Sunday, January 17, 2016

Two By Two - The Albums

5th-6th grade. These were my favorites from among my mother's albums. She was a fan of both and had several others by them. I used a lot of Kingston Trio material in my years of fascination with folk music. It was a good enough foundation. // I dropped Sinatra very early and never did come back, though I like a few songs. For some unexplained OCD reason, I still sing "French Foreign Legion" to myself from time to time. I sang it at a church talent show around 1964.

7th grade. I fell in love with Mamas and Papas harmony. That was the first album I bought with my own money. $3.19. // Still love early Clapton.

8th grade. I almost had to have five entries for this year but forced myself down to three. These were all artists that I also listened to on other albums, other years.  I sang a lot of their stuff at every local coffee house where they let me play and my mother would allow me to go into that neighborhood. Also used some in the very cool bands I played in. Chief among these was "Lavender" with Chris Riley, who I still keep FB contact with.

9th Grade: Acid rock: Grace Slick and Marty Balin eventually went on to do mostly romantic songs. The band is ironically holding square instruments, but when you look at their bright faces now and you know the rest of the story, you can see they weren't the hard-edged rebels we thought. Slick had a haunting voice, and they sang about taking drugs and having sex, which was edgy at the time. They used a lot of harmony for an acid-rock band, which may have been part of the attraction. // I loved Harris's "MacArthur Park," and "Didn't We" stayed in my performance rotation for years. I was stunned when people later said they found it all too overdone. That's why I loved them I suppose, as I was overdone myself.

10th grade:  More acid.  A lot of political and social commentary here, most of the "American society is bad because of war and materialism. We still like to take drugs and have sex." Romantic songs sneak in again, even in this supposed up-against-the-wall protest album.// The first time I heard "Good Vibrations" on the radio it blew me away. The Beach Boys had always seemed a fun but shallow band to that point. I still turn this up when it comes on the radio.
11th grade. We move into rule-bending here, and in most subsequent years. I didn't actually own this myself until a year or two later. But I hung out with guys who wanted to play these all the time, so I learned a lot of them and played them with others.

12th grade. I could have included comedy albums right along, notably Bob Newhart's "The Button-Down Mind Strikes Back" and Bill Cosby's "Wonderfulness," both of which I can still recite verbatim. Jonathan Winter's "Another Day, Another World" also comes in there somewhere. An obscure album "Woodschtick," by The Credibility Gap came into my possession somehow - I don't recall buying it - and I loved that in college as well. It was not until decades later in the age of the internet when I went researching it - to see if it had left any trace - that I learned that the group included some prize comics indeed, well before they became famous: Harry Shearer, David Lander, Michael McKean. Albert Brooks worked with the group at other times. A young woman I knew only slightly complained openly when she heard the title of the Firesign Theater album that came out my senior year in college: Everything You Know Is Wrong. "I've had it! There's too many people going around just smirking and making fun of things without coming up with any consequential ideas themselves!" I decided that she was right, that I was somewhat guilty, and it was something of a turning point for me. I never listened to them again.

Freshman college. You never needed to buy these or put them on your own record player. Someone was playing them at full volume at your dorm in 1971-72.
Sophomore college. A keyboardist we worked with briefly worked at the record store. As soon as I walked in he pulled out a record telling me I was the person he thought of first when he heard it. He put on "Gaudete" and I was entranced. I went back to 8th-grade levels of obsession, even listening to "King Henry," which is terrible. //My roommate developed a sudden taste for bluegrass and brought a Flying Burrito Brothers album back after Christmas. I bought this one shortly after so we'd have more. He wanted our band to play more of this. Heh. I never had the dexterity for that. I was a vocalist who survived with guitar tricks.

Junior year. The band played a fair bit of this album, so my roommate had it on a lot, trying to work out some of the other instruments to see what we could substitute in for that. Mostly we just liked the harmonies.

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