The Soundtrack Of My Youth

soundtrack

I was fortunate to have grown up in the era of The Beatles, The British Invasion, and the cultural shift they caused.

At seven years old one Chritmas morn
I received a present of deep distintion
My very first monophonic record player
Which I played right into its extinction

My very first single was huckleberry Hound
Followed by Theodore, Alvin and Simon
I developed an obsession of musical sounds
The Beach boys Everlies and Frankie Lyman

But one fateful Sunday on prime time TV
Four cool young lads from England performed
I knew at that moment my life had been changed
Good bye to Silly putty and so long colorform

Suddenly a music I could call all my own
My brothers rock and roll seemed too lame
I had the Fab Four their mopheads and all
And my life would never again be the same

I can see how the albums influenced my being
With every new LP I evolved fashion and style
I wanted my life to be just like one the Beatles
Every thing those Fab Four did made me smile

Meet The Beatles and A Hard Days night 1964
Dad I wanna grow my hair to my collar
With bangs hanging over my eyes
Son you’re getting another crew cut
Dad your getting a big surprise

As long as your under my roof you’ll do as your told. Your hair stays as short as I say it does.
That’s not fair I never asked to be born in this stupid world.
Maybe I’ll just run away
No son of mine is going to be one of those dirty hippies they’re all smelly and they don’t even bathe
I’m not a dirty hippie Dad I just want to grow my hair longer
Cool it and keep the faith
I’ll keep the faith all right. That’s what you lack, maybe we’ll send you to military school.
Don’t wanna be in the army, I just wanna be like The Beatles
Smelly insects? that’s what you want? That’s what I get for letting you go around with those hoodlum friends of yours!
Don’t be a jerk Dad
Don’t talk to me like that you little brat, remember you’re living under my roof
Now go do your homework
I hate living here!!!

Help! Rubber Soul 1965

Slowly letting my hair grow longer
Despite all the tough complications
Bought myself a pair of bell bottom jeans
Spouted out cool Buddha quotations

Son you look ridiculous, where the Hell did you get those clothes. What the Hell will the neighbors say
Why do you care what the neighbors say? Ever see what Billy wears?
Besides I paid for it with my paper route.
Yes I know all about Billy, he’s older than you and a tree hugging fool.
If Billy jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge would you jump too.
If it looked like fun I would jump off.
What’s that son?
Nothing Dad
Go do your homework
I hate my life!
Bratty kid bastard!

Revolver, Yesterday And Today 1966

My hair finally snuck past my collar
The long bangs they covered my eyes
Dad put on way too much pressure
I began selling too many lies

Mr. Roberts said he saw you smoking a cigarette at the mall. Where are you getting those things?
I wasn’t at the mall so it couldn’t have been me smoking. Someone else was blowing those smoke rings
I never said anything about blowing smoke rings, now I know you are lying
I think its discipline you now lack
Oh for Gods sake not the military school bullshit again?
Don’t start anything you’re not able to finish young man. Now where the Hell did you get a cigarette?
I stole a few cigs from your pack old man
Don’t you talk to your father like that! Who the Hell do you think you are?
Get a haircut you insolent brat
Yea right!

Magical Mystery Tour, Srgt. Peppers 1967

Had my first sit in and a couple of rallies
Lets get our troops home from Vietnam
In hippie clothes and hugging some tree’s
Jesus they’re killing with kids with napalm

What the Fuck is wrong with you going to these peace rallies? People get killed at those things!
It’s a PEACE rally father, not a kill rally like you used to go to.
Listen you god damn Ruskie commie fag you still live under my roof so you’ll follow my rules.
You don’t even know what communism is Dad. Russia is a socialist country for your information
This is what I send you to school for you little shit? What teacher is telling you those lies
My shop teacher never mind it doesn’t matter, you don’t get me anyway
I’ll get you allr right, I’ll get you in a damn barber chair

Where did I go wrong?

The White album, Yellow Submarine,1968/69

Full fledged hippie clothes and all
As I walked all the old farts stared
Parents said see you look like a fool
They never realized I never even cared

Get a job and a haircut you lazy little punk.
Put on a suit and tie if you ever get an interview
What a suit and tie so I can be a prisoner like you?
You can cut this crap out right now, your mother and I…….what???
What the hell is that on your arm?
Its called a tattoo dad, maybe you heard of them.
Oh My God! Has your mother seen that? What are you comic book arms?
Now you’re gonna be one of those Hell’s Angels or something?
Its expression old man, you wouldn’t understand.
Understand this you young punk you better get that off your body before your Mom see’s that.
Its permanent Dad! It’s my god damn body anyway!
Taking the lords name in vain? Your on a road to nowhere.
Get a job and move out of my house!
Gladly!

