Monday, October 18, 2021

Fifty Years of Music • October, 1971

Did you write the book of love
And do you have faith in God above
If the Bible tells you so?
Now, do you believe in rock 'n' roll
Can music save your mortal soul
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?
–Don McLean, American Pie

October, 1971 has a couple of wonderful albums, Teaser And The Firecat by Cat Stevens, and American Pie by Don McLean. 

Also, released during that month was The Who's compilation album of most of their singles up to that point, Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy. Now I normally don't include compilation album songs in my chronological 50 Years series playlists, but this one's special to me as it came out only two months after their smash rock album, Who's Next. What Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy did for me as a teenager was connect me to my childhood mid-sixties years of The Who, which was probably their record label's (Decca) marketing intention, and got me even more into the band.

 The album is named after the members of the band: "Meaty" is Daltrey, who was quite fit at the time; "Beaty" is Moon, for his drumming; "Big" is Entwistle, who was a large person, often referred to as "The Ox" (lending his nickname to the instrumental of the same name); and "Bouncy" was Townshend, who jumped about quite acrobatically during performances. Wikipedia

Teaser And The Firecat is what I would call an "in my room" album that I would typically listen to by myself as I would think about life and my teenage self in my parent's world. I would say the same for American Pie as the songwriting in both albums speaks to a young soul's yearning and sensibilities, and maybe another option within rock 'n' roll as just folk versions of rock's "teenage wasteland." Regardless, I was in both camps!

In listening again to the American Pie album this past week I'm reminded how good all the tracks are and often overlooked because the 8 minute 33 second playtime of American Pie itself was such a monster #1 hit song. It must have broke AM/FM play time records for an individual song as it was often played in its original length and eventually shortened by many radio stations. The first time I heard the line, "The day the music died" on radio, I was wondering if McLean was talking about The Beatles break up the year before? After hearing the song several times, I did learn to appreciate the symbolism within each verse as it's really a mid-20th century America history lesson. However over time, it would became one of those Great Songs Ruined By Radio and by the mid-seventies would be joined by another emblematic #1 song, Hotel California. The other big hit from American Pie is Vincent, one of the most beautiful songs ever written. 

In the playlist this week, I have reserved the full-length version of American Pie for last, complete with YouTube commentary (lonestarsound) as they did a nice job with the video. 

I also included three movie trailers from October, 1971 that really take me back to seeing these movies in the Santa Maria Theater. One of the movie trailers is from The Last Picture Show Directed by Peter Bogdanovich.

The Last Picture Show is a classic movie made at a time in the late 60's and early 70's when both movies and rock 'n' roll were in golden period of creativity. 

Watching the clip makes me want to watch the movie again, and in my mind I can weave the The Last Picture Show with American Pie as two mediums of art look back to paint poetic Americana portraits of our culture in the mid 20th century.

Enjoy my friends!... Hey, he didn't say a word about Cat Stevens and Van Morrison, wonder why?


  1. VINCENT has never lost a smidgeon of relevance

  2. Some great memories this week. Like you I really internalized some of those Teaser and the Firecat songs. I was a lonely high school kid dreaming of having a girlfriend and really responding to songs like How Can I Tell You and If I Laugh.


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