Involuntary Memories (Part II)

Involuntary Memory #3 by Carl

In 1966, my brother Art had a red Alfa Romeo. I’m told it was kind of a crappy car, really, and I remember its ignominious final days in his possession: a scarlet husk parked, prone, lying in state beyond the shed at the end of our back yard. Collecting dust, collecting rust. A tow truck ultimately came to whisk this luckless red Alfa Romeo to the promised land.

But my prevailing principle memory of this doomed vehicle is a happy one. I believe the memory involves the consumption of Royal Crown Cola, or possible a root beer at the nearby A & W Drive-In. The memory absolutely involves the car’s one true immortal virtue: its radio.

That radio? When I was six years old, I may have thought that radio was magic.

I mean, it must have been magic. There were songs I heard on that car’s radio that I never seemed to hear anywhere else. I should ask Art if he listened to Syracuse’s 1260 WNDR in ’66, or if it was WOLF instead, or even the less-fabled WFBL. Whatever it was, it played “I Like It Like That” by The Dave Clark Five, a record that–to me–only existed on the AM dial of Art’s doomed Alpha Romeo. Even better, it played–often!–another irresistible exclusive: “I Fought The Law” by The Bobby Fuller Four. To this day, more than five decades later, my visceral memory of that terrific song is inextricably linked to those moments in my brother’s Alpha Romeo, of drums, guitars, and a singer bemoaning his fate of Breakin’ rocks in the hot sun, all pouring forth from the little car’s speakers as my big brother cruised suburban streets with his pesky kid brother on board. It’s indelible, and I embrace and cherish its vivid image.

Involuntary Memory #4 by Nicole

In the early months of 2014, I had an internship at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. When I applied, I didn’t think I’d be accepted, but I was, so off I went. Like a lot of people that spring, I was astounded by a clip of the band Future Islands performing on David Letterman’s show. That gravel-voiced singer with the slick dance moves and wild eyes, so recklessly earnest… It seemed a direct rebuke to the ruthless cynicism that often dominates online pop-culture ‘discourse’. I knew I had to investigate them further.

“Tin Man”, from their 2010 album In Evening Air, pulled me in immediately. It starts off with bouncy synth notes that sparkle like sunshine on the water, but the lyrics are jagged with grief. It mirrored the push and pull of that spring—the weather that went from blue and balmy to sideways sleet and back again, the way my “job” made me feel like a child playing dress-up in adult clothes, the yearning to go back to New York (where I’d gone to college) and the terror of not knowing what I would do once I got there.

But there was a certain freedom to that time, too, especially once spring arrived for good. The apartment I was staying in had a balcony, and I used to sit outside in the humid air, overlooking the maze of hotels and highways near Reagan National Airport. In the chorus of “Tin Man”, Samuel T. Herring sings, “And time goes by/and you’ve got a lot to learn, in your life…” Those words became a kind of mantra for me. I have a diary entry from that period that reads, in part, “I’m ready start my own life—my real life.” I decided to move back to New York, feeling like if I didn’t do it then, I never would. I knew it would be hard, but I also knew it would be worth it.

Mr. Tom,

Did you feel the loss during 2016 and well into 2017 when we watched so many artists and musicians leave the world? Were they your friends? The epic storytellers, trendsetters, and style makers who taught us all how to be a little cooler and a lot more open-minded: Prince, David Bowie, Chris Cornell, Chuck Berry, Sam Shepard, Harry Dean Stanton, and Adam West – they topped the much-too-long list of goodbyes. Myself, I felt sort of numb about it all. Each time, I watched my news feed light up with tributes. I listened to friends reminisce about defining moments that made this musician or artist one of their favorites. I had empathy. But I couldn’t relate to the sensation that I lost someone personal to me. I never felt like I’d lost a friend…except this time.

This time, it was you that died.

As I write this, it’s been 123 days since you died.

I can’t get my thoughts clear about it.

I haven’t cried. I haven’t faced it directly.

