Ralph was quite a purist musically. He had no use for synthesizers, tape loops or any other technical finagling of sound. His friend Stanley was much more willing to try some experimental stuff. Stanley was also a bit of a nudge. In order to drive Ralph crazy during their practice sessions, he’d always kept a copy of Tears For Fears’ 1985 album, “Songs From the Big Chair” within eyeshot of him.
“Ever since we first met at the conservatory you’ve been trying my patience!” moaned Ralph.
“Ha! Ha!” replied Stanley. “It keeps you determined to practice. Doesn’t it?”
The first decade of my lifetime was virtually precisely coeval with the 196o’s. I was born in 1959 so I’m entirely too young to remember the era of flower power, mods, rockers and hippies. Somehow,though, at an extremely early age I became smitten with all the people, places, things and circumstances that were prominent then. That sort of qualifies me as a victim of the Golden Age Syndrome. By the time I turned thirteen years old, the grooviest decade of all had already been over for about the past two years. The Beatles, my favorite band, were already broken up since the first half of April, 1970. The first few years of the 1970’s seemed to have shown great promise. Singers and bands such as Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, and Led Zeppelin were always on the radio. They were throwbacks to the 1960’s anyway though. Eventually their successors started coming into prominence. Disco was especially conspicuous during that time frame, followed by new wave and punk. I, of course, still stuck to my obsessive interest in the further adventures of John, Paul, George and Ringo. Much of the music of the middle and late 1970’s was exceptionally good, but I could never let go of my hippie fantasy. The fact that all four Beatles were then still living made it at least theoretically possible to believe that somehow their era would make a kind of comeback. The Grateful Dead, Who, Rolling Stones, and Jefferson Airplane (with a slight name change), among other bands from the 1960’s, were all still together. Bob Dylan and Joan Baez could still be counted on to show up every once in a while. I gained quite a reputation among all my friends, classmates, teachers and people in general, for being such a fan of both the entire 1960’s as a whole and particularly of the Fab Four. As far as I’m concerned the Beatles and their world have always provided quite an infinitely fertile ground for someone with a hyperactive imagination and an interest in keeping things colorful. Unfortunately, as good as the solo Beatles’ music, and that of their contemporaries may have been throughout the course of the 1970’s I, always having been so obsessively infatuated with the 1960’s, could never bring myself to admit that anything since then was as good as it was during that time. Having set up an entirely intrinsically impossible standard of comparison, I ended up in the seriously weird position of getting the distinct impression that the 1970’s versions of the Beatles and their contemporaries were somehow not as good as their slightly earlier personae simply because of the mere passage of time. As far as I was concerned the 1960’s were a time of merry go rounds, kaleidoscopes, tangerines and marmalade, and the Beatles, as they then existed, were the ultimate personification of imagination and creativity. Throughout my entire adolescence I read every book, and newspaper and magazine article, that had ever been written about the Beatles, and their lives and times. Their speech patterns, quirks and mannerisms became part of my world. Thanks to my insatiable curiosity about them and their era, I became quite exceptionally knowledgeable about all things pertaining to the Fab Four and the 1960’s. Besides the songs and albums of their Beatle years I kept track of albums like John Lennon’s “Walls And Bridges”, Paul McCartney’s “Band On the Run”, George Harrison’s “Dark Horse”, and Ringo Starr’s “Ringo”, among all their other solo adventures. I was quite conversant in all things Beatle and could occasionally be counted on even to go overboard with my interest in them. Even now that I’m a middle aged man I still consider all the music of the 1960’s, and especially that of the Lads from Liverpool, to be entirely without equal. Perhaps some of my youthful obsession with it all has been tempered to the point of its being a bit more subtle but it’s still always with me. In a much more important sense it was quite a nightmarishly ugly poisonous environment, but for a kid with a hyperactive imagination and a flair for the colorful it could never possibly be topped or even matched.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNE7kdIDgJA 1980 provided us with much of the very best music of the New Wave era. I was still only very young then. It was the year I turned twenty one years old and all was going so very well in my life. Sometime during June of that year I got together with a favorite cousin of mine, Gary, who was then living in Ozone Park, Queens, and his then-fiancee’ Maria, who lived in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Gary and I drove, by way of the Belt Parkway, from Ozone Park to Brooklyn to pick up Maria so we could go with some cousins of hers and friends of theirs to Great Adventure Six Flags Amusement Park in Jackson, New Jersey to see the Ramones, one of the biggest bands of the era, in concert. It was the first concert I ever went to , as far as I can remember. We spent a lot of time on the rides and taking advantage of all the other attractions at the park. The Ramones, of course, provided us with quite a concert. All the young people at the concert were decked out in trendy new wave garb and doing the pogo and other dances that were then really popular. What really sticks out in my mind, though, to this very day, is Blotto’s then-current song, “I Wanna Be A Lifeguard”. Unfortunately I had never heard of it before that afternoon. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, Vinnie (a.k.a. Jimmy), Victor and Joe Jag started singing it. Something about it instantaneously caught my attention. I couldn’t help getting overwhelmingly curious about it so only a short time after that I made sure I went to Sam Goody at the Sunrise Mall in Massapequa and bought a copy of the album , “Hello, My Name Is Blotto. What’s Yours?” It’s still considered an underground cult classic. Gary and Maria and I still occasionally refer to it. To this very day I can’t help associating it with that trip to Great Adventure.