Monday, December 06, 2004

I didn't catch the 60s.

I didn't get here in time. But I did catch the 70s. And that decade, from my kid point of view, was both wonderful and hellish.

What do you remember of the 70s?

My stepfather had given my younger brother and I his old record player that he was given in high school. It was the kind where you could latch the lid shut and it had a white plastic handle. He told us about taking it over to his friends' houses to play records and dance, hang out and smoke in the driveway. So we thought it was cool, and took it with wide-open eyes and our mouths dripping with thank yous. He also handed over his entire album collection, in a wooden Peaches Records and Tapes crate. His alcoholism was just starting to get bad at that point, and I think he was having morbid thoughts of his own end.

But as a kid, I had no idea of all this. I just knew I had in my possession something truly exotic. So on rainy days, my brother and I would plug it in, open it up and argue over which album to play first. We'd shut his door, in the hopes of not waking our mother, sleeping with Prince Valium. Would it be the Rolling Stones? The Beatles? Willie Nelson? The Temptations? Buddy Holly? Dr. Demento or Tom T. Hall?

The last two deserve special note. There we were, a five and seven year old, listening to and memorizing the words to Dr. Demento. "Dead Puppies" was one of our favorites, as was the song that went "They're coming to take me away, ho ho, hee hee, to the funny farm, where life is beautiful all the time...." "Fish Heads" was another favorite. You simply can't spend too much time singing loudly to Dr. Demento albums.

Tom T. Hall wrote a song called "I Like Beer." The chorus, our favorite part, goes like this:

I like beer.
It makes me a jolly good fellow, I like beer.
It helps me unwind and sometimes it makes me feel mellow (makes him feel mellow).
Whiskey’s too rough, champagne costs too much, vodka puts my mouth in gear.
This little refrain should help me explain as a matter of fact I like beer(he likes beer).

A good rousing bar song. THAT'S what little kids sang in the 70s!

The stepfather also gave us his 45s and the little adaptor thingie. His 45s were mostly from the 50s and early 60s and they were like curious museum pieces to us. Songs about a car stuck in second gear (beep, beep, good fun), a Purple People-Eater, a teeny tiny bikini and other assorted topics that made us really wonder about the 50s and 60s.

But occasionally we'd play one of the slower songs and I'd insist on teaching my little brother to slow dance, so he'd be popular with the girls one day. He'd protest, but then give in. Older sisters ALWAYS won.

He'd lay his head on my shoulder and I'd take in that wet puppy smell that all little boys must have and we'd just shuffle around on the green shag carpet in his room. Sooner or later, he'd realize he was dancing with his SISTER and he'd cut it out quickly. Then it was back to the funky stuff, jumping on his bed so hard we almost hit the ceiling with our heads, giggling ourselves sick while the rain poured outside.



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