Music: Yesterday and Today
My wife and I were eating at a local restaurant frequented by patrons generally much younger than ourselves. Music was playing in the background and, listening, I remarked, “That’s Credence Clearwater Revival.” Indeed it was! Other music played during the course of the meal and I recognized most of the groups and artists as being from my own high school days.
I listened to music quite a bit back in those days. Even before I arrived in high school, I would listen to records at the home of my cousin, Brenda. Brenda’s mom, my Aunt Irene, worked at Joseph’s Music Center in downtown Kingsport, Tennessee and had access to the very latest tunes. Thus, so did Brenda, and so did I. I was there in front of the television when the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in glorious black and white. I reveled in the British invasion of that era and listened to records and the radio at night. When I finally got a car, the radio was always on.
When a song comes on, I can almost always recognize it and, much of the time, can sing along with the music, even if I haven’t heard the song in decades. It is a feat my wife cannot quite accomplish. Although she was in a rival high school, Sullivan Central, at the same time, she wasted her high school years by concentrating on her studies. Which is why she finished at the top of her class and I graduated summa cum barely. But, 47 years later, I have no idea how to do algebra, nor has there ever been a use for it, but I know all the words to “She Loves You.”
But this is the amazing thing—who could have possibly guessed that the music of the 1960s would still be playing in public venues frequented by young people in this present day? That would have been comparable to taking my date to Shoney’s Big Boy Restaurant after the football game in 1968 and listening to music from the 1920s! Which we didn’t. Nor the 1930s or the 1940s.
For most of us, Rock ‘n’ Roll from the 1950s was severely dated by the time we arrived on the scene. Doo-wop was old school by that time. Even Elvis was passé, at least with my high school crowd. Yet here my wife and I were, almost 50 years later, in a restaurant, in our mid-60s, with 11 grandchildren, listening to CCR! Who would have ever thought?
And it’s not just that particular restaurant. I hear “our” music all the time, so often that it seems commonplace. Why, I wonder? The music was simple, the chords were easy—which is why so many of us could aspire to being in a garage band and playing those same tunes. (I played rhythm guitar—not very well—and sang a few vocals).
Maybe it was that the music was easy to sing. Most of the time the music was also hopeful and positive. Who in my generation didn’t dance with their favorite girl to The Association’s “Cherish,” or “Never My Love?” Who of that generation didn’t identify with the gritty sound of Edwin Starr’s “War!” (What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, say it again!).
I learned that Mrs. Brown had a lovely daughter, that the Rolling Stones couldn’t get satisfaction, and that the Byrds’, “Turn, Turn , Turn,” had a message from the Old Testament that helped to make sense of life. I learned to stay away from bad places like the infamous House of the Rising Sun, and the Temptations, “My Girl,” had a message every young man longed to sing to his first love. Back then it took a dime to make a phone call and there was the hope that your girl and you would be Happy Together.
Will I still hear these songs in public in my mid-70s? Who knows? I never thought they would make it into the 1970s! In the meantime, I think I will just listen and enjoy. I’ll be Under the Boardwalk, or Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay, just California Dreaming, thinking about Yesterday, and remembering Runaround Sue and Proud Mary and feeling all those Good Vibrations. And if I have to ask for “my” music, well, I Ain’t too Proud to Beg!
David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.