Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bubblegum: an affliction in every generation

It won't be my childhood friends who get this wrong, but lest anyone else imagine I was consistently cool from the moment in 1968 when I 'discovered' rock and roll (described on this very blog a couple of months ago) I need to make a confession. The first LP I bought might have been Hey Jude -- leaning toward cool if you consider I was eleven in 1970 (and I still want to be a paperback writer); but not long after that I became a teenager, and my musical tastes lurched all over the place. They were keeping pace, I suppose, with my hormones.

So was there a period when even bubblegum spoke to me? Yes, there was.

According to Wikipedia, Bubblegum's classic period ran from 1967 to 1972. Justin Bieber's mom wasn't even born yet, but I was there, thank you very much.

I'm sure I've self-protectively blocked out the worst of the worst songs that made me weak in the knees. Which leaves me wondering, because the songs I do remember swooning over are, um, pretty embarrassing. Take Lally Stott's Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep, for example. The video's kind of hilarious looking back on it -- hilarious in the sweetest and corniest way -- but imagine taking this song seriously with nothing more than radio play and a 45 rpm disc to garner a following:

This was a period in which Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal were pulling major heartstrings with Love Story, 99 minutes of pure cinematic schmaltz. I will not admit over the public intertubes how many times I (a) sat through the film -- in a theatre, people -- and, (b) wept at the end. This as a tween. The fact that I was mad about Tin Tin's Toast and Marmalade for Tea at about the same time is confession enough:

I bought these and other 45s at a memorable record store about a mile from where I lived in the early seventies. The name of the place was Banana Records, and it sat like a gigantic fruit crate across the street from the local McDonalds.

Back then its solid cubical surface was unpainted, unfinished wood, in harmonious tune with '70s aesthetics. The sales floor was set a few stairs down from street level, and the interior of the cube was empty space, a perfect venue for whatever promotional displays the record companies sent along to help sell the vinyl.

As you can see in the photo at right, the cube is now (or was, in March 2011, when Google last did a street view drive-by) painted a dull industrial grey, and houses a computer repair shop.

The times, they've been a changin' ...

Related posts on One Finger Typing:
Rock and roll awakening: my first songs, circa 1968
Melancholy popular music: Lana Del Rey and her antecedents
Take a sad song

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