Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thinkin' bout Music 'N History

Earlier today, while filling out a profile on iLike.comI was writing about my earliest exposure to popular music. Those early listening sessions took place on my Morgan County, Indiana schoolbus. That would have been around 1952-53 school year. Truman was President back then, and my "Old-Maid" teachers hated his picture being in their classroom, and were fond of saying, "The General's picture will be up there soon".

Back to music. We listened to WIBC AM radio out of Indianapolis. FM stations didn't exist, at least none we knew of, so the bus drivers chose the one that played the most music, because us kids were quickly bored with grain and cattle reports. Early on, we would hear a lot of country. Hank Williams, Ferlin Husky, a lot of Grand Ol' Opry people, plus Patty Page, Perry Como, Spike Jones,( almost said Spike Lee ! lol), and whatever songs were on "The Hit Parade" that week. As time went on, we began to hear some Little Richard, some Bo Diddley, and finally, about 1956, some Elvis ! Hooray !

We would pretty much all sing along, to songs like "Big John", Tennessee Ernie Ford singing "16 tons", and the novelty songs, like "One-eyed One-horned Flying Purple People Eater", and a big favorite, that nobody understood, "Hey Louis Louis". The song "Duke of Earl" was another sing-along favorite, and the high-school boys would compete for who could hit the lowest low notes in the chorus.
Now, I understand how you younger folks can have a hard time imagining a whole bus full of kids from 5 to 18 singing along with AM radio, but it was a simpler, and less self-conscious time.

OK, I'm back after the "Service Break" for Blogger!

Anyway, from the schoolbus days of music appreciation I moved on to attending some "Hootnannies", which were basically bluegrass and folk music concerts. My friend's older sister took us to some at Butler U, and then some of the cousins and church friends drove us to some in Bloominton at IU.

I think it was at those early concerts that people like Joan Baez and others began to make me politically aware. Things like civil rights, the Mine Worker's Unions, and the growth of corporate powers and the "Military-Industrial Complex" began to reach my brain. Before those days, I guess I thought that colored people, and poor folks had it just as easy as we did?
Not that we were rich, but my Mom's family made sure we never did without anything, and our parent's divorce was only scandalous to other people, to us it just meant we were free of our Dad's Nazi domination !

Anyway, Baez led to Alan Ginzburg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, City Lights Bookstore, Beatnik poets, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, and me being in San Francisco for the start of the Hippy Movement, and the decline of the Haight-Ashbury. Of course my involvement with the "Scene" was a little impaired by my Navy Haircut, and a lot of people thought we were Narc's, but a chance encounter with Pigpen of the Grateful Dead, led to my friend Dave Johnson and I getting to trip with the Merry Pranksters, meet and get to know Bill Graham, ( He called us his "Silly Swabbies", for our goofy ability to always get back-stage) , and we got to meet and see people like Janis, Grace Slick, and really all the Bay Area Groups on a regular and "Up-Close" basis.

"Speed" and Tourists really spelled the end of the Haight-Ashbury, but a hard core of cool people still chose to live there, and ignore the speed freaks, cops and rip-off artists that thrived on the tourists. For anyone who has ever done much acid, you'll be impressed to know that we met "Owlsley", and had his "Orange Barrel" acid long before the masses ever heard of it!

Quicksilver Messenger Service eventually became my favorite Bay Area band, with Santana, Ten-Years After, Lee Micheals & Frosty, and then Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, and all the LA bands that spawned The Eagles, Stone Ponies, and the whole Country-Western Rock thing.

Boz Scaggs, Steve Miller, Eldon Bishop, and of course The Dead, were bands that we saw, followed and partied with all the time. Procol Harem and Steppenwolf were around a lot too, and we saw Hendrix at Monterey 67, and made a lot of trips home to Santa Monica, so we could cruise "The Strip" and see folks like Mama's and Papas, Lovin' Spoonful, and tried several times to see The Doors at the Whiskey-au-Go-Go, but Morrison was always screwing up thier gigs there and at The Trip. Oh Yeah, LA groups, Saw the Beach Boys jam for free at Zuma Beach, and I think Paradise Cove, but it could have just been North Malibu? I'm drawing a big blank on this one Black artist who had like a jazz-rock fusion group that was killer, but I'll have to add their name later, like when it pops into my head at 3 AM. LoL

After all that music, and all those experiences, Today, I listen to more Country artist than I do Rock.

I hate Hip-Hop, Rap, whatever that negative, repetitive crap is the kids love to boom their bass lines of, I can't stand it, and don't think it's music, maybe dirty lewd poetry poorly done !

In recent years, Country is full of young and brilliant artists,( like my Favorite "Taylor Swift"), and the only rock bands I've liked in decades are people like Dave Mathews, Nickelback, 3 Doors Down, Green Day, Matchbox 20, of Course Darius and Hootie were great, and now Darius is a Country star too !