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.
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. http://dailypost.wordpress.com/