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Life’s Tapestry

Prescript: Dedicated to Renee..

What a blast from the musical past weekend this is turning out to be. The theme of music past –mine- and music present- that of my son’s- runs rampant through the thought process. Last night those musical maestros, Andy and Renee, along with a host of Hard Rain band and guests, played Carole King’s Tapestry album at the Grand Annex to a room sold out and then some. If you were a girl in the 70s when it came out, you wore the needle out on your stereo with this one. If you were a girl in the 80s or the 90s you tore the cassette or scratched the CD.

To say that Andy and Renee did this album justice last night is an understatement. This album came out in the spring of my 8th grade year. My gift for 8th grade graduation, and the only gift I wanted, was a brand new stereo of my very own complete with an 8-track tape player built in. I was so excited when I got it.   Tapestry accompanied me throughout my high school years, culminating with 200 graduating girls in the Mother Butler auditorium in June of 1974 singing “You’ve Got a Friend”.   This album is a timeless masterpiece and Andy and Renee did it majestic justice last night. I dare say that no male singer that I know of ever uttered the words “You make me feel like a natural woman’ on stage before, but Andy and guest everything (drums, guitar, singing) Steve Craig, did it proud. Renee ascending from the rear of the venue to join Patti Orbeck and Susie Glaze on stage for that song was as velvety perfect as it gets. Some think that album is the epitome of a feminist anthem. But I don’t. For me it has always been the epitome of a feminine anthem. It explores our girlish heartaches and celebrates our triumphs and vulnerabilities without the shrill denigration of the male species. It’s a perfect girl’s album and we are proud of that.

I sat silently and listened last night, one foot in my bedroom in the Bronx and the other in San Pedro with the decades straddled in between. I have not much in the way of photos or footage because I wanted no distractions, but also because there are people with way better cameras than me. I have seen the play about Carole King’s life, Beautiful. It was just that. So many things of her life I did not know. As Andy was telling some of the stories and talking about how so many of the greats of her era died tragically at their own hand with drugs, and that he was so glad Carole was not one of them, a lady near me turned to her friend and said, “that’s because she’s Jewish.” It made me laugh. Another morsel I heard in my silence was a man behind me obviously talking to a brand new Andy and Renee initiate, say to the woman ‘they changed my life five years ago’ with their music. That, my dears, is worth all the gold records in the world. And this extraordinary musical couple has done just that for so many people for over 30 years.

Andy and Renee and Hard Rain delighted and astonished a jam-packed room with the next set from Woodstock. What a timely and fun choice to follow Tapestry with. I love the Woodstock album. I sneaked into the movie theater to see it when I was 13. Well, a much older boyfriend facilitated that. Growing up in the Bronx when it happened, it still holds a special place in my mind. So mad I was to be too young to go. We just couldn’t find someone suitable to take us. We watched it all develop vicariously on TV. Listening to some of those songs last night, made me look at them through the prism of a parent.   What would I have thought of the F>U>C>K song back then? Would I have been just as horrified as I am today listening to some of the things my son listens to in his mad obsession with all things Los Angeles rap scene? Was I really influenced by White Rabbit enough to go tripping the light fantastic with all sorts of magical, albeit, now dangerous potions? Or was it just a great soundtrack and great music to accompany you, but not demand your compliance? Did the morals and the values you were taught overtake the invitation to swallow some Purple Haze? I think so and yet as a parent today, where the ante of musical mayhem has been upped in these rap lyrics, you can’t help but forget that fact sometimes. Then you hear yourself sounding like most parents did on February 9, 1964 denouncing what they saw was the ruin of their offspring by four long haired chaps from Liverpool.   I asked my near 17 year old son point blank the other day, how do I know that what I taught you about respect for women and decency and things like that is not being overtaken by those insidious lyrics you hear on a regular basis. He laughed and said, Mom, of course I listened to what you told me. We don’t really listen that much to words in rap. It’s the whole thing: the music, the lifestyle, the story of the singer and how he got to rapping that’s important. The best rap singers only get there after overcoming something really bad in their life. It’s call trappin’ before rappin’.   And while comforted some by his retort, the fact is we just truly never know what sticks and doesn’t to our kids do we? It is life’s biggest crapshoot.

Tonight I’ll be going to see the Eagles at the Forum for the first time ever. I‘ve never had much inclination to go see them, not then nor now, but my friend Lorna wanted to go and I was curious, mainly because of the reviews that Glen Frey’s son was getting and also the fact that Joe Walsh was with them. I saw him a long time ago on his own. Not a clue where though, unfortunately.

This is another band from the same period of my life as Tapestry but very different. The Eagles were a background soundtrack for me, other than two very distinct songs: Tequila Sunrise and Desperado. The latter is a song that can still tear my heart apart in a million different ways. It is one of the most poignant and beautiful songs ever written. I first saw this song done live by Linda Ronstadt somewhere around 1975 in the gym at Queens College. We sat in bleachers pretty close to her and the place was near empty. What a great night that was as we were huge fans of her 1973 album, Don’t Cry Now, which had Desperado on it. It is still my favorite Linda album. Back in the early Andy days, I used to ask for this song all the time. Andy does a fantastic version of it. Nowadays, I love it circled back to the girl voice when Renee now sings it!! And tonight I’ll hear it in all its original glory. Yes, I peeked.

And so besides a wondrous trip down musical memory lane, it has also taught me a little tolerance, I guess, to allow my kids to find their own musical memories, no matter how much I may disapprove. Theirs are not my musical memories to manage nor make. I made my own and now it’s their turn.

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