Let It Be, Abbey Road, 1970 and beyond

The time comes in every mans life
Its time to spread his wings and fly
Got a job and my own apartment
Didn’t wait around to say good bye

Mom, I moved out I can‘t live with Dad no more. I found a basement apartment in Kings Park.
Son please! Stay here, you don’t need to leave, your father is just upset.
I’m sorry Mom its way more than that, he hates me and I hate him.
Son nobody hates anybody, its only a misunderstanding, don’t move away. Its not safe, we love you.
Its too late Mom, I just came to get my records and my record player. I promise I’ll come visit you when he’s not around. I love you Mom

Please don’t go………….

I Know What Its Like To Be Dead

jl

John Lennon wrote the tune after hearing Peter Fonda whine about how he died and came back to life during a hallucinogen enhanced party. John didn’t care much for Peter so he credited the words to a female, but it just underscores his brilliance as a writer. Another flash of brilliance was writing I am The Walrus in response to an English class dissecting his words and searching for hidden meanings. That was John Lennon, genius and member of a historic and cultural phenomenon rock and roll band that blew into our lives in a vortex of world changing thoughts. Imagine!

The Fab Four, the boys of Liverpool, The Beatles. In retrospect I use the Beatle as a barometer of the status of my coming of age. They shook the very foundation of our country in one performance. That performance was on another cultural institution, The Ed Sullivan Show. Back in ‘64 we had only one TV for all of us to share and after family deliberated in the traditional family democratic fashion we all watched what Dad told us to. That was my introduction to a one sided democracy, but I was too little to engage in politics at that time. No matter, it was cool, the times were different then and that’s how most families viewed this high tech medium we called the idiot box with bits glowing tubes hidden behind the screen. The family gathered and watched one of three available channels, and The Ed Sullivan Show dominated Sunday evening prime time in most homes. I was excited because there was some new band from England on the show that night and they had girls screaming their names. I have four older brothers so my introduction to rock and roll was their 45 record collections of acts like The Everly Brothers, The Four Seasons, and a slew of others including Elvis the Pelvis Presley. I sat on the floor transfixed as The Beatles played a few way cool tunes! Mesmerized! When they finished I had an epiphany. I now had my own music to listen to, not my brothers or anything else. I called my good friend Ray to make sure he saw them, because our world was about to change and I knew it. The Beatles. The next day I decided I was gonna take the greasy kid stuff out of my hair and try and sneak some mop top looking bangs past my Mom.

Growing my hair proved to be much more difficult than I believed it would, but I kept at it. For years! Through tears, arguments, fights, and a few times being physically dragged up to Frankie The barber for a nice crew cut I did everything within my limited power to have a Beatle haircut. Eventually I prevailed but it left some lasting bad feelings with my folks. All from that one night of Ed Sullivan which changed my life. I rocked out to the hard driving love song of the boys and other acts like them for the next two years. In December of 65 is when Rubber Soul came out. Game changer!!! I was all of ten years old and suddenly my music world expanded immensely. Unusual instruments and sounds and their hair went from cute mop tops with bangs to a longer cut, like a girl. That’s what I wanted. I read every teen magazine article on the Beatles, bought Beatle trading cards and whatever 45’s came out, and was changing along with whatever The Beatles did. The next album was “Yesterday and Today” which is when I learned what controversy meant. The cover of the album was described by Paul as “Our comment on The Vietnam War” , sometimes referred to as “the butcher cover.“ The boy were dressed in butchers smock with meats and plastic doll parts on them. It pissed off my Mom and Dad, so I knew it was important and I embraced the Beatles even more. Now at age eleven, I was learning about politics while listening to even newer sounds by my hero’s.

Toward the end of that year is when Revolver came out, and it had the song I spoke of in the title” She Said She Said” which grabbed me instantly, along with many other psychedelic sounding songs. I went out to Spencer Gifts and bought black lights, lava lamps, strobes, and Day-Glo posters. I was dressing according to what they wore, or what the “Mods” were wearing on Barnaby Street. I attempted to part my hair in the center and grow it longer. That led to out and out battles, in which I did some profound personal growing. I began fully understanding politics, and in two years I would understand what Timothy Leary meant by “Turned On”

After Yesterday and Today, it was Sergeant Pepper, Magical Mystery Tour, and Yellow Submarine and by 1969 I was on my way from being a “Mod” kid wearing the latest fashion, Nehru jackets, love beads, granny glasses, and balloon sleeve shirts to becoming a hippie. As the Beatles changed, so did I. John Lennon had more influence on me than anyone else in the world, including teachers and family, and I had never even met him. But I listened to every interview, read every story, and followed all the escapades involving The Beatles in general, and John in particular. My devotion to peace, my devotion to equality, and my coming to understand hypocrisy was all due to following John Lennon’s philosophies.

