The River's Badge

Saturday, June 3, 2017

I've Apparently Forgotten About The Year 1966 -- On Purpose?


Mostly, 1966 was a good year for me...until December. So, yes, mostly good. The year started out well. I had a birthday party in May. That was only the second birthday party I'd ever had in my life, and I have no memory of my first one, since I was five and had no "friends"; only cousins. For this one, in 1966, I got to invite actual friends. I had a best friend, Cathy, and a new friend who'd just moved to town -- I think her name was Denise...or Debbie (obviously it wasn't a long-term friendship). Having a new friend created some friction between Cathy and me, which was rather unfair. I didn't quiz Cathy on who she hung out with in her neighborhood while I was ensconced out at the farm. The best thing about staying overnight at Denise/Debbie's house was that she lived next door to my boyfriend, Chuck. At night we'd hold up notes in her bedroom window and Chuck would write notes back and hold them up for us to read (okay, it was fifth grade, for heaven's sake). Chuck was my boyfriend by default -- he picked me. I'd come to school in the morning and find anonymous notes inside my desk. It took me a while to figure out where they'd come from. The fact that Chuck stared at me incessantly was my first clue.

So, I had a boyfriend and a birthday party. I invited all my school friends and Cathy, who attended a different elementary school. I would like to say that I invited all the girls in my class, but I'm sure I didn't. Girls are not inherently nice. We have our feuds and resentments and just genuine dislikes. I remember one girl, Kristin, who I absolutely hated. I don't remember why, but I was not nice to her, nor was she to me. She'd apparently pissed me off one too many times. One Saturday afternoon, I phoned the local pizza parlor from my sister's apartment and ordered mass quantities of pizza and a bucket load of sodas to be delivered to Kristin's house. (In those days, there was no credit card required.) It was a crappy thing to do, but at the time I felt very proud of myself. When I think about it now, I just feel like a creep. The funny thing is, today if I knew Kristin, we'd probably be pals. Or maybe not. So, no, I didn't invite every girl I knew to my birthday party.

Cathy and I perused Popplers Music in Grand Forks every Saturday afternoon, and I let her know as my birthday approached which certain '45 I really, really loved. The trouble was, I loved a lot of current '45's. But I had to pick one so she'd know what to get me for my birthday. I picked this one:


Why did I like this?? Now when I hear it, all I can think of is the Dating Game. Let's just say this single did not stand the test of time.

Now, Debbie/Denise also wanted to know which single I wanted for my birthday. I told her this:


When I opened Debbie/Denise's present, I exclaimed, "Oh, I love this song!" Cathy replied, "I thought you said you loved the Tijuana Brass." 

"Well, I love them both," I hurriedly replied. Cathy was pissed for the rest of the day. 

So, yes, I loved a lot of tracks in 1966. (The Righteous Brothers single at least holds up today.)

In 1966, we had a lot of the (by today's standards) old standbys. They weren't old standbys at the time. We had The Mamas and the Papas, The Supremes, The Rascals, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys. The Beatles, of course. Believe it or not, there was a time when these acts were new. Rubber Soul had been released in '65, but it was still reverberating in 1966. The album was world-shattering.

In browsing the list of the top 100 singles of 1966, I decided to pick out the ones I like the best (and, no, Herb Alpert is not included.)

The Vogues:


Later, sometime in the early seventies, I saw The Vogues performing in a little basement bar in Mandan, North Dakota. They were awesome! Sad that they were stuck performing in little basement bars, but did I mention they were awesome? I think they just loved performing. I saw Bobby Vee in that same little basement and he was loving it, too. Some bands wouldn't admit to themselves that they'd sunk to performing in little holes in the ground. The Doobie Brothers played there, too, and were a bit too haughty for their modest circumstances. I'd forgotten about that little bar, which is sad, because it was only 500 feet away from my parents' motel. 

But I digress.

The Lovin' Spoonful:


I think hearing this song was the first time I realized that good music could be quiet. I'd been raised on big pounding drums and big pounding piano and big electric guitar solos, so this song smacked me hard. I never realized it, but The Lovin' Spoonful influenced the way I write songs. As geeky kids, Cathy and I trolled the streets of Grand Forks with our transistors clamped to our ears, and this song in particular made me feel joyful. I've seen John Sebastian on some of those PBS specials and documentaries about Greenwich Village, et cetera, and now he's an old dude, but he definitely had something. To me, the most joyous pop song of all time is "Do You Believe In Magic", largely because of Zal Yanovsky, who's passed away, but boy, what a joie de vivre Zal possessed. That's what music is supposed to be - joyful.

Neil Diamond:


Neil is currently on tour, celebrating fifty years of performing. Fifty! No, that doesn't make me feel old at all; not at all. Cherry Cherry was Neil's first big hit and it charted in 1966. I followed along with Neil's career; purchased his singles recorded on the yellow Bang label. I bought a bunch of them. Neil Diamond was someone who wouldn't let you down. Probably the worst actor off all time (see The Jazz Singer), but sure enough, I watched that movie on HBO over and over, and I have no earthly idea why, other than that I liked Neil Diamond.

The Rascals:


My husband posits that The Rascals could have had a much longer career than they did, because they were so good. I don't know what happened, but I miss them. Granted, those of a certain age will associate this song with a Dr. Pepper commercial, but be that as it may, The Rascals were great.

Here's one...

Okay, yes, Nancy Sinatra only had one true hit, but...have we forgotten it? Nope. It's a weird thing about songs. Nobody can predict what will stick. I mean, think about Ode To Billie Joe, which was, in essence, a real downer, and yet it was gold. Gold! Same with this one. I've karaoked it, because well, who wouldn't?




The Beatles:

I probably fell in love with my husband in 1966, but I was eleven, so...

Chuck was a faded memory by then. Chuck was actually kind of a loser anyway. My (now) husband visited our farm with his family in the summer of 1966. We bonded over my Beatles singles (specifically We Can Work It Out/Day Tripper). Oh, I was eager to share my record collection with him, and he "got it". Most people I knew didn't. When you meet someone who is tripping the same line as you are, you don't forget, because that doesn't happen...hardly ever.

So, this one is a biggie for me:


Johnny Rivers:

Back on the streets of Grand Forks, Cathy and I had become taken with the whole "secret agent" fad. "Get Smart" was playing on our TV's; "The Man From U.N.C.L.E" was a big hit on network TV. I guess James Bond was going strong at the cineplex (we, however, were still mired in bad Elvis Presley flicks). Thus, we decided we, too, could be secret agents. We surveilled the downtown department stores. Our transistors became official transmitters. We had "code names". And Johnny Rivers did this song:


My fun and frolic ended in December when we moved to a new state. Obviously, I knew no one. I was keenly alone. For a painfully shy kid, a friend meant everything. I didn't have any friends. Everybody was a stranger. I don't think I'd ever, up 'til then, initiated a friendship. Friends found me. And I was picky about friends. I couldn't just be friends with any random person. So, everyone in my class was a phantom. What does one do when she needs friends but has none? She creates friends. These became my friends:


As 1966 slid into 1967, I found someone. It took a while, considering my exacting standards. But I made a friend for life. And yes, she approached me.

So, life went on. It wasn't necessarily easy. That's why I don't really tend to remember 1966 fondly. Again, as memory goes, the majority of the year was pretty good, but humans latch onto the bad things, and the bad things overshadow everything else.

In retrospect, though, it was an eventful year in myriad ways.

Growing up isn't easy.











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