This is a good book about music and pop culture in 1971. The author turned 21 in that year and claims it was the best year musically come to age… He is certain it was the year that produced more great music than any other. He makes a compelling case. Many classic rock albums came out that year…to name a few
Who’s Next – The Who
Led Zeppelin IV (ZoSo) – Led Zeppelin
Hunky Dory – David Bowie
What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
Sticky Fingers – Rolling Stones
Blue – Joni Mitchell
Imagine – John Lennon
At Fillmore East – Allman Brothers
There’s A Riot Going On – Sly and the Family Stone
Tapestry – Carole King
Every month he goes through the politics, movies, televisions shows (or the lack of)
and mostly how rock music grew up. He writes with some detail on Marvin Gaye recording “What’s Going On,” Carole King and Tapestry, Rolling Stones “Sticky Fingers” and etc…
He highlights the events of that year with plenty of his opinion. It is a fun read and it is written from a UK point of view and covers plenty. One thing I will say…He does lack objectivity at times but you can feel his enthusiasm when he writes about being a teenager in that era.
I’m a sucker for books on music especially in that period…so maybe I lack objectivity but I enjoyed it. If you like classic rock music and the pop culture that goes with it…you should enjoy this.
On August 15, 1965 The Beatles played to the largest audience to that point of any rock band. 55,600 fans were in Shea Stadium ready to be entertained by the Beatles.
Looking at the equipment they had…it had to be hard to hear anything. They used 100 Watt Vox amps. They are great amps but they used the house PA in a baseball stadium. I’ve played much smaller outside events with more powerful equipment and most importantly a better PA…but it didn’t matter at the time though as Ringo said:
“We always used to use the house PA,” added Starr. “That was good enough for us, even at Shea Stadium. I never felt people came to hear our show — I felt they came to see us. From the count-in on the first number, the volume of screams drowned everything else out.”
The fans turned Beatle concerts…and especially this one into an event more than a concert. The Beatles were very aware of the magnitude of this concert. ABC filmed the concert and it became a documentary. The looks on the Beatles faces were “Can you believe this?” and they seem to really enjoy this concert. The screams come through when you watch the documentary. They drown out everything. Luckily they plugged the recording equipment into the soundboard so at least you can hear them.
During the closing song, “I’m Down” John was playing the organ and you can tell he was having a great time. He was playing this his arms and cracking up George as well. John once told Sid Berstein who promoted the concert “You know, Sid, that concert in 1965 at Shea Stadium … I saw the top of the mountain on that unforgettable night.'”
The Shea Stadium total was an attendance record that lasted until Led Zeppelin played to 56,800 in Tampa in 1973. That record was soon broken by The Who. The difference being by then the rock crowd had grown up and so had the equipment.
The 12 song Beatles setlist that lasted a whole 30 minutes.
Twist and Shout
She’s a Woman
I Feel Fine
Dizzy Miss Lizzy
Ticket to Ride
Everybody’s Tryin’ to Be My Baby
Can’t Buy Me Love
Baby’s in Black
A Hard Day’s Night
Like so many of The Beatles achievements…They were pioneers.
I first watched this around 10 years ago. I had read that it was a dark comedy. I started to watch it not knowing what to expect. Well…it was a movie I’ll never forget. It’s an extreme May-December romance. In this movie young Harold equals death and Older Maude equals living.
Harold (Bud Cort) is a 20-year-old son of a wealthy woman who stages fake suicides to get her attention. She simply ignores him after he fakes cutting himself, hanging his self, and drowning etc. He annoys her more than anything else.
Harold’s mom starts trying to set him up girls and Harold sabotages the meetings. Harold is obsessed with death. He goes to strangers funerals on a regular basis and that is where he meets 79-year-old Maude. Maude is full of life and she steals Harold’s hearse…yes he has a hearse and offers him a ride.
Maude is very much about living in the now. Harold and Maude start seeing each other.
Ruth Gordon who plays Maude brings the spark to the movie. She lives in a train car, liberates a city tree to the country, and does what she pleases.
I would strongly recommend this movie to anyone who likes dark or offbeat comedies.
The movie was directed by Hal Ashby. The soundtrack was performed by Cat Stevens. The music was a perfect fit for this movie.
Both Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon were nominated for Best Actor/Actress in a Motion Picture -Comedy in the Golden Globes.
I first read about this concert-festival in a Grateful Dead biography… There is not much video footage from the concert. I never could understand why this concert didn’t hold up in history like some others like The Atlanta Pop festival and others. I’m not saying it should have been remembered like Woodstock because it’s cultural impact was like no others…but this drew more than any other festival including Woodstock.
An estimated 600,000 people came to this concert on July 28, 1973, in Watkins Glen N.Y. 45 years ago. Maybe the reason it is not as remembered is that only three bands performed…but the three bands were giant bands in their prime. The Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers, and The Band.
From the bands themselves, almost all agree the sound check on Friday was better than the concerts.
Perspective about the concert by a member from each band.
