Monday, October 01, 2012

Tom Rush and Circus Maximus bring the spring of 1968 to the fall of 2012.


This is a mini iPod log. On my walk Saturday morning, I heard two songs that were both staples of the late night DJs on WBCN, Boston's first "underground" FM rock station, in the spring of 1968. I was then on the shank end of my first year of law school, and had just endured my first Massachusetts winter after many years of living in Florida. It was a hard winter, even by New England standards, and when, around the end of April, the last of the snow had melted and it seemed that every tree on the Cambridge Common had erupted in riotous bloom, I was ga-ga with spring fever. This coincided with, and facilitated, my falling hopelessly for a pretty classmate who was never to be my lover but nonetheless unwittingly shaped the course of my life.

Under these circumstances I was especially sensitive to the music I heard, and many songs from that time have become madeleines for me:  Judy Collins' cover of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides, Now"; the Chambers Brothers' "Time Has Come Today"; Jesse Colin Young's solo version of "Four in the Morning" (an hour at which I occasionally heard it while cramming for exams); the Free Spirits' (a short-lived rock group that included jazzman Larry Coryell and drummer Bobby Moses) "Cosmic Daddy Dancer"; and, perhaps most poignantly, another Joni Mitchell cover, Tom Rush's "Urge for Going." This seemed an odd song for springtime, with its tale of impending winter, but it fit the mostly low key mood of the late night playlist. Two days ago, as occasional brisk gusts hit the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, I felt the stilted shiver of the spine at the words:

So I'll ply the fire with kindling, pull the blankets to my chin;
I'll lock the vagrant winter out, and bolt my wandering in.
At 66, these words have a different meaning than they did at 22; especially with the lines that follow:
I'd like to bring back summertime, and have her stay for just another month or so.


A little bit further along I heard another song from the BCN spring of '68 playlist that I find haunting, "Wind" by Circus Maximus, a band founded by guitarist, keyboardist, and vocalist Bob Bruno and Jerry Jeff Walker. If you quite naturally think of Jerry Jeff as part of the Willie 'n' Waylon Texas cosmic good ol' boy phenomenon of the seventies, it's surprising to know that he had been part of a band that produced a lush, Southern California romantic version of West Coast psychedelia. You can hear it in the video above, accompanied by a montage of art assembled by The Bacmaster.

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