I’ve listened to your songs every day since I can remember listening to songs. I can’t tell you when you showed up in my life because you’ve always been there. Your music preceded my birth, and you helped me grow up. You’ve always been there for me: a consistent and supportive guide. There’s an empty space now.

I won’t regale you with tales of specific moments that one of your songs, or concerts, helped me out – I just want you to know that they, you, your music, changed me for the better.

It’s hard to explain how a person you’ve never actually met can be a friend and confidante. I see how ridiculous that sounds as I write it. But the person that the world knew as the rock star Tom Petty…that part of you that you shared with so many…well, that guy, I think, was a solid foundation for many people. Your capacity for creating universal and life-affirming lyrics, and your expert delivery of good old rock and roll songs aided in the positive transformation of many. This is the magic of music and you, Mr. Tom, were a profound channel.

It’s hard to explain how I feel now.

Two days ago, a friend shared a video with me: of one of my favorite bands covering your “Wreck Me.” It was a perfect tribute. I felt elation that someone thought to tape the moment, the pure love I have for both the band playing it and your original song, and the sadness that this is as close as I’ll ever be again to your original spark. That even though we’ll always have the 40+ years of music you left us, it doesn’t sound the same now. Because without you here, our continuum has changed.

Can I sing you to sleep?

“Good night, baby

sleep tight my love

may God watch over you from above

Tomorrow I’m working

what will I do

I’d be lost and lonely if not for you

So, close your eyes

We’re alright for now”

Yours truly,


Dear Dolores,

It should not have taken you no longer being on this earth for me to think about writing to you. But, now you are gone and your passing brings up so many feelings and memories for me. You were one of my first rock n’ roll loves. I adored you.

Even though women musicians and performers sort of had a bit of a feminist renaissance in the 1990s where it actually seemed like they might just be on the same level as men and they actually might not have to show more of their flesh in order to be considered a valid entertainer, you stood out.

You wrote all of the lyrics for “Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?” That’s impressive in and of itself, not to mention the fact that everyone loved that album. High school girls, high school boys, Moms, Dads, siblings, teachers, anyone who worked in an office and listened to the radio, dentist hygienists, we all loved that album. It was beautiful, unique, and palatable. Not everyone can write an album that has strong lyrical content, sounds beautiful, and is accessible to so many different people at so many different points in their lives. You did that.

The December of my 9th grade year my (soon to be) closest high school friend gifted me a green stone/marble pendant necklace, a peppermint flavored Lip Smacker (great because it made your lips feel tingly) and EEIDISWCW on CD. My parents who were/are fundamentalist Christians were highly suspicious of, and controlling about, the pop culture content that made its way into our house. I could not listen to the majority of the music I was beginning to love (Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against the Machine, Bouncing Souls, etc.) out in the open at home. I was closeted. Due to the accessible and non threatening nature of EEIDISWCW I was able to actually listen to that album, out loud, in my room. I could even sing along. Thank you Jesus!

God, I loved your voice. You had the most amazing voice.

In 1995 when given the choice to attend one outdoor summer concert I chose to go and see you and your band over going to Lollapalooza. I chose you over Hole and in hindsight this choice makes more sense than ever. We traveled 2 hours to New Jersey to see you. It was worth it.

I thought you were so very beautiful. I desperately wanted to have short hair but I was “scared” to cut mine off. Afraid I would look ugly. I already felt ugly. I didn’t need any further confirmation from anyone. You had short hair and you were beautiful. You were not afraid. You were my hero and eventually by the time I reached 12th grade I mustered up the courage to get my hair cut short. It was your picture I took into the hairstylist to provide an example of what I wanted. Thank you for being my role model.

You were sexy. It didn’t seem to be contrived or purposeful. You could play the guitar and sing and dance. From where I sat you looked like you were just being you and you just happened to also be sexy. We needed and continue to need women like you. Women who are not products. Women who have talents and show these talents. Women who are sexy who also do not have perfect teeth, hair, boobs, etc.