Robbie Robertson from his book Testimony
Then we got a request from Bill Graham, who was putting together a show “just up the highway from us” at the Watkins Glen Raceway. We’d be performing with the Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead. Playing some gigs could help us get “back on the stick,” as they say. We went up to Watkins Glen the day before the show for the sound check. Bill Graham said that the Dead would go on first and play for three or four hours—that was part of their thing, giving the audience their money’s worth. “Until the drugs wear off,” said Bill, laughing. We’d go on in the late afternoon, and the Allmans would take over at sundown. As we were leaving the sound check, it looked like cars were heading toward the racetrack from every direction. Bill said he expected maybe a hundred thousand or more. When we came back the next day, we couldn’t believe our eyes. Hundreds of thousands of people had showed up, and more just kept coming and coming. The crowds mowed down the high chain-link fences around the racetrack and filled the area as far as the eye could see. Bill was running around trying to make people pay admission, but the mobs were out of control. When it came time for the Band to take the stage, it started pouring. As we waited, hoping it was going to let up, Bill came over. “They’ve determined there are 650,000 people here. It’s the biggest concert in history.” The news was somewhere between an incredible accomplishment and a huge disaster. The rain started letting up, and Garth played some churchy, rainy-day keyboard sounds out over the crowd. When it was safe to go on, we decided to start our set with Chuck Berry’s “Back to Memphis.” And wouldn’t you know, as Levon sang that baby, the sun came out.
Gregg Allman from My Cross to Bear
Right before Brothers and Sisters came out, we played the festival at Watkins Glen with the Band and the Grateful Dead, in front of six hundred thousand people—the biggest show in history to that point. People always talk about Woodstock. Watkins Glen was like three Woodstocks. I think actually it might’ve been a little too big. They should have had people all the way around the raceway, and maybe had the stage in the center revolving real slowly, do a revolution in a minute. That’s not that complicated. A show like Watkins Glen was uncomfortable, because you know that you’re getting the show across to this many people, but you still got two times that many behind them. You could finish a song, take your guitar off, put it in the case, and latch it up before the last guy heard the last note. Sound ain’t all that fast, not compared to light.
When you’re playing in that situation, you’re kind of thinking about the end. Not that you’re wishing it to be over, but you can’t even hear yourself—that was back before we had the in-ear monitors. Everything was so loud. You just walk out there and start to wince before you even start playing. It’s hard to get any kind of coziness, any kind of feel with the audience. I guess there’s something about that many people seeing you all at once that’s real nice, but it’s just too much. You’re just like a little squeak in the middle of a bomb going off. But it was interesting, and it was a pretty fun day. People were OD’ing all over the place. And of course, Uncle Bill was there, which cured everything. It was exciting to be there and see it—and to be able to make ’em stand up, now that was something else.
Bill Kreutzmann from Deal
We made some questionable business decisions and we couldn’t sell records, but we sure could sell tickets. We sold around 150,000 tickets for a single show at a racetrack in Watkins Glen, New York, on July, 28, 1973. Yes, and more than 600,000 people ended up coming out for it. The lineup was just us, the Allman Brothers, and the Band. That show, called the Summer Jam at Watkins Glen, made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for what, at the time, was the largest audience ever assembled at a rock concert. In fact, that record may still hold today, at least in the U.S., and some have even proposed that it was the largest gathering in American history. Originally, the bill was supposed to just be the Dead and the Allmans, but our respective camps fought with the promoter over which band would get headliner status. The solution was that both bands would co-headline and they’d add a third, “support” act. The friendly (“-ish”) competition between us and the Allman Brothers carried through to the event itself. And yet, the memory that I’m most fond of and hold most dear from that whole weekend was jamming backstage with Jaimoe, one of the Allman’s drummers. We were just sitting in the dressing room, banging out rhythms, and that was a lot of fun for me. Jaimoe backed Otis Redding and Sam & Dave before becoming a founding member of the Allman Brothers, where he remains to this day. He’s a soulful drummer and just an incredible guy who is impossible not to like. As for the show itself, it is a well-known fact that the Grateful Dead always blew the big ones. Watkins Glen was no exception. However, we still got a great night of music out of it—the night before. The show took place on a Saturday, but by Friday afternoon there were already about 90,000 people in front of the stage. I’ve heard others place that number closer to 200,000. Either way, the audience was already many times the size of any of our regular shows, and the show was still a full day away. The only duty we had on Friday was to do a soundcheck, and even that was somewhat optional. The Band soundchecked a couple of songs. The Allman Brothers soundchecked for a bit. Then, perhaps spurred on by our friendly rivalry, we decided to one-up both bands by turning our soundcheck into a full-on, two-set show. Naturally, without any of the pressure of the “official show” the next day, we really let loose and played a good one. There was an eighteen-minute free-form jam that eventually made it onto So Many Roads, one of our archival box sets. It’s good music, all right, and it still holds its own. On the day of the actual show, we had to fly into the venue via helicopter because the roads were all backed up, like what happened at Woodstock. People left their cars on the side of the road and walked for miles to the gig. I remember looking down from the helicopter and seeing the most incredible impressionist painting, a Monet of heads, shoulders, tie-dyes, baseball caps, and backpacks, packed front to back. You couldn’t see the ground for the crowd. To this day, I’ve never seen anything else like that. Nowadays at large music events and festivals, they have golf carts for artists and crews to get around, but back then they used little motor scooters. Early, during the day of our supposed “soundcheck,” I commandeered one of these scooters and, because the venue was an actual racetrack, I decided to do a lap. This was before the gates were opened. The scooter went maybe fifteen or eighteen miles an hour, something stupid like that, and it took forever just to do one lap. But I did it. And that’s when I first started to get a feel for the scale of the event and just how large it was. During the Summer Jam itself, I watched the other bands play and I honestly thought the Allman Brothers played better on the big day than we did. As for the Band, well, they always sounded great.