I remember when Kennedy was shot but didn’t fully understand the implications. But I got that it was a profound moment in all our lives. I was much more aware when King, and Robert Kennedy were shot, fully aware of the implications. I followed the happenings of the Chicago Eight, or Seven if you forget Bobby Seale, became involved in protests, sit ins, attended peace rallies and was far more in tune to life than ever before all due to growing emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and politically along with The Beatles. I was fortunate to grow up in that era an I took full advantage of what they offered, way beyond merely their music.

I wasn’t prepared for what happened December 8th, 1980. Now another cog in the working class with a family. I was painting my kids playroom and listening to the radio when the music was interrupted to tell us that John Lennon had been shot an killed. It was a deeply felt emotional punch to the solar plexus. I put the paint brush down, sat on the step ladder and wept. The collective shock and sorrow felt by fans was like Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes. They call me on an on…..Across the Universe.

That’s why I mourn John Lennon as a family member, because without even knowing who I was he helped shape me into what I became. Rock In Peace Mr. Lennon, and thank you for sharing so much of your soul with a world that needed you. Peace..
IMAGINE .

ONE REALLY BIG SPECIAL NIGHT IN ‘64

beatles #1

It was 20 years ago today, Sergeant Peppers taught his band to play. I doubt there is anyone in America of my generation that’s not familiar with that line. But on February 9th, 2014 it was 50 years ago today that counted. That was the day America was ready to….Meet The Beatles. After that night came a plethora of new albums, Magical Mystery Tour, Rubber Soul, Revolver, The White Album and more. Help, Its Been a Hard Days Night here on Abbey Road. 50 years ago! Yea, a lot has been made of the recent 50 year anniversary of the Beatles conquering America. But nothing really caught any of the energy that one special evening created. Five songs transformed a generation, gave it something to identify with. The Beatles merely changed the way we spoke, the way we dressed, the way we listened to music, the way we viewed our politics, and in general the way we lived our lives. And it all started on one night all across America in households of families huddled around a Sunday night ritual. The Ed Sullivan show, an institution in the days when most families had only one TV set and the whole family sat and watched it together. Back in those days dinner was served at the same time everyday, an you couldn’t leave the table until you finished everything. Yea, even the vegetables! After dinner the family gathered around the TV set to watch whatever Dad decided we could watch. Saturday mornings we had cartoons and the television belonged to us (so long as our chores were done) but at night there was no democracy. Fascist Pops was in control of what we viewed and we were the remote controls. “JT, go put on channel four. JT, turn this up. JT, fix that horizontal bar.” Pretty much the same in every house, and Sundays were family night. For us it was the same every Sunday, Lassie, followed by My Favorite Martian, followed by The Ed Sullivan Show all on CBS. If I was allowed to stay up after that I had to change to NBC and we watched Bonanza. February 9th 1964 started out just like any other Sunday night, I had no clue what would occur on that special night.
IMHO the Grammy tribute fell way short of recreating any of that energy, not focusing on what that special night really created but instead used it as a promo for Grammy winning acts, popular actors, and an audience that never got a chance to understand the importance that night held to my generation. So I’ve taken it on myself to attempt to capture a slice of the energy released on that special night 50 year ago. For me and my classmates way back in February 1964 that performance was a game changer. A life changer! The moment the first set was over I understood intuitively that something had changed profoundly. For the first time I had my own music, a music made just for me and all I wanted to do was be like The Beatles and listen to more of their music. First I had to wash the Brylcreem out of my hair, remove the slicked back greaser wave and grow my hair. I would have bangs starting the next morning. I wanted to be like The Beatles, those dudes were fucking COOL!
Before that evening like most of my friends I was a follower, a sheep spinning my older brothers 45’s. Not that it wasn’t good music, it was great, but it wasn’t mine and it didn’t have the oomph I would come to know and love. The year before that special night I got my first record player for Christmas. It was a cheap record player that could only handle one record at a time and had one cheesy speaker built in its self contained carrying case that couldn’t go more than four feet away from an electric outlet without an extension cord. My record library consisted of Oh My Darlin’ by Huckleberry Hound, The Theme to Mr. Ed (of course of course) The Chipmunks Christmas song, a searing rendition of The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow, and Sherry by the Four Seasons (That one I stole from my brother, hope he doesn’t read this). But that Sunday night changed all that. In my pajamas with spacemen in spacesuits all over it I sat right in front