The Fourth of July, 1970, a few friends and I ventured from the known venues of the Bronx and set off on an exploration of New Jersey’s Long Beach Island.
It was 1970. Some of us were twenty, others nineteen. Therefore, we were all of legal drinking age….in New York.
That fact was soon to be realized.
We were supposed to stay at the house of a friend of a friend of a friend. However, one of these friends was disabused of the notion of an open house welcome to strangers who partook in what was deemed politically incorrect behavior. Even 50 years later, I am reluctant to state that we were smoking pot when the invitation to stay was rescinded.
So, there we were on the Friday of the Fourth of July weekend with no room at the inn.
As Ollie would famously say to Stan, “What could be worse?”
Well, we found out quite quickly what could be worse as we headed straight to another type of inn only to be rejected once more. When the barkeep asked us for our proof (or ID as it is referred today), it was promptly provided along with an urgent quest for his finest tap beer. Sadly, our innkeeper denied our request and advised us that we were underage.
“Whaddya talking about? We’re all over eighteen!”
However, we were reminded that we are now in New Jersey, where the drinking age is twenty-one.
Our plan to drink enough beer to enable sleeping on the beach, a viable option to not having a place to stay, was now shelved. Realizing our dilemma, we headed to the nearest motel where the six of us crowded into a one-room no-tell-motel with no air conditioning and a small black and white television for our entertainment pleasure.
I slept on a desk chair.
I detail all this to set the mood for the next day, which was July 4th.
The night ended abruptly, and we knew what we had to do.
Not even stopping for breakfast, we made our way north on the Garden State Parkway and eventually to the New Jersey Turnpike and the wonderful, glad to be stuck on it, Cross Bronx Expressway.
I got home just in time to go to bed.
Not being a good daytime sleeper, I had my catnap and put on WNEW FM. I think it was Pete Fornatell, or it could have been Vince Scelsa. They both were great DJs. A selection of revolution themed songs was selected, and for quite a while, I read a book and listened to the songs. It made the weekend worthwhile and had a healing effect on my aching back brought on by an extra firm desk chair.
So, while demonstrators in Washingon were being gassed by Nixon, I listened to the Boss Tunes of rebellion.
So, today, I have put a list of songs together to honor the spirit of rebellion, revolution, and freedom.
In no particular order or significance, here is my list:
Chimes of Freedom The Byrds/Bob Dylan
The Times They Are A-Changin Peter Paul and Mary/Bob Dylan
Blowin In The Wind Peter Paul and Mary/ Bob Dylan
Where Have All The Flowers Gone Peter Paul and Mary/Pete Seeger and Joe Hickerson
It Ain’t Me Babe Bob Dylan
Born To Run The Boss
Born In The USA The Boss
Time Has Come Today The Chambers Brothers
Everyday People Sly and The Family Stone
Brothers In Arms Dire Straits
Every Kinda People Robert Palmer
Volunteers Jefferson (When they were still an) Airplane
Wooden Ships CSN
Rockin In The Free World Neil Young
America Simon and Garfunkel
In God’s Country U2
Sunday Bloody Sunday U2
These might not be the songs you would have chosen, but maybe they will inspire you to think of your own list. At least, it is hoped, it made you think about what this day is really about. Americans and they were flawed people make no mistake about it, sat in a room and wrote words that continue to inspire. While those words did not apply to all people in our country at the time, the document and its lessons are works in progress.
Two hundred and forty-four years ago, it was declared that we would no longer be subject to a tyrannical king. Now that that was accomplished, the work of creating an enduring Democracy began.
It was a difficult task then, and it remains one today.
But the real revolution of that day that should inspire us today is that we the people have as much to say how we are governed as those we elect to govern.
Well, let me know your list or at least some songs you would add to mine.
Be well. Stay safe.