If you have read this long…below is some crowd video and a little of the music.
Living in the south during the 1970s I knew about the sheriff named Buford Pusser. Hollywood made some enhancements no doubt but… Many small towns in the south were crooked. The town I lived in blocked all restaurant and store chains from moving in…and a few other things. A man that lived in our town ended up writing a small pamphlet book about the place and all of the shenanigans going on and he ended up with a bad case of dead. At least that was the tale I was told when I was young.
I do remember hiking in the woods as a kid and running up on a copper contraption. It was older but it was no doubt on what it was used for…
The movie is not a great five-star flick but it’s a good entertaining film about what happened in McNairy County Tennessee with the big stick carrying Sherriff Buford Pusser. They definitely massaged the truth and you will not get the “Rock” in this one. I don’t really look at it as true or not…just an entertaining movie. It has more of a realism feel than the most current remake.
It’s a vigilante drama and a revenge fantasy that paces itself pretty well. Joe Don Baker is believable in this movie. If you hate violence this is not for you. The Sheriff almost single-handedly cleans up the town with the aid of a big stick. The film is cleaned up and not as grainy as I remembered. You will see the future 70s pinup singer Leif Garret as the Sheriff’s son…also future Rockford Files dad Noah Beery Jr. I watched the movie recently and it holds up better than I remembered.
The cast included Joe Don Baker, Elizabeth Hartley, Leif Garrett, Dawn Lyn, and Noah Beery Jr.
My wife and I traveled to Memphis to visit Graceland in the late 90s. On the way back home we got lost (pre-GPS and I have no sense of direction) and ended up in McNairy County. I remembered the name and we looked up we saw Pusser’s old home which was turned into a museum. We walked in and the lady working there was super nice. We sat on his couch, looked at his car, badges, guns, and uniforms. Before I left I could not resist…I just had to buy one of those big sticks…which was just an ax handle with his name and also a VHS tape of the Sherriff’s story. They may not allow so much freedom now.
It was pretty cool being able to touch and walk around freely after the “stay behind the rope!” mentality at Graceland…which I understand completely…Hey it’s the home of the big E. If you ever go to Graceland and if you have a couple of hours to spare, drive to this museum it is interesting… it’s like going back in time to the mid-seventies…it was just a fluke that we found it but it was fun.
Off topic of the movie again but Jimmy Buffet had a Buford Pusser story. I’ve heard this from different sources but this is from http://www.buffettworld.com… The movie was good but this would have been GREAT to see.
In 1974, Jimmy Buffett had a run-in with famed “Walking Tall” sheriff Buford Pusser. The story is referred to in “Presents To Send You” from the 1974 album A1A and also in “Semi-True Stories” from the 1999 album Beach House On The Moon. In both songs, few details are mentioned. But at a show in 1974 at the Exit Inn in Nashville, just a few months after the incident, Buffett took some time to tell the crowd about the altercation:
“There were a lot of rumors circling around that I had an encounter with this young man. Which are true. We finished doing our recording over at Woodland Studio, real happy that the album had come out so well. All the lightweights had went out to get a few bottles of champagne and celebrate. Sammy Creason and Chuck Nease and I decided to go out and get a bottle of Cuervo Gold Tequilla and 3 straws. We went at it and in 15 minutes we were just knee-crawlin’ drunk. So we proceeded to the flashiest night spot in town, the roof of the King of the Road Hotel.
We’re there dining and dancing. Ronnie Milsap was on vacation. Sammy Creason was with me, so we provided just a gala of entertainment. Me on acoustic guitar so drunk I couldn’t hit the chords and him just pounding the drums out in 3-quarter time. Ran everybody out. We got the screaming munchies and we were going to Charlie Nickens to eat. And I couldn’t find my rent-a-car, which was parked somewhere amidst thousands of cars in the parking lot of the fabulous, plush King of the Road hotel. It was a little bitty car. It was hiding among many big ones there. And there was a Tennessee Prosecutors convention going on there. If they had made it to room 819 they would’ve had a closed door case.
So I stood on the hood of this car with a pair of… actually, they were old Ra Ra’s that I bought in Miami for 2 bucks. They were white and brown old Ra Ra’s but they were golf shoes so I had to take the cleats out but they still had the posts in them so they clicked a lot. I was standing on the hood of this particular car and as fate would have it it belonged to a rather large man who came up behind me and threatened my life real quickly. And I hadn’t been in a fight since junior high school on the city bus in Mobile. He came up and said “Son you stay right there, you’re under arrest”. So I politely turned around and said “You kiss my ass”. He didn’t. Instead he followed me over to the car which Sammy had found. I got in the driver’s side and Sammy got in the passenger’s side. My window was up, his was down and this fellow poked his head in and said “Would you like for me to turn this car over?”.
