Thursday, April 26, 2007

1970's: bluegrass rules

In the newspaper a few Sundays back, there was an article titled: PLAY: My Favorite Year in Music.
Readers were posed with the question and a significant year from the last four decades to choose from: 1965, 1977, 1984 and 1996.

For me, the no brainer, hands-down answer: 1965.
In '65, I was an impressionable 14 year old and it was a big time Beatle year.

Just as significant as the impact of the 60's to my musical tastes was the decade that followed. Whilst others in the 1970's busied themselves with disco-ing in polyester double knit, I was sequestered into the realms of keeping a home (apartment) and raising a family. I was immersed in a world of endless diaper changes, Happy Baby Food Grinders, Tommy Tippy Cups and Little Golden Books. I kept busy, making sure my child grew up surrounded by gender neutral toys and always mindful that she be engaged in pacific, non-competitive play.

So wrapped up in domestic bliss, I consequently missed most of 1970's and some of early 80's (when another baby comes along to double my parenting pleasure) pop music. Did not have a clue what was going on in the current Top 40.

Never did cultivate an appreciation for Journey (save for 'Lights') who have/had a huge fan base, but the music seemed a bit insipid to my ears, Queen (what's so good about?), Abba (explains why I didn't understand the big todo over Mama Mia!), and almost all that was disco sashayed right past me.

I wasn't completely out-of-touch though -
I had my share of Tight-Pants BeeGees moments.

Instead, I just kept listening to all my collected music from the 60's.
Plus - lots and lots of bluegrass - as it got mixed up with country and crossed over into folk.
I was ALL ABOUT 5 string banjos - particularly John Hartford's ramblin' n' rollin' style of playin' (my young'uns were weaned on both Beatles and Bluegrass), fiddles (Vassar Clement's fiddle sings!), mandolin (frisky pluckin' by Norman Blake), the deliciousness of the dobro and the wonderful whine of steel guitar.

Then there's Emmylouuuuuuuu, who was influential in bridging any gaps t'ween the once-separate genres of bluegrass, country and folk.

Every chance possible - before during and after changing baby diapers, sustaining life by nursing and cleaning spit-ups, I couldn't get enough of this mesmerizing folky country sound.
Bluegrass folky was the theme running throughout that decade for me.... and the next and the next and on and on....

Bluegrass does rule!

Bonus tracks:
Bill Monroe
Emmylou (singing one of my very favorite love songs)
The Dillards
Vassar Clements - I once saw Vassar in a 'solo' performance at The Great American Music Hall. Alone on the stage, he seemed a bit awkward and lost until David Grisman and a few other musicians joined him and Vassar was able to do what he does best - jam with others in joyful musical collaboration.

Last but not least -
The Orange Blossom Special - by the Green Grass Boys (what a terrific rendition of a bluegrass classic!)(and what's not to love about long gray ponytails?!?)

P.S. Thank you thank you YouTube videos!

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