Robert (gurdonark) wrote,
Robert
gurdonark

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I love the nightlife, I want to boogie

I came home exhausted from a work day in which I got many but not all things on my to do list done.
I must work more tomorrow.

A really fascinating letter had arrived from voodoukween(many thanks), which really got me thinking. I'll look forward to writing a detailed reply. This will help me meet my new goal of actually writing paper letters again, instead of just the long, poorly edited e mails which are my forte. I love the spontaneity of e mail, but I also love that feeling of opening mail. Because I "think" in prolix paragraphs and tend to write what I am thinking,
I do worry about bombarding folks with "thoughts".
I must work on concision and on hitting "send" less often.
Paper letters make one pay the price of fitting an envelope.

I fell asleep after I read the letter, and woke after
unmemorable dreams at 9:30 p.m. to unmemorable TV. I drifted away again, until my wife called on the telephone to regale me with stories of hanging out with a friend's kids in Nebraska. Now it's 11:30 p.m., and I must go to some place that serves breakfast food as comfort food near midnight. Although I'm of an age in which I am well familiar with various forms of the disco palace, it seems as though the nightlife I love has over the years always been more tilted to scrambled eggs than the hustle. I do remember, though, a time when one got one's hair "feathered" and was slightly reluctant when one had to decline a full blown perm.


My goodness--I remember driving home from my college in the Ozarks when I was 20, desperately seeking some relief across the radio dial from the pounding disco, the radioevangelists, and the most saccharine country music Nashville had yet produced. Any port in a storm--even Dan Hill's "Sometimes when We Touch" (when, in appropriate rhyme, "the honesty's too much"),the repertoire of schmaltz troubadour Leo Sayer and that odd woman's song "Torn Between Two Lovers" (which, in hindsight might have benefitted from a Nashville backbeat) seemed a sort of relief from the demoniac confections of the brothers Gibb. "J-j-jive talking", indeed. When the Bee Gees first did "Jive Talking" on the Midnight Special, I remember thinking that they had rescued themselves from impending obscurity (I sure could analyze good at 14). By the time I was midway through college, they seemed to have single-handedly ended everything I loved about the radio. My guilty secret: I still love "Boogie Ooogie Oogie". Of course, the ONE SURE WAY to put me in a good mood is to play Earth Wind and Fire's "September", but I don't think that's something to feel guilty about.

My college roommate with the permed hair assured me that disco was not a trend but a social revolution, a reclamation of America from the rock fans and liberals he considered to have made life less "fun". I politely disagreed and played a fair bit of "Before and After Science" and "Unknown Pleasures".

I remember as a very young teen, the only "real" rock station was an AM station in Chicago which must have broadcast enough watts to kill Godzilla. They had a show which came on at midnight Friday night. The radio faded in and out, new artists, familiar artists, and DJs who, like their young adolescent fans in the early 70s, worried overmuch about whether things "rocked". Led Zep, "Katmandu" era Seger, a host of Brit art and prog bands, Humble Pie, Head East, early, non-silly REO Speedwagon, you name it. When I could hear it, through the static, I was cool. When I couldn't hear it, I was a thousand miles away from where the music was happening. Now was it Bleeker Street or Beaker Street or could I just not hear the name of the program?

I try to experience music the way we did then.
We thought nothing of playing Frank Zappa's "Freak Out" one moment, and America's "Homecoming" album the next. "Ventura Highway" and Suzy Creamcheese are not that far apart, anyway. We went to young teen dances where we slow danced with girls in midriffs and halters to Three Dog Night's "Pieces of April", and then watched the most acrobatic among us try to do the Frog to Curtis Mayfield's "Superfly". Steely Dan's "Reeling in the Years" would alternate with Alice Cooper's "Killer" and "Love it to Death" albums.

We could dance to anything. Even shy, hesitant, wallflowery kids such as myself danced without thinking twice about it, dateless, formless, yet unafraid.

In my little town dancing was the devil's work. School dances could not be held, because that was the way of sin, something that the local parents could not have stood. We had no Kevin Bacon to make us footloose. We went to peoples' houses in the country and used living rooms the size of walnuts as dance floors.

When I was in college, my little town had its first
school dance. A gunfight broke out, and someone was injured in the crossfire. Satan, you know.

I'll never forget walking on a gravel road (one of those bottle spinning type games) with a teenage girl I had grown up with explaining to her, in my most fervent 14 year old tones, how I was working so hard to overcome my shyness. She asked me when I planned to start--I thought I had already succeeded. I remember bringing Sparks' Kimono My House to another party, and watching the faces on the other kids as I realized that retro-Kinks music hall Britpop done in falsetto with a strong Gilbert and Sullivan lyrical influence was not going to top the charts in Gurdon, Arkansas.

When I see those kids from Gurdon at high school reunions (I have 2 high schools, but only reunion with 1), they always say to me "you haven't changed a bit". I feel I've changed so much from that awkward, over-pseudo-intellectualized, desperately shy boy. But they are probably right.

At my 20th reunion, we all danced to dance music,
but the DJ didn't bring "Pieces of April" or "Reeling in the Years", but that's all right.
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