No recipe today, but instead a little reminiscing….
Today in history, February 7, 1964, the Beatles arrived at JFK airport and inaugurated the most documented obsessed fan freakout that has spanned decades, generations, and oceans. My own father was a music writer at the time and, though he would argue you into the ground that The Beach Boys far outranked The Beatles in depth, style, and talent, was so inspired by the fan response that he decided to engage in a response of his own.
He edited the article that ran in the Michigan Daily in 1969 which is widely cited as ground zero for the “Paul Is Dead” rumor. That was his idea of a tribute, I think. He also flicked off Janis Joplin from the front row because she called him out from stage for not dancing to her music (well, who could blame him–I believe her exact words were, “Get up and dance, hippie!”), and deliberately coughed during a quiet moment at a Neil Young concert, because he knew the show was being recorded and he wanted to say he had performed on a Neil Young record. He was kind of a smartass. Despite his hipster-like actions, however, he was truly smitten with girl groups like The Shangri-Las and even wrote under the pen name, “Little Suzy Funn.” Ultimately, I know he was driven by a pure and obsessive love for popular music, much like the great Robert Christgau or Greil Marcus.
So, naturally, I grew up listening to the pop music that he loved, and in turn became as driven by this love as he was. Even though I was born too late to pull my eleven year old hair out and scream from the balconies of concert halls, I made it my mission to memorize all of The Beatles’ song lyrics. Being a shy skinny kid, I had plenty of time alone in my bedroom to listen to their albums on repeat and pretend my mirror was actually the faces of millions of adoring fans. The long and the short of it was that pop music was as close to my heart as my dad was. It was all about love.
My great friend who also happens to be an excellent music writer, Matt Erickson, used to make a Top 100 list with me every year. Well, we did it twice. But it was great–we’d each make a list of our favorite songs of the moment (from any era or genre) and seal the list in an envelope. Then we’d burn the songs onto 10 CDs (yep, CDs) in groups of ten (100-91, 90-81, and so on). At the time we were taking two hour drives together every week to facilitate a writing workshop out of town, and so on the way out, we’d listen to one of his CDs, and on the way back we’d listen to one of mine. It was so much fun, and I got SO MUCH new and amazing music out of it.
One of the bands he recommended highly (showing up two or three times on his list) was The House of Love. I almost named this blog after one of their songs, The Girl With The Loneliest Eyes, but I think you’ll agree it sounds a little depressing out of context. This song, however, has become one of my favorites and I feel its relevance today. One thing I feel I understand deeply is the power of music to penetrate even the loneliest of moments, and despite the sad fact that I’ve had occasion to test this, it has made me who I am, and like Jeff Tweedy I am grateful. So, this blog is dedicated to my dad, The Beatles, Matt Erickson, and “to the makers of music, all worlds, all times.” May we all be able to love something so fiercely it makes it “good to be alone”.