I was not scared of this individual. I just thought he was some ex-football player turned counselor. And Sammy said “look whatever damage we did ABC will pay for everything” which was awfully generous of Sammy since he didn’t have the authority to say so. Being a good company man I took up for my company and said “No they won’t. I’m still gonna beat your ass if you don’t leave us alone”. With that he pulled up then stuck his big head and his hand in and grabbed me by my hair until it separated from my head. I had a big bald spot on the back of it and I looked like a monk for about 3 months. Then he punched Sammy right in the nose. We knew he wasn’t kidding. So Sammy defended himself bravely with a big pen. He starts stabbing at this man’s arm trying to get it out of the window because we couldn’t start the car because with the new modern features of ‘74 automobiles you can not start your car unless your seat belt’s buckled and we were too drunk to get ours hooked up.
So we sit there while this man pounded the hell out of both of us. I looked over at Creason and I said “Sammy I don’t wanna die in a Gremlin.” Eaten by a shark, killed in a plane crash, but what’s my mother gonna say? Smashed to death in a Gremlin in the parking lot of the plush King of the Road hotel. Nope. So I mustered all the courage and energy I had and all the coordination I had left in my poor body and got the seat belt buckled and went to Charlie Nickens. We ordered our barbecue and on the way back we hit the Jefferson St. Bridge. Luckily there was no one around so we just backed up and headed for the hotel.
Got back, and we decided that this man may be lurking in the bushes or else may have been snorkeling around in the pool trying to scoop up coins that people threw in. So we decided to defend ourselves with a classic southern weapon: a tire tool. So we destroyed the back end of the Gremlin looking for the tire tool, found it. Walked through the lobby of these prosecutors, and we had caused a turmoil by this time. And got up to the 8th floor where we were staying and figured we were all safe. But I had forgotten my key.
So I had to go back downstairs and Sammy said well you take this I’m not going back down there. And he gave me the weapon, which I stuck in my back pocket. Walked down into the plush lobby of the plush King of the Road hotel, walked up to the desk and asked for the key to my room. This man snuck up behind me and took the tire tool out of my back pocket. I whipped around and I said “look you, that was for my protection and you started this whole thing. I didn’t mean to get on your car and I’m still gonna beat your ass if you don’t quit bothering me.” At this point, two detectives seized me, drug me into the elevator and said “son, we would call the police and have you arrested. You’ve caused quite a disturbance here tonight. But we figure your just lucky to be alive because that was Buford Pusser.” And I went “Oh. 8th floor please.”
I have mentioned this book before but not in detail. It is my favorite autobiography I’ve ever read. He starts off in his childhood in the late 1800s and ends up in the 1960s. I have read this book at least 7-10 times. It’s always my traveling companion on trips just in case I need something else to read. I’ve read books by and about Groucho and others written about the Marx Brothers but this book that Harpo and Rowland Barber wrote tops them all. He doesn’t go through all of the movies by detail but he packed so much living in his life that his life was full enough without much info about the movies.
He was always himself no matter what. The Brothers never would conform to anyone’s standards. He was counterculture before counterculture. Harpo jumped out of the window in 2nd grade and never came back but ended up hanging out with some of the best-known intellectuals of the 20th century and was a member of the Algonquin Round Table but yet he could hardly spell. He frequently stayed at William Randolph Hearst’s super-estate San Simeon. He called himself a professional listener…the only one of the bunch.
He taught himself the harp and played with an unorthodox style. Professional harp players would ask him to show them how he played some of the things he did…
Harpo was a good friend of Alexander Woolcott and Wolcott would invite Harpo and a select few to Neshobe Island in Lake Bomoseen in Vermont that Woolcott owned for the summers to play games and hang out every day. Harpo could make life interesting in the dullest of surroundings. He was friends with Robert Benchley, Salvador Dali, Dorothy Parker, Charles MacArthur, Alice Duer Miller, George Bernard Shaw, Beatrice Kaufman, and Ruth Gordon.
Wolcott also arranged for Harpo to tour Russia in the 1930s. Harpo actually did a bit of Spy work for the American government at the time…transporting some papers on his leg out of Russia to America.
If you read this just to read about the Marx Brothers movie career…don’t…if you want to know what they went through to get where they did…then yes read it. This book tells what old-time Vaudeville was really like. Not a romantic version of it by some old timers that told their story after they retired. Awful boarding houses, spoiled food, and harassment by promoters.
He never seemed to age in spirit. He kept up with new things and was not stuck in the past.
His son Bill Marx wrote a book later on about his life with Harpo. When the Beatles came out Bill…who studied jazz and played piano, hated them. Harpo told him in 1964 that he better start liking them because their songs would last through time. He said this in 1964 before the Beatles matured. The guy had been around George Gershwin, Oscar Levant, and Irving Berlin. Bill said in 1970 he was playing piano in a club somewhere and what was he playing? Let It Be… “Dad was right.”
