I somehow managed to find myself in the Honor Society in the spring of the seventh grade. As a treat, the group took a cruise on Washington State’s Puget Sound. It was a lovely spring evening. Everyone packed their own dinner, usually the same sort of thing they would have packed for a lunch at school. A radio played, tuned to Seattle’s big Top 40 station, KJR. In a coincidence that still seems to be appropriate, I heard Crystal Blue Persuasion by Tommy James and the Shondells for the first time that night on the cruise.
Later in the evening four people I knew, fellow seventh graders, were sitting at a table on the lower deck. Karen and Allan sat on one side, Roxanne and Everett sat on the other. The pairings seemed odd to me. Roxanne was cute — enough, but Karen probably was causing the plastic upholstery to blister. I guess Allan was OK, but Everett was tall and the kind of guy the girls would swoon over — he went on to become a doctor.
As I observed the two couples, cuddling up about as much as seventh graders could get away with in May, 1969, I could not help but notice that Karen was paying attention to Everett and Everett was paying attention to Karen. What was going on might, in terms of international diplomacy, be referred to as political manoeuvring. Roxanne and Allan were merely the tools being used by Everett and Karen.
Fifty years ago we would watch the ABC Evening News with Harry Reasoner and Howard K. Smith. At the end of each newscast, one of the two would would have a commentary. For some reason, Reasoner mentioned in several of his commentaries that he did not like the song Lonely Days by the Bee Gees. It’s not just that he didn’t like the song, he thought it was the most pathetic piece of dreck that had ever been put on record.
One night he told his viewers that his 17 year old neighbor had been mowing his lawn and listening to the radio. The song came on and the neighbor clearly enjoyed it. Reasoner thought that he would expose the youth to what good music really sounded like. The newscaster called the boy over. Figuring that anything in his collection just had to be better than that trash the neighbor was listening to, Reasoner picked out a record at random and put it on his turntable.
I have not been able to find the record on YouTube or even any mention of it on the internet, but, as I recall, Reasoner said it went something along the lines of “I go nut nut nutty in the coconut tree over you.”
The kid from next door just looked at Reasoner with a blank expression. Reasoner took the tonearm off the record and took the record off of the turntable as the neighbor quietly left and went back to mowing his lawn.
While it is not one of my favorite songs, I do enjoy hearing Lonely Days from time to time. That is the thing with music. What one person may love, another person may hate. In fact, a song you may love today you may hate tomorrow and vice-versa.
Years ago I worked for a company that would have a booth at the yearly convention of the National Association of Broadcasters. While I worked for that company, they changed gears from showing just the wooden racks and tape cartridges that they sold to putting on fairly sophisticated displays of the equipment that they carried. In 1987 I engineered an operational radio station with a control room, a production room, and a working FM exciter (transmitter) with a receiver that allowed people to compare two different audio processing systems.
With that sort of setup we, of course, had to play music. We had a rule for the music we played: we did not play music that we liked. The reason for that was when something came on that we liked, we would make an effort to listen to it. Since we were a captive audience, we knew that we would grow to hate the music that we used to love. We did not play music that we hated, either. We played music that we didn’t care about one way or another. That made it easy to tune out without it grating on us. We could just ignore it.
Sometimes a person’s taste changes. In late 1962 there was a song that would make my brothers and me cringe whenever it came on. It seemed really sappy: Hey Paula by Paul and Paula.
The song grew on me as years went by. While I certainly would not go out of my way to listen to it, I certainly don’t mind hearing it from time to time.
There was another song that my brothers and I despised, The Birds and the Bees by Jewel Akens from 1965. I didn’t like it then and I don’t like it now.
Maybe if I live to be 100 I will start to like this song.
I know some many people like those songs. That is fine. I know there are songs that I like that other people hate. In 1972 I bought the album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. When I brought it home, my mother must have wanted to show interest in the music I liked so she asked me to play it. I said no. She asked me several times so I finally relented.