Here’s more of my birthday month music celebration. These are songs tied to a particular time and place, or occasionally multiple times and places, in my life.
For about a year, c. 1965, I tried to learn to play the piano. I went to the home of Marcheta Hamlin, our church organist. She was patient, but it just wasn’t in my skill set. One time she wanted me to play Minuet in G major, then attributed to J.S. Bach, but now considered to be written by Christian Petzold. She said it was like A Lover’s Concerto by The Toys. I didn’t know the song at all then and may not have until The Supremes covered it the following year.
After I broke up with my girlfriend in May 1971, I visited my friend Steve in Poughkeepsie. He was playing the Billy Preston album That’s The Way God Planned It, produced by George Harrison. The first song is Do What You Want. I LOVE that song. Within a year, I saw Billy live in Elting Gym at SUNY New Paltz, which I was attending.
In my freshman year, I was in Scudder Hall, probably in my dorm room, when I determined that When You Dance, I Can Really Love by Neil Young was Our Song for The Okie and me. This track, and the Billy Preston tune, have something in common. They start much slower than they end.
Help Me by Joni Mitchell defines a rebound relationship that didn’t last, and a concert went awry.
My real understanding of apartheid in South Africa started with Biko from Peter Gabriel’s third album. BTW, that whole collection, sometimes called Melt, is a desert album of mine. I have a copy of it in German.
My tenth high school reunion in 1981 was a bit of a dud. But a bunch of us went over to my friend C’s house. My friend Karen played the new Rolling Stones single Start Me Up about once an hour between midnight and 6 a.m.
Romance was hit or miss in the day. I developed a Depressive Quartet of songs. I wrote about them here. Sweet Bitter Love by Aretha Franklin, her best track on Columbia. My First Night Alone Without You by Jane Olivor. Gone Away – Roberta Flack; if I WANT to cry, this song always works. Stay With Me by Lorraine Ellison. If I needed to feel worse: Remove This Doubt by The Supremes; Down So Low by Linda Ronstadt; Can We Still Be Friends by Todd Rundgren.
I was riding back from somewhere late at night in 1983 with my roommate Mark, a part-time disc jockey at my favorite radio at the time, Q104. Owner Of A Lonely Heart by Yes came on the radio, and we mused whether the song would have any commercial success. I had my doubts.
More next week.