Harpo married Susan Flemming when he was 48 in 1936. George Burns asked him in 1948 how many children did he want to adopt? Harpo said “I’d like to adopt as many children as I have windows in my house. So when I leave for work, I want a kid in every window, waving goodbye.”
Harpo was known to wake one of his children up in the middle of the night if he worked late just to play games with them.
They ended up adopting 4 children…below was the house rules for the kids…
Life has been created for you to enjoy, but you won’t enjoy it unless you pay for it with some good, hard work. This is one price that will never be marked down.
You can work at whatever you want to as long as you do it as well as you can and clean up afterwards and you’re at the table at mealtime and in bed at bedtime.
Respect what the others do. Respect Dad’s harp, Mom’s paints, Billy’s piano, Alex’s set of tools, Jimmy’s designs, and Minnie’s menagerie.
If anything makes you sore, come out with it. Maybe the rest of us are itching for a fight, too.
If anything strikes you as funny, out with that, too. Let’s all the rest of us have a laugh.
If you have an impulse to do something that you’re not sure is right, go ahead and do it. Take a chance. Chances are, if you don’t you’ll regret it – unless you break the rules about mealtime and bedtime, in which case you’ll sure as hell regret it.
If it’s a question of whether to do what’s fun or what is supposed to be good for you, and nobody is hurt whichever you do, always do what’s fun.
If things get too much for you and you feel the whole world’s against you, go stand on your head. If you can think of anything crazier to do, do it.
Don’t worry about what other people think. The only person in the world important enough to conform to is yourself.
Anybody who mistreats a pet or breaks a pool cue is docked a months pay.
If you are looking for an autobiography…get this book.
Here is a small portion of Chapter 1 of Harpo Speaks!
I’ve played piano in a whorehouse. I’ve smuggled secret papers out of Russia. I’ve spent an evening on the divan with Peggy Hopkins Joyce. I’ve taught a gangster mob how to play Pinchie Winchie. I’ve played croquet with Herbert Bayard Swope while he kept Governor Al Smith waiting on the phone. I’ve gambled with Nick the Greek, sat on the floor with Greta Carbo, sparred with Benny Leonard, horsed around with the Prince of Wales, played Ping-pong with George Gershwin. George Bernard Shaw has asked me for advice. Oscar Levant has played private concerts for me at a buck a throw. I have golfed with Ben Hogan and Sam Snead. I’ve basked on the Riviera with Somerset Maugham and Elsa Maxwell. I’ve been thrown out of the casino at Monte Carlo. Flush with triumph at the poker table, I’ve challenged Alexander Woollcott to anagrams and Alice Duer Miller to a spelling match. I’ve given lessons to some of the world’s greatest musicians. I’ve been a member of the two most famous Round Tables since the days of King Arthur—sitting with the finest creative minds of the 1920’s at the Algonquin in New York, and with Hollywood’s sharpest professional wits at the Hillcrest. (Later in the book, some of these activities don’t seem quite so impressive when I tell the full story. Like what I was doing on the divan with Peggy Hopkins Joyce. I was reading the funnies to her.) The truth is, I had no business doing any of these things. I couldn’t read a note of music. I never finished the second grade. But I was having too much fun to recognize myself as an ignorant upstart. I can’t remember ever having a bad meal. I’ve eaten in William Randolph Hearst’s baronial dining room at San Simeon, at Voisin’s and the Colony, and the finest restaurants in Paris. But the eating place I remember best, out of the days when I was chronically half starved, is a joint that was called Max’s Busy Bee. At the Busy Bee, a salmon sandwich on rye cost three cents per square foot, and for four cents more you could buy a strawberry shortcake smothered with whipped cream and a glass of lemonade. But the absolutely most delicious food I ever ate was prepared by the most inspired chef I ever knew—my father. My father had to be inspired because he had so little to work with. I can’t remember ever having a poor night’s sleep. I’ve slept in villas at Cannes and Antibes, at Alexander Woollcott’s island hideaway in Vermont, at the mansions of the Vanderbilts and Otto H. Kahn and in the Gloversville, New York, jail. I’ve slept on pool tables, dressing-room tables, piano tops, bathhouse benches, in rag baskets and harp cases, and four abreast in upper berths. I have known the supreme luxury of snoozing in the July sun, on the lawn, while the string of a flying kite tickled the bottom of my feet.
I can’t remember ever seeing a bad show. I’ve seen everything from Coney Island vaudeville to the Art Theatre in Moscow. If I’m trapped in a theatre and a show starts disappointingly, I have a handy way to avoid watching it. I fall asleep. My only addictions—and I’ve outgrown them all—have been to pocket billiards, croquet, poker, bridge and black jelly beans. I haven’t smoked for twenty years.
The only woman I’ve ever been in love with is still married to me.
My only Alcohol Problem is that I don’t particularly care for the stuff.
In the mid-seventies, my big sister would take me to the skating rink. I would go in as a little kid and trade my shoes for skates. I never understood why my sister went there and hardly ever skated. She would be in the corner with her girlfriends talking to guys while I was out there falling down. There was not a lot to do in a small town so this was a lot of fun.
