Thursday, October 15, 2009

GMVW # 93: "Keeping the Faith (the 70's)"

Gem Music Video of the Week # 93:  Keeping the Faith (the 70’s)
Song:  Hollywood Nights by Bob Seger 
(Songwriter: Bob Seger)
October 15, 2009

After years of high-octane stimulation, a large contingent of paranoid hippies ‘dropped out’ and headed for the hills in the early 70’s, where, as Dennis Hopper once explained “at least you could see ‘them’ coming”.  But those who stayed put, particularly the minority who remained in touch and aware, had an opportunity to reap the benefits of what their era had sewn.  Where in the 60’s the music was simply another part of the scene, in the 70’s the music was the scene.  New Rock musicians and their fans had realized what had taken place the decade before, and although not part of it, had learned to appreciate it far more than those who were actually there.  The result was a mostly positive evolution of the music and the culture that surrounded it.  I was lucky to be a part of it.

Although I was the oldest in my family, I had several friends who were not.  This was particularly the case with good friend, Bruce Nicholson, who was the youngest of five.  Early on in our friendship, when visiting his rather large 3-floor home in the mid 70’s (which has since been converted to Dean Jr. College dorm rooms) it became clear to me that Bruce was growing up in a different world than I.  Bruce’s brother and sisters had moved on to university and beyond, leaving much of their memorabilia behind.  What they left in those bedrooms told a story. 

The 3rd floor was the cornerstone, with one very large room, another smaller, and attic space. As far as I could tell, the entire floor remained off limits (by design?) from Bruce’s parents (Mrs. Nicholson, in a heavy German accent, would try and yell above the music from the bottom of the stairs when announcing my arrival, often futilely).  There were psychedelic posters on the walls; beads for doors; lava lamps, pillows, incense, and ceiling carpets for d├ęcor; Rolling Stone Magazine(s) in piles on the floors; and ‘paraphernalia’ of all sorts in the drawers.  Let me put it this way: If the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame really wanted to do a showcase on 60’s Pop Culture, they would have extracted that 3rd story from the Nicholson home and placed it smack dab in the middle of the museum.  Along with all that memorabilia, Bruce’s siblings left behind a great stereo system with powerful speakers, and an amazing collection of records, including great albums by The Kinks, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and ELO:  An informal education to say the least.

One great thing about growing up in the 70’s was that our generation did not try to start from scratch.  We built on top of what came before us (mostly positive, some negative). In many ways, it was about keeping the faith. This is not always the best route to take for a generation, but in this case, it was.  The 60’s had taught us the meaning of Carpe Diem, and we did just that for the most part.  I still remember stepping out into the crisp autumn evening after dinner during my high school years.  Often the night moves ahead of me would hold mystery and wonder. The electricity in the air was palpable.  You could cut it with a knife.

The top-tier music of the 70’s was solid, much more so than it gets credit for, and this despite Wall Street being forevermore enticed by Rock not long after the decade rolled in (we can thank the enormity of Woodstock for that).  At the time, however, an appreciation for the music required a certain youthful innocence, which many in the prior 60’s generation had lost by then.  That appreciation has remained to this day, as for the most part we have remained the torch bearers.  Think about it: When you go to a Rock show today, the elder statesmen in the crowd are mostly children of the 70’s, not the 50’s or 60’s.  For many, the music remains a matter of life and death.

And so, during those formative years, we got to discover and enjoy not only the 60’s music, but our own new music as well, and have it all to ourselves for a time.  And with many in that prior generation continuing to make great music throughout the 70’s, we had quite a treasure chest to dig through: Too much for one lifetime.  Strangely, I’ve always been content with the fact that I’ve only scraped the surface, to know there’s something there for the taking whenever I so choose. 

Although not a full blown counter culture, the 70’s had its fair share of rebels.  Looking at a cross section of kids in my graduating class is enough to come to this conclusion.  The confines of Franklin were too stifling for many of them to handle, and a number, to use a Jeff Strause phrase, ‘got the hell out of Dodge’ as soon as they could, leaving any thought of college in the dust, at least for the time being.  I remember ‘California’ being a big buzz word, and numerous Mullaney’s, Lanagan’s, and Willard’s hit the highway for greener pastures.  Their free-spirit decisions impressed me as much as the classmates who were receiving full scholarships for academic achievement.  I sometimes wonder what became of them.

