Last week in ‘Music Makes Me’ I talked about some of the concerts I had attended in my life and answering the question of my favorite one. If you have never thought about that and would be interested in my choice, check out my article. This week I am giving thanks to one of the people who played a part of my love for music. My parents loved their country music and I heard that quite a bit, but this person exposed me to music outside of that genre.
My uncle Jack, my mother’s brother, was a great guy. He loved his family, especially all his nieces and nephews. If you took a baby to his house, you were pretty much guaranteed to lose that child for your visit. I never really thought about it, but my uncle must have also had a love for music. He knew that I played piano and I guess he saw something in me that made him think I would also share his passion. At a fairly early age, he started giving me albums and 45s. As I sit here writing this piece, I am trying to recall all the music he shared with me. I know I never will remember all of them, but I will share those classics that come easily to mind.
The first one that pops into mind is Surrealistic Pillow by Jefferson Airplane. For me the song that always comes to mind when I think of that album is White Rabbit. Funny enough, none of the other songs on that album came to mind so I knew I had to listen to it on Spotify. Hearing the other songs like “Somebody to Love” and “Plastic Fantastic Lover” were a flashback to my teenage years. This album started my journey of following the music of this band over they years starting with their days of Jefferson Airplane to Jefferson Starship and ending with Starship. But that was not the only love that was started with a gift of an album.
Abbey Road was included as well in one of those musical presents. In my opinion that album has to be one of the best introductions to the Beatles that a person could be given. It was such a great collection of hits with a wonderful variety of genres all rolled into one album. I pulled up the song order on the album and was amazed with how well it all flowed together. If the first three songs, “Come Together”, “Something” and “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” didn’t suck you in, then there was no hope for you as a Beatles’ fan. For this article I was going to pick my favorite of the bunch, but that just wasn’t happening. To this day I believe this is their best album, which is a bold statement when you think of all the music they have released. So I have talked about a couple albums of groups who were prolific in years to come after these early albums. The next album was an odd twist from these first two.
I enjoy musicals, especially with one of my daughters acting in them throughout her pre college years. But one musical that I have never seen was a soundtrack I was given. Hair came out around the same time as those earlier albums off Broadway in 1967. It is a rock musical that is about the hippie culture and sexual revolution of the late 1960s. The musical, and I’m sure the soundtrack, were very controversial at the time it came out. I am sure at the time I was given the album, I had no idea of the significance of its message at that point in history. Writing about it now, I think I am going to have to watch the musical just to see how accurately it depicted that point of time over half a century after it initially came out. As I do with all music I am writing about, I have it playing in the background. I know for a fact I never actually paid attention to the lyrics because I definitely would have remembered them. It’s also possible that I just didn’t get them at that age. In addition to all the albums I was given, as I mentioned earlier uncle Jack exposed me to some 60s classics on 45.
Several of those songs made a regular appearance on my turntable. Barry McGuire’s “Eve of Destruction” was a protest song that was actually banned on some radio stations because they claimed that it was an aid to the enemy in Vietnam. There have been several other artists who also covered this song. Another song, “Kind of a Drag” by the Buckinghams, reached number 1 in the charts in 1967. I featured this song on my “Music Makes Me” Facebook group a few days back. As I mentioned in that article, I couldn’t remember the B side of that 45, just like so many other 45s that I owned. But that’s why the songs I remembered were on the A side. My introduction to the Turtles, a band that had disbanded before I first heard them, was “Happy Together”. That was probably their most successful song, and for me was one of the few songs of the Turtles that I listened to. As I’m sure is the story with other short-lived bands, they broke up due to financial issues and problems with their record label.
Thinking back I’m sure my uncle probably gave me at least 30 albums and enough 45s to fit into one of those plastic 45 cases that those of us with 45s had as a kid. As I’m sure you’ve seen by now, it was a varied collection of music. What you wouldn’t know by this short trip down memory lane was that it was all from around the same era, the late 60s and early 70s. Thinking back I have no idea why I was lucky enough to have that music shared with me. My uncle is no longer alive so it isn’t a question I can ask. But I do wonder how my appreciation for music may have formed differently if he didn’t share them with me. Would I have even developed the taste for music I have today and my craving to continually find new music? I will never know, but I do believe if it hadn’t been for uncle Jack I would not be sharing with you the things I do today.
I hope you have enjoyed another trip down my memory lane. During this Thanksgiving week I hope that you take a moment to think about those people you are thankful for that contributed to your own passions for music. Sadly my uncle Jack can’t read this article about me giving thanks for his part in my musical life. But I believe that somehow, somewhere he knows it. I wish all of you a happy Thanksgiving and look forward to sharing something else with you next week. Until next week, if you’re a music lover, you can hear, see or learn about something new every day on my Facebook group, Spotify playlist or YouTube playlist. And as always, feel free to reach out and let me know about your favorite new musical discovery.