By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE – I’m told I was repeatedly played Civil Rights anthems like “We Shall Overcome” and “Blowin’ In The Wind” — after my earthly debut two days into spring of 1965.
Knowing my mother’s penchant for tall tales and exaggerations, I’m not 100 percent of the accuracy of this folklore, but I think there could be a strain of truth it.
I can say, for sure, that I never had time for nursery rhymes.
My grandparents, a more reliable source of information, said I was fully captivated by the song “Georgy Girl” by the New Seekers, which was released in late 1966 and continued its heavy air play and chart climb in 1967.
I have vague recollections of being called “Georgy” because of this, so I’ll buy it.
I was just learning to walk, but I had an ear on the Top 40.
Fast forward to the holiday season of 1970, and I was totally hooked on “Rose Garden” by Lynn Anderson.
From there, well, there was no looking back.
If there was a time to fall in love with music, 1971 was it.
I was 6, but I could have been 16.
The feel of the breeze, the smell in the air, the feel of drizzle — they all collide as first-time memories with amazing music coming from anywhere and everywhere.
I guess it was car radios (some with 8-track machines), the turntables of my older cousins and stepsisters, or just piped in somehow from the skies above.
There was Carole King’s groundbreaking Tapestry album – featuring “It’s Too Late” and “I Feel The Earth Move” and “So Far Away” – and “You’ve Got A Friend” by James Taylor (written by King, and a deep track on “Tapestry”).
The Beatles were just breaking through with solo careers, with George Harrison hitting my heart with “My Sweet Lord.”
By the middle of the decade, no one was taking a piano lesson without learning “Colour My World” by Chicago or “If” by Bread – both 1971 megahits.
You also had “Wild World” by Cat Stevens, “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology” and “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye, “I Am … I Said” by Neil Diamond, “Mr. Bojangles” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and “Rainy Days And Mondays” and “For All We Know” by The Carpenters.
There is my all-time favorite of the year, Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind,” which had nothing to do with his first name (although I was pumped to find out once I was hooked on the song).
And there was the song that prompted this trip back in time, “Ain’t No Sunshine,” by Bill Withers (pictured below), who sadly became the latest to join so many of these artists in leaving us in body but not in how they touched us with their music (“Lean On Me,” though not from 1971, has quickly become the theme song in this current national crisis).
I could go on, but I’m actually getting emotional – with serious goose bumps – by scratching the surface here with this list that doesn’t even go into a lot of the classic rock that I discovered down the road.
I just turned 55, meaning it’s almost the golden anniversary of that year in music.
A lot has happened since 1971, that’s for sure.
Richard Nixon wasn’t yet impeached, Russia was still the Soviet Union, the Flyers had to yet to become bullies and win two Stanley Cups, the concepts of AIDS and 9/11 seemed surrealistic, Barack Obama had not be elected president and there was no such thing as the coronavirus to make us all freeze in place and, if we’re lucky, think back to simpler times.
“Godfather” and “Rocky” weren’t movies, and the concept of cable TV and original programming – bringing “The Sopranos” and others – seemed as far-fetched as home computers and microwave ovens.
A scruffy kid from New Jersey named Bruce Springsteen (pictured below in 1970) was a year away from releasing his first album.
Just like I had no latency period with music, I didn’t with the fairer sex.
I liked girls enough to propose to one in the schoolyard that first-grade year (maybe it was the music), but it would take another three decades until I got down on one knee and asked a woman to be my bride.
And then, in 2007, my daughter was born, becoming the rightful center of our universe.
It’s no surprise that she also caught the music bug early. A ballet dancer/softball catcher, it is the acoustic guitar that is her spirit device (see below). Her musical tastes are not the same as mine, but 1971 was not her time to fall in love with music.
It was mine.
One more song from that year, “Never Can Say Goodbye” by The Jackson 5, sums it up the best.
As deep as I’ve gotten into other kinds of popular music, including that of the 1960s leading up to it, I will never say goodbye to the songs of 1971.