Music was almost a religion to many musicians during this period.  One of them was Bob Seger, and you can see it in his body language and his face during a viewing of this week’s Gem, ‘Hollywood Nights’.  In the mid-80’s Nancy and I were driving through the Hollywood hills on a beautiful afternoon, when this song came on the radio.  We turned the music way up, each of us taking in the bygone innocence of our younger days as we savored the coincidence of the moment.  Nancy had her class rebels too and we both could relate, since we, like many of our era, had a bit of it in us as well. 

How else can you seize the moment?

As promised, below is a top list of ‘Great Album Names’.  Below these is the Gem video and several other 70’s music clips.  Below those are the lyrics to ‘Hollywood Nights’.

Next up: The 80’s and ‘Great Band Names’.  Input is welcome.

Keep on Truckin

-              Pete

Great Album Titles
1 ‘Katy Lied’ (Putting to rest the ceaseless argument carried on over our heads during summer evenings)
2. ‘We’re only in It for the Money’ (Sometimes, a little cynicism helps raise the bar a few notches
3. ‘Never Mind the Bullocks’ (Repeat # 2 above)
4. ‘All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes’ (Clint Eastwood still tears up over this one)
5. ‘More Songs about Buildings and Food’ (I’m still searching for the prequel)
6. ‘Shaved Fish’ (A perfect title for a greatest hits album)
7. ‘Who Are You’ (This is not a question)
8. ‘Oops!...I did it again’ (And again, and again, and again….)
9. ‘Blood on the Tracks’ (An image that sticks throughout the listening)
10. ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ (Why did it take so long for someone to corner the market on this title?)
11. ‘Surrealistic Pillow’ (The 60’s summed up in two words)
12. ‘I’ve Got My Own Album to do’ (Going solo has rarely been declared quite as bluntly)
13. ‘Trout Mask Replica’ (Riddle me this)
14. ‘Everybody Knows This is Nowhere’ (Taken to heart by many-a graduating senior in the 70’s… read above)

Jack contribution:
‘Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Piano Player’ (But see that guy over there?  He’s our drummer)

Gem Music Video ‘Hollywood Nights’

T-Rex ‘Get It On’

Jackson Browne ‘Running on Empty’

Patti Smith ‘Because the Night’

Led Zeppelin ‘The Ocean’

The Knack ‘My Sharona’

ELO ‘Mr. Blue Sky’

Elvis Costello and the Attractions ‘Oliver’s Army’

Bruce Springsteen ‘Born to Run’

Warren Zevon ‘Excitable Boy’

‘Those Are People Who Died’ by Jim Carroll (who just recently passed away himself)

‘Hollywood Nights’ lyrics

She stood there bright as the sun on that California coast
He was a midwestern boy on his own
She looked at him with those soft eyes,
so innocent and blue
He knew right then he was too far from home He was too far from home

She took his hand and she led him along that golden beach
They watched the waves tumble over the sand
They drove for miles and miles
up those twisting turning roads
Higher and higher and higher they climbed

And those Hollywood nights
In those Hollywood hills
She was looking so right
In her diamonds and frills
All those big city nights
In those high rolling hills
Above all the lights
She had all of the skills

He'd headed west 'cause he felt that a change
would do him good
See some old friends, good for the soul
She had been born with a face that would let her get HER WAY
He saw that face and he lost all control
He had lost all control

Night after night, day after day, it went on and on
Then came that morning he woke up alone
He spent all night staring down at the lights of LA
Wondering if he could ever go home

And those Hollywood nights
In those Hollywood hills
It was looking so right
It was giving him chills
In those big city nights
In those high rolling hills
Above all the lights
With a passion that kills

In those Hollywood nights
In those Hollywood hills
She was looking so right
In her diamonds and frills
All those big city nights
In those high rolling hills
Above all the lights
She had all of the skills

About the Video: Live Seger (in Boston, as he states at the beginning of the song), circa 1979 (perhaps?)

Video  Rating: 1

Best Feedback: Kippy

Good one Pete!  Love Bob Seger.  Have a great weekend.

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