Saturday, April 12, 2014

"Scenes From An Italian Restaurant" / Billy Joel

Am I a Billy Joel fan?  I can't say I am.

This album, The Stranger, is the only one I ever bought and the only one I ever listened to. Although, truth be told, I listened to it a lot during the year I lived in Arlington, Virginia, an odd lacuna between grad school in England and the life I was meant to live in Manhattan. All bets were off for that year, as I made a reluctant re-entry into American life. With few friends in town, and little commitment to life in the D.C. area, I spent a lot of time writing and filled my turntable with uncharacteristic records like Steve Miller's The Joker and Fleetwood Mac's Rumours (okay, me and everybody else in 1977) and The Band's Greatest Hits.  I'd like to say this was a precursor to my 21st-century interest in Americana, but that would be utter bullcrap. It was just what I happened to have in the house.

But this Billy Joel album? For a few months there, it really spoke to me.

And now, 37 years later, I have heard this song -- not "Just the Way You Are," not "Vienna," not "Only the Good Die Young," not "She's Always a Woman," but this particular song -- on random sound systems and radio stations three times in the past week. After not hearing it at all for decades.

What gives?


First of all -- 7 minutes and 36 freaking seconds? Who does that anymore? Our modern attention spans are way too short for this, but people let me tell you -- in the vinyl 1970s they did it ALL THE TIME. Because they could -- who was gonna bother lifting the tone arm and skipping a track? So we just sat through it. And yes, that meant we sat through some awful self-indulgent crap. But in this case, not so much.

Because it's really a suite, a succession of songs tracing a storyline. The opening -- "A bottle of white, bottle of red / Perhaps a bottle of rose instead" -- sets the scene, taking a table at the restaurant. But soon we move on to the album's hero's story -- "Got a good job / Got a good wife" -- a nice follow-up to the album's opening track, "Moving Out (Anthony's Song)." Everything is hunky-dory, with saxes and clarinets and Billy's rapid-fire piano wizardry.

And then he shifts to a little human-interest observation -- the story that's really at the heart of this song, though cleverly framed with the restaurant stuff. "Brenda and Eddie were the popular steadies / And the king and the queen of the prom / Riding round with the cartop down and the radio on/ Nobody looked any finer / Always more of a hit at the parkway diner / We never knew we could want more than that out of life / Sure, and Brenda and Eddie would always know how to survive." I didn't grow up on Billy Joel's Long Island, but I know my equivalent -- "Jack and Diane" by John Mellencamp.

But oh, Billy J doesn't leave Brenda and Eddie in the limbo of could-have-been -- no, he leads them all the way through their co-habitation, the wedding, the furniture bought on time at Sears, the squabbles -- "they started to fight when the money got tight / And they just didn't count on the tears" -- well, who DOES count on the tears?

And so it ended as a million other marriages do, with a divorce. (All of this taking place in the summer of '75, mind you.) And then, "The king and the queen went back to the green / But you can never go back there again." Because, as Thomas Wolfe said, you can't go home again, and all the kids (LIKE OUR HERO) who idolized these paragons of popularity have moved on already. Too bad, Brenda and Eddie.

Full circle: We come back to the bottle of red, bottle of white, only a good deal more boozy in the reprise. (I picture Eddie at the bar, drowning his considerable sorrows.)  We're still at the restaurant, still in Long Island, but now perhaps we see the folks at the tables around us a little bit differently. They've got back stories now, and those back stories are laden with disappointment and inevitable regret. But -- here's the kicker, and the reason for the story's layers -- those of us who weren't prom kings and queens, but who are making it okay? We should feel damn proud of ourselves.

And in 1977, as a recent college graduate with no boyfriend and no freaking idea what I was going to do with my life -- well, that was a message I was relieved to listen to.

Note to self: In the intervening years, I had become so cynical about Billy Joel's talents as a social commentator. But what was I thinking?

Maybe he didn't keep it up record after record, but on The Stranger?  Home run, slam dunk, touchdown. Boo yah.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

"So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright" /
Simon and Garfunkel

So who invented this National Sibling Day?  I've never heard of this bogus holiday before -- yet now suddenly, today, everybody and their brother are posting all over Facebook these happy smiling pictures of them with their sibs.

And I'm one sib short and it makes me incredibly sad.

So here's a song that I've lately found makes me feel better.



