Tuesday, June 5, 2012

#567: Class of '77

Just in time 4 Graduation....
As a newspaper reporter, I went 2 a lotta highschool graduation ceremonies over the years, & I always hadda good time. I always found the ceremonies refreshingly positive & full of hope 4 the future.
But I barely remember my OWN graduation. I don't remember who spoke or what was said. I DO remember sitting 4 3 HOURS in a 95-degree gymnasium packed full of parents & friends as the 450+ members of R graduating class stepped up 2 get R diplomas.
At 1st I didn't even want 2 go. Didn't plan 2 attend. It was all part of that Senior Pictures in suit&tie/class ring/send-out-invitations/artificial BS that I was rebelling against in my Senior year. Who cared?
Turns out somebody did: My Mother ORDERED me 2 attend, saying something along the lines of "I didn't put up with 12 years of crap in order to have nothing to show for it...." (?) Ghod bless her....
I remember what I did that NITE, tho -- stayed out all nite 4 the 1st time EVER, not getting home til around 5 am with the sun just starting 2 peek over the mountains 2 the east of Boise -- Xpecting 2 arrive home with the front door locked & me shut out of the house 4 Bing an idiot.
But the front porch lite was on, the front door was unlocked, & I tiptoed in2 the house, fell in2 bed & passed out, & nobody ever said a word later about me staying out 2 late. MayB Bcos I was such a social non-starter that my parents mighta thot I was never gonna move outta the house....
Didn't get drunk that nite 2 celebrate -- that happened years later, instead. Mostly just hung around with friends & acted young & stupid. Enjoyed the fact that nobody bothered us, that I wouldn't havta B back in class again on Monday. The good old days.
I wasn't Xactly living a Social Life on the cutting edge back then (or now). & since I was in Idaho, my musical listening habits weren't Xactly on the cutting edge either. I was still listening 2 Beatles & Moody Blues & Kansas & Queen & Boston & Yes & ELP & Elton. Mighta tossed-in some Pink Floyd 4 Xtra weirdness now & then. My discovery of off-the-wall British prog, English folk-rock, German synthesizer weirdness & so on was a few months away. Late '77 & in2 '78 was really when my ears started opening.
Tho I'd heard there was a Punk Rock Revolution going on in England, it seemed just like something else 2 throw-up at -- like Disco, at the time. Guys piercing their noses & ears & spitting at each other while they barely played their guitars didn't sound like something that'd work 4 me, as I leaned more toward musical complexity & "writing mood music."
In Idaho, I don't think we ever even heard NE "New Wave" on the radio until possibly the Police's "Roxanne" (ugh), & Joe Jackson's "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" (cute, catchy, funny). I was aware there was some1 called Elvis Costello, some allegedly clever little guitar-slinging dweeb -- but I never heard him on the radio. (It was YEARS B4 I heard "What's So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding?" -- which shoulda bn a HUGE hit....)
I was still listening 2 radio then. & resisting some of it pretty heavily. The BIG record of '77 was Fleetwood Mac's RUMOURS, & tho I'd loved "Go Your Own Way" & adored the heavy drama of "The Chain," & enjoyed a couple of their earlier hits (nice gtr intro & vocals 2 "Rhiannon," the gently rocking "Over My Head"), they seemed awfully inconsistent judging by their singles -- "Dreams" was mush, & "Don't Stop" was deadly boring.
But I remember driving down Boise's Depot Hill in the fall of '77, a beautiful sunny fall afternoon, going 2 see my highschool sweetheart at her new home at Boise State University, & Mac's "You Make Loving Fun" came out of the car radio. & I wasn't impressed until the gorgeous airy vocals of the chorus came on, pouring outta the speakers like musical sunshine, & I was immediately hooked, totally sucked in. I went out & bought the album the next day.
& found it just as inconsistent as the singles were. A band with this much talent & occasional brilliance couldn't even put 2gether a consistent full-side with no dead spots? The good stuff was really good ("Gold Dust Woman" & "Songbird" were nice little bonuses I hadn't heard previously), but the weak stuff was really bad ("Don't Stop," "Dreams," "Second Hand News," which has grown on me a little).
What I didn't know was that 1 of the best songs -- Stevie Nicks's "Silver Springs" -- was left OFF the album & escaped as the B-side 2 "Go Your Own Way"....
Even at the time, I could hear that these were not the cutting-edge sounds of '77 -- 2 mainstream, tho really good at its best. It wasn't until I started working at the record store in May of '79 that I'd hear a lot of what was getting people Xcited elsewhere, what I was reading about in the rock press.
I didn't hear the Sex Pistols' great "God Save the Queen" 'til '79, & in 3 years at the record store I never saw anybody buy or ask 4 a Pistols album. We couldn't give away The Clash, either. U2's great 1st album BOY got bought by all the record-store employees, & maybe 2 "normal" customers.
I never heard NEthing by The Ramones until I went & saw ROCK AND ROLL HIGH SCHOOL, mainly on the recommendation of my co-workers that it was hilarious. & it was worth it all 4 the soundtrack (which included another of my heroes, Todd Rundgren) -- & 2 hear The Ramones do "I Just Want to Have Something to Do," still my favorite of their songs.
35 years later, it's amazing how much more open things R musically now -- at least in terms of the ways you can hear new stuff. In '77, if it wasn't on the radio, about all you had was your friends' word-of-mouth & the hope that your local record store people knew what was going on. At least we have more options now. But I'm sure there's Good Stuff out there now that I'm not hearing -- & I'm sure there was Good Stuff back then that I STILL haven't heard....

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