of the TV. I heard that some Beetles were coming to America, and all I knew at that point was they played music and made girls scream. I was prepared to hear something like The Everly Brothers, or The Beach Boys, or maybe even Bobby Darrin. My parents played Frank Sinatra, Al Hirt, and Andy Williams on the family console but I knew it would be nothing like that. Maybe its four British Elvis Presley’s? But when that first song began, a song called “All My Lovin” my mouth dropped. It was the most amazing thing I had ever heard. And the four guys, long hair shaking as they sang, were just about the coolest things in the universe. I watched and memorized their names, on drums some guy named Ringo. Who has a name like that?! Cool! George, Paul, and sorry girls he’s married John. I knew in an instant this was something I had been waiting for without knowing I was waiting for it. The next tune was called “Till There Was You” sung by the cute guy Paul. In the house next door I heard a blood curdling scream. I looked up startled and my Dad and Mom were chuckling, “Mollie, can you hear Christine next door?” laughter, “Yes I can Joe, listen to her screaming like a banshee for these kids” Christine was my 13 year old next door neighbor who sounded like she was being tortured by the boogey man when in fact in her mind she was asking Paul to marry her. Very loudly and in an eerie shrieking kind of way. Mom an Dad got a good laugh from those cute mop top boys from England. Not quite as funny the next morning when I came downstairs with my hair combed over my forehead in an attempt to copy the look. “You march right upstairs and fix your hair young man!” …..“But Mom!! I wanna………Yes Mom.” That was the first of many years of arguments I would have regarding the length and style of my hair. And it all started on that one magical special night. They finished the first set with a fast rocking tune “She Loves You”, which had all of the kids in school singing yea, yea, yea on the playground the rest of the year.
After another act or two the boys came back for two more songs but it wouldn’t have mattered, the die was cast they had already conquered the youth of America. We were in hook line and sinker. They played “I saw her Standing There” and “I wanna Hold your Hand” what would become two more love anthems of the young. In one special night I had five new favorite songs. I got rid of my 45’s and began swearing a collection of nothing but Beatle songs after that. I had MY music now, not my brothers, not the kid up the blocks, MINE! I bought teen magazines to read about them, had Beatle trading cards, bought many of their 45’s, and a Beatles poster, all of which would make me a bazillionaire if I had them now. As the years passed I could follow my social development by what album came out next. My hair, my politics, my view of love, my global presence all coincided with what the Beatles did on their next album. I didn’t realize it at the time, but every Beatle album I ever listened to could be called a greatest hits album. It was as though they couldn’t make a shit record if they tried.
Whatever The Beatles did I tried to do. As they grew their hair longer so did I, when they dressed more colorful so did I, they talked slang, I talked their slang too, they smoked pot I tried it. I couldn’t get enough information about them. I followed their trip to India in the magazines and adjusted my life around the Fab Four. I especially tried to be like John. Whatever The Beatles said or did validated my doing the same. Not so much for Mom and Dad though, the chuckling over the cute mop tops morphed into a major bone of contention with the generation gap battles. No longer cute and funny lads they were viewed as destroyers of youth, the antichrists. What they really did was to give a voice to a generation and let us know its not only okay to question authority, its a responsibility when authority is being misused. Protest against wrongness, against war, evil and hatred, share love and peace and harmony. What a horrible message to send to kids. Joe McCarthy would have been incensed. With music as their only weapon they conquered us and spread the concept of peace, love, and togetherness to the masses. The Flower Children, The 60’s fashions, The protests, the outdoor concerts, all the positive aspects of the era can be traced back to The Beatles. The Beatles were the truth and the truth set us free. It all began one special night.
I truly hope that another generation of youth will have a perfect storm, a perfect harmony of lives that can reset perfect balance in the Universe the way the Beatles did for mine. Four guys, strangers, all from the same area meet in another country and become a rock and roll band and set the world on its head. Why those specific four? Why that specific area? Why that specific time? Four guys, all with extreme talent that compliments each other forming an unstoppable force. When the world needs it the Universe has a way of supplying the perfect storm like The Beatles. We need a perfect storm now, we need another Beatles. But I just can’t see that happening, the good karma, the positive energy, the light through the darkness coming together at the exact moment, the exact time, for the exact reason. I just can’t! But Hell, I’ve been wrong before, and if it can happen I’ll be glad to be wrong again. C’mon Universe, now more than ever, we need some Beatle magic. Give us just one more “One Really Big Special Night”……PEACE

