Even at about age four or five (1974-5), I was tuned-in to the popular music scene. There are some songs I’ll never forget: “Seasons In The Sun” by Terry Jacks; “Cats In The Cradle” by Harry Chapin; “The Most Beautiful Girl In The World” by Charlie Rich. Wings’ “Band On The Run” was so ubiquitous in the summer of 1974 that – even now, decades later – it evokes images of shimmering swimming pools and damp sand castles, shrill outside laughter and high diving boards.
It’s indicative of something that I remember very few moments from those ages, but the ones I do are almost always accompanied by some kind of soundtrack. For instance, the Charlie Rich song is me in my bedroom, standing next to an open window on a summer day, song ragged from the sketchy AM transistor radio reception, sky cloudless and deep blue, air clean but slightly damp, the scent of grass clippings following the breeze into my room. “I lost my head, and I said some things,” sang Charlie Rich. At three or four years old, with little understanding of idioms, I puzzled: How was the man singing with no head? The head must be nearby, on a shelf or a table. It bothered me for a long time.
Many moments like this, curled up with my radio, determined to know everything about the bands, the songs, and later the producers and labels, started me on a professional path with music, first in performance (which ended in colossal failure) and later in music retail (which ended when I started picking up threads of information technology and computing, and after selling CDs became largely unprofitable.)
Anyway, I had a great memory today.
Another childhood favorite was Harry Belafonte’s “Scarlet Ribbons (For Her Hair).” I used to ask my mother to play it incessantly. I was transfixed by the story: A little girl who prayed for hair ribbons; a father heartbroken that he couldn’t get his daughter the one thing she wanted. But then! The next day the family awoke to find that the ribbons had appeared magically overnight!
I have no idea how old I was, but my parents – knowing how taken I was with the song – decided to surprise me with my own scarlet ribbon experience. It may have been Christmas, or my birthday, or maybe it was just a regular day. But I went to sleep one night, probably in the thick of fantasizing about the girl and her mystery, and upon waking I found six or seven red velvet hair ribbons arranged in bows on my bedspread!
You can’t imagine the excitement. My parents denied any involvement, and while even at the time I doubted their veracity, it didn’t matter. For just a little while, they allowed me to be the little girl in the song.
I happened upon the song today, and the memory was so clear and thick, I thought I would share.
Spotify sometimes works in WP, sometimes not, but here’s the link if you want to hear a song that a kid from the 70’s used to get lost in for hours and hours.