During hiatus, the nostalgia crept in

by Yule Heibel on September 11, 2005

It might be that anniversary in history, but I need a break from seriousness. And what better fix than …nostalgia?

‘Twas on a lovely August evening during my “vacation” month a few weeks back, before hurricanes and Brownies blighted the landscape — it was a Thursday, in fact (I always did get the hang of Thursdays) — when this bit of nostalgia crept up on me…

We put some old LPs on the turntable while I made dinner. First, Boz Scaggs‘s 1971 album Moments — an album approximately 900 years old, which I bought when I was …14-and-a-half.

I acquired this album in a downtown Victoria Bastion Square shop that today no longer exists. The shop was on the second storey of one of the old buildings in the square, prior to the final touristification of Victoria when those buildings were still decrepit and rents were cheap and hippy boutiques and headshops/ bookshops and wicca.dens flourished therein. No longer today, of course. Second storeys in Bastion Square now belong to real business people, not to woo-woo wetailers.

I bought the album because the owner was playing it as a new album demo, and the song that caught my attention was about rain. This absolutely rivetted me, for rain is something we know a thing or two about on the We(s)t Coast, and during the drought-struck summer months we even tend to get nostalgic about it.

On another occasion (and who knows how this happened), I visited the warren of second-storey shops (while trying very hard to get out of there as fast as possible) with my rather judgemental father, and he had occasion to comment that the record store owner must undoubtedly be a victim of syphilis due to the pattern of hair loss he exhibited, him being such a young man and all….

Oy. And parents wonder why they embarass teens… Although, I have to admit, even then I thought those older hippies who had those bald pates, but had long hair hanging below the timber line (so to speak) looked pretty terrible.

Next on the turntable: another (relatively) early find of mine — Ben Sidran. I must have bought this album, Free in America, very soon after it was released. It’s a great album, just fabulous. In fact, I recommend that Sidran’s version of the Jones/Hall song, You Talk Too Much, be adopted as the official (A-List?) blogger anthem:

You talk too much
You worry me to death
You talk too much
You even worry my pet

You just talk
Talk too much

You talk about people
That you don’t know
You talk about people
Wherever you go

You just talk
Talk too much

You talk about people
That you’ve never seen
You talk about people
You can make me scream

…Just substitute “blog” for “talk,” and there you are.

Sidran’s lyrics for the title song, “Free in America,” are still one of the very best political satirical commentaries in musical form around. Here’s my transcription — everything marked “chorus” you have to imagine/hear as a gospel choir:

[chorus] Freedom! Freedom!

The nicest thing about the United States is that everyone’s free to make their own mistakes.
You don’t have to look far, but then there you are: Everyone’s free in America!

For example, You’re free to vote, you’re free to hope against hope,
You’re free to split if you don’t like the stroke.
It might not sound like much, but it’ll do in a clutch.
Step right up sucker, don’t be afraid of the touch — ’cause you’re free!

[chorus] It’s so good, it’s so good!

Free to make a new life!

[chorus] It’s so good, it’s so good!

Free to watch the tv, feel like you, feel like me, for the rest of your life!

[chorus] Life!

You’ll never give it a second thought

[chorus] It’s so good, it’s so good!
For what your money’s bought
[chorus] It’s so good, it’s so good!
Well, from coast to coast, you know they call it The Most
From shore to shore, we got a lot, lots more
From sea to shining sea!
[chorus] Freedom! Freedom!

Roll down the highway in your big shiny car, you got the radio tellin’ you just where you are!

It might be cold advice, but then you can’t beat the price,
Step right up sucker, don’t be afraid of the dice!
‘Cause, the nicest thing about the United States
Everybody’s free to make their own mistakes
You don’t have to look far, but then there you are
In America, everyone’s FREE…!
[chorus] It’s so good, it’s so good

Free to make a new life
[chorus keeps repeating “It’s so good, it’s so good”]
Free to change your name
Free to change your game
Free to change your wife!
[chorus, with ironic emphasis] NICE!!!

You never give it a second thought, for what your money’s bought
From coast to coast, they call it the most
From shore to shore, we got a lot, lots more,
From sea to shining sea…
[chorus] FREEDOM!

And so on. Great song.

And then we ate the home-cooked meal and then it was time to clean up the kitchen…

Back then I of course didn’t just listen only to boys. Being Canadian-raised, Joni Mitchell was pretty much obligatory, although I was never a full devotee. It was my admiration for Flora Purim, whose 1971/72 Return to Forever (with Chick Corea — or by Chick Corea — and Airto Moreira) I carried from Victoria to Montreal to Munich, that provided the link to meeting my husband in the late 70s, and all the subsequent cooking and messin’ around. The 25th anniversary has come and gone. Now, how the heck did that happen?? Ou sont les neiges d’antan? Melted clean away by music.

NB: This entry, indirectly, is also for Maria, whose son is now ensconced at the number one party school in the US, the same campus that Ben Sidran and Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs attended … Party on!


maria September 12, 2005 at 2:38 pm

Yule, thanks for the musical survey … and I now realize, form your post and from listening to a CD my son put together and then left behind, that he is in the right place there in Madison … at least as far as the music for the party is concerned!

Yule Heibel September 12, 2005 at 3:09 pm

Glad you liked it, Maria. …Last August, last as in “I wish I could command you to last,” as well as in the adjectival; after the past 10+days, it seems as long ago as the making of those record albums.

For something completely different (literary vs pop music): have you seen these latest Hungarian poems translated into English by Scottish poets in the latest Open Democracy?

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