Articles Posted in Observations

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ImpressionHello. After a hiatus of over sixteen months, I’m back again. It’s funny. I distinctly remember publishing that last post, back on July 19, 2015, before feeling like I needed a break. I felt a bit burned out and figured I’d take a week or two off from posting. But, a week turned into two weeks which turned into a month and then I was off on vacation. And then the bottom dropped out of my life. I always hate it when that happens. Only now am I returning to where I left off. As you might guess, there’s been a really good reason for my absence.

After spending a wonderful week with my family in Cape May, New Jersey, in August, 2015, we decided upon having a mini-vacation over Labor Day in Wells, Maine, one of our favorite vacation spots. Just as I was getting back in the swing of things – and about to start publishing more blog posts – something truly horrible happened.

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622 Post-1 Depositphotos_2286999_XS.jpgI thought I had wrapped this series up, having explored most of the music I’d been listening to back in 1972 and 1973. But I forgot to leave you with the highlights from 1973, as I had done with 1972.

In those now faraway days, a lifetime ago really, Christmas vacation and January would become this wonderful time of reviewing the music for the year and then ranking it in the order of our respective tastes. And while the rankings were purely subjective (there were certain artists we loved, and certain artists we hated), I really am amazed at how the lists have held up over the years. It blows me away that forty years later, I find that my musical tastes have pretty much remained the same. How weird is that?

Yet, then again, maybe it’s not so weird after all. I mean, I listened to all this great music in my formative years, thereby locking it forever into place in my memory. And it’s not just the fact that the music is so wonderful, it’s the fact that the memories associated with that music are probably even more wonderful. Memories of a world that no longer exists.

Another thing: you might think some of these songs hail from 1972 or 1974 – and you would be right. However, they’re included here because they peaked in 1973. In other words, these songs are here, in 1973, because they reached their highest position on the Top 100 chart in 1973.

Also, just remember, this list was put together by a couple of knuckleheads who fell in love with music at a young age. Just imagine your 10-year old self creating this list. We’d listen to maybe 300 new Top 100 songs in a given year and winnow them down to the absolute best songs, according to a complicated formula. Looking back, I think we mostly got it right. What do you think?

And listen to those first three songs. Chills, baby. Chills. We knew what we loved.

My favorite song? Impossible. However, for pure weirdness, there is one song here that stands head and shoulders above the rest. I’d tell you but … I’m so scared your little head would come off in my hands!!! PLAY. IT. AT. ELEVEN!!!

Know my songs, know me. Check out The Soundtrack Of My Life From 1973.

You’re welcome.
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510 Post-1 Depositphotos_2286999_XS.jpgSo, when my best friend’s father took early retirement, I (naturally?) expected that his father would just be around the house more. I was right, but in a way I could never imagine. Oh, he’d be around the house more, alright. It’s just that it would be in a different house, a thousand miles away, by the ocean. Early retirement meant pulling up the family’s roots and getting the hell outta Dodge. Oh.

There were no words. I was in shock. In a matter of months, the best friend in my whole life would be gone and there would be this gaping hole where my life had once been. The house would sell early and the moving truck would pull out a week before Christmas. Lucky me! I would have my entire Christmas vacation to mope around the house, trying to piece my life back together again. Yay!

I’ll never forget it. The Christmas of ’79. Boy, did it suck! But, at least, I had all that wonderful music. And I still do. Some things you never outgrow. Plus, with the music cranked up to eleven, some days it feels like old times, and I’m back in the 70s, and the music will never end.
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508 Post-1 Depositphotos_2286999_XS.jpgIt’s funny. As a kid, one’s life seems like forever, as it sprawls out before you to the horizon and beyond. You can’t wait for life to happen while being oblivious to the fact that the most important things in life are already in the midst of happening to you. Only years later do you come to realize that what you thought were the small things were in fact the important things. We had endless summers of musical adventures as kids and as teenagers. I guess we always thought they’d last. We simply could not conceive of them ever coming to an end. Maybe we just didn’t want to.

Yet, all good things come to an end. Out of the blue, one day, my friend dropped a bombshell: his old man had had enough of the rat race and he had put in for early retirement. The guy’s ulcers had been killing him and his drinking was getting worse and something had to give. Little did I know that that something was the life I had come to take for granted.
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492 Post-1 Depositphotos_2286999_XS.jpgAutumn has always been a bittersweet time for me. Great memories of people and places that are long gone. Some days, it literally hurts to remember. That’s where the music comes in. Like a balm for the soul, the music takes the pain away. Don’t mourn the loss of your best friend! Instead, peruse the kraut rock artists he so loved. Suddenly bummed because you realize that your dead friend’s kids are now in their thirties? Tune in to the blues rock he turned you on to. Shocked to learn that the place where you lost your virginity is now a friggin’ strip mall? Once again, dive into the music and the various tunes that were playing when you, um, had your fun.

