I was walking in the park this morning and saw a few teenagers that looked to be high school seniors wandering around with their ipods in one ear and chatting back and forth to each other. I could barely understand what they were saying, but it was clear that they were ditching school and having a great time. As I walked further along, there were more teenagers, ditching, jamming to tunes, and enjoying the mid-morning sun. Across the way there was even a few more teens playing guitar, and this got me thinking. (Here I am thinking again good grief!)
I graduated high school here in 1976. Back then, we had a thing called senior ditch day. I am unsure if schools still do this; after all I graduated 33 years ago, and I am sure some traditions have changed. However, senior ditch day was a big deal. It was when the seniors all at once, ditched. I ditched though more than just senior ditch day. I actually ditched and went to the same park I walked in this morning, Reid Park. My friends and I would wander around, listening to, playing, or laughing at music with a dozen bagels and an ice cooler filled with soda. The world was ours for a day.
Some of the songs we listened to on the radio in 1976 were Love Hurts, by Nazareth, Evil Woman by ELO, Play that Funky Music, by Wild Cherry, Over My Head, by Fleetwood Mac, You’re My Best Friend, by Queen, Dream Weaver, by Gary Wright, Lowdown, by Boz Scaggs, Rhiannon, by Fleetwood Mac, Tracks of My Tears, by Linda Ronstadt, and Tonight’s the Night, by Rod Stewart.
The songs we played on guitar that year included, Beth, by Kiss, Show Me the Way, by Peter Frampton, The Reaper, by Blue Oyster Cult, The Boys Are Back in Town, by Thin Lizzy, Dream On, by Aerosmith, Slow Ride, by Foghat, Magic Man, by Heart, and Squeeze Box, and Take the Money and Run, by The Steve Miller Band.
What I listened to and what I played were two different things. But nothing, and I mean nothing, beat the songs we used to sit a snicker at. Those included Shake Your Booty, by KC & the Sunshine Band, Afternoon Delight, by Starland Vocal Band, Mamma Mia, by Abba, Saturday Night, by Bay City Rollers, Breaking Up Is Hard to Do, by Neil Sedaka, I’d Really Love to See You Tonight, by England Dan & John Ford Coley, and I Write the Songs, by Barry Manilow.
Seeing those teenagers today really took me back to a time when we defined ourselves through the music we listened to. Today, of course I listen to a much more diverse range of music from rock and roll, to alternative rock, to acoustic rock, to jazz. Nope, I do not do rap or pop music, but what I realized is some things never change, they may get broader, they may expand, but I think we still define ourselves through the music we listen to.
What were you listening to when you graduated? Better yet, what were you laughing at when you graduated? Even better, how did you define yourself through music? Would love to hear from you!