There & Everywhere,” five versions of “Somewhere In The Night,” and more that I won’t list here.

But there are still plenty of titles to choose from, so let’s look at four:

There are a few records that bring back viscerally the last months of 1975 and the first of 1976, and Diana Ross’ “Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To)” is one of them. Those months were my last as an undergrad; I was an intern in sports at a Twin Cities television station, with graduation quickly approaching (and no job prospects in sight). I was also in a relationship that seemed promising, but I was nevertheless very aware of the not so subtle hints being laid down by the lovely redhead who was interning in the station’s promotions department. So, to answer the record’s question, no, I had no idea where I was going to. But it wasn’t the lyrics that pulled me into the song; it was the twisting, yearning melody that caught me then and still does today (with current hearings all the more potent for the memories they stir). Whether for the melody or the words, the record caught many people as 1975 turned into 1976: It went to No. 1 on both the Billboard 100 and the magazine’s Easy Listening chart, and it reached No. 14 on the magazine’s R&B chart.

More than six years ago, I looked at Oscar Brown’s song “Brother Where Are You” and wrote:

The tune is familiar to me – and others of my vintage, I assume – because of its inclusion by Johnny Rivers in his 1968 masterpiece Realization. In those environs, the song became less a plaint about racial injustice and more a call for economic and political justice. (It was, of course, not uncommon in the late 1960s and early 1970s for young, socially aware white men to call each other “brother” with no irony and little self-consciousness.)

That post (you can read it here) gave a listen to the first version recorded of the song – Abbey Lincoln’s take from her 1959 album Abbey is Blue – and to a few other versions as well, including Rivers’ cover. Sorting through the eleven versions of the tune here on the digital shelves, I’ve decided to offer the one I found most recently: Marlena Shaw’s typically eccentric version, released in 1967 on the Cadet label. From what I can find, it made no chart noise at all.

Thinking, as we were, of records that define seasons, as soon as the list of “where” tunes got to “Where Is The Love” by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway, I was back in the summer of 1972, working half-time as a custodian at St. Cloud State, taking long bicycle rides on Saturday evening, driving idly around town in my 1961 Falcon with Rick as a passenger, and wondering when I was going to meet someone. I doubt if I heard the record as a cautionary tale, advising me that love was hard and not always permanent, but if that thought had ever crossed my mind, I likely would have thought in response, “But even lost love is better than no love.” (I learned years ago that such a thought is better left to songwriters and poets than to anyone in real life.) The record was everywhere that summer, going to No. 5 on the Hot 100 and topping both the R&B and Easy Listening charts.

And lastly we’ll turn to Cat Stevens’ brilliant 1970 album, Tea For The Tillerman. “But tell me,” Stevens sings in the first track, “where do the children play?” It’s a rhetorical question, of course, but it’s one that I think runs with resignation through the entire album, through “Sad Lisa,” “On The Road To Findout,” “Father & Son” and all the rest. At least that’s what I hear these days. Back in 1971, when I heard “Wild World” on the radio and caught up with the rest of the album over the next few years, the lost loves, the fragile women, the quests for place and knowledge all seemed so utterly romantic. Perhaps the resignation I hear is only the echo of being sixty-four, with eighteen so far in the past as to be unknowable. In any event, “Where Do The Children Play” is still lovely and forever haunting.

Saturday Single No. 555

Saturday, August 26th, 2017

Life circles around us and with us.

During the 1990s, when I was living in South Minneapolis, I often drove out to first, the exurb of Cedar and later, the city of St. Francis to spend weekend afternoons with Rob and his family. I watched as he learned to be a dad to his girls, Jessi and Deidre, and his son, Robinson (the middle child).

I won’t say I knew the kids well, but they knew who I was well enough that when I’d call for Rob and one of them answered, they’d chat with me for a few moments before getting their dad to the phone. And when the times came for them to graduate from high school, the Texas Gal and I were invited to the three receptions, the last one taking place eight or nine years ago.

Each of the three got the same graduation gift from us: a collapsible laundry basket to take off to college, and we threw in lingerie bags for the girls. They also each got a custom CD of hits from the year they were born. Jessi and Deidre got pop-rock; Robinson got country. And I was gratified when Deidre, the youngest of the three, opened the package with her CD and told me “I’ve been looking forward to this for years!”

Today, Robinson will be the first of the three to get married, an event that makes me more aware than usual of the passing of time. Back in the 1990s, when he was learning to use silverware, I gave him a gift: the Mr. Peanut silverware set that I’d used when I was young. (His mom, Barb, told me a while back that after he outgrew it, the set was packed away to save it for the next generation.) Today, he and his bride, Katie will get something else for the kitchen from us, along with all the good wishes we can muster.

And as I sorted through music this morning, I was struck by “Wedding Song,” a tune from Dion DiMucci’s 1972 album, Suite For Late Summer:

Love grows every day we’re together.
Life flows, binding our lives to each other.
I was a child; now I’ll be a man.
I was a child; now I’ll be a man.

You hold all my years in your body,
You’re my friend, my love; you know everything about me.
You were a child; you’re a child no more.
You were a child; now you’ve been reborn.

The circle’s waiting for us to take our place.
The circle never changes; we’re all the same.

Love grows every day we’re together.
Life flows, binding our lives to each other.
I was a child; now I’ll be your man.
You were a child; now you’ll be my friend.
Be my friend

So, for Robinson and Katie, Dion’s “Wedding Song” is today’s Saturday Single.