EDITOR'S NOTE: This originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of Goldmine, which is available for purchase at these fine record shops. You also can order this and other issues of Goldmine by calling 715-445-4612, Ext. 13369, or e-mailing your request to email@example.com.
By Susan Sliwicki
Early in my journalism career, the radio in my well-used, bare-bones 1984 Chevy Blazer could only pick up two FM stations’ broadcasts for the duration of my daily commute. One played country music; the other was devoted to oldies, with an emphasis on the mid-1950s through the 1960s, with 1970s music played in the afternoons and evenings.
Because I didn’t want to lose my will to live while traversing the 25-mile route to and from work, I picked the oldies station.
When I first started tuning in, the only music that was even vaguely familiar to me was performed by high-profile artists Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Moody Blues, The Who and The Rolling Stones. As the days turned into weeks, months and years, I became nearly as familiar with the pop, R&B and rock and roll songs of the ’50s and ’60s as I was with the ’70s and ’80s music that formed the soundtrack of my youth. To think: I likely would have missed out on those decades of music altogether had my vehicle possessed either a tape deck or better radio reception.
Gary Lewis and The Playboys (page 26, August 2014 issue of Goldmine) had plenty of songs in heavy rotation during my daily drive time. Although I didn’t know then that Lewis was the son of funnyman Jerry Lewis, I sure as shooting knew choruses and lyrics to “Count Me In,” “Just My Style,” “This Diamond Ring” and “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight.” This summer, Lewis is on the road, performing his hits as part of the Happy Together 2014 tour (page 22, August 2014 issue of Goldmine), which also features 1960s-centric artists Mitch Ryder and The Turtles’ Flo and Eddie, as well as Chuck Negron of Three Dog Night and Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad.
I heard plenty of psychedelic-tinged music during my travels. Some of it I liked; some of it made me cringe hard enough to consider turning the dial to the country station. Jefferson Airplane’s music landed on the positive side of the ledger. I suspect it was Grace Slick’s powerhouse vocals that drew me in at first, but the quality of the musicianship kept me coming back. It’s hard to believe that August marks the 45th anniversary of the band’s performance at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, where guitarist Jorma Kaukonen (page 52, August 2014 issue of Goldmine) and the rest of Jefferson Airplane had to wait until 8 a.m. Aug. 17 to take the stage for their scheduled Aug. 16 headliner performance. While some of the artists of that era tuned in, turned on and dropped out to the point that they left music, reality or even this earthly plane, Kaukonen has remained in the mainstream, both as a solo artist and as part Hot Tuna, Jefferson Airplane’s blusey offshoot. When he’s not on the road or in the studio, Kaukonen also runs the Fur Peace Ranch guitar camp in Ohio, along with his wife.
Dave Mason (page 36, August 2014 issue of Goldmine) doesn’t need an oldies station to take a trip down memory lane. The Traffic alumnus has done it on his own. Mason recently put a handful of his tracks through the wringer to develop wildly different interpretations, which he then recorded for the studio album “Future’s Past.”
Revisiting past works is a common theme for several artists featured in this issue. Former Eagles guitarist Don Felder (page 32, August 2014 issue of Goldmine) has re-released his 2012 album “Road To Forever,” complete with four bonus tracks. And he’s teamed up with Foreigner and Styx on the “Soundtrack of Summer” tour, stopping throughout North America. Before they hit the road, the artists headed into the studio together to put a new spin on each others’ classic songs. You can check out the results on their “Soundtrack To Summer” CD.
Of course, if you’re building your own soundtrack to this summer, — or any other time of year, for that matter — you’ll want to check out the list of albums that Styx guitarist James ‘JY’ Young (page 8, August 2014 issue of Goldmine) says changed his life. We also check in with Queen’s Brian May (page 46, August 2014 issue of Goldmine) and rough-and-tumble blues guitarist George Thorogood (page 42, August 2014 issue of Goldmine).
Whatever music tickles your fancy, I hope you’ll make time this summer to enjoy it, whether you pick an outdoor festival, the best seat in the house at your favorite venue or the comfort of your own car. GM