Music of the Seventies and Other Thoughts

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The seventies was a decade of possibly the worst fashion of any decade in history.  With bell bottoms, chokers, ponchos, frayed jeans, and jewelry made of wood,  and other fashion statements that I hope will never surface again… the seventies offered little hope for fashion . However, the seventies was perhaps the greatest decade for rock n’ roll the world has ever heard. Below is a short list of some of the most important musical contributions of the seventies:

The Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd, 1973), Blood on the Tracks (Bob Dylan, 1975), After the Gold Rush (Neil Young, 1970), Led Zepplin IV (1971), Rumours (Fleetwood Mac, 1977), What’s Going On (Marvin Gaye, 1971), Call Me (Al Green, 1973), On The Corner (Miles Davis, 1972), Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd, 1975), Band of Gypsys (Jimi Hendrix, 1970), Head Hunters ( Herbie Hancock, 1973), Bitches Brew (Miles Davis, 1970), All Things Must Pass (George Harrison, 1970), Moondance (Van Morrison, 1970), Cosmo’s Factory (Creedence Clearwater Revival, 1970), Off the Wall (MIchael Jackson, 1979), Talking Book (Stevie Wonder, 1972), Piano Man (Billy Joel, 1970), Deja Vu (Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, 1970), There’s a Riot Goin On (Sly and the Family Stone, 1971),  Tapestry (Carole King, 1971), Low (Davie Bowie, 1977), Innervisions (Stevie Wonder, 1973), Who’s Next (The Who, 1971), Eagles (1972), Their Greatest Hits (Eagles, 1971-1976), Exile on Main St. (The Rolling Stones, 1972), Live at the Roxy (Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention, 1973), Elton John (Your Song, 1970), Peter Frampton Comes Alive! ( Peter Frampton, 1976), The Captain and Me ( The Doobie Brothers, 1973), and of course… Let It Be (The Beatles, 1970).

Shaking off the naturalism, daisy chains, and acid tabs of the 1960’s was easier than expected. The 1970’s unfurled as a paradox of both striking diversity and remarkable coherence: From high-concept program nerds and high-octane guitar solos to high-heeled glam-rockers and rough-and-ready punks, the decade saw the rise and dominance of the album-as-unified-statement.

The driving beat, the melodic weaving of youthfull exuberance paired with melodic structure captured the hearts of a generation. To this day the songs of the seventies forever live in the hearts and minds of that generation. Those that were born after that storied decade of musical genius can only imagine the experiences that led to the most famous lyrics in the history of rock n’ roll.

I was blessed to have lived in California during that time. The middle part of that decade, the seventies,  I was in college at Chico State University. This was a time of exploration and enlightenment that led to discovery and the baby steps into adulthood.

So many songs of the seventies captured the flavor of growing out of our teens and into the world beyond our cocoon.  From the political movements of the day to respecting the earth and its bounty to the sexual and drug exploration that was tantamount to living through that decade of discovery we all grew as people. The songs of the seventies enriched the party or the gathering to the point of creating timeless memories well beyond those that lived during that moment in time.

I feel because of the unrest in the sixties the seventies bore the fruit of that struggle. Music enriched by the poetry of love lost and the ever present statements that bore a commonality to the situations of most teenagers and young adults that have stood the test of time. Personal liberation and rebellion against authority became central themes of the seventies. This new outlook viewed a change in the way we looked at politics,  religion, popular culture, and sexuality.

Although historians have portrayed the 1970’s as a “pivot of change” in world history, focusing especially on the economic upheavals that followed the end of the postwar economic boom… for our “Baby Boomer” generation it was a time to honor friendships, family, and experiences that became the driving force behind whom we are today.

Beyond the above mentioned aspect of life is our inherent questioning of authority rather than becoming lemmenes following the masses over the cliff. This “questioning authority” follows the narative that most conspiracy theories are actually true. The seventies instilled in us the ability to see events from many different angles. Sometimes in contrast to the limited perspective being fed us from a media controlled by a hidden agenda.



The Script is Never Written

Since I was a little boy and learned to throw a football I fell in love with sports. I knew I had a talent for playing football.  I could throw that pig skin farther than anyone in the neighborhood. At that time the NFL and the NBA were just coming into their own.  Baseball was the king, but because there were no baseball fields close to our home we would throw the football around. The basket at school for playing basketball was way to high and so the only logical sport to play was football.

We really didn’t play football, we just threw the ball around. The chosen sports of the day were “dodge ball” and “capture the flag”. Those two sports demanded agility, the ability to get out of the way, and speed to run past potential threats as they tried to capture you in the game, “capture the flag”. That training served me well later in life.

As I grew older I began to watch sports. I marveled at their skill set and became enamored with their will to win. I felt somewhere deep down that the will to win would serve me well in other endevours not yet practiced and not yet discovered. So, in junior high I joined the flag football team.

I wasn’t that good at flag football but showed up everyday and got better as the season wore on. I remember that towards the end of the season the championship came down to our squad and the first string squad, both of us representing Davidson Junior High School. We played other schools over the course of the season but our records after everything shook out were the same.

