Sunday, May 04, 2008

Alive And Sentient In The Seventies

I was alive and sentient in the seventies.

But in addition to that, I was in the "Seventies Business" for awhile. The first really successful band I was in was the wreckage of a Beatles tribute band. It then morphed into a sort of necrophiliac version of all the parties in Animal House, and transitioned over into a kind of Big Chill waste hauler. Then, finally, we got old enough, and the audience got young enough again, to mine the seventies -- my own adolescent experience -- for ore.

I'd never been an expert on anything simply by dint of being alive and owning a transistor radio before. I had to learn all the sixties crapola like a scholar researching the Battle of Trafalgar. All I had to do was show up for the seventies.

Rock n roll had a trajectory, and by its very definition it had to flame out. It hasn't. It's gotten (or always was, depending on your taste) lame. There is now an ironclad repertoire of seventies music that gets played at timeouts at sporting events, the second set of wedding bands, and throughout every other movie soundtrack. The funny thing is, they are an agglomeration of stuff that didn't seem all that vital when they were released. Later generations picked through the seventies dumpster for YMCA and We Are The Champions and Afternoon Delight and...

I'm not going to list them. But honestly, trust me, my fellow burnouts in the seventies didn't really care about Stairway to Heaven all that much. We liked Whole Lot of Love and Over the Hills and Far Away.

The best example I can come up with that demonstrated the seventies version of Yogi Berra's maxim of "that place is so crowded no one goes there any more" is Smoke on the Water.

We didn't give a damp fart for Smoke on the Water. To this day, my friends and I will yell: DEEP PURPLE! to each other at the end of any song we're playing, and play the last two notes of that ripe turd for a joke. Like most resurrected seventies tunes, it's a goof, nothing more.

I've posted a hearty handful of goofy versions of Deep Purple's SOTW here. I find people's affection for such trifles harmless. I never got peeved if we asked the audience for entries for "Stump the Band" and they said Debbie Boone instead of Deep Purple. You're kidding yourself if you think one is less uncool than the other.

If you were driving a Ford Maverick, listening to an 8-track player, or maybe the radio through an FM converter, wearing farmer overalls and a plaid shirt, with your arm around a girl wearing a duster, her hair formed into two perfect turd curls, you'd change the station if Smoke on the Water came on. You'd want this one, instead:

Oh, I know it's terrible. It was terribly fun for a little while, too. Isn't that the point?


Jim said...

Agreed on SOTW and Stairway, and everything else, really.

And if you lived anywhere between greater Mississippi river drainage, from the Appalachians to the Continental Divide, you had more than one Head East album to feed that 8-track with.

Speaking of that format you ALWAYS had a matchbook (remember those?) handy in the car to wedge under some of the 8-track cartridges to get them to track correctly. And how many times did you hear a song on the radio and thought it sounded odd because it didn't have the dddrrr-cla-THUMP track change in the middle of it? :o)

Ruth Anne Adams said...

When the deep purple falls
over sleepy garden walls
and the stars begin to twinkle
in the sky-i-i-i-i-i

In the midst of a memory
you'll wander right back to me
breathing my name with a

Country Squire said...

By God SC, you really were sentient during the Seventies! Being a fellow veteran of The Psychedelic Wars, I can attest to that after reading your descriptions of clothing, hair styles and FM converters. And as I’ve always said to my children when someone played a particularly egregious example of Seventies musical kitsch at any of the venues you mentioned – “That was a bad idea the first time around.”

The “good stuff” was terribly fun and much of it still is.

AJ Lynch said...

Don't laugh at this question - I don't remember much about my years I reached 30 years old.

1st picture is Oscar Gamble, the baseball player? or Bake McBride who played for the Phils?

AJ Lynch said...

Should have said "before" I reached 30 years old.

SippicanCottage said...

Oscar Gamble it is. He was on Cleveland before they traded him to the Yankees. A lot of teams dabbled in hideous uniforms and logos in the 70s. That's Cleveland's.

Ruth anne- I prefer the Captain and Toenail to that one.

Country Squire is an awesome blog name.

reader_iam said...

Me, when I particularly want to irritate (and that's no euphemism) my husband, I sing:

Aaaaah ... uh-hhuuhhhhh (repeat). Yy'v got.a.cute.way of ta-a-llk-In. Yy'v ..."***


*** Please note that there are no actual typos in that italicized reference, only a lame attempt at reproduction, so, in turn, please excuse!

Sam Wah said...

Me, I always liked SOTW, and still do. Stairway's OK, but the funniest version I ever heard was on Dr. Demento--the words were the Gilligan's Island theme, and they worked perfectly. It was called "Stairway to Gilligan's Island".

jum1801 said...

My woman from Toke-kay-o. Oh my, I can still play the whole thing back in my head note for note. The power of radio in the 60's and 70's.