Your teeth were crooked. You were still sexy.

We need women who are sexy because they are showing themselves to the world and their showing involves a myriad of talents. A fully dimensional human. That was you.

I have not yet read all of the details of why you are gone. I saw a tweet from Chuck Prophet on twitter and I did a Google search and saw the words “bipolar” and the number 46 and then I started writing.

I could go on and talk about other albums you created, other songs that I loved which were written by you. I could elaborate on how you were a lifeline for me throughout my high school years and into college. But, none of that is going to change the fact that you are gone.

I’m sorry I didn’t write to you sooner.

I miss you already. Thanks for everything. You were a life changer.


I’ve Loved You For A Lifetime: Part 1


Back in December LL2RNR asked folks who have written for us to start thinking about 5 songs that they have loved “their entire life.” If this seems like a strange or unusual request to you, then you should probably just stop reading this blog now.

Good ‘ol Carl was the first to come through on this request and so his list goes up first. We apologize greatly for the lack of posts lately. It ain’t easy keeping up with a blog.

P.S. Happy New Year! Happy Birth Month Carl!

From Carl:

I will be 58 in January, so I figure anything I loved prior to turning a world-weary six years old in 1966 is fair game, provided I still love it now as I did then.

And there is indeed quite a lot I loved a lot, and never stopped loving. I mean, 1966 through 1968 encompasses a wonder world of pop music. The ensuing years and decades brought me even more. But for me, it all started before that. It was a decent time to be an apprentice pop fan, eagerly learning whatever the radio, the TV, and the family record player could teach me. 1966 would bring a whole new cascade of personal discoveries: Batman, The Monkees, Marvel Comics, Lesley Gore, my first plane trip, my first surgery, and my first broken heart (courtesy of six-year-old Suzette Mauro). Before I turned six in ’66? Here are but five among many that have never left me.


My earliest memories stretch back to 1963, when I was three years old. I have no conscious memory of a time before I loved music. It’s likely there never was any time when I didn’t love music. As a little, little kid, I used to pick up 45s and spin them on my fingers, pretending I was a record player, warbling the single aloud as it “played” in my hand.. The fact that I could match the 45 with the correct song convinced many that I could read at the age of three or four, but I’d memorized which label went with which catchy tune. I also loved my parents’ Broadway show LPs; I was known to blurt out lyrics at inopportune moments in public, like the time I was in a department store and loudly and proudly sang out the line “Here’s to the son of a B, tra la!” from Carnival (which is still one of my favorite plays). Yeah, I was a joy to be around. My favorite show album was actually the movie soundtrack from West Side Story. I didn’t understand its urban milieu, social commentary, and Romeo & Juliet storyline until many years later; I dug the tunes immediately. “Gee, Officer Krupke” was my favorite, but I loved the song “America” nearly as much, and it has stayed with me ever since.

EYDIE GORME: “Blame It On The Bossa Nova”

Both of my parents worked. I often stayed with my Godparents the Klusyks, my Aunt Connie and Uncle Nick. I remember their house in Westvale, in Syracuse’s Western suburbs. I remember my first girlfriend, four- or five-year-old Mary Rose Tamborelli, who lived across the street from the Klusyks. I remember Mary Rose’s older brother playfully popping a toy percussion cap with his baseball bat in the Klusyk’s garage. I remember the neighborhood teens and/or pre-teens having a party one evening in the Klusyks’ basement, with li’l toddler me right down there with them, helping the big kids listen to their Four Seasons records; the music got too loud, and the adults killed the light as a warning to the kids to quiet down already. I was afraid of the dark, and this move freaked me out, prompting me to wail, upset and inconsolable. I remember the sight of my parents’ car pulling into the Klusyk’s driveway to take me home at the end of one of my Westvale stays. Good times.

