Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Living Dangerously in 1974: Maria Muldaur and Gordon Lightfoot

In the summer of 1974 I was 17. I had spent the previous twelve months living in a double wide trailer in the backyard of a big house in a tiny town called Wilmore in Kentucky.  It had been a big year for me.  Arriving in the USA from India in the summer of ‘73 gave rise to feelings of excitement and possibility. I had reached that age in life when I had my first job (painting houses) and a burning intention to spend my wages. 

All I wanted then (and still) was records.  In India American pop records were hard to find and pretty expensive to buy although I by the time I got off the plane I was aware of David Bowie and Alice Cooper but was bowled over by the what was available in the stores. 

That year I fell in love and had my heart broken by an older college girl. I had a couple of intense spiritual experiences which saw me join the lingering tribe of Jesus Freaks. I discovered existential doubt and learned how to ride a motorbike.  The Allman Brothers, 3 Dog Night, Ringo Starr, ZZ Top, Elton John and Neil Young dominated the airwaves.  My face broke out like a pepperoni pizza on steroids and I discovered a black soul singer named Al Green.

By the summer of 1974 I was ready to head home to India and my final year of high school. I had grown up several years in those 12 months and was totally psyched about getting back to Mussoorie to share all this new music and show off my red and yellow scotch plaid seersucker bellbottom pants.

One June morning our family packed up the trailer’s contents into the back of an old Rambler station wagon and headed out for Minnesota where our cousins lived. I had my driver’s license and was scheduled to drive the midday shift.  When we stopped for gas and I was about to get behind the wheel my dad said, “Not yet.” He nodded to my soon to be brother in law to drive.  I was hurt and sat sulking in the back seat.   About a half hour later a rear tyre blew up sending the station wagon careening wildly down the interstate.  We screeched to a smoky halt with our hearts in our mouths.  I caught my dad’s eye. We both understood that if it had been me behind the wheel I would have panicked, jammed the brakes, flipped the car and probably sent us all to Glory.

Intuition saves the day.

We eventually made it to Minneapolis a couple days later. After a few weeks we drove east to Indiana where I left my folks and caught a plane back home to India.  We travelled many hot hours in that station wagon all across the United States that summer. And except for that one experience had nary a problem or near miss.  The two hits of that summer were Midnight at the Oasis by Maria Muldaur and Sundown by Gordon Lightfoot. Two very different sounding songs about love and sex and the joys and dangers thereof. 

Can’t remember them?

Here you go!

            Track Listing (Maria Maldaur)
            01 Any Old Time
02 Midnight At The Oasis
03 My Tennessee Mountain Home
04 I Never Did Sing You A Love Song
05 The Work Song
06 Don't You Make Me High (Don't You Feel My Leg)
07 Walkin' One & Only
08 Long Hard Climb
09 Three Dollar Bill
10 Vaudeville Man
11 Mad Mad Me

            Track Listing (Gordon Lightfoot)
            01 Somewhere U.S.A
02 High And Dry
03 Seven Island Suite
04 Circle Of Steel
05 Is There Anyone Home
06 The Watchman's Gone
07 Sundown
08 Carefree Highway
09 The List
10 Too Late For Prayin'


Slidewell said...

Great story 'bout the summer of '74. I'd just turned 18 and got arrested for streaking, but that's another story. I too, (as you might have guessed) was obsessed with records. As much as I liked the Stones (the Beatles, not as much), I needed my own music. There were dozens of English bands that became my objects of worship: Bowie, Roxy Music, T. Rex, Mott the Hoople, Slade, not all of it has held up terribly well, but the point is, they were MY bands, and the fact that a lot of my friends didn't dig that "glam stuff" made it even more cool.

However, I did still listen to a bit of AM radio, (FM stations were where 'real' rock was to be found) and "Midnight At the Oasis" was one of those songs that I particularly liked, as it had that sly humor, and hipster-dope-smoking 30's,/40's, nostalgia thing similar to Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks. Maria remains a favorite to this day, but as for Gordon Lightfoot, at the time, "Sundown" sounded pretty corny to me, but hearing it again after (how many?) years, it's got a relaxed, easy charm that's rather infectious. I think I'll give him a second chance. Thanks for the time trip!

beetor said...

Thanks for the Maria Muldau recommendation!