Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sweet Music

On this post, I give you song number two of the trinity.

The three (and a half) songs (records) that blew my mind in that 11th  musically magical but emotionally difficult year. I lived in a closet with three other people. This house, (if it had 800 square feet we were lucky), was so small I actually for awhile had to share a bedroom with my father. Then I moved into a closet into bunk beds with my sister. Shit. At least I got the top bunk. The house was so small, I could hear the TV from my bedroom like it was up against my ear. I could also hear beer after beer being opened by my mom, (when she wasn't working).

We lived there from mid 66 to late 67 when we moved back to the farm. My only solaces were basketball and the radio, which exposed me to music. On a post about two down, I talked about the fall of 66 and the wonderful sound of the song "Cherish" and what it meant to my brother and myself, having fallen in love with the same song being some thousands of miles away from each other. I was a music geek who would chart the songs every Thursday night and cry foul when my song failed to move up the charts. At twelve.

One day in early November I think it was, my mother went "visiting" which she did frequently. I miss that. Going over to someone's house just to chat, smoke cigarettes and drink coffee. My mother "visited" with her mother a great deal. It was always an interesting dynamic to get a stubborn, tough mother daughter combo together in the same room. Add alcohol. Or, she would go "visiting" to a friend and, of course, my mother never liked baby sitters, so she'd drag us kids with her and back sometimes just in time to do homework and watch Carol Burnett tell us good night.

It was during one of these visits when I heard it the first time.
That sound.
See, the Beach Boys were big in my house. My brother was 8 years older to me and he was into girls, cars and music. So, vicariously and probably prematurely, so was I. The Beach Boys were The Beatles before The Beatles.
We were riding back home from one of the "visits" and the DJ said it was the new song from the Beach Boys. It was called "Good Vibrations" and from the very first moment of the song, I went on a musical acid trip from which I never returned. We reached home before the song was over and I begged my mom to keep the radio on, just for a second. This song sounded like nothing else on this planet, let alone another one. What a roller coaster...up, down, left, right, up, back, down, forward, stop, start. Whoa, what was THAT!? Holy cow. When it was over, that was as close to self gratification this 12 year ever got.

I heard it on a Thursday. On the following Saturday,  I rode my bike to the record store (about 3 miles away) and they didn't have it yet. Shit. Never fear, the radio was playing it and that song glued my ear to my transistor for the next six weeks. When I finally did get the 45, I played it over and over and over until my dad would bang on the door.

This song opened my ears to listen to new and different things, to seek out good music and to be ready for what the Beatles were getting ready to do and King Crimson in about three years.  It made me realize the value of good production and quality sound. Surprisingly though, I don't think I've ever heard the song in stereo.

To this very day, after hearing it, I feel like I'm a kid and I'm hearing for the first time. There are but a handful of songs I can say that about. "Good Vibrations" is about number two or three on that list. I guess it was about this time that Brian Wilson flipped out. Because it was his song and he's nowhere on this video.

So, who influenced who? I hear a lot of Beatles in this song, especially snippets of different songs put together. McCartney's biggest hits "Uncle Albert", "Band On The Run" are songs that contain snippets of other songs in them. Maybe he learned that from this. I think these guys propelled and compelled the Beatles to be better and this song was serious shit.

This is song number two in the trinity of "musical mileposts" that happened to me in 5th grade. The third part came out in March of the following year. There were two sides to the 45 and they both were mind altering blows that set me on my musical merry way.

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