My brother posted a flash from the past the other day: The Monkees “I’m a Believer” YouTube video.
This was my first 45 rpm record, ever. On the back was “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone,” which sounded contradictory, at least to a 10 year old girl, so the romantic in me played “I’m a Believer” a bazillion times and left the stone (as it were) unturned.
The two of us, Dave and I, had a steady diet of GE Show & Tell’s slide shows, like Gulliver’s Travels and The Shoemaker and the Elves. You’d pop the 45 on the top, insert a slide strip, and bingo! Your story and slide made a little home video, right in front of your eyes, that would captivate for hours. Everyone wanted one.
And I loved it, until those Monkees showed up. Then, I couldn’t get enough of AM radio music. You could buy a 45 for under a buck, stack ’em up, and play your heart out. If you had a hi-fi, and we did, you could stack up ten or so. Sure, they would warp, but you didn’t have to keep running over to the record player every three minutes when your “hit” ran out.
My dad had refinished our basement into a “Rec Room,” short for recreation, not wreck, with an odd-lots assortment of tiles that he magically turned into a three-part pattern, across the entire length of the floor. He built a couple of closets with louvered doors and a bar made out of paneling, although my parents didn’t drink. All the really cool cats had a bar, however, and so did we. No booze, but a good place to put on puppet shows.
During slumber parties, we would play Miss America with my dress-up clothes and my mom’s baby-doll pajamas, and our talent, dubiously, was dancing under the recessed lights, in a strange cross between American Bandstand and Laugh In. Who didn’t want to be a go-go girl?
Over a short period of time, that stack of 45s grew. Many times, they were required for my dance recitals, and my mom had to buy them, instead of coming out of my meager allowance. They were, without me knowing it, my earliest playlist.
In college, I was the one that put on the albums at parties. We still couldn’t program a list, so vinyl went on, often sprinkled with beer, and friends would tell me that I had a way with making them flow. Why didn’t I go into radio production?
Today, I use Spotify. It’s easy, free, and I can develop lists, adding and deleting songs to my heart’s content. The other day, looking for some fresher music, I landed on their Today’s Top Hits. I don’t usually go mainstream – I take my tips from friends and my kids. Wow. There’s a lot of crap out there, like Kanye West.
I’m not saying that the Monkees were so amazing. But the sheer amount of unadulterated adultery, sex, partying, and violence is bewildering. It’s been around forever, but it always seemed to me to be on the fringe – Slow Ride, I Want to Kiss You All Over, Show Me the Way, even Zappa’s legendary Dyna Moe Humm – where you had to search and find…and maybe, not as angry? Okay, maybe not Billy Idol’s White Wedding.
It’s all out there, now, isn’t it? Well, who’s surprised? Little Miss Miley and her Disney studio darlings turned up the heat. Probably someone thought Annette Funicello sold out on Beach Blanket Bingo.
Still, I wonder if you can judge a person by their playlists? Proverbs has a saying:
As men and women think in their hearts, so are they (23.7).
Whether or not you are Christian, Proverbs has been known for its little zingers of wisdom throughout history. If you think it in your heart, is it on your playlist? Maybe I should remove Wiggle.