Hello, it’s me…

“Think of me
You know that I’d be with you if I could
I’ll come around to see you once in a while
Or if I ever need a reason to smile”

Todd Rundgren
“Hello it’s me”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_25z8AoByw

I’m back!

For those who didn’t realize I had been gone (which includes most of my Facebook friends, who never really had the luxury of a vacation from my ranting) let me recap some pertinent events:

  • last spring, after a few years of maintaining this blog as a means of giving the Mariner High Class of 1976 a waypoint on the Internet – a place to find one another, or at least something to keep Classmates.com from getting all the Google hits when you search “Mariner Class of 1976” – I took a bit of a hiatus this summer.
  • I spent the summer discovering that I have a love of portraiture, taking pictures of roller derby, people with tattoos, and rock bands.   Sometimes all at once.   (for those who are interested in seeing some of my portraits, including some of our own classmates, here’s a sample:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/rs_butner/sets/72157623476891120/show/).
  • Oh, and I spent a short bit of the ensuing months hanging 500 feet above 5th Avenue in Downtown Seattle from a rope.   Yeah, don’t think I’m doing THAT again anytime soon.

But it’s November – and the hits on my blog are leading me to believe that interest in a 35th reunion is starting to pick up.  More on that later this week, I promise.

For now, I wanted to make my first blog post of the season about something that I care about deeply: music.

Though I cannot carry a tune, keep time with the music, or sing in public — I can’t remember a time when music WASN’T important to me.

So it’s not too surprising, perhaps, that I have a large collection of songs in my head (fortunately, backed up on my iPod, as my head is no longer the reliable container it once was) that I can instantly pull lyrics from, that tie me to places, events, and most especially people, from my past.

Indeed, memories stick to these songs like lint to a pocketful of gummy bears.

So, without further adieu, and in no particular order (save the last one), I give you 14 songs that bring to mind 14 people.   Where I can, I’ve included links to Facebook profiles.   I’m sure we all have a list like this in our heads.  I’d love to hear from you all about what songs are tied to people we all knew…

1.       Suite: Judy Blue Eyes/Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (Judi Hallenbeck). I’ve already written about this one in a previous blog post.   Judi and I spent a LOT of time together in senior year, partly because we worked on the yearbook together, partly because she dated my best friend.   I cannot possibly hear this song without thinking about yearbook deadlines, driving to Trout Lake in the dark and seeing the northern lights, and Judi’s infectious laugh, which I miss dearly.    Now that I think about it, I may need to take a trip to Houston sometime soon…

2.       The Boys are Back in Town/Thin Lizzy (Keith Knol). OK, there are a number of guys I knew in high school, who had cars cooler than mine (actually, pretty much everybody who had a car had one cooler than my 1965 Ford Falcon).   But of the people I spent time hanging out with, Keith’s 1965 Ford Mustang, Navy Blue, with a 289 V-8, was the coolest.  For some reason, this song evokes an image of us sitting outside of Woodway Bowling Lanes, late at night, waiting for the police to finish questioning Keith about the tape deck that someone stole from his car.

Maybe it evokes that memory because Keith and I just laughed about it a few hours earlier this evening on the phone; maybe we laughed about it 35 years after the fact because the song is always on the classic rock stations.

As always cause and effect are not as easy to untangle as we’d like.

3.       Willie and the Poor Boys/Creedence Clearwater Revival (Les White). A whole gang of us grew up on the fishbone pattern of dead-end roads that jutted off from Upper Ridge Road:  myself, Ozie Greene, Brad Meacham, Sue Stefanini, Darli Lund, Kim Turnipseed (well, OK, Kim and Darli actually lived ON Upper Ridge) to name but a few.   We all rode to school on Bus #38, and one thing you could always count on even as early as elementary school, was that when Les White got on the bus at 73rd street, he’d be singing a song.  Often, a Creedence Clearwater song.    As faithful followers of this blog already know, Les (who goes by his full name, Lesley, these days) has gone on to record and tour professionally, but I can say that “I knew him when.”   Actually, I guess we all can.

4.       Stranglehold/Ted Nugent (Brad Meacham). Oh man.   There are SOOOOO many songs that bring Brad, and his 1964(?) Impala  to mind..half of the Aerosmith catalog, ZZ Top, David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” album….we spent huge amounts of time riding around in Brad’s car, and the tape deck was playing most of the time.   It was like a classic rock station, before any of the songs had become classic.   But this song by Ted Nugent is the one I’ve chosen to stand in for my friend Brad,( who should call me sometime).

5.       Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter/Herman’s Hermits (Darli Lund). Darli and I grew up just a couple of blocks from one another, and candidly, by the time we got to high school, our groups of friends and interests were different enough that we didn’t spend a lot of time interacting with one another.   But (and her version of this story will differ from mine, I am sure), in second or third grade, I remember her chasing me around the playground a few times.    Oddly, this song didn’t come out ‘til we were in fourth grade – but she must have made an impression on me because this song still reminds me of Darli every time I hear it.

