They are some of my first memories; I guess I was Five. 1967. I was in the parlor. We had our parents records. Somehow my sister knew how to operate the “box.” We called it the Hi-Fi. Peggy would put on different records, and maybe before I could spell my own name, not knowing what spelling even was, I could spell Mississippi! How? Because the vinyl disk taught me how. Before the MP3, the CD, Sesame Street, the 45, or the 33, there was the 78 RPM record. “M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I; it used to be so hard to spell, it used to make me cry, but since I started spelling, it’s just like pumpkin pie!” I knew the worlds, but had no idea what I was singing about. There were other records; The Clancy Brothers, Bobby Darin, and Sing With The Four Roses Society. Even at 5, I always knew there was something odd about The Four Roses album. All the woman had “cocktail dresses,” but only the men had the cocktails in their hands! We would get ginger ale to imitate them. Moving on to the other albums, sometimes the voices sounded too fast, and Peg would move a switch, and fix it. Other times the voices would sound too fast, and we just learned that’s how Alvin and the Chipmunks sounded.
The town of New Shoreham, on Block Island, Rhode Island is a walking place. Sure they have some cars, mopeds, and bikes, but most people walk. One night during a sailing vacation, during our usual walk from “town” to Old Port, in the quite summer night, I decided to sing (that’s what sailors have done since the time of Noah and the Ark). I would like to say I have a great voice, and rang out something fine, and beautiful , but aaahh, NO! I began to release some song that I had heard many years before in 1973; “Joy to the World/ Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog!” The “Juke Box from Hell” was born! At first my friends re-coiled in horror. By the end of the week, I was taking requests; blasting out every “45” I ever hear from 1970 to 1973. The more embarrassing, the better! “Seasons in the Sun, Knock Three Times on the Ceiling, In the Year 2525, Sign, Sign, everywhere a Sign!” We couldn’t stop. The more we sang, the harder we laughed; forget the Tragically Hip, we didn’t care.
Back on the boat, and in out racks, I wanted to listen to the gentle sounds of the water against the hull drag me to sleep, but the poetic sounds of the Partridge Family “did not go quietly into the dark, dark night!”