I remember being exposed to a lot of music while skating. Someone would say over the intercom “All Skate” and they would blast a song at ear-splitting volume. Songs like “Juniors Farm”, “Sally G”, “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love”, “Rocky Mountain Way” and Free’s “All Right Now” would play while I learned how to skate decent soaking up the atmosphere.
They would play the 4 corners. You would skate until the music stopped. You would then go to a corner and they would call a corner number and those people in that corner were eliminated. This would go on till there was only one person left. I won one time. The song that was playing and then stopped as I went to my corner on that night was Frankenstein. What I won was a single by Wings called Silly Love Songs. It was the first thing I ever won…I earned that single and still have it today and also bugged my Mom till she bought me the Wings at the Speed of Sound album…not Pauls best to say the least but it brings back too many good memories to be that bad.
In the seventies skating and going to rinks was huge. It was a place to gather and have fun with your friends. No texting or emails or blogs…Some were great at skating backward, doing tricks, and sabotaging other skaters…I was just a simple skater…As time went by I would find my own way down to the rink…as I got older I was the one that hung with friends and wanted to talk to girls instead of skating. I kept going to the rink until I was around 15 and then all of my friends and me just stopped at once. We had moved on to other things by then.
I did go again after my son was born in 2000…we had fun but the music sucked…no loud guitar music at all…just programmed electronic dance music… I guess you really can’t go back home.
I’ll never forget my friends and the music in that period of my life…That is why music is so important…it can transport you back through time and you are at that place again.
The autobiography of Robbie Robertson. I read this right after My Cross To Bear by Gregg Allman. The only surprising part is it stops at 1976 and doesn’t cover Robbie’s solo career.
Robbie is 33 when the book ends. It ends at a recording session where only Robbie shows up after The Last Waltz.
If you have read Levon Helm’s This Wheels on Fire you know that Levon was pretty hard on Robbie. He rips him for songwriting credits and The Last Waltz. Robbie takes the high road in his book. He talks about the brotherhood they all shared. He mentions that Levon was his best friend he ever had in his life.
Robbie was in the middle of musical history throughout the book. He talks about joining Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks and befriending Levon…they eventually picked up Richard Manuel, Rick Danko, and Garth Hudson. After they split with Ronnie they get busted and gigged at various bars while meeting music legends Sonny Boy Williamson II, Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield and then Bob Dylan. After meeting Dylan they start backing him on his first electric tour.
They are in the middle of the chaos of Dylan’s electric tour…Levon quits a few shows into it because of the booing and the people that surround Dylan. The rest of the Band (still called the Hawks) continue to back Dylan around the world. Along the way, they make friends with Brian Jones, The Beatles, Johnny Cash and eventually Jimi Hendrix (Jimmy James at the time).
He also mentions about living at the Chelsea Hotel, Big Pink, Levon coming back, living in Woodstock, playing Woodstock, and being friends with Dylan. This is one book that gives you a side of Dylan you never read much about. Robbie humanizes him while keeping respect. The Band much like the Allman Brothers valued brotherhood. They stuck together and got along really well until heroin started to enter the picture.
He goes into his songwriting and where he got the ideas. A lot of his ideas came from hanging out with Levon at Levon’s home in Arkansas. Robbie enjoyed the area and the southern culture that surrounded him.
Robbie is big foreign film buff who read many screenplays and would have people to pick them up when going through New York. After reading those he said it helped him to express what he felt in lyrics.
You get such a mix of personalities in the book… Edie Sedgwick, Carly Simon, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, to smoking pot with John Lennon in the sixties with John’s special made “cigarettes.”
All of the Band had street smarts and mixed with killers, thieves and mafia members before they made it. They were without money at one point and Robbie and Levon were actually going to wear masks and hold up a high stakes poker game. It’s a wonder one of them wasn’t killed before the band met Dylan.
I’ve read both Levon’s and Robbie’s books. I liked them both. Robbie is more consistent in his telling. There is a reason Robbie wanted to get off the road. Richard Manuel was not in good shape…even on The Last Waltz and Robbie was no angel himself. The road brought temptations that were hard for them to resist.
If you are a Band fan and/or Dylan fan…get it. I would place this book up there with Keith Richard’s book Life. That is about the highest praise I can give…
In the 1990s I kept reading about the Beatles Anthology coming out and the three surviving Beatles getting back together to release old never heard before music as well as new. They were going to take a John Lennon demo and add something to it. This was beyond exciting for me. I was too young to remember a new Beatles song coming out.
It had an older feel but sounded modern at the same time. George Harrison’s distorted slide guitar playing brought an edge to it. It even had the strange ending like some of their other songs.
I got an early release of the Anthology CD from a friend of mine that worked in a record store and he said…don’t tell anyone. I sat glued to Free As a Bird because for once I was listening to a new Beatles song… I was one-year-old in1968 so I missed them when they were originally out. I liked the song and still do. I have talked to Beatles fans who don’t really like it that much but the song has stuck with me. Real Love…the second release didn’t do as much for me because it was basically a solo John Lennon song.
Was Free As a Bird the best song in the Beatles catalog? No not even close but just to hear something new was fantastic. The Anthology videos and CDs jump-started their popularity all over again…and it hasn’t stopped since then. I had cousins who were teenagers at the time who never had an interest in them until Anthology came out. All I could say to them was…I’ve told you for years.