Change sucks. Sure, it’s inevitable. But it doesn’t make it suck any less. And, since I don’t abuse drugs or alcohol, or womanize, or indulge in any other vices, the only thing that gets me through is my music. Music defines me. Pick a year. Hell, pick a month! And I will recall the soundscape from that time in my life, and, through the songs, I’ll remember a time when I wasn’t saddled with the worries and regrets of a middle-aged man.
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491 Post-1 Depositphotos_2286999_XS.jpgI have no idea what it is about autumn and Thanksgiving, but this time of the year, all I want to do is listen to music. Screw TV, reading, and just about everything else. All I want is my music. And, depending upon the weather, the temperature, or my mood, I might want any of a wide variety of music. If I can’t decide what I want, my default setting is almost always one of The Big Five: the Beatles, the Stones, Zep, Floyd, or Tull. Like the fingers of a hand, these five are all the music I will ever truly need.

The Beatles remind me of my early childhood, singing in the car to the radio as we drove to Poughkeepsie, visiting friends and family. The Stones remind me of later childhood and hiding out in the woods and spying on people. Zep is early adolescence and the allure of girls. Floyd is late adolescence when I thought I knew everything and wanted to zone out to some cosmic bliss (you know what I’m talkin’ about). And Tull? Tull is everything that came after. Tull is life up to now. For, as we all know: life’s a long song.
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435 Post-1 Depositphotos_2286999_XS.jpgAnother point to make about these particular playlists is this: they were hodgepodges. From reviewing my various notes and scribblings from 40+ years ago, it seems that what we did was to determine whether a song we liked was peaking in a certain month. So, the playlists are random collections of songs that we liked listening to. At least, this is true in part. Wherever you see a single listed, that is the month in which we determined that the single had peaked. The rest of the songs are taken track-by-track, from the albums we had been carefully listening to, roughly during that period of time. So, by the time we entered high school, we probably had close to 2,000 albums and god only knows how many singles packed between our ears. As you can tell, we were music gourmands.

Also, this particular playlist contains one of my favorite songs of all time. Of. All. Time. Check out Floyd’s “The Great Gig In The Sky“. If this song isn’t my favorite song EVER, then it’s pretty damned close. Simply perfect. … and I am not frightened of dying … It’s a song that makes me think of the moment that one’s soul is free of the body at death – and the song should be sung with such passionate intensity accordingly. Whither heaven or hell? What I wouldn’t give to be able to sing like that. Damn!
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434 Post-1 Depositphotos_2286999_XS.jpgOne of the reasons I post these monthly playlists is because this is precisely the sort of thing we used to do, years ago, especially upon listening to The American Top 40, with Casey Kasem. Listening to Casey was like a religious duty, since we all knew that he was really Shaggy from “Scooby-Doo!” Shaggy wasn’t the dope-addled punk we all knew and loved from Saturday mornings. No, sir. That was all a charade. In reality, Shaggy was this ultra-cool hipster-doofus who spun vinyl with panache, ranking your favorite ear candy week by week, every Saturday evening. And we were all ears. Shaggy/Casey would call ’em out and we would write ’em down, like clockwork. Then we went and discovered this amazing list called The Top 100. Then we discovered a list for albums! And life would never be the same.
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448 Post-1 Depositphotos_2286999_XS.jpgNow that I’m approaching 50, I’m not altogether sure if kids listen to music anymore to the extent that we did as kids. I mean, I’ll be the first to admit it: I was addicted to music. We obsessed over it constantly. We would scour lyrics like Talmudic scholars. It was not uncommon to spend an entire day listening to music and doing nothing else. It was nirvana. There was a period in my life that if you were to take a picture of me, it invariably would have shown me wearing earphones. I had to have my daily fix of music. Today, with the distractions posed by the internet, I’m not sure that such a nirvana exists anymore. Still, I wonder.
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447 Post-1 Depositphotos_2286999_XS.jpgImagine listening to this music alongside someone who could provide an oral annotation of it all. Cool, right? Now, throw in anecdotes of the various music business people and artists who that certain someone might know, and you have an idea of how I was exposed to all this great music. And it wasn’t just the music either. Thanks to The Dude, apart from the music itself, we were turned on to “Saturday Night Live”, Rolling Stone Magazine, the Hullaballoo, J.B. Scott’s, edgy t-shirts, and a wide variety of books on the various artists we listened to. He even made us want to pick up an instrument and learn how to play it. And that has made all the difference.
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