Music as a marker of stages of life
Layers of memories. Budding adolescence…first party in a dark basement with 45 records, the lights are dim, the girls are on one side of the room and the guys are on the other side, and you’re trying to figure out what to do. And what I remember is “Mr. Sandman”—that was one of the 45s. That brought up all kinds of gooey thoughts, about dancing and sweating and those kinds of things. Then a little later—I grew up and went to HS in Cedar Rapids—a group of us went down to Danceland, the local dance hall, that used to be adjacent to the Roosevelt Hotel, and it was a singer, someone I had never heard of before: Jerry Lee Lewis. We went in there, and there was a big crowd. I don’t think we were supposed to be there, because they sold liquor, and there was a big tall lady with a stern look who would get on you if you got out of line. But then up on stage was this man standing in front of a piano, and then he started to beat on the piano, and he played “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.” He shook, and we shook, and I think the world changed a little bit in the sense that there was a different kind of excitement there, a different excitement than what I experienced with Mr. Sandman; a more wild-child kind of excitement. A third memory: when I was much older and married with a child and in graduate school and Paul Simon and the Sound of Silence, and also Scarborough Fair. There was a kind of resonance in his singing that was how I was beginning to feel about how I felt about the world. For me, it wasn’t Bob Dylan who was the voice of my generation; it was Paul Simon, and The Graduate, that remarkable movie and what was going on there—he was turning his back on plastics and the material world, but he found his true love, that emphasis on passion. Different kinds of feelings from Mr. Sandman.