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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Late Bloomer, but Nonetheless a True Flower Child

By: Carol Henrichs

Rarely am I moved by 'new' music. When I want to crank up the music, I generally rely on the 'oldies,' the songs that hold special, even intimate memories for me. I love how music, especially songs from our 'prime,' can conjure up thoughts and feelings in such a way as to seemingly transport us back to another time.

One particular artist that completely transforms me and even has the power to move me to tears is John Denver. Whenever one of his songs plays on the radio, I stop what I’m doing so I can listen and even sing along. John Denver’s music has always held a special place in my heart. I particularly love the lyrics of his song “Rhymes and Reasons.”

“The children and the flowers are my sisters and my brothers. Their laughter and their loveliness would clear a cloudy day,...” The words to this song harkens back to my own philosophy of life.

Though “Rhymes and Reasons” wasn’t one of his most popular songs, and it is rarely played on the radio, it remains my favorite. “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” also holds special meaning for me because it had been my favorite song. I lived in a small town when it was popular and drove the country roads regularly. It was the song I always asked for in venues where live bands performed requests.

I was also particularly fond of “Rocky Mountain High,” “Sunshine on My Shoulder,” and another favorite, “Poems, Prayers, and Promises.” These can still be heard now and then on the radio. These and others were from John Denver’s Greatest Hits album, released in 1973, a tumultuous time in my life. 

Music was soothing to the soul and spirit. John Denver’s music allowed me to connect to a place deep within my heart. John Denver’s music sustained me for a very long time. The concepts behind the words he sang and the feelings he expressed were powerful and timeless. I practically wore out that CD, which I still play at times.

But the one particular memory that I hold dear occurred more than ten years later. I used to keep that CD in the car. When I got into the car, instead of turning on the radio, I turned on the CD player. John Denver’s voice was calming, casual, and familiar. It got to be familiar with my young song, Chris too. Whenever we would ride around on our way to picnics, chores, or out to lunch, we always did it to the sound of John Denver. I played other music too, but this was the old standby.

One day when we got into the car, Chris said, "Mommy, I love it when you sing." That of course came from my sweet, innocent four-year old who obviously hadn't developed maturity in his auditory organs yet. He is a grown man today and knows darn well that I can't sing a lick. I was never fooled by my own inability to carry a tune either. But that never stopped me. I have been singing along with my favorite tunes all my life. I guess this proves that even if you don't possess musical talent, you can still reap the benefit of musical magic.

When John Denver died, I felt like I lost a close, personal friend, probably not unlike so many other people who listened and felt a special connection to his music. I even saw him in concert once, with a dear friend. It was a sensational experience, a wonderful memory that I’m grateful to have and to hold onto. His music has endured. Even today, so many years later, for me, his music remains a powerful force.

Monday, February 25, 2013

There were the Beatles and Then, There were the Beatles

DECEMBER, 26 1963.

That was when my new clock radio went off unexpectedly. It was the exact moment that would change the course of my life. The new Christmas present that I had received the day before was not yet under my command, and it began blasting music in the middle of the Pennsylvania night. The rude awakening had me up and running to the radio before I was fully awake. I quickly turned down the volume and stood there in a sleep deprived stupor, staring out of the window at the flashing lights of the Naval Air Station far in the distance.

As I was about to turn the radio off, the D.J. said the most unlikely thing, "Here's a new record by a Rock and Roll band from England." At 13 years of age I was skeptical that any white person could play R&R, let alone a person from England. I asked myself, "What could people from England possibly know about R&R?" I was about to find out! A moment later I heard the distinctive voice of Paul McCartney, "One Two, Three, Fah!" My heart went Voom as I heard the powerful driving guitar sound of "I Saw Her Standing There!" Back to the sound of the basics; guitar, bass and drums. This was not the overproduced 'wall of sound' that had been dominating the airwaves. Youth culture had reinvented itself, as it would time and time again.

The next morning our family loaded into the Country Squire station wagon for our bi-annual road trip to the state of New Hampshire. We traveled two lane black top for the next five hundred miles. Every time we passed through a small town in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont I would reach over from the back seat to take control of the radio dial in an effort to locate this new sound. Normally my parents would have forbidden it, but it was already apparent that I was obsessed. Somewhere in the pine forests of New England I found it. The DJ's voice came booming out, "here's that new song by the Beatles you been calling about!" But to my surprise, it was not what I expected, It was the raw sound of John Lennon, I Want To' Hold Your Hand" The close harmony refrain of "I can’t hide, I can't hide", would haunt me for many years to come.