But my most prominent memory of life at stately Klusyk Manor remains music with my Aunt Anna. Aunt Anna was Uncle Nick’s sister, and she lived with Uncle Nick and Aunt Connie. Every week day that I was there, I would greet Aunt Anna when she got home from work with one simple, urgent request: “Records, Aunt Anna!” Aunt Anna had 45s. I wanted to hear those 45s, again and again. I specifically remember Chubby Checker‘s “The Twist” as a Fave Rave, and ditto for “Downtown” by Petula Clark. I’m sure she had some Beatles records, too. My favorite songs were “Who Stole The Keeshka?” by Frankie Yankovic and “Blame It On The Bossa Nova” by Eydie Gorme. I can’t even tell you for sure whether or not those were among Aunt Anna’s 7″ slabs o’ bliss, but the memories of all of this–all of this–dovetail together so pleasantly in my mind, a happy image of music and love, a heaven on Earth abruptly terminated when Aunt Connie died in 1965. I was devastated, and this early lesson in mortality haunted me throughout the rest of my childhood. Even today, though, hearing “Blame It On The Bossa Nova” brings a smile, and transports me back to a cherished time I recall with affection and surprising clarity.


THE BEATLES: “A Hard Day’s Night”

Even four-year-olds knew The Beatles in 1964. The Beatles were synonymous with pop music, with radio. “All My Loving” was an early favorite, sung by that guy I thought was named Paul MilkCartoney. But the whole giddy sense of Beatlemania is best represented by “A Hard Day’s Night,” the title tune from a movie I saw with my brother, sister, and cousins at The North Drive-In in Cicero in ’64. All the girls in all the cars were screaming at the images on screen. I’ve often pointed to that experience as one of my three prevailing pop music epiphanies (along with hearing “Sheena Is  Punk Rocker” by The Ramones and seeing a live show by The Flashcubes). Aside from a few brief moments of doubt in the late ’70s and early ’80s, there has never really been a time when I didn’t regard The Beatles as the greatest group in the history of rock ‘n’ roll.


1965 was pop music’s best year ever. I didn’t truly start to appreciate the year’s bounty until more than a decade later, when I began to discover essential ’65 gems by The Kinks, Wilson Pickett, James Brown, Buck Owens, The Yardbirds, The Beau Brummels, The Byrds, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Fontella Bass, The Small Faces, The Dixie Cups, The Vogues, The Who, The Zombies, The Miracles, The Hollies, George Jones, Stevie Wonder, and so, so many more. Whatta year! The best stuff was popular, and the popular stuff was the best.

Even if I had to wait until teendom to understand the splendor that was all around me when I was five, there was still much I knew as it happened. I certainly knew “Get Off Of My Cloud.” I may not have had reason to believe The Rolling Stones were substantively different from contemporary hitmeisters like The Dave Clark Five, Herman’s Hermits, The Castaways, or Gary Lewis & the Playboys, but I remember that voice bellowing out of transistor radios: Don’t hang around boy, two’s a crowd! At five, I thought the twisting of the familiar “Two’s company, three’s a crowd” maxim was interesting. This record was probably my introduction to the idea of a song having swagger.

THE T-BONES: “No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach’s In)”
One of 1965’s final hit records was a cover of the music from an Alka Seltzer commercial. See? Best pop year ever! Granted, The T-Bones‘s “No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach’s In)” was really a 1966 hit–its Billboard chart peak at  # 3 was in February of ’66–but it was released in December 1965, so…close enough, I say. I had the 45 on the Liberty Records label, and it was The Greatest Record Ever Made. I’d play that sucker on the family hi-fi, dancing around our little living room as the song created images in my daydreamin’ little head. I would close my eyes. I swear, I could see the music. I saw colors, shapes, figures, even a brightly-garbed clown a-boppin’ and a-swayin’ to the tune. I was a weird kid. Still am. Almost fifty-two years later, the music still means as much to me as it meant when I was five, and as when I was three, when I was twelve, eighteen, twenty-four, thirty-six, forty, fifty, and on down the dark and twisting path ahead of me. It’s best played loud. No matter what shape.