I had already put this on my Holt playlist, but the day I was cleaning out his apartment and put his iPod in the iDock for iShuffle iListening, I was delighted to hear so many S&G tunes in his library. Flashback to our teenage years, when, even before The Graduate made "Sounds of Silence" so iconic, Holt had introduced me to Wednesday Morning 4 AM and Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. I bought a guitar just so I could pick out those tunes (painfully, I might add). We were NEW Folkies, which these days would be labeled Indie Rock. Whatever. It wasn't Peter Paul and Mary, that's all we knew.

Jump forward to 1970, when Holt had gone off to college, leaving me at home in Indianapolis to carry the torch. Bridge Over Troubled Water was their last album, and just about every song on it alluded to their impending break-up . . . or so I now realize. Then, not so much. I thought this was a song about an architect. And yeah, if I thought about it that was kinda odd, but what did I know?

But as a farewell song, it's a beauty. It's so tender, so wistful, and just uptempo enough that you know not to despair; they're gonna be okay. That samba beat -- god, how I love a good samba -- soothes and smooths everything out.

Art is singing, at his most angelic. (If nothing else, this album forever stands as his finest singing ever.) That lagging syncopation -- "So / long / Frank Lloyd Wright / I can't believe your song is gone so soon." He's still a little dazed by the news, isn't he? (Me too.) "I barely learned the tune / So soon / So soon..."  What I love about this song is how it sets up Wright as a visionary, WAY ahead of his time (as he was), with the rest of us just scrambling to follow. And now WE ARE LOST, with our beacon snuffed out.

Now, Simon wrote this song but Garfunkel sang it, and I'm not about to get lost in the maze of who was the visionary and who was the acolyte. I prefer to think of it as an Escher print with endless echoes and doubling-backs and leave it at that.

And anyway, the verse that really comes home for me is the next one: "So long / Frank Lloyd Wright / All of the nights we'd harmonize till dawn / I never laughed so long / So long / So long." (You know me and word play; that "so long / so long" never fails to delight.) Then I think of all the late nights my brother and I spent talking, laughing, jumping from subject to subject with lightning flashes of irrelevant relevance ... forty, fifty years of that?  Where am I ever going to find that again?

"Architects may come and / Architects may go and / Never change your point of view," Art gently remarks in the bridge. The implied message? People who change your point of view are the only people worth messing with. Amen.

Is this song about Frank Lloyd Wright?  No, it isn't. It's about another short genius. Yes, Paul Simon. And the idea that Simon had Garfunkel sing this song, which could be construed as a paean to his own genius, makes me grin.

But the beauty of Garfunkel's singing? I'm inclined to say he had the last laugh.

And "when I run dry / I stop awhile and think of you"?  That's a prescription for getting through this season of love and loss. Because the thought of my brother still refuels my tanks, and will for a long time. Forever, most likely.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

"The Israelites" /
Desmond Dekker & the Aces

Ska or reggae?  You decide.

And does it matter?  When this song came out in the spring of 1969, hitting #1 in the UK, Canada, Sweden, and the Netherlands -- even edging into the US Top Ten -- most people outside of Jamaica didn't know the difference and didn't care. Dekker's strong Jamaican accent, the relatively simple production, that heavy bassline all told us it was "island music." It didn't occur to me to wonder why a guy from Jamaica would be singing about people from Israel.  All I knew was (cue up the American Bandstand theme) it had a great beat and you could dance to it.

So tonight I'm watching old episodes of the daffy British slapstick comedy Doctor in the House (thank you, YouTube!) -- a show I used to watch in re-runs on late-night Indianapolis PBS with my brother and sister. It was the summer of '75, the last time we all three were living at home, and our nightly rendezvous with this mad Britcom was essential. Around 10pm we'd drive out to the 24-hour Marsh supermarket (quite a novelty in those days, that all-night schedule) to buy our customary Doritos and Pepsi and Nabisco's Famous Cookies assortment, then race home in time for that perky theme song. Good times, good times . . . I can still hear Holt's mad cackle in my heart.

But I digress. In the episode I watched tonight, the show's hero, med student Michael Upton (played by Barry Evans, if you must know), can't study because his dorm room is so noisy. And lo and behold, what record is his neighbor rudely blasting at top volume? Yes, this 1969 hit, probably still on the charts when this episode first aired. Jeez, I hadn't thought about this song in probably 40 years.
But what a great song it is.


