A long long time ago
I can still remember how
That music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they'd be happy for a while
-Don McLean, American Pie (Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group)
Oh how I've always related to the opening verse of American Pie. I too, like Don McLean, can still remember way back to a long long time ago, when that music used to make me smile. For whatever reasons such things are, I have no fonder memories than those of listening to the music coming out of our family stereo system on Sunday mornings when I was really young. This goes back to exactly the time when American Pie was a hit on the record charts. And, more often than not, the songs that were on the reel-to-reel tape deck or the turntable in our living room back then were precisely from the era of music that is evoked in McLean's classic hit song. Beginning sometime not later than the mid-1950's, the new and overly vigorous American art form of Rock & Roll, broadly defined, enjoyed a monumental first fifteen or twenty years of existence. From the early years of the initial fusion of black rhythm and blues with white country music, the arrival of fundamental geniuses such as Fats Domino and Chuck Berry, through to the explosive spark of the rise of Elvis, the arrival of Dylan, the British Invasion of The Beatles and The Stones, and on into the music of the turbulent and radically changing late 60's and 70's, the era of what we now call "Classic Rock"...this was the music that formed the soundtrack for the times in which post-war America reached its apogee, and then slowly began the subsequent unraveling which inevitably follows such a cycle in history. In reference to myself personally, this was the music of my parents' generation, the ubiquitous Baby Boom generation.
And, one again, like Mr. McLean, I also dreamed back in those days of imaginative youth that one day - given my chance - I could make people dance, and hopefully help play a part in their happiness, at least for a little while.
As the years trickled by and I entered both the 1980's and adolescence, I chased the siren call of those early dreams. I picked up a guitar and tried to learn how to play it. I explored the craft of songwriting. And, in time, I experienced I guess you could say the fulfillment of my prophecy of playing music for the enjoyment of people who could, on occasion, indeed be induced to dance. And though it was a huge part of almost ten years of my life, all that came to an end a long time ago. We're talking like the early 90's. Thinking about how long ago that was really puts in perspective for me just how far back we have to reach into history to arrive at the "long long time ago" of American Pie. It would seem a foregone conclusion that the music from that period of time must seem as relevant and interesting to today's youth as a boring, dry lecture in history class. That doesn't seem very rock and roll to me. I endeavor very much as an artist attempting to create new, original music to do so while drawing from the toolbox that was assembled back in the days of the golden oldies and classic, timeless rock and roll music. I paint on a musical canvas with a palette of primary colors that has been passed down, as if from gods on high, by our musical forebears. In attempting to create something new, I hope to imbue my work with the same timeless and universal tint as they did theirs. The music may have died many times in days past, but long live rock and roll.
A long long time ago is gone, but today, as in those times of old, I have a dream of the future. I dream that "that music" won't just be swallowed up and forgotten by time, but that it will live on... in the hearts and souls of new generations of fans, legions of young adherents to that sacred church of Rock and Roll, yearning for a baptism in promise that music can, indeed, save their "mortal souls". But maybe in the midst of all this spiritual euphoria, I should not fail to recall how McLean's epic song ends. With the narrator lamenting that the three men he admired the most, the "father, son and the holy ghost...they caught the last train for the coast...the day the music died."