The video of Free As a Bird is fantastic and still one of my favorite music videos. It told their history through the different eras of their career. Every time I watch it I always notice something I didn’t notice before.
Little did he know that day in1977 when John made a demo of a song idea on a cheap cassette recorder… it would be a future Beatle song. Not to even mention that the tape itself would be part of the song.
It did win a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal…
After reading the mixed reactions one thing dawned on me. The Beatles did the right thing by not reuniting when John was alive. There is no way they could have made anything that would have lived up to the expectations of everyone…You cannot compete against a memory because you lose every time… But yea… I still would have loved to hear it.
I watched this in syndication in the mid-seventies. I never thought much of it at the time. When I started to watch it as an adult I was surprised at how good this show was. I couldn’t believe how realistic it was for that time. They covered subjects like child pornography, drug addiction, and everything else criminally related.
It was on 7 seasons from 1968 through 1975.
Sometimes as an adult and you watch shows or movies you did as a kid you think wow…how did I like this? Now I’m thinking why didn’t I like it more?
The show starred Martin Milner as Officer Pete Malloy and Kent McCord as Officer Jim Reed. The show was created by Jack Webb and Robert Cinader. The pair also created a spinoff from Adam-12…Emergency. Jack Webb also created Dragnet.
They wanted to capture a typical day in the life of a police officer. There was no Dirty Harry on this force. These officers went by the book even if it would have benefitted them at times not to.
Some of the guest stars were… Tony Dow, Willie Aimes, Ed Begley Jr, Karen Black, David Cassidy, Micky Dolenz, Tim Matheson, Ozzie Nelson and many others. It was odd seeing Robert Donner…who played Yancy Tucker on The Waltons a few years later…playing a heroin addict-informant.
The episodes were written around actual police cases to add some realism. The showed all that the censors would allow.
Reed is happily married and Malloy is the happy bachelor. The interplay seems natural and not forced. The one big thing I like about the show is the continuity from beginning to end. You see a raw rookie in Jim Reed and Malloy slowing training him up and eventually both becoming friends as seasons past by.
When I think of evil human beings…Jim Jones checks off every box. When people think of Jonestown or the Peoples Temple they probably remember the horrible images and disbelief that blanketed the news from Guyana. Interviews with people who happened to be out of Jonestown that afternoon or one of the very few who escaped (36) who started their day there.
The death toll kept rising daily on the news…200, 400, and then 800 or more. The reason was the bodies were on top of each other and the more they were moved the more they realized some were 3 deep.
918 children and adults died on November 18, 1978, in Jonestown, and most were murdered not suicide. Drink the poisoned Flavor-Aid or get shot or injected right after watching the kids poisoned. According to the Guyanese court which had jurisdiction in the matter, all but three of the deaths in Jonestown were ruled to be the result of murder, not suicide. Source: The New York Times, 12/12/78
The Peoples Temple was a microcosm of society. Some people joined for socialism, religion (ironic since Jones was an atheist) or just to belong somewhere. There were young naive members, elderly vulnerable members, drug addicts, drunks, lawyers, doctors, rich, middle class, poor, black and white.
I always wanted to know more about what happened. There are some good books on this. The best one I’ve read is Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People by Tim Reiterman. Tim was there for two days including the last day when Congressman Leo Ryan was killed…Reiterman was also shot but survived.
The event, of course, inspired the phrase “Don’t Drink The Kool-Aid”…although it was really a cheap knockoff…Flavor-Aid.
The more I read the more I was imagining being held prisoner in that jungle under his totalitarian rule…what a helpless feeling…and I was wanting the impossible to happen…a different ending.
It’s so puzzling that today with all the info we have there are still cult leaders out there playing by the Jim Jones playbook.
The Band on Thanksgiving in 1976 at the Fillmore West. The film starts off with THIS FILM MUST BE PLAYED LOUD! A cut to Rick Danko playing pool and then it then to the Band playing “Don’t Do It”…the last song they performed that night after hours of playing. Through the music and some interviews, their musical journey and influences are retraced.
This film is considered by many the best concert film ever made. It was directed by Martin Scorsese. I love the setting with the chandeliers that were from the movie Gone With The Wind. The quality of the picture is great because it was shot with 35-millimeter which wasn’t normally done with concerts.
Before the Band and guests hit the stage, Bill Graham, the promoter, served a Thanksgiving dinner to 5000 people that made up the audience with long tables with white tablecloths.
The Band’s musical guests included
Ronnie Hawkins, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Dr. John, Paul Butterfield, Van Morrison (my favorite performance of a guest), Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton and Muddy Waters
The Staple Singers and Emmylou Harris also appear but their segments were taped later on a sound stage and not at the concert.
Robbie wanted off the road earlier and that is what the Last Waltz was all about…the last concert by The Band with a lot of musical friends. He was tired of touring and also the habits the band was picking up…the drugs and drinking. Richard Manuel, in particular, was in bad shape and needed time.
