Monday, July 18, 2016

House of the Setting Sun

My 1960s weren’t as free-spirited as they were for many from the Baby Boomers’ first cohort – those born 1946-50. They experienced a goodly piece of the ‘60s as legal adults. The next cohort (1951-57) caught at least a piece of the decade as teenagers, but unless they ran away from home or rebelled big-time their moment didn’t come fully until the ‘70s. Parental oversight and all that. I was in this second cohort. I didn’t turn 18 until near the end of 1970 and I wasn’t terribly rebellious. (The Crystals’ big hit was not written for me.) But I did have one advantage as far as the decade’s music was concerned: an older sister who filled the house with the sounds of Dylan, Clapton, Donovan, the Doors, et al. much sooner than I would have found them on my own. So, the mental soundtrack to my memories of the 1960s is pretty good. In 1965 one of the vinyl albums Sharon brought home was Animal Tracks by the Animals. (The US album has a different track list from the UK album of the same title, btw, but both are good.) She liked it, but not half so much as I did.

What on these shores was called the British Invasion was a reflection wave from young British musicians who were inspired by Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker, and other blues artists. Forming their own bands, they added their own flourishes.  Eric Burdon (b. May 11, 1941, in Newcastle upon Tyne) was in the right place at the right time with the right voice. He and Alan Price formed the Animals in 1962. They had their first hit a couple years later with House of the Rising Sun, which Eric said took only 15 minutes to record. They might not have been as prolific and inventive as the Beatles or Rolling Stones, but I liked their sound better back then. I still do. We Gotta Get Out of This Place was popular with troops in Vietnam for self-explanatory reasons. The Animals went through a few incarnations; in between two of them Eric joined up with the funk band War and had the hit Spill the Wine. At age 75 Eric is still performing and recording.

By the time Sharon went off to college I was picking my own album purchases. They were a mix of styles but continued to favor blues-based rock. Five years Eric’s junior, Edgar Winter (like his brother Johnny [d.2014]) from Beaumont Texas is a multi-instrumentalist who plays just that brand of music. Due largely to timing (I was in college by the time Edgar hit with Frankenstein and Free Ride), he didn’t have the formative effect on my tastes that Eric did, but I liked his sound. Hearing it today also can make me nostalgic, though for a different phase of life.

A few months ago when I noticed Eric Burdon and Edgar Winter were double-billed at a nearby venue for July 17 in Morristown, it took me fewer than ten minutes to score tickets. I went with someone I’ve known for decades, which seemed appropriate.

The concert was the best I’ve heard in years. While the old songs did evoke some memories, the joy of live music is that it is very much in the now. So overwhelmingly they (along with a few newer numbers) evoked the sensation that this was a very good evening in 2016.

I stood outside in the dark and quiet until a few minutes ago. It is a hot muggy night; though the haze is not thick enough to be visible directly, the heaviness to the air blocks the light from all but the brightest stars. It feels wonderful.

[I debated with myself whether to attach vintage or recent videos. I flipped a coin and went with vintage.]


  1. Glad you enjoyed it. I bet it was fun. I wasn't a big rebel either. I enjoyed the 60s and all the culture, but did so mostly at a distance. Even though it was rife with its only problems and troubles I still think, what a great decade. I saw Rick Derringer some time back and he can still play like crazy.

    1. Any number of social revolutions were in progress in the '60s, which made the decade messy. (It was in the 70s that we indulged -- overindulged really -- in the fruits.) But that did make it colorful, too, and the soundtrack was great. It's not surprising that a lot of musicians from that era died early. It is surprising how many not only survived but still perform.