Desmond Dekker said this song just flew into his head, one night while he was walking through a park in a poor section of Kingston and overheard a couple arguing about money. It's as if he just transcribed the man's lament: "Get up in the morning, slavin' for bread / So that every mouth can be fed / Oh, oh, me Israelite." The dogged syncopation is just right -- it really makes you feel how weary the singer is from his daily dutiful grind. I love how the Aces join in on those doleful "oh's," as if consoling him -- or maybe just reminding us how many others are bowed down by the same hopeless struggle.

Ah, the Biblical references of reggae -- like "Rivers of Babylon," a song I wouldn't hear until 2 years later when I saw The Harder They Come. But when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. You don't even have to know that Rastafarians identified with the Lost Tribes of Israel. It's like African-American slaves in the cotton fields, singing "Go Down, Moses," a coded message protesting their own enslavement. All poor Jamaicans, not just the Rastas, knew what it felt to labor for a foreign king, remembering Zion.

In the second verse, his wife's left him; in the third he woefully describes his raggedy clothes -- "shirt them-a tear up, trousers is gone" (though I'm sure in 1969 I could not decipher those lyrics; thanks, internet!). I did get the next line: "Don't want to end up like Bonnie & Clyde." This was just a year after Arthur Penn's film about those romantic Depression-era gangsters (was Warren Beatty not hot in that movie?) and only a couple months after Georgie Fame's   "Ballad of Bonnie & Clyde" hit the airwaves; of course that reference would jump out at me. This guy doesn't want to resort to a life of crime, even though so many in Kingston did. Or maybe he just doesn't want to end up riddled with bullets in a police shoot-out -- well, who could blame him?

What a downbeat song this could have been -- yet the tempo ticks along, that trippy melody bounces around the scale. It's as if the act of singing the song itself keeps him from despair. If I were a DJ, I'd play this song alongside Lee Dorsey's "Working in a Coal Mine" and Sam Cooke's "Chain Gang."  In 1968, what did I know about working long hours for no pay? To be honest, what do I know about it now?  But thanks to records like these, at least I have given it more than a passing thought.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Random Dial-Up

A new feature wherein I write about the first song that comes up on my shuffle -- sort of a musical Russian Roulette. So here goes...and the wheel lands on...

"Quiet Life" / Ray Davies

From the Julian Temple film Absolute Beginners, a musical adaptation of Colin McInnes' novel (itself well worth reading) about 1950s London and the birth of British rock 'n' roll -- if you haven't seen it, check it out; it's one of my guilty pleasures. The story rambles, but it's visually stunning, and it's appropriately packed with musical guest stars: David Bowie, Sade, Sandie Shaw, Zoot Money, Tenpole Tudor, and -- my primary reason for seeing the film in the first place -- the ever delicious Mr. Ray Davies. Here's a clip of Ray's scene in the movie (hang in there, there's a minute or so of dialog before you get to the song itself).



Unfortunately this is only part of the movie in which Ray appears, but it's beyond wonderful. Playing the much-put-upon father of the main character, young photographer Colin, Ray doesn't exactly look glamorous in his undershirt and braces, his hair slicked back and grayed at the temples. But Ray's bit is totally entertaining, and his dancing is simply to die for.

Anybody who was ever in doubt about Ray Davies' fondness for English music hall tunes only has to listen to "Quiet Life." Underlaid with Dixieland horns and jazzy percussion, it's a classic softshoe, tripping lightly along. Yet while the sound of the song is like Noel Coward champagne, the storyline is more Ealing comedy slapstick, with a Monty Python nudge-nudge wink-wink thrown in for good measure.

"Something's happening, but I'm just gonna turn a blind eye," Ray begins the patter, in his breathy, earnest innocent-bystander voice. "If I see no evil, I ask no questions and I hear no lies" -- his whole existence is a masterwork of self-protective denial. In low, confiding tones, Ray keeps suavely declaring that he's not such a fool as everyone thinks -- "Confidentially between these walls / I'm on top of it all." And indeed, he does see all the salacious shenanigans in his household -- it's like a saucy seaside postcard come to life. But he shows no intention of doing a bloody thing about it, so what's the point of knowing?

