Sippican Cottage

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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

The Fitties (Again; Again)

Please disregard the 1970s collars flapping like jibsails in the breeze. This is hardcore 1950s. The Flamingos have to eat, and this is their only real ticket. This song is from an era before mine, of course, but so what? So is Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. If I had to pick one piece of music to explain to a Martian what the 1950s were, that would be it. The music is barbarous compared to the big band music it killed, but it’s light years more sophisticated than the rock music that pounded it flat in its turn.

It’s nighttime. You are on the road. It is sultry warm. The music is coming over a small speaker via a dashboard AM radio, and is mixed in a bizarre fashion to punch through the skinny bandwith. There is chrome and spending money and booze and cigs and a woman in a real dress or a man in a suit, maybe. Lipstick is red or coral pink. Guitars are gold or turquoise. Amplifiers are tweed, like Bertie Wooster’s traveling suit. You burn gasoline by the pail and drive around for the sheer joy of being abroad in the world.

The neon winks at you and you pull in and the harsh light shines on the formica tables with the Sputnik patterns printed on them. You don’t go in right away. The Flamingos are still singing.

4 Responses

  1. Yes, yes and yes. Even for a young guy, you got it…

    I'll never ever forget summer evenings with a freshly-bathed and gently-perfumed smiling female in a dress beside me on the front seat. Or the scent of a freshly-lit Camel off the cigarette lighter, with the Platters on the radio.

    "The music is barbarous compared to the big band music it killed, but it's light years more sophisticated than the rock music that pounded it flat in its turn."

    Exquisite. Thanks.

  2. "I only have eyes for you" has ALWAYS been my favorite romantic song, and one of the few I know how to sing from my heart. I blame Art Garfunkel for leading to the One True Source of the Flamingos.

  3. I can just about remember big-band music.Even the most snobbish jazz fan welcomed r'n'r if it meant the end of all those "swinging" brass-band arrangements.
    Rather than killing anything off r'n'r picked up on the already subversive tradition of boogie-woogie piano (Pete Johnson,Pinetop Smith) and guitar (Arthur "Guitar boogie" Smith.Check out the lost king of r'n'r Charlie Gracie).The snobby jazzers with their pipes and Gitanes pretended not to notice that Joe Turner changed not one iota from "Roll em Pete"
    to "Shake rattle and roll".Jerry "Lee" Lewis called his music "boogie" all the way along.

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