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Sunday, May 1, 2016

A digital trip down memory lane

Saturday, May 28, 2005

I finally broke down and bought a DVD player. My son, Michael, said, "Welcome to the new millennium, Dad."

Actually I didn't just buy a player, I bought a unit that has a player and a recorder so I can transfer all my VHS tapes to DVD's. VHS tapes deteriorate seriously in quality over time and DVD's don't so it seemed like it was time to make the transition. This particular machine also records DVD's onto VHS cassettes, although I don't know why anyone would want to do that. I have some videos that I want to have for a lifetime and I didn't want to take the chance of losing images and sounds from days gone by that can never be replaced.

I waited until Michael was able to come up for a visit before I bought this thing because technology and I don't exactly see eye to eye. After watching all the steps and procedures he had to go through to get the thing working, I'm glad I did wait. I would have been lost on page one.

Since he went back to Arkansas, I've been busy doing the tape-to-DVD transfer, so far without much of a problem. I've only had to call him twice to interpret what the instruction manual says. I had him type out in plain English the things I needed to know to run this thing and so far that has worked out OK. Most of the things I've transferred so far have been those videos mentioned earlier recorded by me or others that are irreplaceable. But I did stumble onto a video I received from PBS a couple of years ago in exchange for a pledge I made that really took me back in time. The name of the video is "Rock, Rhythm and Doo Wop, the Greatest Songs from Early Rock N' Roll."

All of the original artists had gotten together in Pittsburgh, Pa. for one show to help PBS raise money and the list of performers was pretty incredible. When I heard Kathy Young (making her first public appearance in almost forty years) and the Innocents sing "A Thousand Stars," I was immediately transported to the deep recesses of my mind and thought about things I hadn't thought about in a long time.

Back to my high school days, the "glory days" as Bruce Springsteen remembers them. Back to my white 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air convertible with a continental kit. Back to football, baseball, basketball, and track practice. Back to my high-school sweetheart and all the times we spent listening to these same songs while we were at the submarine races, if you get my drift.

"Do You Love Me" by the Contours. "Have You Heard (who's kissing her now) and "You Belong To Me" by the Duprees. Ed Townsend setting up his mega-hit by talking about all the songwriters who had written about what they would do for the love of their lives like swimming the deepest ocean or climbing the highest mountain and he just never felt like that was enough, if you really were fortunate enough to find the love of your life.

He said it had to be m ore than that, and so he penned "For Your Love (oh, I would do anything.)" The emotions connected to those far away days continued to flood into the depths of my soul because the words are as true today as they were yesterday. That's the thing about music. It's the great unifier. It can bring together totally diverse groups with nothing more than notes, harmonies, and words.

Little Anthony and the Imperials sang four songs, three about love: "Tears On My Pillow" (pain in my heart caused by you), "Hurts So Bad (to see you again)," and "Going Out Of My Head (over you.)" Then, in succession, came Lenny Welch with his classic, "Since I Fell For You," Jay and the Americans' "I'll Be Your Love 'Til The End Of Time," Jerry Butler singing "He Don't Love You (like I love you)," "Once In A While" by The Chimes," "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye," by the Casinos, and "In The Still Of The Night," by the Five Satins.

Almost every song was about love back then. There was the occasional "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight" and "Itsy Bitsy, Teeny Weeny, Yellow Polka Dot Bikini," but they were few and far between. No songs about cop killers and "ho's" and violence and murder. Our generation, for the most part, just sang about love. And as I listened to the words of each song, it reminded me that some things in life are constant and love has always been one of those things. It's also kind of sad that most of these love songs were about love that had been lost and was trying to be reclaimed. A generation or two later, things haven't changed much. There still seems to be much more love lost than love gained and while that's wonderful for those who have loved and won, it's devastating for those who have loved and lost.

For some things in our lives, the following old adage remains particularly clear and cogent. "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

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