When we arrived in New Hampshire at the end of the day, I asked my cousin if he had heard the new band. He said, yes, but to my surprise he said, the song he heard was called, "She Loves You."

In the course of the next few days I heard, Please, Please Me, Twist and Shout, Love Me Do, P.S.I Love You ,and countless others, everyone a gem. It wasn't just good R&R, it was a cultural revolution. I began combing my hair differently, even though I had never seen a picture of them. It was a pivotal moment, not only for me, but for a generation. A full scale British Invasion was taking place. In the next few months The Rolling stones, The Dave Clark Five, The Animals, the Kinks, The Yardbirds, and many other English bands would take over the American airwaves. Youth culture had broadened its perspective and would never look back. I had found the soundtrack to my life, and a new way of seeing the world.

Now Fifty years later I have the complete works of The Beatles on my computer and I'm listening to it while I type this story.

Twin Falls, Idaho
February 17, 2013

Sunday, February 24, 2013

You Can't Do That - Beatles

Ed note: Here is the first of many Beatles stories.

By Nancy Knipe

This is a story about Beatle songs and what they will drive one to do. Specifically I remember most of the music from the Beatles’ Second Album, especially “You Can’t Do That,” with Harrison’s 12-string guitar.

I’m a nice kid, now a nice, old kid. Never really got into trouble for some odd reason and was always doing the right thing. I didn’t grow up with much, and when my best friend, Janet, bought me a ticket to the Beatles’ concert at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, Ohio, I thought I would die. The year was 1966. 

We arrived in Cincinnati, 5 girls, 4 of them with irons for their hair, and stayed in a well-established, some say questionable, hotel in the city. The day we arrived we all sat down to write Western Union Telegrams, which we promptly sent off to the only hotel in Cincinnati the Beatles were likely to stay in: the elegant Vernon Manor.

Then we all dressed in our finest shorts and blouses, all new of course, and taxied over to the hotel. That’s where we split up. Janet and I, still friends to this day, stayed together. We walked the perimeter of the hotel trying to decide the best entry point. Our other friends just walked into the lobby along with every other wobble-kneed teenager. 

Janet and I found a floor of windows close to the ground on a quiet side of the building.
We tried each window until we found one that would open. What luck! We slid the gargantuon thing slowly open and kept watch while each of us slid clumsily inside. 

What we climbed into was a totally dark, dusty holding area above the kitchen for old chairs and other furniture. We could look down through heavy chicken-type wire and see people working in the kitchen. We were careful not to knock things around and give ourselves up. But with no way to move beyond the furniture, we had to back out of the window and reassess our situation.

By now, of course, we were covered in black dirt. I still remember what I wore: beige shorts and a bright red polyester sleeveless turtleneck.  I thought I was hot. Now I was dirty and not really all that hot.

We decided maybe the front entrance would be more accessible, so we entered the huge lobby full of girls with board-straight hair and cute outfits. There were lights and cameras and news people interviewing all the enthusiastic fans. Janet and I were looking for bigger fish. 

We slid down a corridor and found the stairs. Once in the stairwell, we ran for our lives up to the third floor where we stopped, opened the door, decided it was too quiet, and shot up another two floors. We entered the hotel corridor on the fifth floor in front of a huge window which overlooked the pool. Two suited men came from nowhere and pushed the elevator button. 

“Oh look,” I pretended, “there’s Mrs. Schneider and her daughter,” as though we were guests. 

“Oh, and Sheila,” Janet chimed in. 

The elevator bell dinged, the doors opened, and one of the men turned to us and said, “Let’s go girls.” We rode down to the lobby with five suited men, three of them English.
Not the Beatles, but quite possibly Brian Epstein and who knows who else. 

We were promptly thrown out of the hotel. Later we learned that the Beatles had taken all of the third floor, and the fifth floor was being used by their managers. So close, yet so far away.

You know you can’t do that.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Love at the Armadillo World HQ

By Sheryl Arbuckle Green

On one of the first dates with my husband, we went to the Armadillo beer garden to hear Uncle Walt's Band.

Walter Hyatt, Champ Hood, and David Ball were three young musicians whose harmony was so natural and perfect it gave me chill bumps. I contacted Warren Hood, Champ Hood’s son, on Facebook a while ago and told him his dad was responsible for my two sons.

"Wait! Let me explain, Warren. My husband and I have been married for nearly thirty years and still listen to 'Ruby' and 'Aloha'. Your dad's music is a landmark in my life," I told him.

Warren did his dad proud. When I see him perform, I think of that night at Armadillo; a pitcher of cold Lone Star beer, nachos with jalapenos piled high, and falling in love.

