Musical Epiphanies #1 & #2
#1: It’s early 1964 and President Kennedy has been dead for several months now. I’m hanging out with one of the Bertolino brothers from across the street when he puts a 45 RPM record on the turntable. It’s the Beatles doing “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and I can’t believe what I’m hearing for the first time. Why do the guitars sound like that and what an odd way of playing drums. The harmony is, dare I say it, “pretty”, but at times it has a Little Richard-esque feel to it. When the song was over, my buddy left the room but I stayed and listened to that record another 7 or 8 times, at least. I just sat there staring at the record player like the old RCA Victrola dog with my head cocked over to the side trying to figure out what all I’m hearing.
#2: Fast forward to the early 70’s and I’m on a bus heading to the annual Buccaneer Festival in Corpus Christi, Texas with the Galena Park High School band. A good friend of mine at the time, and a pretty good drummer, Mike Archibald, walks up to my seat with a single speaker 8-track tape player and says, “Hey, Rick, check this out.” He hits the play button and I find myself listening to “Revival” by the Allman Brothers Band from Georgia. Again, I’m overwhelmed by what I’m hearing. Dual guitars playing melody lines in tight harmony, two, count ’em, TWO drummers, a bass sound that seems to be dragging the ground, it’s so low and rocky, a lead singer who is young and white but sounds old and black, and right in the middle is an instrumental bridge featuring short solos from everybody in the band, even an acoustic guitar, which was unheard in rock music at that time.
Up until that time, I hadn’t been that interested in American, or ANY popular music, with the exception of a limited number of 45’s I had bought from time to time. But upon hearing how serious and GOOD the Allman Brothers were, I went out and started collecting entire albums of music, which was a big step for me. My first three purchases were, in alphabetical order, The Band’s “Stage Fright”, Grand Funk Railroad’s “Live Album” and The Who’s “Tommy”. Listening to that WIDE array of music kept me busy for endless hours and the journey has never stopped. And every once in a while I hear about what may be Musical Epiphany #3, but after listening, it falls WAY short of #1 & #2. At the risk of sounding condescending, I sincerely feel sorry for those stuck with what’s passing for “the latest big thing” these days; mega-corporation controlled, pre-programmed muzak not fit for elevators or even airports.