That Old Time Rock and Roll
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There’s a scene in the movie The Big Chill that sums up my feelings about music: Old college friends from the sixties have reunited for a funeral. As they hang out afterwards, a soundtrack of 60's favorites flows from the turntable. One of the visitors, looking through his host’s preserved-in-amber record collection, looks up and says, “Hey dude,” (or something like that) “you know, they have made new music in the last twenty years.”

I’m like the guy who owns that collection.

Yes, I’m dimly aware that new music comes out now and then. But the fact remains that what I want to hear now is what I wanted to hear back then. I’m talking about the years 1969-79, when music was at its best.

That’s why I still listen to the stuff. Looking at the box of CDs under my car seat, there’s hardly anything new there. The latest Dido, Dixie Chicks, and the O Brother soundtrack - that’s about it.

  
 
So what else is in there? I thought you’d never ask. There are the wonderful, timeless sounds from the days of my youth.

For example, Close to the Edge, by Yes. Yes made a lot of good music back in the 70’s, but this disc is special. From the chirping of zillions of electronic crickets, to Chris Squire’s chunky bass, to the flying keyboard fingers of Rick Wakeman, it’s a classic-rock tour de force. John Anderson’s clarion voice and bizarre lyrics still make me wonder what planet he’s from.

Long before Rod Stewart crooned mellow standards that my parents might enjoy, he was a working-class bloke from Scotland and “gravel-voiced rocker,” according to the monthly catalogs sent to me by the Columbia Record and Tape Club. The album I bought was Never a Dull Moment, graced by “You Wear it Well” and a transcendent version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Angel.”

Another favorite is In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, by Iron Butterfly. These guys are a strange cross between The Doors and The Archies – heavy and light at the same time. When I put this one on, I want to travel back in time, grow my hair, drop out, tune in and turn on. The tracks “Flowers and Beads,” “Termination,” and “Are You Happy?” are groovy, man.

Possibly the best background music for reading "The Hobbit" or other Tolkien works is Selling England by the Pound, by Genesis. In 1973, Phil Collins was not yet the lead singer, but you can hear him right behind Peter Gabriel, biding his time. Here the band reached their creative peak, as heard in “Cinema Show,” the album’s perfect climax.

The B52’s were all over FM radio in 1979, with tunes like “Planet Claire,” ”Rock Lobster,” and “52 Girls.” Ten years after that they bounced back with the mega-hits “Love Shack” (now an unlikely wedding reception staple) and “Roam.” All these classics reside on my Time Capsule CD. No, I don’t listen every day, but sometimes…you just gotta hear ‘em.

That’s just a sample of what I still like. And I will keep an open mind about new music. I fully expect Dido to have something new out by 2007. In the meantime – hey look, here’s Three Dog Night!

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