By Cole Williams
Designer of The Journal
For instance, I relate a pop song to every girl I’ve ever dated – not that it would be an exhaustive playlist. I’m sure most people remember some romantic (or maybe not-so-romantic) encounter when they hear a certain song.
Before I dated anybody, my life changed forever in 1964. I was a 9-year-old boy when the Beatles first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. I remember my mom telling me years later that she couldn’t believe how crazy my sister and I went when Sullivan introduced the Fab Four, who she considered reprobates. Actually, she referred to them as “pukes.” It’s hard to believe, but their haircuts were considered radical or even provocative at the time.
I’ve been a rabid Beatles fan ever since. Every time their movie “A Hard Day’s Night” is shown on the late show I sit through the whole thing with a big besotted grin on my face. I went to see it at the local movie theater when it was released. I was chagrined to learn it was on a double bill. I had to sit through “Ferry Cross the Mersey,” a film featuring another Liverpool act: Gerry and The Pacemakers. Only then could I see and hear my beloved Moptops.
Six years or so later my buddy Tyler and I had a close shave on a railroad bridge in Gonzales. This was right around the time South Louisiana was dealing with court ordered integration of schools and businesses. Jim Crowe was on his way out and nerves were stretched tight.
I don’t remember the exact sequence of events, but several black guys around our age had us trapped on the bridge. One of them took the chain off of his bicycle and was swinging it around menacingly. For some reason, I was carrying a hatchet. I just sat on the edge of the bridge, chopping on the wooden crossties and contemplating whether or not to jump 20 feet into the shallow bayou below. Eventually our adversaries walked off and let us go on about our business. I remember almost the exact date because we were walking home from a record store having just bought the Beatle album “Abbey Road.” It was released in the US in May of 1970.
We’ve recently lost a lot of great musicians: David Bowie, Prince and Tom Petty to name a few. I was terribly sad when these cats died.
I remember as a young adult being on a deserted stretch of beach in Gulf Shores with a couple of girls. I don’t remember how I came to be in that situation, but as you might imagine, I was having a lovely time. The girls had brought along a transistor radio and I noticed that the DJ was playing lots and lots of Elvis tunes. This was just fine with me. Then the DJ broke in with the reason for the marathon – Elvis had died the night before. Talk about bringing crashing doom and gloom to a sunny day at the beach. I don’t even remember the ride home.
The worst music-related memory I have is, of course, hearing about the assassination of John Lennon. I wouldn’t exactly say he was my idol, but he was as close as I’ll ever get to one. I was inconsolable. In fact I was shocked at just how upset I was over the death of a person I’ve never even been in the same room with. It shows the power of music, I suppose. Lennon left behind a large catalogue of iconic tunes. “In My Life,” “If I Fell,” “Help,” “Imagine” and “Norwegian Wood” come to mind. That maggot Chapman can never take those away. At least that’s some consolation.
And I still have all those songs, from Lennon as well as all those other great musicians who have gone on to the big gig in sky. And I still have all those memories.