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How 60's Rock Shaped My Life
What We Are To Be, We Are Becoming
Our Class poet, for my high school class of 1972, at Hamilton High School, Hamilton, Alabama, was my friend, Sandra Wiginton. She used the verbiage, 'What we are to be, we are becoming,' as our class motto. Wiginton was, and still is, a deep-thinker. Unlike me, who was just content to get out of bed each day and get to school.
My story now is How 60's Rock Music Shaped My Life. And it did a whale of a job too. I started being molded by 60's Rock Music in late summer of 1966 when as a pre-teen, I discovered the attributes of listening to a rock and roll radio station. Since we didn't have a rock and roll station in Hamilton, only a country formatted station, I set my sights elsewhere. I ended my search when found "THE" Rock station, Top 40 Format, cool DJ's and few radio spots--that was the famous WVOK, the Mighty 690, operating ouf of Bessemer, Alabama, and this station always won the ratings wars in the Birmingham, Alabama market competing (back then) with WSGN-AM, who also played rock, but wasn't the powerhouse like WVOK.
I cut my rock and roll teeth on Sam The Sham and The Pharoah's with Wooly Bully and Little Red Riding Hood, just two great hits by Sham. The music started making it's way into my thoughts and spirit. I caught myself saying hip things like, "cool," "yeah, man," and "dig it," to the disgust of my parents who were strictly conservative and didn't give in to the addage that "I Gotta Be Me," at all. I was not to listen to this "trash stuff" as my dad would roar when he caught me listening to my radio station and dreaming of playing in my own rock band--complete with Vox amps, Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars for my band and me. My dad, whom I loved dearly, did have another thought-provoking social theory. "Our country wouldn't be in the shape it's in if it hadn't been for them Beatles with that long hair coming over here to brainwash our kids!" Looking back, now at my age of 57, dad might have been right to a certain extent, but now could anyone tell any teenager in the sixtie's anything? It was a time of change and rebirth for our ways of life in the U.S.A. and Rock Music was the catalyst that helped bring the various and sometimes-heart-wrenching changes to our families.
60's Rock became the dominant force in my life in 1967 as I entered junior high school at Hamilton High School. Every evening when I got off the bus, I made a bee line to the kitchen where I had stored by battery-powered AM radio and had it set to one station: WVOK and at night, WLS in Chicago to hear the legendary John Records Landecker hold court on the vinyl he played every night. I wasn't so 'cool' that I neglected my chores. I got those out of the way--including homework, and then to the radio for rock music and then ventured into calling a girlfriend I had and we both would listen to rock music and talk about rock music, life (as we knew it then), and school tasks. Oh we would giggle, share important secrets, and just enjoy the 'love' that only a junior high student can appreciate and understand. And I have my Rock Music of The Sixties to thank for that.
60's Rock Music gave me the confidence to talk to my first real girlfriend and we had this made-up game that I'm sure that teenagers everwhere has played at one time or another. The game was: Name That Group. I would sing in my coolest tone of voice the lyric of some 60's Rock Group--Eric Burdon and The Animals, "House of The Rising Sun," or Herman's Hermits "Mrs. Brown (You've Got a Lovely Daughter)," and see if my girl could guess who I was imitating. She was very good at this game and seldom lost. She would, of course, impersonate 60's Rock Music girl singers like Nancy Sinatra, Petula Clark and Aretha Franklin and see if I could guess who she was singing like. Frankly, I never bought into that many 60's Rock Music girl singers. Except Nancy "These Boots Are Made For Walking" Sinatra or Artetha "Chain of Fools" Franklin. Those two were it for me until the day that I heard "Somebody To Love," by the hauntingly-beautiful Grace Slick and The Jefferson Airplane and I was instantly in love--with an older woman. I kept this heartbreak from my "real" girlfriend who never knew that I worshipped Grace Slick. See how 60's Rock Music shaped my life? And it was smooth, methodical and calculating in the way the music slowly changed my personality to a young junior high student to one who just had to be accepted by other rock and rollers. That was the only tough part of my journey of change.
It wasn't until 1969 through the psychedelic early 70's, that I found others in my high school who were "into" rock in all forms--including a wild, santanic version of rock called Acid Rock. That was 'the' icing on the cake. I felt safe listening to Jimi Hendrix "Voodoo Chile," the long version which I can sing word for word today, and Leslie West and Mountain's "Mississippi Queen," that really made my radio sound so raging cool when I would turn it up full volume only when my parents had went to town to buy groceries. The house mine and I made it, only for a few hours, my personal radio station where I introuced hit records and then I turned my living room into a concert stage and play a mean "air guitar" with Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker a/k/a Cream and "Sunshine of Your Love." I miss those guys even in 2011.
I was suddenly introduced to another mysterious friend when the Sixties and Sixties Rock began to fade a bit, and that plastic waste of vinyl came on the scene: Disco. I will not honor this shameful type of music with any comment I might conjour up. I won't.
The mysterious friend was "Depression," and he was a part of my life from 1972, and on and off through today, May 25, 2011. I fight my depression which is a mixture of a lot of things--personal disappointments, defeats, bad choices, wrong crowds, bad jobs, personal lack of freedom to express myself at a tender age and watching life go by like a 4th of July B.P.O.E. Parade because I am disabled and unable to work anymore. I take daily meds and get spinal injections in my back every 3 months for another 'friend,' Fibromyalgia and it's sidekick: Neurothopy..which was I was diagnosed with in 2003.
Did Sixties Rock and Roll Music shape my life? Honest? Yes. I shouldn't have to answer that question. Do I long for a comeback of Sixties Rock and Roll Music? You bet your pet cats I do. But time travel has not been pefected yet so I can travel back and reenjoy Sixties Rock.
But until they do perfect time travel, thank God for YouTube!
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Thanks and Peace . . .!