When the Sixties Meet 60
As we were driving south through the Oregon countryside towards Christmas Eve dinner in Molalla with friends around the fire, we had the truck packed with food, presents for the “group give” and Bella, the faithful Rottweiler who will go anywhere “her” truck goes, endure any boredom plagued hours imposed upon her, wait patiently for her walkies and her dinner because, well, she’s the dog. More importantly on this bright penny shine of a Christmas Eve day, she’s putting up with her aging dads as they flail around the dial looking for anything but the requisite carols being spewed forth like pseudo-religious pabulum to the slavering masses.
Enter the new age of radio, Sirius (Serious) radio…XM (Extreme) radio. Where almost anything for almost any mindset is almost always available.
And there, on 105.9, The Brew, I light upon classic rock, in 3pack snippets like demi-sixpacks designed for immediate and easy consumption.
Three down and dirty Led Zeppelin perfection confections in a row, riffing their way through the sugary maze of holiday haze and into the clarity of another era; in time, in my head, in my life.
I know every word, every guitar lick, every glissando, each fret slide and pick punch.
How, when I can’t remember to brush my teeth or take my morning pills, can I have such total and utter recall of a song lyric from 40 years ago? Every vocal contortion and thrilling waver of screeching voice, timed, perfectly, to the throbbing beat of the electric guitar so ubiquitous and defining of “our generation”.
Bella perks her ears up in the back as I crank the volume control way up, no hearing aids needed here…yet…although some headphones might be really nice to elicit the sliding newly minted stereophonic back and forth that so enthralled and ignited our minds back then. As we lay on the floor of Bill’s basement ( my high school best bud who I just re-found via Facebook, how very new millennia), each in our own drug induced Purple Haze/Phase, listening to Robert Plant start his plucking apparently over in the laundry room to our right and slide across our cerebellums to come crashing at us from the fireplace end of the room, melding us together in our minds in perfect melodious disharmony.
Yes, headphones would be a nice touch but, like hand held phones and other driver-distracting devices of the new age they are illegal and while the 60’s me would have scoffed at this minor impediment, the Sixty me, wizened and wiser, pays heed and simply cranks the volume up yet another notch, sings even louder and beats my hands on the steering wheel like I was once “a drummer in a rock and roll band”, to borrow, liberally, from The Moody Blues.
Dave, enjoying the show despite his protestations otherwise, starts doing what he, in his sixth decade does best these days; talking to Bella.
“Bella, your dad’s having a musically induced mental moment of some nature.” “What do you think of that?” “Isn’t he silly looking?”
Bella, implacable and un-judgemental of anyone who carries her cookies in their pocket, demurs.
Amidst my forty year time-travel reverie, I have a reveal……ation.
This is what happens when the Sixties meet 60! And with this revelatory glimpse I had the kernel of an idea for a story.
It’s the moment we always feared back then in our misspent youths, the moment we would be “old” like our parents were then to us. The moment we would not be free, happy, unencumbered with life’s vicissitudes (a word, I might hasten to point out, I would never have been able to use had I not, at some point, put the joys and seemingly endless pleasures of The Who and their ilk aside long enough to at least amoebicly absorb some of the educational matter that was floating past my brain), the moment we would be the adults we so achingly reached out to become, not realizing that with that status, came the end of our youth!
To bastardize Corinthians here; “Oh, cruel irony, where is thy sting?” Ouch!
But back to the story…and the song……
“Good times, bad times, you know I’ve had my share…”
And here the metal really met the road.
I could no longer continue to hold the lyrics, the drum percussions, and the melody in my head and still maintain the idea that had just sprung, fully formed, into the same head, triggered by the maniacal musical interlude that had launched me back 40 years into my specific past. The reverie in my head, accompanied by an exact sound track that enhanced and enriched this visceral experience simply took up too much of my brain power to leave room for any new thoughts to implant.
And I knew it.
At least I knew it at that moment.
I saw myself that evening, or even 10 minutes from that moment, trying frantically to remember what it was I so desperately at THIS moment did not want to forget.
And here’s where the Sixties, embodied as they are now in a body of 60, with still minimally functioning SHORT term memory, and a companion of twenty years that understands the hilarity and necessity of grasping what starbursts of laughter we can out of our increasing decrepitude, joins hands with the Brave New World.
I turned to Dave and said;
“Quick, send me an email with the title “When the Sixties Meet 60” and a note as to why you’re sending it!”