To Sir, With love

JJ

I Know What Its Like To Be Dead

A lyric from one of my fave Fab four tunes penned by John Lennon. The Fab Four, the boys of Liverpool, The Beatles. In retrospect I use the Beatle as a barometer of the status of my coming of age. When they took the US by storm I watched them on The Ed Sullivan Show. Back then we had only one TV and after the family deliberated we watched whatever we decided my Mom an Dad had chosen to watch. It was my introduction to a one sided democracy, but I was too little to engage in politics at that time. No matter, it was cool, the times were different then and that’s how most families viewed this high tech medium we called the idiot box. The family gathered and watched one of three channels, and The Ed Sullivan Show dominated Sunday evening prime time in most homes. I was excited because there was some new band from England on the show that night and they had girls screaming their names. I have four older brothers so my introduction to rock and roll was their 45 record collections of acts like The Everly Brothers, The Four Seasons, and a slew of others including Elvis the Pelvis Presley. I sat on the floor transfixed as The Beatles played a few way cool tunes! Mesmerized! When they finished I knew I had my own music now, The Beatles. The next day I decided I was gonna take the greasy kid stuff out of my hair and try and sneak some bangs past Mom.
Growing my hair proved to be much more difficult than I believed it would, but I kept at it. For years! Through tears, arguments, fights, and a few times being physically dragged up to Frankie The barber for a nice crew cut I did everything within my limited power to have a Beatle haircut. Eventually I prevailed, but that one night of Ed Sullivan changed my life. I rocked out to the hard driving love song of the boys and other acts like them for the next two years. In December of 65 is when Rubber Soul came out. Game changer!!! I was all of ten years old and suddenly my music world expanded immensely. Unusual instruments and sounds and their hair went from cute mop tops with bangs to a longer cut, like a girl. That’s what I wanted. I read every teen magazine article on the Beatles, bought whatever 45’s came out, and was changing along with whatever The Beatles did. The next album was “Yesterday and Today” which is when I learned what controversy meant. The cover of the album was described by Paul as “Our comment on The Vietnam War” , sometimes refered to as “the butcher cover.“ The boy were dressed in butchers smock with meats and plastic oll parts on them. It pissed off my Mom and Dad, sso I knew it was important and I embraced the Beatles even more. Now at age eleven, I was learning about politics while listening to even newer sounds by my hero’s.
Toward the end of that year is when Revolver came out, and it had the song I spoke of in the beginning,. “She Said She Said” which grabbed me instantly, along with many other psychedelic sounding songs. I went out to Spencer Gifts and bought black lights, lava lamps, strobes, and Day-Glo posters. I was dressing according to what they wore, or what the “Mods” were wearing on Barnaby Street. I attempted to part my hair in the center and grow it longer. That led to out and out battles, in which I did some profound personal growing. I began fully understanding politics, and in two years I would understand what Timothy Leary meant by “Turned On”
After Yesterday and Today, it was Sergeant Pepper, Magical Mystery Tour, and Yellow Submarine and by 1969 I was on my way from being a “Mod” kid wearing the latest fashion, Nehru jackets, love beads, granny glasses, and balloon sleeve shirts to becoming a hippie. As the Beatles changed, so did I. John Lennon had more influence on me than anyone else in the world, including teachers and family, and I had never even met him. But I listened to every interview, read every story, and followed all the escapades involving The Beatles in general, and John in particular. My devotion to peace, my devotion to equality, and my coming to understand hypocrisy was all due to following John Lennon’s philosophies.
I remember when Kennedy was shot but didn’t fully understand the implications.But I got that it was a profound moment in all our lives. I was much more aware when King, and Robert Kennedy were shot, fully aware of the implications. I followed the happenings of the Chicago Eight, or Seven if you forget Bobby Seale, became involved in protests, sit ins, attended peace rallies and was far more in tune to life than ever before all due to growing emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and politically along with The Beatles. I was fortunate to grow up in that era an I took full advantage of what they offered, way beyond merely their music.
I wasn’t prepared for what happened December 8th, 1980. Now another cog in the working class with a family. I was paining my kids playroom and listening to the radio when the music was interrupted to tell us that John Lennon had been shot an killed. It was a deeply felt emotional punch to the solar plexus. I put the paint brush down, sat on the step ladder and wept. The collective shock and sorrow felt by fans was like Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes. They call me on an on…..Across the Universe.
A friend who taught me right from wrong, and weak from strong that a lot to learn. What can I give you in return? To Sir, with love…Peace
IMAGINE .