Words Of Love
Summer Music Through My Years
Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme
Idea (Bee Gees)
Yesterday And Today
Crosby Stills And Nash
Byrds Greatest Hits
Led Zeppelin First Album
Let It Be
Deja Vu. CSNY
Candles In The Rain. Melanie
Get Yer Ya-Yas Out Stones
Their Satanic Majesties Request Stones
Easy Rider Soundtrack
Aqualung Jethro Tull
Four Way Street CSNY
Carly Simon (First Album)
Every Picture Tells A Story
Cat Stevens Teaser And The Firecat
Summer Of 1968
It’s challenging to think about the summer of 1968 without first thinking about the spring of that year. Of course, in April, Martin Luther King was assassinated, and then, a short two months later, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated.
It was a tough year to graduate from high school, and there was no way I was adequately prepared for entering college. My head was spinning, and I really was adrift in my psyche with no foreseeable destination or a map to guide me there. I had not yet become a reader. That would not occur until 1970. So, music was my sanctuary during these dreadful days.
The summer before 1967, commonly referred to as the Summer of Love, virtually exploded on the radio. The Jefferson Airplane, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, and The Doors all created new and exciting music. But nothing compared to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles.
However, by the summer of 1968, I wasn’t looking for anything so compelling. I entered my folk/folk-rock phase and sought out music with a message and a soothing sound.
The list of albums that I have selected for the Summer of 1968 is a rather shortlist. That is not a reflection on the state of music that summer but was more indicative of the state of the economy that summer. Well, my economy.
I needed to buy a stereo.
I had jerry-rigged my own version of stereophonic sound by converting my family’s hifi to a stereo. I needed a new cartridge for the HiFi, and our local radio and repair shop, Johnny McGrath’s, had a cartridge that would fit the tonearm of my hifi, but it was a stereo cartridge.
I reasoned that I could hook up a supplemental amplifier and add a speaker, and voila, I had a stereo. I bought a cheap amplifier and a speaker at Lafayette’s Electronics down on 14th Street in the city and put it all together.
It was ok for a while, but I needed a stereo.
I used to go to EJ Korvette’s during my lunch hour from the mailroom at Lorillard Corp, and I saw a nice system for $99.99. I vowed to buy it as soon as I had the money after putting aside enough for college.
So, it wasn’t until August that I could buy the XAM Stereo at Korvettes, which is the reason for my short summer list.
Short though the list may be, it is comprised of iconic songs from iconic groups,
If you ever saw The Graduate, you will understand how Bookends and Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme made the list. After the terrible spring, it was something we all asked ourselves, WHERE HAVE YOU GONE JOE DIMAGGIO!!!
I was actually asking, where have you gone, Mickey Mantle? Thank goodness I had Joe Namath, or else I would have no stabilizing hero for whom to pine.
Where Bookends had us ask ourselves where the hell we were going, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme gave us poetry to help us through those troubled times even as it juxtaposed Silent Night with the mass murder of student nurses.
The next album on my list is Album 1700 by Peter, Paul, and Mary.
I had been listening to PPM for years thanks to my brother Michael, so one of the first stereo albums I bought had to be a PPM production. There were so many great songs that found a home in my psyche but perhaps none more than Bob Dylan’s Dream. Like the Byrds, Peter, Paul, and Mary sang Dylan so beautifully. But there were so many poignant numbers on this album powerfully performed, including Leaving On A Jet Plane by John Denver.
The last album of that summer was Idea by the Brothers Gibb, who was more commonly knows as the Bee Gees. Long before they or we knew of disco, the Bee Gees had several great songs, many of which were included on this album.
They were nice to listen to songs. Not so much full of meaning or poignancy, just excellent listening songs.
Well, 1968 had other terrific albums, to be sure. But these were the first few I bought for my new stereo. Other albums would come out in the fall, such as the Beatles White Album, but these summer albums would get me through the rest of that turbulent summer. The Beatles and Joe Namath would get me through the fall and winter.
Now we are off to the Summer of 1969.Summer Of 1969
In the world of music, the summer of 1969 can only bring up images of Woodstock.
Three days of peace, love, and music sprinkled with a bit of grass and brown acid that wasn’t particularly good. At least, that is what we would learn in the film and album that would come out the following summer.
But many would attend this festival in August of 1969.
I was not one of them.
At the time, the New York Jets were more important to me than attending any concert. Having beaten the Baltimore Colts on January 12, 1969, the Jets were now poised to play the New York Giants up at the Yale Bowl on a Sunday in August. It just so happened that it was the Sunday when hundreds of thousands would be listening to music up at Woodstock.
It would become one of those events that many would swear they had attended, but I was pretty content to say I had witnessed the first Jet-Giant game and one which the Jets had won.
Nevertheless, my summer had actually begun in May when I had completed my first year in college and returned to my summer job in the mailroom at P. Lorillard Corp. on 42nd Street in Manhattan.
To be honest, I would just as soon had stayed in the mailroom at the end of the summer the previous year and foregone going to college. I probably would have learned more. But I did survive that first year of college, even if I did not distinguish myself while doing so.
So, I was back in the mailroom and making money.
I had an economic plan now and could afford to spend ten bucks every payday on albums. Korvettes had a sale just about every week, allowing me to purchase three albums for around ten dollars.
