Carole King

it’s too late baby. it’s too late now darling. it’s too late

To this very day I can still remember my first day, on the verge of my twelfth birthday, in the seventh grade. My parents, Mary Anne and I had just moved to Lindenhurst from Jackson Heights. After six years of St. Gabriel’s suddenly I was in Copiague Junior High School, on Great Neck Road, where I was to spend the first two weeks of that year.  I know it’s quite impossible to believe but I was such a square then. If I were ever to wake up tomorrow morning as an adult stuck in a twelve year old body, I should assume that all my discomfort would come back for different reasons.  That’s not quite entirely true though. I should still feel thoroughly out of place. At first it might be a somewhat nice interesting experience, to be able to visit a bygone era of my life.  With my perpetually obnoxious sense of the absurd I’d really want to let all the fun parts linger for as long as possible. At least then when I really was twelve I could blend in a little. Now, though, I have already been through all the experiences that an adult could be expected to have, and that would be well over a kid’s head. I’d be quite terrified of looking like some kind of a complete lunatic. The only way I could ever be expected to get through a day in that kind of environment would be if I were to pretend to be abnormally shy. I don’t know what’s going on in the lives of kids that age these days so I couldn’t possibly be expected to carry on even the simplest of conversations.  When I was twelve kids were listening to Carole King, and Sly and the Family Stone.   I could just imagine the stupefied smirks as soon as I started rambling on about “It’s Too Late” and “Everyday People”. Today no one’s even heard of them. I’d have all sorts of problems with things ranging from clothing to slang terms.  I’m way out of practice with skateboards, bicycles and yo-yos.  Being a kid, like anything else, is a Garden-of-Edenish experience in the sense that once it’s gone it can never come back. All of life is like that. My teachers, as well as other kids and their families, would catch on immediately. There are so many things separating this September from September of 1971.


the music man


Because I was born in September of 1959, the first decade of my lifetime was virtually precisely coeval with the 1960’s.    Musically and otherwise the 1960’s have made quite an indelible mark upon my lifetime.    My childhood was filled with all sorts of musical influences.    I was four and a half years old when the Beatles first appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show”.    To this day they’re still undeniably my absolute favorites.     That era was known for musical variety shows like “Sing Along With Mitch”, “Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour “, and “The Dean Martin Show”, among several others.     As a kid I was always smitten with the sounds of  songs like Petula Clark’s “Downtown”,   Zager and Evans’ “In the Year 2525”, and  Mary Hopkin’s “Those Were the Days”.    Whenever I’d go to a doctor’s office I’d keep obsessing over songs like Percy Faith’s “Theme From ‘A Summer Place'” and Mason Williams’   “Classical Gas”,  among others that were played in waiting rooms.    The folk, jazz, country and other musical styles of that era have always been quite a major love of my life.    Although I’ve never been even the least bit willing to humor the liberals, I’ve even  always  thoroughly enjoyed the protest songs of that era.     Along with all that I made sure I joined the glee club at my grammar school, St. Gabriel’s in East Elmhurst, as soon as I was old enough.    Brother Edmond and Brother James, of the De la Salle Christian Brothers, taught us all the then-current popular songs as well as Christmas and Easter songs and show tunes.   Brother James played the guitar quite well and Brother Edmond, with his fine baritone voice, sang an exceptional version of “Edelweiss(Blossom of Snow)”  from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music”.     I even took guitar lessons for a while at one of the local public schools, P.S. 127.    My parents were always quite happy to humor my sister and me about our tastes in music.   They enjoyed country music, Edith Piaf and other standards they grew up with so that widened my horizons even more.     Eventually the 1960′ s became the 1970’s.   That era started out fairly well with  Carole King’s “Tapestry” as well as James Taylor, Led Zeppelin and a few other holdovers from the 1960’s.    Eventually, though, disco started to become popular.   My teenage years saw the rise of tacky styles in music and dress.    There were good singers and bands too, though, like the Doobie Brothers, Elton John, Grand Funk and a few others.    In my imagination, though, gone forever were the days when everything musical was perfect.    Even most of  the then-current music I listened to generally tended to be the latest album by someone like Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin (a variation of the Yardbirds).    I had become such a musical snob and purist.    I continuously picked fights with all the kids in school, as well as the public school kids, defending my claim that even in the best of 1970’s music, there was something missing compared to that of the previous decade.      Unfortunately I’ve never been terribly comptetent musically.   My strengths seem to lie more in writing and story telling.    Maybe that’s why I’ve always so thoroughly enjoyed the songs of the 1960’s.     It was an era that included songs like Joan Baez’s “So We’ll Go No More A-Roving”, based on a poem by Lord Byron, Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” and the Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus” , based on Lewis Carroll’s “Alice In Wonderland”, and Yoko Ono’s “Who Has Seen the Wind”, based on a Christina Rossetti poem.       The music I grew up with has profoundly influenced both my adult musical tastes and even my entire life in general.    Although the singers and musicians of my early days could never possibly get me to agree with their liberal political and social agenda, they’ve most certainly shaped my imagination and given me ideas and interest which I may never have otherwise gotten.

my twelfth birthday

I’m fifty four years old now but I can still remember my twelfth birthday , September 16, 1971, as if it were only yesterday.  In those days,  Richard Milhous Nixon was still in his first term as president.   Carole King’s “Tapestry” album, John Lennon’s “Imagine” and Paul McCartney’s “Ram” were all on the radio.     Up until five days before that, my parents, my younger sister, and I had always lived in Jackson Heights, in Queens, New York.   This was during our first week as residents of Lindenhurst, in Suffolk County, New York.   I  had always gone to St. Gabriel’s Elementary School in East Elmhurst up until then.   All the time I was in Queens I could count on good friends and familiar surroundings.   Even back then I disliked change.     For my first  two weeks in Lindenhurst I went to Copiague Junior High School.   My party was very small.   The only friends-potential friends, so far-in attendance, were the three kids who lived next door, Tommy, Bobby and Karen.   Their mother was also there.    As a kid I had always been so very shy.   I was having quite a difficult time getting used to the new environment and new people.     Considering that I felt exceptionally uncomfortable with all the new surroundings it was quite a nice simple time.   Nothing eventful happened that day but I learned to enjoy the new world that would be mine for the next four and one half decades.