Seems lots of readers on here remember Armadillo World Headquarters, so, thanks to Sheryl Arbuckle Green, I'm posting a picture to get you all started down memory lane. And for those who've never lived in Austin, well, you've never lived...just really...

How I Attained Hippie-hood at the Armadillo World Headquarters

By Brad

I love music. I've loved it as long as I can remember. It calms me, it pumps me up, it grounds me, and it inspires me to grow. My first concert was Rare Earth in San Antonio. I paid a whopping four dollars and fifty cents per ticket. I took three friends with me and had a blast.

I was a wannabe hippy, still living under my parents strict rules. My dad was a school administrator and enforcer of a ridiculous dress code, which really cramped my style, or lack thereof.

My favorite band was the Beatles, and they still are to this day. They are the only band I would have gone to the crossroads to see. Finally, on my own and fit to be tie-died, I had to settle for bands like Cooper, Dillon, Tull, Zepplin, Stones, Clapton, Santana, Frampton, Little Feat, Bad Company, Fleetwood Mac, America, Steve Miller, ZZ Top, Trapeze, The Eagles, Heart, Jefferson Starship, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Steppenwolf, Tom Petty, Chicago, Marshall Tucker, John Fogarty, Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray Vaughan and on and on.

I attended many indoor shows, and some of the strangest outdoor concerts that shaved years off of my life. I love those memories, but one of my favorite moments had to be at my hang out in 1974--The Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin, Texas. I drank my share of Shiner, Pabst, and Lone Star beer. I burned my share of holes in the not so plush carpet at center stage. I could drink, smoke, whoop and holler, pass out, and be the real hippie I always wanted to be.

My special moment came unexpectedly one Saturday night when Brewer & Shipley, New Riders of the Purple Sage, and special guest Roger McGwinn of the Byrds, took the stage and sang "One Toke Over the Line." Sweet Jesus! Bullets started flying from every direction, as the floor of the stage turned yellow and white. Magic, love, peace, and smoke filled the air. Oh, how I miss the good ol' days.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

On Wanting to be Cool

By Patti Beckert

There I was, sitting by the side of the road on a steel bar, swinging my barefoot feet and acting all cool and shit and hoping that just one of my friends would come by and say something to me like “Wow, you look just like a hippie.” But when that didn’t happen--after what seemed about an hour or so of just sitting there and trying to be that cool hippie chick--I gave up and went over to my friend Christine’s house to watch the Monkees, then went home to do homework, forgetting all about being cool because, after all, I did have a life.

Monday, February 18, 2013

1970 – Lori Tennant Remembers Her Friends

1970.  Not so long ago if you put it on a timeline. But it took years to get to 1970.

Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court in a 1954 ruling, public schools were required to integrate.  But a Superintendent by the name of O.K. Phillips declared that schools in Broward County would continue the policy of segregation. 

That all changed in 1961 when a black student, Chester Seabury, entered Stranahan High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to become the first black student in an all-white public school.  He graduated from that school in 1963.

John Lennon’s 1969 single, Give Peace a Chance, was a song that played over and over at the Fire Drill Talent Show at McArthur High School in Hollywood, Florida, Broward County.  It’s the song I remember most vividly, because it was timely.  Many of my friends at McArthur were black—Ron, George, Baby Tonia, just to name a few.  I can’t imagine not having them as friends. 

In the scheme of things, 1970 isn’t much older than integration itself.  Not in Florida.
And that one song is such a beautiful reminder of what we are all capable of.

Ed note: Historical info provided by Nancy Knipe

Sunday, February 17, 2013

How Important is Music to the Boomers, or Anyone for that Matter?

This entire blog is about how certain songs in our lives have helped us to remember different times, be it happy, sad, or otherwise. Songs evoke feelings when we hear them for the first time, but more importantly, certain songs that we really like, that we associate with certain moods will haunt us for the rest of our lives—not necessarily in a bad way--actually, not in a bad way at all.

Studies have been done on Alzheimer’s patients wherein music is played to evoke emotions. It was found that music from a person’s early adult years, i.e. 18-25, get the strongest responses and greater instance of engagement.

While the study doesn’t specify exactly which songs evoke the strongest reactions, I can pretty well bet when a Led Zeppelin or Beatles, or Jefferson Airplane song is played for an Alzheimer’s patient, even in the last stages of the illness, a sparkle will come to their eyes and they’ll remember just why the 60’s were such an incredible time to be alive.

This is for all of us…to help us remember and to share those memories while we still can.

Enjoy the trip.