Garage Band Memories

I remember the music of the late sixties. It stirs memories of my teenage years. I haven’t listened to most of those songs much for years. Now it seems that everywhere I turn they are being played. Perhaps it is an attempt to cash in on those of the Baby Boomer generation(s) that are getting on toward retirement age.

Music has a powerful ability to recall events that you have associated with it even decades after the fact. One example is the SiriusXM Beatles channel that premiered recently. I’ve always loved the Beatles but I didn’t realize how many memories listening to that music would stir up.

I remember Nehru jackets that were made popular by the Beatles. I had one that I wore with a black turtle neck and a silver medallion. The black turtle neck was my shirt of choice. It was largely due to Illya Kuryakin on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. He often wore black turtle necks when engaged in covert operations.

I remember the Sears Stella acoustic guitar that I learned to play guitar on. It was a terrible guitar. The strings sat so high off of the neck at the fifth fret that learning Barre chords was an heroic task. I soon had a better guitar. It was a classical guitar with nylon strings. That wasn’t exactly the guitar that I wanted. I wanted an electric guitar but my father had been told that a classical was better for a guitar student. To his credit, he later capitulated and bought me an electric guitar.

I remember the first time our band met for rehearsal. It was just me and my Stella and my friend Kenneth with his upright piano. Kenneth’s uncle owned a music store and about the third time we practiced she had bought him a Wurlitzer organ. The first song we learned was Eleanor Rigby. Soon after that we started writing our own songs as well as learning other popular songs of the time.

Kenneth was the youngest. His three sisters were all much older than he was. His parents were older than mine and had very different ideas about his upbringing than mine. He had taken off hitch hiking for an entire summer when he was fifteen. I was fourteen that summer and was envious of his adventures but also scared of striking out on my own like that.

We enlisted a first rate drummer and a bass player that also played French horn. I had a trombone that I was attempting to learn and I also played violin. Kenneth played clarinet. We only played the band instruments when we were recording.

Kenneth’s father had a stereo reel to reel tape recorder that had the circuitry for doing primitive multi-track recording. It was called sound on sound and allowed you to record one track while listening to the playback of the other channel. It also had a feature that allowed you to mix both channels down to one track so that you could record more than just two channels.

I wish I had a copy of some of the tapes that we made. They were made before cassette recorders became common so there was no medium that I would have been able to play it on at the time so I never got a copy.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.