Like so many people, I was sad when Dick Clark passed last week. I saw many pop groups for the first time on “American Bandstand,” only to see them appear later on “The Ed Sullivan Show” or “Hootenany” (anybody remember that one?). In the ’70s, I’ll admit I switched my allegiance to “Soul Train” (rest in peace, Don Cornelius!) but I still watched Bandstand fairly often.
Thinking about the wide variety of groups and solo artists who performed on American Bandstand led me to remember the first records I ever bought. Do you remember your first purchases? Mine were 45’s, argh! (At least they weren’t 78’s.) And they were: “Do You Believe in Magic,” by the Lovin Spoonful; “The In Crowd,” Ramsey Lewis Trio; and “Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown,” the Rolling Stones. I don’t remember what the B sides were.
Now, that’s an eclectic selection, is it not? Pop/soft rock, jazz and serious rock ‘n roll. If you looked at my iPod today you’d find pretty much the same mix, but with a large playlist of roots and old country music, another of indie rock, and a nice selection of Brazilian sambas and Carnival music, a liking inspired by a trip to Rio in the early ’90s.
Times and tastes change, but what these all have in common is melody and a beat. I’ve always liked singer-songwriters, too. Ah, the moody albums of college days! But for every Joanie Mitchell I listened to, I also played the Allman Brothers’ “Eat a Peach.” (OK, I confess, my first album was “The Monkees,” from my brother as a Christmas present. I wanted it badly.)
Now I listen to WFUV, Roots and Rock Radio (Fordham University public station) as I drive to work, and get my dose of Lyle Lovett and the Alabama Shakes early in the morning. And a couple of weeks ago I got to see Nora Jones at the Music Hall in Tarrytown. I am far from the cutting edge in musical taste. But a good song still gives a lot of pleasure. And a good pop song still bores into my brain. “Moves Like Jagger,” anyone?