My last post began with the statement that the title of this blog is not a throwaway line.
But the original concept of that title — conceived two years or so ago, give or take a few months — related to the fact that, though I have pursued interests in other types and genres of music, I have always come back to The Music. That is, the popular music, and rock and roll, of the 1960s and ’70s.
However, as that last post noted, Can’t Get It Outta My Head also means that the lyrics and tunes of The Music are stuck inside that same brain. Like the Bruce Springsteen song that inspired that post, they immaterialize in my synapses, sometimes with reason, other times randomly.
The Boss’s “For You,” which inspired the last post, is at least somewhat understandable — I listen to several Sirius-XM stations, and a cut from the album that included that song might have been played recently. But there are other times when the songs inside my head have not obvious explanations.
An example would be “Haunted House,” a 1964 novelty number by Jumpin’ Gene Simmons (not to be confused with the Long-Tongued Gene Simmons). That popped into my head at some point last year, when I was walking into a darkened room in my abode.
Paranoia or fear of the dark? Maybe — but more often, it’s places, people or things.
I’m sure, if I were to drive those three-lane, one-way streets in the downtown of my hometown, Janesville, Wis., at night, I would hear, like I did 50-plus years ago, the Beach Boys’ “I Get Around” or “Be True to Your School.” (If I could drive laps on them, since it’s now illegal to make more than one tour of The Circuit — plus, they’ve changed the streets some.)
Grope House, the Spaight St. place in Madison where I lived in the summer of 1970? Santana’s Abraxas, which I heard for the first time there, in an altered state of consciousness. (Tip of the hat to Duane, who turned me onto that, and some other new music.)
The James Gang might come to mind when I think of the Electric Rat and Roach, the Mad City apartment above the Wil-Kil office. At night, we could crank up a really good stereo as loud as we wanted — and one of my roommates, J. Russell, had Rides Again.
Places that remind me of songs? The Ten-Story Sterile, the efficiency apartment where I lived during my first full (and last, as it turned out) semester at UW-Madison, reminds me of two tunes.
One is Led Zepp’s “Whole Lotta Love,” which I heard (in mono) over Radio Free Madison, on some jerry-rigged system involving a transistor radio and one of my first component system’s speakers (I having blown up the amp by crossing the wires, or something like that).
(That was the same system over which I listened to my whole life pass before my eyes/ears — i.e., the live broadcast of the first Selective Service lottery — lying on the floor of that TSS apartment.)
The other song from that apartment was It’s a Beautiful Day’s “Time Is,” which came on over RFM late in my first Psychic Venture. Something strange happened between friend Skip and I during that song that was still a running joke decades later.
Vice versa, there are songs that remind me of places. The Beatles’ “Revolution”? Riverside Golf Course in Janesville; we must have had a transistor radio with us while golfing, and I heard it for the first time there.
“Layla” by Derek and the Dominos? Patti’s apartment in Janesville, again because of a first listen.
The Fab Four’s other “Revolution” — No. 9? Ralph’s apartment on Merchant Row in Milton Junction, where we jerry-rigged an old record player — one that could play both sides of a disc — to play an LP backwards, specifically that song.
(You do remember your “Paul is dead” Beatles mythology, don’t you? Well, we were of the opinion that “No. 9” does indeed say “Turn me on, deadman” when reversed. But there may have been other factors involved ….)
More often than places, it’s people who flash me back to music. The first woman I married? An Association song or two, dedicated to her, the Buckinghams’ “Susan” and Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” (even though she insisted her eyes were hazel, not brown).
Best friend, and fellow intrepid tripster, Ralph (aka The Martyred St. Rufeo)? Steve Miller’s “Kent/Jackson Blues,” the walkup music for our Psychic Ventures.
Flip it, and it’s music that reminds me of people. Morrison’s “Moondance”? Friend Patti, whose bummer Psychic Venture was rescued by that song and album. The Rolling Stones’ “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’”? Ralph’s roommate Steve, the two of us heading for his parents’ place in Iowa, that song pounding out of the speaker in his Dodge Dart.
For that matter, the Stones’ album that included that song, reminds me of schoolmate John (Captain Garbanzo), who brought that LP — and some outstanding Mexican herbal supplements — to my apartment the night we went to see Zappa and the Mothers in Madison.
Can’t hear “Amie” by Pure Prairie League without seeing my friend and ex-roommate Crazy Lou pounding away on the wheel of his Mercury. We were driving out of Madison on a sunny spring morning in 1973.
Things? A blue 1965 Mustang fastback with a red racing stripe would remind me of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” Mark, who stood up at my first wedding, and stood with me in defense of our Corvairs, had abandoned his rear-motored Chevy in favor of the Ford pony car, and bailed as my rally navigator in favor of his new girlfriend.
Mark took me for a ride in the ’stang, put the Iron Butterfly album in the eight-track (probably the first time I heard one of those) and I was on the road to perdition, in the form of psychedelic rock. (At the time, my passion was Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66 — and not just because of the two hot lady vocalists; I really liked the music, and still do.)
I’m going to stop there, even though there are lots of other such correlations, because I’m becoming unable to rid my mind of the idea that I Can’t Get It Outta My Head. But you get the point.