Hi everyone. Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing. But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?
(Image found online. Original source unknown.)
I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.
Today’s song was written by singer Rick Nelson about his rather unhappy experience at an oldies show that took place in October 1971. He was on the bill along with superstars Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley & others. Ozzie & Harriet’s heartthrob son, who was 31 years old at the time & stopped going by “Ricky” since his 21st birthday in 1961, understandably “didn’t look the same” as the lyrics go. He began his set by performing two of his older hits which the crowd enjoyed. But their mood changed during his country cover of The Rolling Stones hit, “Honky Tonk Women”. Suddenly the audience started to boo, offending Nelson so much he walked off the stage and refused to return, not even for the all-star finale.
Eventually another story emerged that the crowd’s reaction was not directed at him but rather at police officers attempting to remove an over inebriated man from the arena. But the experience rattled Nelson so much he wrote about it in what became his last top ten hit ever in 1972. I grew up singing this with my mother because she adored it and played the single to death. I knew all the lyrics to the track but would not come to understand them until years later as they were basically written in code. For instance, two of The Beatles attended the show (as fans, not performers) so Nelson mentioned them with the lines “Yoko brought a Walrus” (about John Lennon and his wife Yoko) and “Mr. Hughes hid in Dylan’s shoes wearing his disguise” (about George Harrison, as Hughes was supposedly Harrison’s alias and he was rumored to be making an album of all Bob Dylan songs at that time).
As for himself, Nelson wrote, “I said hello to Mary Lou, she belongs to me” in reference to his 1961 hit song “Hello Mary Lou” which he performed that night. The next line, “But when I sang a song about a honky tonk, it was time to leave” referred to him ending his set due to the crowd’s sour reaction to his cover song. By the last verse, Nelson mentioned one of the show headliners but not by his name (Berry),, but rather by using references to his most famous song: “…out stepped Johnny B. Goode, playing guitar like a-ringin’ a bell and lookin’ like he should“. The final line, “But if memories were all I sang, I’d rather drive a truck” was supposedly a reference to Elvis Presley who did just that while he was trying to get a record deal and not receiving too much recognition for either vocation. The song was Nelson’s final hit record. He died in 1985 in a plane crash at the very young age of 45, nine years before his mother.
In the years before MTV, many music artists appeared on variety shows to promote their songs. If they could not attend due to scheduling conflicts or tour dates, they would pre-tape their performance to be shown in place of a live one. I was fortunate to find the clip of Nelson singing today’s song with his band that I saw as a kid. It brought back unbelievably poignant memories. Music & YouTube are the closest things to time travel we will probably ever see in our lifetimes. 🙂
“But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well
You see, you can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself”.
Top: The Nelsons circa 1955 (L-R): Ozzie, Harriet, Ricky & David. Bottom: Rick Nelson in 1972 in a still from today’s video. (Image found online. Original source unknown.)
Rick Nelson: “Garden Party” (1972, written by Rick Nelson).
I do not own the rights to anything. I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.