Sunday, September 23, 2012

Jaybee: 1977

Back in June, as part of my Secret History series, I posted about 1977.

And any time I post about a year based on when music gets released, I’ve got my own personal version of that year, too, based on what I bought/experienced.  

As a kid, you’re pretty dependant on the radio, so you have the current music of the day to tie to your memories. I was no different, but once I got a job and some spending money (about 1974) I began seriously buying records, and not always getting what was current.

So from then on my recollections were not always stamped with the then current music. And I suspect I’ll be remembering 2012 via the Small Faces’ “Ogden’s Gone Nut Flake” released in 1968.

Add to that the fact that the punk explosion of 1977 was neither televised nor radio-ized, unless the purpose was to denigrate it.  So 1977’s significant music was twice removed from me. The punk world was exploding while mine was only growing more insular.

And I had my own experiences: turning twenty, changing my appearance, changing my major, changing friends, meeting (or rather not meeting) girls. Nothing earthshaking, but I still think of it as a very emotional time. Translation: I was sad a lot.

But in a lot of ways, it was a great year. When I really take stock of it, I can think of a dozen great moments, but I have no music to bring me back to them.  The closest thing is Feats Don’t Fail Me Now by Little Feat, which was constantly on my turntable that year. Perhaps because it’s rock and roll party music, I don’t have the intense emotional attachment to it that I do for the records below.

Because they so strongly evoke the sadder moments, they cause me to remember the times as sadder than they actually were.

So I may love these records way out of proportion to what I would otherwise perceive as their merits. Whenever I play them, I’m brought to tears. Every time.

Aztec Two Step:
I would not blame you for judging this record to be lame hippie crap, but songs like "Prisoner" reminds me of unrequited love.

And if you can somehow apply romanticized vision of the beatnik life to your own with "Highway Song", all the better:

Alan Price’s Between Today and Yesterday:

As I did with Aztec, I listened to Alan Price this during the winter, holed up in my room, alone. I think I was between friends at the time:

Is the title song depressing enough for you?  

But Alan could be gentle, too, but only he made you earn it. And even here, it’s far from joyous. Who’s kidding whom, right Alan?

The loneliness lasted into the summer.  I remember taking a week off from work and not having the slightest idea what to do with it. My friends were all working and my girlfriend, well, she didn’t actually exist.  Elvis decided to die that week, too, but since I hadn’t warmed to him yet, I couldn’t even sincerely partake in the grief.

So I’d wander the city by myself and go to the local bar.  Sad any day, but pathetic on a Tuesday.

Karla Bonoff:

By the end of the year, things were looking up.  I could listen to sad music like "Falling Star" and not want to slit my wrists.

The incredibly sappy arrangement of “Flying High” doesn’t even rate a youtube video. (and, no I’m too old to figure out how to do that.), which is a shame because it will always evoke being out to dinner with friends, which beat being in the bar with them.  There we were, a mix of boys and girls, all platonic relationships.  And for once, feeling completely comfortable with it because we genuinely liked each other.  

As it turned out there was another group of friends waiting in the wings, too. I’d hung with them a bit during the year, and they’d turn out to be keepers

A Hopeful Ending:
So what was there to be so miserable about? I don’t know. The music maybe. Most likely, it was just being twenty, an age that I could really do something with now, but that at the time seemed so difficult.

And to just finish it off, here’s another song from Aztec Two Step. You may not think it’s great. That’s okay.  I not only love it, but find the part between 1:30 and 2:00 to be transcendent:

Dancer’s All:

But that’s just me liking it more than I should.

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