Listen to how Ray's voice trembles and squawks on the high-pitched refrain -- "All I need is a QUIET life!", like a blowsy trombone wail. Keeping his head in the sand takes every ounce of energy this hapless bloke has. It's a lovely little comic portrait, and Ray hits every mark. Oh, the rest of the soundtrack has some other gems -- I particularly love Bowie's rendition of the theme song, Style Council's "Have You Ever Had It Blue?", and Sade's "Killer Blow." But in the end, there's one reason I go back to this film again and again. Ray.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Another Shuffle for Holt

Because that playlist just has too many great tunes not to go for another round.

1. "American Tune" / Paul Simon (1973)
"I don't know a soul who's not been battered / I don't have a friend who feels at ease / Don't know a dream that's not been shattered / Or driven to its knees" -- yep, that's life, and Paul Simon's never been afraid of facing that down. My brother the minister got that, too. Best part of this song -- where he dreams that he's dying, and he flies, freed from his mortal bonds, over the Statue of Liberty. The song breaks free of its gentle melodic patterns (stolen from Bach, I feel compelled to note) and soars into another realm of consciousness.

2. "The Weight" / The Band (1968)
Surely I'm not the only one who finds something Christlike about the singer of this song, wandering into town to "take a load off Fanny / And put the load right on me." And after meeting all the characters in town, he takes his wistful fare-thee-well -- "My bag is sinking low and I do believe it's time." Holt had this album, Music From Big Pink, though it took me years to figure out why these guys were worth listening to. They may have been a Canadian band, but they took their cue from Appalachian folk music, and from thence all the great Scots-Irish folk songs, in which the spectre of death is ever-present.

3. "Drive South" / John Hiatt (1988)
I've bragged here about how I knew Johnny Hiatt, growing up in Indianapolis, but my brother knew him better than I did, and was just as astonished as I was when we discovered he'd become not just a rock star but a genuine artist. I took Holt to see JH for his birthday a few years go, and he saw him a few more times after that. So you know there had to be at least one Hiatt tune on the playlist. I love this one for three reasons: 1) It's about driving, and Holt loved driving (Indy, natch); 2) It's a sexy seduction song ("Don't bother to pack your nylons / Just keep those pretty legs showing / It gets hot down where we're going")  and my brother, he loved the ladies; and 3) "drive south" may be a metaphor for going to hell. My brother worked a powerful lot of good in his life, but he was no saint, and who knows how tough the grading system is at the pearly gates?  But if he's headed to hell, then hell's a reasonable option for us all.

4. "The Cape" / Guy Clark (1995)
The first time I heard Guy Clark sing this song, all I could think of was my brother, and how much he loved to dress up in costumes as a kid. And yes, like the hero of this song, even when he was old and grey, people still thought he acted like a kid. But as Guy puts it, "he's one of those who knows / That life is just a leap of faith / Spread your arms and hold your breath / And always trust your cape." Brilliant song that never fails to bring a lump to my throat.

5. "Don't Forget Me" / Marshall Crenshaw (1995)
Here's a two-fer: Marshall Crenshaw AND Harry Nilsson, who wrote this tender wry song. I don't know if Holt shared my Nilsson obsession, but I know he loved Nilsson's oddball animated movie The Point when it first came out; in hospice, Holt smiled when I played him my Nilsson playlist. Although this is basically a song to an ex-wife, we can extrapolate the sentiments to any loves from the past. Even the spookily apposite verse three: "And when we're older / Full of cancer / It doesn't matter now / Come on, get happy / Cause nothing lasts forever / But I will always love you." Amen.

6. "Miles From Nowhere" / Cat Stevens (1970)
Tea for the Tillerman was an inescapable album that year, full of folky riffs and mordant black humor. Perfect soundtrack for Harold and Maude, a movie Holt loved for its warped fascination with death. Many songs on this album are about fathers and sons (I watched that battle from a front row seat) and taking journeys. But the line that really resonates here? "Lord my body has been a good friend / I won't need it when I reach the end." And so we told Holt in the hospice -- time to turn in the loaner car, it's reached the end of its usefulness.

7. "Losing My Religion" / R.E.M. (1991)
For a Methodist minister, having "Losing My Religion" as your ringtone was a pretty gutsy move, doncha think?

