Thursday, June 04, 2009

Music Flashback from June 4, 1962, shades of Nightingale Jr. High

Reading the L.A. website information for today includes the "Flashback": to June 4, 1962, quite a long time ago. It is probably an unimagineable length of time for youngers persons. The music brings back a notion of the times, and although not especially vivid, it's still a distinct time in my memory, and it was Nightingale Jr. High that comes to mind in that time.

Nightingale introduced me and many others to my homeroom teacher, Mr. Johnnie Eagilen, who would be my homeroom teacher for all three years there. Mr. Eagilen was a science teacher, a Black man, and maybe, no, make that "definitely," the most strict teacher of all the the homerooms that I could have had. And, of course, Nightingale did not have co-ed homerooms, so he was really tough with only guys in his room. "Hit that floor, fella!" was the routine command heard as a response to any of our misdeeds that he observed. 50 pushups here, 100 pushups there, I don't know what the scale was for the assorted offenses, but the most common reasons were, (a.) coming in late, and (b.) talking when you were not supposed to. How did he assure compliance? Simple, if the guy counting out your pushups cheated for you, HE had to do the pushups. Sometimes we had a lot of guys on the floor, but that was not often, and as time went on, I think we all managed to do a better job of avoiding that same frequency of exercise.

Well, homeroom did not do much to cultivate a goofing off behavior for any of us there, so it must have happened in other classes, I suppose. Years later I met a former teacher of mine in the District Intern program who was my English teacher and she remembered Mr. Eagilen. I suppose students have more memories of the teachers than the other way around, but that particular English teacher was another of the ones making life tough in Jr. High, so that's probably why I could not recognize her when I met her again over 40 years later. Well, Mr. Eagilen was o.k. in retrospect, I never did have him for a real class. He had my sisters in his Science class 10 years after I was out of there and probably out of college, too, by then, saying some nice words to them about me. I would not have expected that he thought much of me from my time there, though. I could have used some breaks back then, not later. Well, so much for good old Nightingale. I remember several more teachers from then, most of whom I liked, and maybe someday I will go through a few recollections about Mr. Lee, the band teacher.

So here's that music that started that trip into the past,
"Top Five Flashback, June 4, 1962:"
I Can’t Stop Loving You by Ray Charles, one of the great love ballads from the famous and blind music icon; Stranger On The Shore by Acker Bilk, a still unknown artist to me who recorded such a melancholy clarinet instrumental that imprinted it's wispy melody in my mind; Lovers Who Wander by Dion, the one from "Dion and the Belmonts," still demonstrating the d00-wop style of pop music that was gradually changing; Soldier Boy by the Shirelles, a really early representative girl group of so many to come, with a song that could not have been much more prophetic for many relationships as the Vietnam War had not yet become the vortex it ultimately would be, pulling in so many Americans into the controversy and consequences of war; and (The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance by Gene Pitney, a song that was a person-story, something like the song, "Big John," and one that did not match up exactly well, I thought, with the movie of the same name. Pitney died two years ago last April at age 65, found dead in a hotel room while on tour of the U.K., a successful one. An autopsy confirmed cause of death as heart disease. His voice was unmistakeably identifiable and I liked his singing and the songs.

All too much flashback for one postings. You won't see much reflection about late 90's or 2000's songs since much is not memorable, and the music played is often indistinguishable from any other music of the pop genre and incorporating profanity as part of the lyrics just does not make for any love ballads. Even songs that were once new are "oldies" now, so that's still my favorite type.