And yes, I know: her name was “Lund” not “Brown” – but they were both monosyllabic, and it didn’t take a lyrical genius to figure out that you could do the substitution without breaking the meter of the song….

6.       Going up the Country/Canned Heat (Dave Cernich). The first time I realized that some of us were destined to be the cool ones, and the rest of us – myself included – well, not so much, was in Junior High, at Olympic View.  In the locker room, Cernich would do a dead-nuts perfect imitation of Bob Hite (lead singer for Canned Heat)’s vocals in the locker room after P.E. class.

I always wished I could be that cool.  I still do.

7.       Waiting for the End of the World/Elvis Costello (Dave Austin).   I bought my second car – a black 1968 Plymouth Fury I that, remarkably, once topped 100 mph without falling apart – from Dave for $150.   Any sense of “coolness” that I had in high school was probably just residual cool that transferred to me by osmosis from him, or from Ozie.   But what I really remember best about Dave is that he had – still has – incredible “radar” for good music (Bat for Lashes notwithstanding, Dave).   Dave introduced me to the music of Elvis Costello during Costello’s first US tour – I have since gone on to see Costello in concert 9 more times, and anxiously await the next show now that he’s got a new album out.   The first album, which featured songs like “Alison” and “Watching the Detectives” had great songs on it – but it is this song, among them all, that reminds me of Dave’s subversive streak and brings him to mind every time I hear it.

8.       Good King Richard/Steely Dan (Gary Campbell). Remember Gary?  Something of a class clown, but also, as it turns out, the school’s music critic on the Natsilane staff.  Since I, too, worked on the paper with him, we spent a lot of time hanging out in Room 209 and the adjacent darkroom/graphic arts lab, and I remember very clearly sitting in the photography room discussing this album as he was writing the review (which I actually still have, in my only surviving copy of the Natsilane).

9.       Cinnamon Girl/Neil Young (Randy Zimmerman). OK, yeah, I had a crush on Randy during our senior year. It was pretty embarrassing.  Especially for her.   But we survived it and I hope she doesn’t hate me for mentioning it here.   Anyone who remembers Randy, or has a senior yearbook at hand to look up the color pictures of our homecoming queen,  will have no problem figuring out why a song titled “Cinnamon Girl” would bring her to mind.

Plus, it’s got a kick-ass guitar lick at the very end.

10.   Strawberry Letter #23/Brothers Johnson (Ozie Greene). Ozie and his family lived 3 houses up the street from us on 78th St SW, and because he had a pool table, lots of food, and a cute older sister,  we hung out there a lot.  We listened to a lot of rock (the first time I ever heard Nilsson’s “Jump into the Fire” was  one evening at Ozie’s and I am still haunted by that song every time I hear it) and a lot of R&B that I might not have heard otherwise, until much later.   While there are any number of songs I could and do associate with Ozie, this one, from 1977, is the one that most evokes my good friend’s face – usually singing along with the song, trying to look smooth but basically being a dork.

11.   Lola/Kinks (Kevin Kurtz/Mark Schwemm). Lots of Kinks songs out there, but this is probably the iconic one for those of us growing up in the 70’s.   I saw the Kinks live a few times at the Paramount, and remember seeing Kurtz and Schwemm there and thinking they looked a little surprised to see a math nerd at a Kinks concert.

12.   Living in the Past/Jethro Tull (Arlene Bopp). Poor Arlene.   A sweet, shy young lady destined to have a nerdy photographer harboring a terrible crush on her, through most of high school.   But at least the flute section of the band was always well represented in the yearbook!   Of course, there are lots of Jethro Tull songs that feature flute, and there are  lots of their songs that I like better than this one.  But perhaps because “Living in the Past” actually made it onto the charts (and the radio) this is the one that reminds me of her.

That, and the entire Johnny Rivers “Changes” album.  I wanted to be deep.   The fact that that album  seemed “deep” to me just goes to prove that I never succeeded.  But I still love it.

13.   All Along the Watchtower/Bob Dylan (Dave Dickson). Dylan.  Dickson.  Do I need to say any more?

No.   I didn’t think so.

14.   South City Midnight Lady/Doobie Brothers (Laura Stephens). I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that it’s not only my old crushes and high school buddies that are linked inextricably to certain songs.  In a lifetime together (33 years so far!) Laura has dozens of songs that are stuck to her like auditory Velcro.   Including, I might mention, most of Al Green’s mid-70’s recordings (hubba hubba!).   But this song instantly takes me back to our first apartment on Casino Road, and even after all these years, warms my heart every time I hear it.

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