8. "Don't Forget About Me" / John Mellencamp (2010)
Our other homegrown Indiana talent, Johnny Cougar nee Mellencamp always held a special place in our hearts. From his stellar back-to-basics album No Better Than This, another ex-wife song that can, if you squinch your eyes just so, be re-interpreted to apply to an old beloved friend who's moved to another plane of being.  

9. "Over the Rainbow / Wonderful World" / Israel Kamakawiwo Ole (1993)
One song we all agreed had to be played at Holt's memorial. Because, no matter how often it's played, this lilting ukelele rendition of the old standards transforms them into something new and hopeful and uplifting.

10. "Warmth of the Sun" / The Beach Boys (1964)
It was Holt, not me, who owned all our Beach Boys albums. (Note that possessive "our," because I listened to them just as avidly as he did.) In the face of the British Invasion, he never gave up on their American counterparts. In 1966, our family took a cross-country train trip to California that gave us our one taste of golden SoCal surf summer, before the Monkees and the Summer of Love happened. In my mind, this glorious Beach Boys ballad sums it all up -- how we keep the warmth of the sun inside us, to survive grief and loss. Interesting to note that Brian Wilson and Mike Love began to write this song on November 22, 1963, but didn't finish it until the tragic events of that day -- the Kennedy assassination, for those of you too young to have been permanently scarred by this event -- had happened. So the elegiac tone of this song was no accident. Those exquisite chord changes, the vocal counterpoints, and above all Brian's heart-melting falsetto -- they make me weep, make me smile, make my heart swell in my chest. Magic.

Cleaning out my brother's apartment, I found his iPod and put it in the dock to play on shuffle while I folded clothes and emptied drawers. How lovely it was to hear his own curated inventory of music! It was as if he were in the room with me. Expect to hear more from that source....

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Shuffle for Holt

This is the way life goes: in the end stages of the 52 Girls project, a landmine of sorrow went off under my feet. My brother Holt Hughes died on March 7, after a nearly five-year fight against cancer. His memorial service was on Saturday. 

I went back and forth for days trying to pick one song to post about in his memory, and then I realized -- of course, a shuffle!  Holt was himself a shuffle kind of guy, always moving on to the next thing, his enthusiasms too multitudinous to be ticked off in one box. So here's a random sampling from the four-hour playlist I made for his memorial....


1. "You've Got A Friend in Me" / Randy Newman & Lyle Lovett (1995)
My brother was above all one of my best friends. He was always there for me. And, PS, he loved Lyle Lovett too. (The old John Hiatt connection ran deep for both of us....)

2.  "The Water Is Wide" / James Taylor (1991)
The old angel-voiced folkie, doing one of those old English folk songs about "crossing over," which I always interpret as death. But there's something so warm about James Taylor's voice, like an old pair of jeans, I collapse right into its comfort.

3.   "Strangers" / Norah Jones (2009)
Love the Kinks' original, a Dave Davies beauty; this is my favorite cover of it. (Sorry I couldn't find an MP3 -- it was a bonus track from Norah's album The Fall.) It's about brotherhood, it's about the spiritual journey. "Holy man and holy priest / This love of life makes me weak at my knees" -- my brother was a priest and he loved life. Perfect.

4.  "I Don't Wanna Go Home" / Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes (1987)
A great rousing farewell anthem -- "I know that it's getting late / But I don't want to go home." My brother was a chronic night owl, and visiting him always meant we'd be up way past midnight, goofing around. He just never wanted to let the day go.  "I know we had to try / To reach up and touch the sky, baby" -- yep, that was Holt, too.

5.  "Circles" / Ten Years After (1976)
A little hippie-dippie folkie track, full of restless questioning spirit, just like my bro.  Dig that third verse: "I have got what I once dreamed of / As a child, so long ago / But my life just goes in circles / 'Cause one answer I don't know / Does it matter what I do / Who will hear me if I cry? / Does it matter what I do / Does it matter if I die?"  Holt, I hope you have the answers now that you've preceded us into the light.

6. "Here Comes the Sun" / The Beatles
A great message of hope, transformation, and renewal, especially for those of us -- like my brother -- who believe in reincarnation. And the consoling refrain, "It's all right" -- just what we need to hear.

7. "So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright" / Simon & Garfunkel (1970)
Another valedictory song, a gentle samba in honor of someone who could "change your point of view." "When I run dry, I stop awhile and think of you" -- yes, that's how I feel.

