Robert (gurdonark) wrote,
Robert
gurdonark

the promise of her flowers


When I was a young teen, sometimes someone would have a party with records. I was and remain perhaps the most awkward social creature next to, say, one of those cool bits of folk art from Mexico shaped like the sun, which just hangs on the wall, with a winsome yet incredibly dopey smile on. So I think that the image the reader might imagine is less "Footloose" and more "All's Quiet on the Western Front" about my social interactions.

Still and all, even social inepts like myself gathered with the other kids and talked and sometimes danced to the records people brought. In the way of teens, everyone had mildly eclectic tastes. Nobody thought anything about Curtis Mayfield's "Superfly" alternating with Alice Cooper's "Love it to Death" album and then listening to the little portable record player segue into Seals and Crofts' "Summer Breeze" and Led Zep's Runes album prior to landing on Dobie Gray's "Drift Away".

I remember that the most popular song for slow-dancing was Three Dog Night's "Pieces of April". For those who don't remember Three Dog Night other than the song "Joy to the World", I'll clue you in. Three Dog Night was this covers band that did covers of songs by good, great and awful singer-songwriters of their day. They were virtually the last gasp of the 1950s and 1960s thinking that teams of songwriters should be cranking out hits for worthy but clueless vocalists to sing. They were prefabricated, but in a good way, but they were kinda not entirely legit. I'll say this for them, though. They recorded some of the better songwriters (along with some of the lesser ones), they were not Milli Vanilli, and I still love their cover of Nilsson's "One".

"Pieces of April" was written by a fellow called Dave Loggins. Dave Loggins did not make a hit out of "Pieces of April", though. His claim to One Hit Wonderdom is a song called "Please come to Boston", which seeks to posit that a couple of folks in love have to live in Nashville instead of Massachusetts, Los Angeles or other worthy alternatives, at least from the viewpoint of the alleged (but in my opinion somewhat controlling and inflexible) "number 1 fan of the man from Tennessee".

"Pieces of April" is a slow-dance song par excellence, centered on a lyrical theme which alternates between sweet and merely goopy. It tells the mournful tale of a man who is clutching onto "pieces of April", although it's a "morning in May". He's a rather craft-oriented fellow, because, rather like a scrapbooker or flower arranger, he has placed his pieces into something called a "memory bouquet".

Let me tell you that there is something special about being in a dark living room of a tiny house in the country, in the bathing wash of a black light, surrounded by a dozen or two other kids, dancing slowly with a girl wearing a midriff halter top,while a guy with a voice you'd call pretty or whiny, depending on your mood, sings:
"April gave us Springtime
and the promise of her flowers
and the feeling that we both shared
and the love that we called.....ours".

In such circumstances, it doesn't matter that you're not dating the girl, who can find much better guys than you, but who is nice enough to ask you to dance anyway. All that stuff is secondary, and even after many decades and after having had all the experiences heading much further down the baseline past first base and ultimately leading to home plate and moving on through the dugout and even looking up in the stadium lights to view the luna moths flying luxuriantly high overhead, the experience retains a charm as palpable all these years later as the sound of that guy from Three Dog Night histrionically closing the song with "It's a Morning in May! A Morning in May! A Morning in Mayyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!" in the kind of falsetto you'd kill to have but which, if you had it, you know you'd soon be killed by any neighborhood toughs in earshot. They have social laws of the jungle against such falsettos.

Nowadays, the song is mostly remembered as a charming Katie Holmes Thanksgiving indie film. But I remember that song. A lot of things I can't remember, like just how do you dance to "Summer Breeze" and "Diamond Girl"? I like those memories. I also like the filler details, too. I like that the girl in the midriff halter top, the only woman in my first high school with musical tastes beyond top 40, ended up in Nashville with the number 33 without a bullet "hit" country single, although she never went past that and I always thought it a more than a bit sad that they made her change the "igh" at the end of her surname to a "ye". I like the memory of the way one particular shirt looked in black-light light,
and the fact that my seventh grade teacher had a paddle he sometimes used (but never on me, a "good kid") called the Green Lizard because it was padded with green naguahyde. I like the questions and answer times in one seventh grade class in which kids could ask questions about social issues
for class discussions. One time the question moderator asked "Do you think love takes its course?", to which I, inspired by the scientific formulation of the laws of inertia, said "yes, unless it is interfered with from the outside", which brought the class to loud applause (it being generally believed by my classmates, many of whom would marry well before 21 and are now no doubt watchful and wary grandparents, that parental oversight was perhaps the only deadly force impeding the thrills and joys of nature).

I thought about doing that very old meme, about how 40 years ago I was in a little red kindergarten, and 30 years ago I had a bicycle with a banana seat. But really, the things I remember are such different and insignificant things, things as simple of the feel of a teen's midriff as she leaned against me during a slow dance that was no more important to her than the kind of kindness one pays to schoolmate chums at a party, or the sound of katydids on foggy Summer nights, or trying to "fish" for mosquito fish in the town drainage ditch with a tiny tropical fish net affixed to a broomstick. I can remember the smell of honeysuckle blooms in April, and May mornings when the world seemed just perfect. It was a good childhood, taken all around. I need some Mexican folk art for my walls.
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