A parade of memories

When I picked up the August 2 issue of the New York Daily News to toss in the recycling bin, Parade magazine fell out and off I went in reverie.
All it took was the cover.
The headline “The Songs of 1970, What We Were Listening to 50 Years Ago Today” was surrounded by seven photos, each triggering an instant memory. It was free association. Say the first thing that pops into your head.
Let’s go clockwise from top left.
The Jackson 5: I thought of Joe Middleton who toured with them as their merchandise guy among other duties. How cool is that?
Elton John: My friend Danny Lorenzini played a tape of an artist I had never heard of. Titled “11/17/70,” it was Elton John playing live in front of a small studio audience on the date in the title. I was hooked. I loved every album EJ came out with. “Tumbleweed Connection.” ‘Madman Across the Water.” And especially “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” Then the single “Philadelphia Freedom” was released in 1975 and Elton and I parted ways. To me, he had sold out to disco. In the mid-70s, it seemed to me all music sold out to disco. I remember by friend Greg Rozycki – he of the finest singing voice I ever heard locally – saying he was fronting a classic rock band at the time and when he heard “Rock the Boat” by The Hues Corporation, he said to himself, “It’s all over.” You couldn’t do “the bump” to the stuff Greg and his band were singing.
Paul McCartney: I cannot look at him or any of the other three and not feel the same pain of hearing The Beatles had broken up. Looking at Paul, I also think of my boyhood buddy, the late Michael Paradis, who looked just like him.
The Carpenters: Years ago this photo would have conjured up another memory, for sure, but ever since I’ve heard Deb Switzer sing Karen Carpenter that’s all that comes to mind.
Joni Mitchell: I always loved Joni Mitchell. Whenever I counsel a college kid (or even a middle-aged adult) about a failed relationship, I quote from the Joni Mitchell song “Help Me” and hope it provides a bit of comfort. The lyric goes: “We love our lovin’. But not like we love our freedom.” Early this summer I heard a new friend, Chris Ferrato, with her husband John on guitar, sing the Joni Mitchell song “Big Yellow Taxi” live. It was in my head in a most pleasant way all the while I planted a hundred geraniums the next day.
Simon and Garfunkel: If I were one to type the textspeak OMG, which I’m not, I would type OMG. It’s a bold statement, I know, but these two provided the soundtrack of my life as much as The Beatles. I often quote the lyrics of Art Garfunkel’s song “That’s all I Know.” I find them brilliant:
Endings always come at last.
Endings always come too fast.
They come too fast, but they pass too slow.
I love you, and that’s all I know.

I got chills typing that.
And finally, James Taylor: Sweet Baby James. His “Fire and Rain” is one of my all-time favorite songs. His photo conjured up a trio I hung around with back then. They called themselves “Susquehanna” at first, and later, “Swinger, Doyle and Mary,” and, although they were just kids, man, could they nail James Taylor stuff.
By the way, I did not open the Parade magazine to read the article about the music of 1970. The cover photos were enough.


Ed Ackerman