The game started out with a run up the middle by their squad. The guy they gave it to was a big lug, very tall and very strong. I’m pretty sure he was a grown man! Anyway he came right at me as I was playing middle linebacker. He ran right over me like a big rig running over a possum. After I came to I realized I had grabbed the red flag from his belt thus ending his progress before it began. That was pure luck but gave me the confidence to make other plays on offense and defense. The game ended with a goal line stand giving us the championship and sending that “first squad” to the locker room. To this day that was one of my greatest personal sports memories.

The first game that I remember watching on TV was the famous “Ice Bowl” between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys. The date was December 31st, 1967 and I was transfixed watching Bart Star sneak over the goal line with 13 seconds left for the winning score. To this day that game is considered one of the greatest games in NFL history. It pitted two Hall of Fame coaches Vince Lombardi for the Packers and Dallas coach Tom Landry and a myriad of Hall of Fame players. This is the game that launched me into the sports fan I’ve become today.

This love of sport was a departure from my parents whom never watched any sports. My dad never played sports, never watched sports, just wasn’t interested.  Eventually my mom would bring me the sports section from the mailbox at the bottom of our driveway. She even watched sports when I was in High School to better understand the nuances of the game. She also did that because I played both football and baseball.

The bottom line after watching hundreds of Football, Baseball, and Basketball games (while attending some of the more notable) contests, is this: The beauty of sport is that the script is never written. Over the course of my short life the players have gotten bigger, stronger, faster, but the contest of wills remains the same.

Usually the sporting event becomes a test. The test is that of skill, strategy, but more importantly a test of determination. The more determined (even against all odds) becomes the victor. As the season progresses the stress heightens as the prize comes into view. For those teams that have been healthy and continue their quest, the journey to that place in the record books makes the thrill of victory much sweeter.

This weekend our beloved 49ers take on the Cowboys. This storied rivalry I’ve been watching since the early seventies. These two teams have played for the right to go to the Super Bowl nine times.  This time the 49ers are favored to go to the Super Bowl. The beauty of the “script never written” comes into full focus as the fans on both sides are predicting victory… and to the victors go the spoils. GO NINERS!!!

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

When we are so engrossed in our work lives sometimes we miss that which is the most important aspect of life, inner peace. For most, inner peace and work are not synonymous, they infact are conflicting.

Inner peace conveys harmony within, a place so perfect that it enables us to reflect on that which we believe to be the most important. Of course our spiritual destination is attainable only if we have the wisdom to seek it and the sagacity to understand what we’ve discovered. Like most spiritual journeys what we find is subject to our own translation which is a result of the totality of our life’s experiences.

When our lives revolve around work it becomes a difficult task to seek that which could potentially fulfill our spiritual destiny. Majoring in the minors is a common trait among those in the workforce. Purchasing stuff that creates immediate gratification is a hollow victory. Typically the anticipation of the purchase is better (in most cases) than the actual purchase itself, as that is a fleeting sense of satisfaction.

Then what are a few of “my favorite things”? Let me list a few that come to mind. The beauty of another that brings a smile when you think of them. This could be a past or present memory of a person in a situation that always brings a wonderful feeling. Perhaps the smile is what could have been or what is. Maybe it’s a memory of your parents that you hold dear to your heart or even a best friend that is always there for you without judgement.

Exploring new or existing literature makes one think of the possibilities of all that is in our world. It always amazes me the intellect that creates fictional stories, analyzes methodically and in detail the constitution or structure for the purposes of an explanation, or simply the poetry of observation. This too could be a “favorite thing”.

Traveling to places we’ve never been opens the avenue of discovery to not only the natural beauty of the place but the customs and people associated with that culture. Traveling also offers the opportunity to see how really small the world is especially when it relates to the coincidence that is remarkably consistent when it relates to cultural anthropology.

Lets not forget the binding force of music and food which traces historic roots of the people and places we visit. Ingredients indigenous to a particular area is another example of the topagraphy of the land and its natural resources that make that place so unique and that product so special.

It could be the white truffles from northern Italy or the black truffles from southern France. It could be the caviar from the Caspian sea or the fiddlehead ferns from the pacific northwest. What about Kobe beef which is a herd of less than 3,000 cattle in the prefecture of Kobe in Japan? This beef is considered a product by which all others would be judged. There are only eight restaurants in the entire US that offers the real Kobe beef.

The music from different countries reflect unique national anthems that identify each nation, not to mention the cities and villages that showcase different dialects, instruments, and rhythms. I would be remiss if I didn’t allude to the distinctive wood, varnish, shells, or animal skin available only in certain regions.

These distinctive natural products have given certain people within specific cultures an opportunity to create beautiful instruments with the benifit of an expertise that has been passed down from generation to generation.

Another of my “favorite things” are the beverages around the world that add so much to the distinct cultures that have crafted wine, beer, and hard liquor since before the Romans were even a footnote. Each beverage relies on soil, weather, and the craftsmanship of the brewer or cellarmaster to reach heights that can only be discribed as “significant”.

From the Trappist monks of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance making Belgium ale, to the winemakers in the cellars of the first growth wineries in France, the message of quality and distinction have resonated since the middle ages. There is no marketing necessary as these brands have created a tsunami of expertise that has been passed down from generation to generation.

So many items that could be your “favorite things”  I have not even broached.  The breath of this is subjective and can take on the many layers as that of an onion. As we peal it back we begin to discover what makes our heart tick and our soul soar.