My first music memory was seeing The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. I was up north, at my grandparents’ place in Shawbridge, and a house full of relatives stopped to watch. I ran around for weeks afterwards greeting everybody with “She loves you ya ya ya!” and “I want to hold your hand!”
I remember lip synching to The Monkees as part of a music lesson at Hillcrest Elementary School in Chomedey. It must have been 1966, a year we’ll revisit shortly.
And I was a huge Elvis fan. So much so that I used my mom’s eyebrow pencil to draw sideburns on my young face. It must have been quite the site – a 10 year old with dark mutton chop sideburns buying popsicles at the neighbourhood dep.
My parents-Mitzi and Leo-had plenty of albums around – Elvis, Tom Jones, Tony Bennett, Al Martino, Dean Martin, Louis Prima & Keely Smith (I still love Louis Prima) and a lot of Sinatra. I also remember their comedy albums including Mort Sahl and the PG rated Redd Foxx, Moms Mabley and B.S. Pully.
So I was shaped early by music (and comedy). But didn’t really flip out over anything but Elvis until I heard my late sister Cherise listening to Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde. And my world changed. (I have my sister Rhona to thank for discovering George Carlin’s “Class Clown”.)
Maybe that’s why the year 1966 has such great meaning to me. It’s my head space. Blonde on Blonde and Pet Sounds were released on the same day – May 16, 1966. My favourite Rolling Stones song is from ’66 – Paint It Black. Plus so many others that have a particular vibe before full blown psychedelia took over. “I Fought The Law” by Bobby Fuller Four; “I Got You (It Feels Good)” by James Brown; “Sounds of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel; “Revolver” by The Beatles; “Blues Breakers (John Mayall) with Eric Clapton”; “Jefferson Airplane Takes Off”; “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” by Dusty Springfield; “Buffalo Springfield”; “Fresh Cream”; “96 Tears” by ? & The Mysterians; The Sonics; “Hey Joe” by Jimi Hendrix; “Good Lovin'” by The Rascals; The Animals; “When A Man Loves A Woman” by Percy Sledge; “Summertime” by Billy Stewart; “Kicks” by Paul Revere & The Raiders; “Wild Thing” by The Troggs; “Summer in the City” by The Lovin’ Spoonful; “Sunshine Superman” by Donovan; “Reach Out, I’ll Be There & “Standing In The Shadows Of Love” by Four Tops; “Devil With The Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly” by Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels; Sam & Dave; “Tell It Like It Is” by Aaron Neville; “Poor Side of Town” by Johnny Rivers; “A Well Respected Man” by The Kinks; “Dirty Water” by The Standells;”Eight Miles High” by The Byrds; “Femme Fatale” & “Sunday Morning” by The Velvet Underground & Nico; The 13th Floor Elevators; “Get Ready” by The Temptations; “The Kids Are Alright” by The Who; “Freak Out!” by Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention. These albums/songs/artists are, to borrow a Willie Nelson title, always on my mind.
So now you have a little more background. I’ll be using this space-as you might have figured out by now-to highlight some of my favourite music. I listen a lot. And while I do sincerely love the year 1966 (Henri Richard scored the winning goal in overtime to win the Stanley Cup for the Canadiens in Detroit in six games. The Habs won four straight after losing the first two) I’m not trapped there. I’m constantly listening to new music. Most of what I’ll be focusing on is new. Even as some of the artists seek to embrace that unforgettable vibe of 1966.