5.03.2010

Musical Monday...


Saturday and Sunday were in the low nineties and high eighties, with seventy percent humidity, it was more like July then the beginning of May... I got to thinking about Summers past and thought about posting some typical Summer sounds and a certain song came to mind that, when I first heard it back in 1968, when I was a freshman in high school, just blew my mind, which had been numbed by the sonic attacks of the ever present Beatles, the soulless three minute pop tunes, engineered to fit on a 45 rpm record and the commercial punctuated drone of the AM radio scene.
In October of 1967, WNEW-FM in New York launched their new rock format, hosted by the likes of Allison Steele, the "Nightbird", who spun over from what was considered to be a racy (for the day) nighttime format of adult talk radio, Scott Muni and Bill "Rosko" Mercer, who had recently abandoned the top forty format of another station, and the incredible Jonathon Schwartz, who moved over from what was our household staple, the big band and jazz programs on WNEW-AM. Jonathon turned me on to things that you just couldn't hear on the AM bands; The Doors, The Grateful Dead, The Band, Cream, Hendrix, Joplin, The Who, The Byrds, The Mothers of Invention, Dylan, Leonard Cohen. Leonard Cohen for Bast's sake, oh ye gods, can you just wonder..?
All the music that made parents blanch and reel backwards with terror. Wild, unfathomable stuff, that made us musical adventurers keep our ears glued to our scratchy old FM transistor radios, especially in the late night, when we were supposed to be asleep, but were laying there in the dark, trying to place ourselves in those strange worlds we heard put to tunes like nothing we'd ever heard before... emotions that escaped our lives, held us spellbound, opened our ears and our minds. Most people I knew lived musical lives were like a hang-over from the fifties, fueled by mortal fear of anything that crawled out from under the rock that was the cornerstone of their "normal" lives.*
Imagine, if you will, what it was like to hear pablum like this churned out hour after hour in those far away days of 1968...




That's the Top Forty of 1968, click to embiggen, if you dare.



Yeah, The Doors and Cream are on that list, but all you heard were the sanitized, trimmed down singles. FM radio hooked us up to the intravenous bag of the album length versions and more, and, man, what dose that was...
Then, just think what a sonic shock it was to have this thrown at you without due warning...





That's "Summertime Blues" as cranked out at a volume setting of 11, by who were actually described as the loudest band in the world**, Blue Cheer.
Three minutes, twenty eight seconds of the wildest, brain splitting, speaker rattling hard core psych rock of the day. Can you just imagine? I thought my eyes were going to pop out of my head and I smiled like an idiot for days. I think I actually might invented air guitar because of this song...
Yeah, it still fit on a 45, which was great marketing on their part, but you can bet your ass that the next time I got my sweaty little hands on four dollars, their LP, "Vincebus Eruptum" graced my mono phonograph until I wore the grooves out.
I had sort of an on-again, off-again girlfriend at fifteen (a wild ass fifteen year old hippie in the making, who's waist length flaming red hair earned her the nickname Bloodworm, but that's a whole 'nother story...), but I threw her under the bus, and spent my time blowing out my hearing with Blue Cheer and any other psych rock pioneers I could find. The mold was cast, my musical journey was off in a whole new direction and I have Jonathon Schwartz to thank in part for the path I tread today and the delights he shared with me on the Frequency Modulation band he set flight through the air of those long gone days of mine...

* I have to say that, unlike all of my friends, all of my parents friends and all but one of my relatives, I was raised on a steady diet of jazz, be-bob, swing and big band, along with classical and other generally non-popular music of the day by my musically adventurous parents, who really planted the seeds of my musical garden. Thanks, Gert and Jack. You have no idea what you've done for me...

** Not only was the tag "loudest band in the world" grabbed by Spinal Tap, they also look curiously like Blue Cheer, ya think? I think that's cool, actually, sort of like silently paying homage to their fictional roots.

Footnote: I must admit that, once the initial furor of the musical assault of America by the British bands died down, I got awfully tired of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and their ilk. I really didn't listen to that sort of rock much until I heard The Beatles "Revolver". Even my parents developed quite an affinity for them after they heard that effort, and my mother made it a point to make sure I had a copy of "Sgt. Pepper's" the very first day it came out. That's parenting for you, eh?





spew accordingly below...

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8 Comments:

Blogger Peggy said...

There is no cure for the summertime blues.... and I'm so glad....!!!!
I was in high school in "68" too.
Good music,

9:25 AM  
Blogger BobG said...

Brings up some memories; I graduated high school in 1969, so I know what you're talking about. Around here at night one of the AM stations had a DJ who used to bring his own stuff in to play, and that was where I first heard stuff like "The End" by The Doors (I also saw them live at a concert here) and such. Cream, Spirit, Grateful Dead, Country Joe and the Fish, he played a lot of good stuff.

1:41 PM  
OpenID kcinnova said...

You had some cool parents! My mom liked her folk and happily bought me a Chicago album each Christmas, but by the time I was listening to Led Zepelin, I had to buy my own.
Perfect music for a hot and humid day.

6:41 PM  
Blogger Peacefully*Chaotic said...

I was born in 1969 but I should've been a teenager then!I love ALL this music!Thanks for the share a nd for your comment on my blog!Happy week!

11:31 PM  
Blogger Sh@KiR@ CK said...

You sure do have very cool parents...
enjoyed that!
hugs
shakira

7:44 AM  
Blogger Cappy said...

Boy, that brings back memories. I need more MP3 storage!

9:01 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

i do love how you tell stories! and i'm hoping one day you will tell the story about this little hippie girlfriend of yours! great song!

7:31 AM  
OpenID coopernicus said...

damn...i thought I was the only one who listened to blue cheer...never knew there was a vid for them...that kicks ass...

3:11 PM  

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