8. "Just A Song Before I Go" / Crosby Stills & Young (1977)
Okay, really this is a break-up song, but its gentle bittersweetness suits my mood. And those gorgeous CSN harmonies -- I was still stuck in my British rock phase when these guys came along and I generally missed them, but I know my brother listened to this album a lot back in the day.

9. "Daughters" / John Mayer (2003)
Holt loved this song, because he loved his two daughters. "Fathers be good to your daughters" -- and Holt always was.

10. "All Kinds of Time" / Fountains of Wayne (2003)
FoW wistfully captures a moment in time when the golden boy -- in this case, a high school quarterback -- reviews his life as he goes out for the pass. My brother couldn't play football for anything, but his life had this same sort of glorious equipoise. I only wish he had had all kinds of time -- but then again, who does?

Love you forever, Homes.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

52 GIRLS

"Along Comes Mary" /
The Association

Everybody "knows" that the Mary in this song refers to marijuana. (Except, of course, people who are convinced it refers to Mary Magdalene or the Virgin Mary.) Even though the songwriter, Tandyn Almer -- later a close friend of Brian Wilson's -- never fessed up to the drug message, word on the street helped send this debut single by an unknown California band to #7 on the U.S. charts in the summer of 1966.



Back then, of course, you couldn't sing openly about drugs, anymore than you could about sex. The whole game was to hide your message inside slang and poetic imagery. Or, if you were the Association, hide it even further by rattling off lyrics so thick and fast, most folks had no idea what the singer was singing. I owned this 45 and listened to it endlessly, and I still couldn't get them all.

Packed with internal rhymes (I'm a sucker for internal rhymes) and allusive imagery, it's a wild cascade of lyrics. You get the idea that he'd say anything so long as it rhymed, and of course that crazy half-logic signaled the drug message even more. (Go ask Alice.) Meanwhile, the arrangement was dark and portentous, with a minor-key melody, spooky organ, shivering tambourines, tarantula-like bass line, and triple-echoed harmonies. Hovering at the threshold of psychedelia, it's lush and dark and undeniably haunting.

Bent down over the turntable as an innocent adolescent, I could grasp the opening -- "Every time I think that I'm the only one who's lonely /Someone calls on me" -- ah, a telephone song, a tried-and-true pop conceit. But then the roller coaster took off, and soon I was tangled up in inscrutable lines like "Or maybe rather gather tales of all the fails and tribulations" or "When vague desire is the fire in the eyes of chicks / Whose sickness is the games they play."

By verse three, we seem to be in apocalypse territory: "And when the morning of the warning's passed, the gassed / And flaccid kids are flung across the stars." (You can see how the Mary Magdalene camp seized on that, interpreting The Warning as a version of The Rapture; I guess they've been waiting for it since 1966.)  Whatever that meant, the next words, "the psychodramas and the traumas," seared clearly into my brain -- that phrase has for years popped into my head more often than you'd imagine.

The one thing we all could decipher was the samba-syncopated refrain, sung in lockstep unison: "When we met I was sure out to lunch / Now my empty cup tastes as sweet as the punch" (love how the harmonies kick in on "punch"). Holy Grail imagery aside (yes, there is that camp too), this is where we can imagine a real Mary, changing his clueless life with the experience she offers.

She makes a grand entrance in that soaring chorus: "And then along comes Mary" -- the way those harmonizing vocals climb up that title phrase gets me every time. "And does she want to give me kicks / And be my steady chick / And give me pick of memories . . . " Well, okay, maybe she's his dealer, not his girlfriend, but he's dazzled by her for sure.

The next chorus changes up the lyrics, describing her as an, ahem, purveyor of enlightenment: "And does she want to set them free, and let them see reality / From where she got her name." In the third chorus, she's a pied piper presiding over a morning-after scenario of stains and pains and dead remains -- well, by that time they'd lost me.

But I still loved this song, its dense overlapping textures, its air of mystery. The folky sound of the Mamas and the Papas' "California Dreamin'," released only a few months earlier, had evolved already into a West Coast sound utterly unlike my beloved British Invasion. Even though I didn't get the words then -- no lyric sheet for a 45 single -- I sang along all the same, faking the words I couldn't figure out. I imagined Mary in a swirling paisley caftan, barefooted of course, with flowers in her hair -- no more mini-skirt and go-go boots. The times they were a-changing.

52 GIRLS ACCOMPLISHED!