I love the songs of the Sixties and Seventies. The melodies and riffs are the background music of my life, both then and now. Most of the songs I love from the Sixties have a simple formulaic structure and many feature nonsense lyrics. You remember only the words memorable for their insipid folly. “I’m ‘erney the Eighth I am, ‘enery the Eighth I am, I am…”, or “Shoop, shoop!” Many of the great songs of the Seventies have energy and great riffs but carry lyrics that confound understanding. What, may I ask, is the “pompatus of love”? There are of course, exceptions. Sure, the Beatles could be deep as well as fanciful. Marvin Gaye could be thoughtful as well as soulful. In most cases, however, lyrics did not catch my attention.
Let’s shift for a minute to another topic which will later be tied to previous. In my home there was not a lot of tender loving between my folks. There was no romance. There were no of talks about the mechanics of sex. No discussions were held about the best practices of dealing with the opposite sex. There was no mention of dating or manners or what was right and what was wrong. There was no modeling behavior. I never received “the talk”. I was a teen age boy living a sheltered life in 1963 in a neighborhood where there were no girls and in a family where there were no sisters. I had more questions than answers about the facts of life. I knew so little that, when bathing, I took care not to clean out four mustard seed size pellets of dirt from my naval. I was unsure as to whether they were in fact seeds that might bring forth future progeny. Sure, I received perfunctory guidance from Pastor Hyde at Luther League who advised against “heavy petting” and Mr. Faust, my health teacher, who told us to “Keep that organ in your pants.” Sadly, I learned more about the birds and bees from classmate Fred who provided crude drawings of the procreative act that shocked my naïve being. Obviously, I had a lot to learn.
Part of the solution came in the form of a song I heard on Clark Race’s show on KDKA radio. It is more than ironic that a white boy from Butler County would get such important information via a Jewish woman from New York City and four black girls from Passiac. When I listened to the lyrics of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” I had a new understanding. Thank you, Carole King. Message received!