February 28, 2007

I Can Hear Music, Sweet Sweet Music

There is no doubt that music is a big part of my life.

I’m one of those people that while in conversation, when a random word or phrase is spoken, my brain will access a song lyric with those exact words. Depending on the setting, I often break into song right then. If it can’t be sung out loud, it’s always sung in my head. Although it’s never been admitted, I’m sure this drives my family crazy. I like to think that it’s something that my two boys (10 and 13) will always remember about their Dad. I just hope when they tell people about it, it’s not preceded with “One thing that drove me crazy about my Dad was…..” and if it is, I hope they add “I’ll never forget that about him”.

I grew up in the 70’s so I would have to say this is my favorite decade of music. There is something amazingly wonderful about the memories of youth that make music from that time extra special.

70s.gifI’m not sure when exactly my musical button was pushed, but I imagine it was sometime in ’72 or ’73 around age 8. I have to thank my oldest brother Dennis (10 years my senior) for filling the house with some amazing early 70’s music. I smile when I think about his LPs and 8-track tapes of The Carpenters, Blood Sweat & Tears, Chase and especially Chicago. In fact, if I had to choose one album that really ignited my love (obsession) for music it would be Chicago II. To this day, I know every single drum, horn, and vocal part in my head of that album. I’ll bet I’ve heard it 300 times – and it was a double album! I recently got a DVD-Audio surround sound copy of it for my car – heaven!

“Hey Mom, where’s Dad?”
“He’s out in the garage in his car again.”

My first records were the ones that came on the back of cereal boxes. That was some pretty cool technology for back in the 70’s! I seem to remember having a record of “Sugar Sugar” by The Archies (which came on a box of Super Sugar Crisp – the cereal responsible for the birth of ADHD and a name they would NEVER use today), but “Sugar Sugar” came out in 1969 which means I was only 4 or 5 – perhaps it made another run in the early 70’s and made it onto the back of King Vitamin or Boo-Berry. I do remember the cereal box version of The Partridge Family’s “I Think I Love You”, but the standout cereal box record for me was a wonderful pop masterpiece called “Heartbeat It’s A Lovebeat” by The “we are trying really hard to be the Osmonds” DeFranco Family featuring Tony DeFranco (as Donnie). I played that cardboard record until the hard paper grooves wore off, then talked my Mom into buying me the actual vinyl 45. I love that song to this day!

By the mid-70’s, I was old enough to have a paper route. I saved up all my paper route money to buy my first stereo from Radio Shack (my audiophile paradise in 1976). It was a Realistic Receiver/Cassette combo – a honking huge, heavy box with large dials and a built-in cassette player, 2 Radio Shack speakers, and a Technics turntable. I’m telling you, I was in 7th grade utopia with that setup. I can only imagine how many needles I went through … especially in the later 70’s playing many of my records backwards to listen for hidden Satanic messages. Unfortunately, all I ever heard, and just one time, was “Satan banana banana banana Satan” – it was pretty scary.

I remember my first record purchase. It was at Sears and I bought the following:

1. The Sweet (Featuring Blockbuster and Little Willy)
2. Van Halen – Self Titled
3. Barry Manilow – Even Now

No kidding. And I loved all three of those albums.

I still do.

Today, I have thousands of 70’s songs in my music collection and to single out favorites is difficult, but here are a few. I’ll add comments to these as I have time…

My Sharona – The Knack

It’s hard to believe that it will soon be 30 years since this song owned the #1 spot in the charts for what seemed like the entire summer of 1979. My fondest memory of My Sharona is it’s long run at #1. In Cleveland, Casey Kasem’s Top 40 Countdown radio show always started at 9am and ran until Noon on Sunday mornings. As soon as church was done on Sundays around 11:45 I would get the car keys from my Dad and run out to the car to see if My Sharona was still #1. Now that I know what My Sharona is about, how comical that I was running out of church to listen to it!

Midnight At The Oasis – Maria Muldaur

I have a very strong memory of riding in my brother’s car and hearing this song on the car radio. It was 1974 – I was 8 and my brother Dennis was 18. Green Pontiac Ventura.

Undercover Angel – Alan O’Day
Shakedown Cruise – Jay Ferguson
Lonely Boy – Andrew Gold
Daniel – Elton John
Heart of Glass – Blondie
Get Down – Gilbert O’Sullivan
Rock On – David Essex
Little Willy – The Sweet
Heartbeat It’s A Lovebeat – The Defranco Family
Nights In White Satin – The Moody Blues
I’m Not In Love – 10cc
Magic – Pilot
Shannon – Henry Gross
Frankenstein – Edgar Winter Group
Run To Me – Bee Gees
Make Me Smile – Chicago
Space Oddity – David Bowie
Help Me – Joni Mitchell
Hello It’s Me – Todd Rundgren

More soon…

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Life Music



February 28, 2007



Comments (5)

  • Jeffrey Welch February 28, 2007 

    wow…I am actually very excited to read this! I am looking foward to how this will all work out. Silly, huh? I actually shutter to think of how you will paint the “Jeff” years, musically. Two of my fondest memories are: A) 49 cent cut-out records from national record mart (“Rollercoaster Baby” anyone?) I still have the album by a band called “1994” that to this day is one of my favorite recordings. the second, B) is when we drove back from Texas and it seemed like….and I swear its true…every 30 miles, the song “Rosanna” by Toto would come on the radio. it was like clockwork! But, I still love the song. There was just something about the measure of comfort I had. Driving a long journey with my best friend an a beat up car that we… honestly… werent all that convinced would make the trip. That song however remains very close to my heart because of that trip. I have TONS of other, shall we say, musical memories, that I would share, but I am sure you would be bored expressionless.

  • Nino March 1, 2007 

    Now you are getting me thinking. Cereal box records? WOW!! I had totally forgot about those. The one that got things started, for me anyway, was the album (yes I said album) I received from Carl Collins – “The best of the Association”. I will never forget his comment when he gave it to me, “I hope your parents will let you listen to this.”.

    Others would come, including some that you have mentioned here. The straw that broke the camels back was Jesus Christ Superstar. Dad and Mom reluctantly listened to it in the background on that Panasonic stereo that Mom won in the QW sales contest. Another unforgettable comment was Dad’s, “I don’t want that blasphemy in my house.”. And that was the end of that. It definitely was NOT the Couriers.

    I just wish I had your power of musical recall. It must have been the headphones that you wore. I remember coming into your room on Ravine Dr. There you were, sitting behind your bed, oblivious to the world around you, singing along with the likes of David Clayton Thomas. I would think “Where is your sense of pitch little brother, UGH!”. Then I tried those head phones. Hearing yourself makes all the difference in the world.

    Great piece!

  • dorsey March 1, 2007 

    I had the Archies record from Super Sugar Crisps, too. When I was 11, I won a free single of my choice by being the first caller to my local radio station. But my dad declared that all the available selections (including “Kung Fu Fighting”???) were “hard rock,” and therefore, unsuitable for a fine christian boy like myself.

    I’m glad my parents were there to protect me from that evil stuff.

  • Fuzz September 5, 2008 

    One of the first CDs I ever purchased (in the 80s) was “CHICAGO II”, Columbia CKG24. I was originally disappointed that the sound quality was not magnitudes above the OOPS copy I had from the dorm on R2R.

    I ripped it to my server sound system yesterday and noticed the cover art claimed 5.1. I’ll be dipped in sheep dip. It is! Kudos to Joe Gastwirt for the mix.

    I don’t have to go to the garage, just listen on my $99 Sony STR-K790.
    Sorry to say Sony dropped the DVD
    I can’t imagine it being any better.

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