I started by buying stereo versions of all my Beatle albums. The three that I listened to most were Rubber Soul, Yesterday And Today, and Revolver. I then added the Byrds Greatest Hits.
These got me through the first month or so of the summer. I would later purchase Blind Faith and Crosby, Stills, and Nash.
I then purchased the first Led Zeppelin album and became a fan of them as well.
Unlike the previous summer, my taste was growing more eclectic. I always listened to the Beatles, but I also loved the Byrds, and their Greatest Hits would prove but a dipping of my toe into their extensive library. Blind Faith, like Cream before it, was an amalgam of great talented performers with a unique style but who stayed with us for an all too short time.
Crosby, Stills, and Nash, however, brought us a great first album that would be followed up with continuous additions to the soundtrack of our lives.
Summer Of 1970
Purists may tell you that 1970 was the last year of the 60s. But, those of us who lived through 1968 and 1969 were happy to leave the 60s behind, and we greeted 1970 as the dawning of a new decade.
Unlike summers past, most of my musical delights were of more recent vintage. Having purchased the stereo versions of most of my must-have albums, I was now poised to focus on new or recently released albums.
The one exception to this was the Byrds.
Realizing that the Byrds Greatest Hits was a mere appetizer, the start of the Summer of 1970 began with the purchase of everything the Byrds had previously released.
I always thought Let It Be was one of the best Beatles albums, and I wore that album out in the Summer of 1970. It was released that spring but still remained on my hit parade for many months afterward.
One of the things that my friends and I used to do was venture into Central Park on Friday nights. First, we would go to the Sixth Avenue Liquor Store for a little Bali Hai and then peruse the sights of The Park.
On one of these Friday nights, our plans to go into the park were thwarted by a sudden cloudburst. We still went to the Sixth Avenue Liquor Store, but instead of drinking our wine in The Park, we opted to drink in a covered portion of a sidewalk cafe provided by the St. Moritz Hotel.
Realizing that the hospitality we assumed would be offered by hotel management was subject to change and revocation, we decided to vacate the cafe as we considered our options for the rest of the evening.
That summer, the film version of Woodstock had been released, so we decided to see it on this wet Friday night.
Well, it was like going to Woodstock.
We were wet in a mind-altering state. All that was missing was the mud, and we did not mind that at all.
The following week I went out to purchase the musical version consisting of three LPs, and it was an instant favorite that I would continue to listen to for quite a while.
Additionally, the Summer of 1970 provided us with Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young’s Deja Vu; Easy Rider, another soundtrack from the movie of the same name; Get Yer Ya-Yas out by the Rolling Stones as well as Their Satanic Majesties Request; and Melanie’s Candles In The Rain.
I should point out that, for the Summer of 1970 and the previous years, there were individual songs that have made my Summer Playlist, but I never had the albums on which they were released. The nice thing about iTunes is that you can purchase individual songs. Nevertheless, you might include many of these albums on your list, but I only included albums that I bought.
Summer Of 1971
In the Spring of 1971, I marched on Washington in protest of the war in Viet Nam. I wrote about that in an earlier post so, I won’t dwell on that. But music had been as crucial to the peace movement as other examples of the culture of the times.
But by the Summer of 1970, I was more interested in the love component of Peace and Love.
I am not sure if that change altered my taste in music. I certainly acquired a deeper appreciation of the music of that summer, especially as it culminated in the meeting of the girl who would be my wife for the last forty-five years. We met as the Summer of 1971 was nearing its end, and the music of that summer brings me back in time to that first encounter with Eileen.
Aqualung provided my introduction to Jethro Tull. Having bought this album in the Summer of 1970, I later purchased quite a few other examples of Ian Anderson and the boys of Jethro Tull. Four Way Street became an instant iconic presentation of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young’s music. No sooner had I purchased this album, but Every Picture Tells A. Story by Rod Stewart and Faces was released. It contained so many great songs that still are pleasing to the ear fifty years later. Then Carly Simon released her first album, and I fell in love with her music even as she elicited some concern about love and marriage in her The Way I Always Heard It Would Be.
Then there was Cat Stevens. Moonshadow, Peace Train, and Morning Has Broken on Teaser and The Firecat, which were instant favorites.
Then after I met Eileen, she introduced me to his Tea For The Tillerman album and the Moody Blues’ Question Of Balance.
Music provides the Time Travel that only a Doctor Who fan can appreciate. A song can instantly bring me back to another time and place, and this is undoubtedly true for the albums that I have selected for this essay.
Other summers have their music, but I chose these years as they were a significant change in me personally. I was not the same person in the Summer of 1968 as I became by the Summer of 1971.
By the Summer of 1971, I became a more confident person thanks to the fact that I finally listened to my mother, who always urged me to read. Well, I did finally do what she advised and never stopped. Then, my friend PJ, who, during a drinking session at Fordham University’s Ram Skeller, encouraged me to follow his diet. I did, and in a few short months, my transformation was achieved.
I was reading and looking good at the same time.
I like to think that the music of these Summers brings me back to the days of my Epiphany and helps me deal with the changes of life facing this seventy-one-year-old man.
Peace and Love, everybody.