The rest of the Band supposedly agreed but a few years later all of them but Robbie started to tour as The Band again. Richard Manuel ended up hanging himself in 1986. Rick Danko passed away in 1999 at the end of a tour of a heart attack attributed to years of drug and alcohol abuse. Levon Helm died of cancer in 2012.
The Band sounded great that night and it might be the best version you will ever hear of The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.
The Last Waltz is a grand farewell to a great band and a film that I revisit at least twice a year… once always around Thanksgiving.
If you were a male teenager in the 1970s… odds are you owned or wanted to own this poster. Over 12 million of these were sold and I remember seeing them everywhere. On friends bedroom walls, doors, closets, ceilings, and lockers.
She wasn’t even my favorite Angel…but still.
Other posters were popular during the 1970’s like Cheryl Tiegs, Olivia Newton-John, Loni Anderson but nothing came close to the numbers generated by Farrah’s poster at 3 dollars a pop.
The poster that came out in 1976 is so iconic that when you look at it you think “1970s”…
This is Bruce McBroom the photographer in Time Magazine.
I shot rolls of film, and it just wasn’t happening. She’s a beautiful woman, but there wasn’t anything that I would put on a poster. I just didn’t feel it. By now we’re running out of backgrounds — we used the swimming pool, etc. I said, “Farrah, are you sure you don’t have a bikini? Something different?”
She went in to look around and came out of the back door and stood in the doorway in this red suit, and she said in her Southern accent, “Well, is this anything?” And I literally said to myself, “Oh my God.” I knew that was it. I had an Indian blanket from Mexico that served as the seat cover for my beat-up 1937 Chevy pickup with colors that, it just popped into my head, would match the suit. I’d like to make it sound like it was all planned. But it was a spontaneous, happy intersection of coincidence. I didn’t do anything. I just put her in a spot and asked her to turn it on. When I saw the film processed, I knew we’d gotten it — somewhere in these 36 frames, there’s a poster. I went back over to her house, and I showed her all the pictures. She told me later that she had picked out her top two favorites and marked them on the slides. I’ve since heard that when the guy in Cleveland got the pictures, he went, “First of all, where’s the bikini?” He told me he wasn’t ever gonna pay me because he hated the pictures. But I guess he showed them around to people in his business and they changed his mind. It was Farrah’s pose, Farrah’s suit, Farrah’s idea. She picked that shot. She made a lot of money for him and for herself and made me semi-famous.
Why it was so iconic I don’t know. If you think back, no one knew who Farrah Fawcett was. Charlie’s Angels didn’t come out until six months later. But this poster came out and sold millions of copies at, I think, $3 a pop. I think the reason it was such a success is that Farrah had such a fresh face. She was the girl next door. So if you were a teenager, you could bring this in the house and put it up in your room — as long as Mom didn’t look too closely. Once her poster became such an overnight success, the other actresses from Charlie’s Angels contacted the guy and wanted to do posters too. There were many that followed. And none of them came close.
If I could have been a teenager in any decade it would have been the 1970s. I barely remember the 70s I grew up mostly in the 80s. I was always envious of people who grew up in the decade before I did…. Great music, split level houses, earth tones, funky clothes, cool cars, great tv shows and bad variety shows…so bad they were great…. Everyone and everything had their own personality. It was a decade where all generations intersected with each other. You had a Halloween Special with Tim Conway, Kiss, Florence Henderson (singing That Old Black Magic no less), Margaret Hamilton, the eternal Betty White and Donny and Marie! What other decades would have that and Saturday Night Live….with Laraine Newman, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, Garrett Morris, and Chevy Chase…
I’m not saying anything bad didn’t happen…they did… Jonestown, Kent State, Watergate, Iran hostages, inflation and gas shortages and more. But every decade has its tragedies and bad things.
Really good things were no cell phones, no AIDs, we had vinyl records and we would study the front cover art or picture and the fold out for hours, real honest to goodness rock stars who had talent, no auto-tune, pictures that were not doctored so much you weren’t sure they were real, Intellivision, Atari games, libraries were still relevant, hanging out with friends after school, not nearly as much commercialism (fewer choices to make), more freedom, individualism, you could tell a Ford from a Chevy, Now everyone wants the same things because we are hit with ads 24/7 to be like everyone else.
The 1980s is when commercialism really started in full earnest.
In the 70s people and companies were not afraid to take chances to do something different and new…like movies, houses and cars….even if you didn’t like them (AMC Pacer!) at least you weren’t seeing the same thing in different colors. Yes disco was there but I still like it better than boy groups now. Real musicians played on them. I will admit the lit dance floors were pretty cool…that’s all I will give disco. You could go and see The Who, Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder for 12 bucks and under…sometimes cheaper.
Many people would disagree with the 70s but I still like the chaise lounge chairs with the groovy fuzzy feeling (I have one), green shag carpet the dark restaurants and Star Wars! Before the awful….for the most part Star War prequels.
I can think of many more things both good and bad. I just wish I could have seen more of the seventies at an older age than I was then. But I enjoyed what I had of them…I just wished we had more individualism now.
Can’t forget the Pacer (rolling fish aquarium on wheels)
The best Peanut Butter ever…KOOGLE… it came in 4 flavors and Banana was my favorite. I so wish Kraft would bring this back…I really miss this…
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