1965: The Beat Goes On, various artists, 1988; Classic Rock 1965, various artists, 1987: Classic Rock 1965: Blow Your Mind, various artists, 1990: 1965:Shakin’ All Over, various artists, 1989, Time-Life Music.
North Adamsville teenage hometown mucks break-out, crying to be broken out of, desperately crying to be broken out of, aided and abetted by break-out musical sensibilities where the message and the messenger were at one. And who were trying to break out of, desperately trying to break-out of the piddle paddle language and the paddle piddle beaten note formulae that had been solid gold guaranteed to thrill, thrill to the marrow, every red-blooded generation of ’68 parent. The kids, well, the kids fell asleep, fell transistor blazing asleep in the cool night dreaming of adventure car hop hostesses, james dean shadow boys, and seaside lore pillowed back seat fogged window noche siestas.
Only at that moment, just that confused and unformed moment, break-out worthy or not, maybe unformed or not, others were trail-blazing after all we were, truth, clueless as to how far that music would take us, and how many acid-etched Dixie cup magic elixirs would have to be consumed before the music died, died of old age, old age at five or ten, and hubris, queen of the downfall night. And we danced, hampton beach surf danced, high building new york city tenement danced, iowa cornfield danced, some tulsa good night two-step danced, rockymountainhigh danced, taos caverns ancient flame shadow ghost-danced, and slipped in oblivion big sur danced, and danced, and died of old age and hubris at five or ten.
That break-out by the way, maybe not so much the physical break-out as getting mentally de-rutted, you know box out get ahead, go ahead, don’t make many waves, maybe a couple of faux waves for laughs, nothing serious and not taken so, just kid’s stuff done since kids eternity, get schooled, get married, get white picket fence housed, make fewer waves, have two point three kids, make fewer waves, have them do likewise and fade into that tepid splash apologetic wave of some long ago, ancient battered to smithereens clam shell stone cold night at Adamsville beach edge. So, yes, maybe not physical far break-out but far psychic break-out from small town, really small neighborhood, irish neighborhood, and ever those don’t air your dirty linen in public grapevine tap-tapping before the larcenies, adulteries, christ, using the lord’s name in vain, and you know what and whose lord, and worst, not church-going non-scared sacred heart parish show-ups that had the “shawlies” in a stew, gone done.
Gone, strangely gone, that minute anyway gone, as well was last year’s beat, really faux-beat style- which played to the rubes (and inflamed the ”shawlies”) AND fit very nicely, very nicely indeed, with midnight Harvard Square journey haunts, but that was last year, and big cloud puff imitation james dean shadow teen angst and alienation was the style. So gone also, like I said, this minute gone, were those all-weather, all-season (ya, summer too) brown-checkered flannel shirts, those mandatory, Frankie Larkin mandatory, king hell king of the schoolboy beat, ah faux-beat night, black chinos, uncuffed, of course, and those hades-bent work boots, clodhoppers really, although not gone, gone gone, those midnight sunglasses to protect against angst, alienation and barbs.
New age aborning new look. New minute look, so be forewarned. Multi-colored schoolboy jock, okay, okay, faux-jock, jacket worn, raider red and black, black and red, some combination reflecting old time glories, or promises of glory, won by default for long running service and not for glory, not for glory but for slows, but keep that between us, plaid shirt, all the possible shades of plaid if they exist purchased in the bargain center, pre-Wal-Mart night by frugal Ma but for once she hit it right, slacks, with cuffs, thank you, and loafers (sans pennies). Ya, strictly a college guy and no more mister nobody from nowhere but a guy who fit in, and he did, all the girls, all the blue-eyed, blond eight-million people weary Long Island transplants, all the dark-eyed senoritas tired of their own backwater small town grapevine whispers, all the Philly somebodies from somewhere out of a John O’Hara high society novel, were crazy to “check out” this specimen, this talk all night rap, rap irish boyo. And most importantly, most importantly for this boyos, check out or not, they were all not North Adamsville and shames, hidden desires and blunt candid-less-ness Irish girls.
New inner look too, cool, not beat cool but joe college cool, disaffected, looking off to far reaches and not suffering fools gladly cool, learned at Humphrey Bogart’s knee and perfected by some cat on a hot tin roof Paul Newman puffing madly to forget lost dreams of youth but who knew, although the newspapers were full of warning, hell we were going to live forever, cigarette, Winston or Marlboro, filtered, natch, just in case, just in case we were not going to live forever, not by mortality but by bomb boom boom in the cold war night. Yes, cool man jack cigarette, hanging from off the lip at some jagged angle, drawn deeply in and circles and smoke dreams created. More, amused girls also puffing to prove some equality, and some reflected man cool in that sexed-up, sex- maddened free time.
And get this, a cup of coffee, if coffee was the drink, black, black against all advise, black since late schoolboy Hayes-Bickford Harvard Square drowses searching for that next word, and the next break-out, literary, political, hell, even social, in hand, a glad hand either way, look right, look left, a gentle nod, a hard stare, a gentle snarl if such a thing is possible beyond the page. But mainly a look, a look of cool distain, of remove, of next please in the never-ending look game. Soon wearied of, very wearied, although not of looks, and glances.
One’s act, fitfully, artlessly but rightly was thereafter moved onto Boston fresh streets, and a little fame. Joe College minute gone, vanished like so much train smoke, and bad dreams. Dressed in blue flannel shirt, blue denim, moccasins and midnight, eternal midnight sunglasses, and dressed, ah, in freedom but no one saw that. Finally, that one minute, no not fifteen, not fifteen at all, and not necessarily of the fame game, local fame, always local fame but fame. And then the music stopped, the crowds thinned out, the hardened Long Island transplants kept looking at guys in multi-colored jackets (although not always red and black), the Philly girls turned inward to their own crowd and began to dream of stockbroker mansions and riviera suntans, and the dark-eyed senoritas only knew of one night remembrances, and lust. Then sunk in the abyss of non-fame, non- recognition and not seen snarls, gentle or otherwise. A tough life lesson learned, very tough. And not yet twenty.
And all this very big build-up to “sell” this compilation to those who want to know what music drove us on, how the music and the break-out meshed and how, frankly, we kept this side of paradise before the veil came down and we, one by one, got further schooled, got white picket fence housed and were satisfied, just a little too satisfied, to watch tepid apologetic waves hit the stone cold shore. But also for just one minute knew deep down in our collective spines, and it was collective from Beatles-crazed British invasion teenage be-bopper throngs trying to storm heaven when they touched down at some trembling New York airport to sweet-bitter summers of love rollicking in city commons to the great rural tribal gathering before the storm burst Woodstock Nation gluing to the Stones-etched Altamont flame-out crash and the ebb, what it was like for women and men to play rock and roll music for keeps. Ya.