IT WAS SO HIP TO BE NEGATIVE…SO SQUARE TO TRY AND BELIEVE
When the waters cleared, we were what we feared
We learned nothin’ new,
Back in ’72
Actually…that’s not true. It was a different time fer sure. Most of us would eventually become what we feared. We sure didn’t start that way. We had HIGH hopes fueled by the Nature of Revolutionary Change. That also happened to be a course taught by Mrs. Candy. She reminded me of a hip nun. The philosophical approach of the time was to “bridge the gap“. Far out. Pass the bong. Let’s “rap”. Sometimes it worked, other times, the esoteric tactics utilized to Bridge That Gap were left wanting. This little gem of wisdom was a popular belief during the cultural revolution of our high school class. “Mr. Hurley, our philosophy is to never force a student to do something they don’t want to. It may traumatize them“– said the counselor to the parent…my father, who had come to a session to find out why my grades were tanking. Years later, Dad would share; “When he said that, I knew I’d lost you. What an asshole“. That’s how my Dad rolled. I came by salt-of-the-earth language honestly. The late 60’s & early 70’s were Tough Times for parents and kids. That’s not to infer its any easier now…but it was a whole other ballgame and a very different animal, back in 72′.
It’s all relative…especially for parents, but you had to live in that era to really get it.
The synaptic gaps between memory cells are awash in electrical pulses fueling memories after hitting a 40th year, high school reunion last Saturday Night. A great time was had by all. We’re all at an age where being a few pounds heavy or having no hair really doesn’t matter anymore. Nobody really gives a shit. Well…maybe that’s a stretch. No one certainly cared after the wine and beer started flowing. Speaking of which…ahem. Our class has the highest mortality rate between the present and 1965. That fact wasn’t lost on those who made Bail’s Gig. Steve sure knows how to throw a party. It was nice…but not over the top. Plus, I’d never been in a paint store that had as cool a sound system as he has. On that note, it’s time for another song from that era. Steve was about to play this album as I walked in. As a 9th grader in 1969 at John Page Jr. High, the Hurls cranked up this edifying call-to-arms during one lunch hour in the cafeteria. Playing it three times, back-to-back, the teachers were aghast by the savagery of the song. The MC 5 were a far cry from the Strawberry Alarm Clock. It was well worth being called to the principal’s office for. The look of rebellious shock on the mugs of my fellow adolescent barbarians made it all worth it. They either cheered with glee, bowed their heads at the forbidden shame, pumped a “RIGHT ON!” fist…or shot a look that suggested;
“Hurley…you’re crazy“. You can be the judge of that.
Hahaha. To put it in context, recording the “F” Bomb back in 68-69 just wasn’t done. What a great album! It was so reflective of the times and a veritable call-to-arms.
Kick out the jams motherfuckers !
Yeah! I, I, I, I, I’m gonna
I’m gonna kick ’em out ! Yeah !
Well I feel pretty good
And I guess that I could get you crazy now baby
Cause we all got in tune
And when the dressing room got hazy now baby
I know how you want it child
Hot, quick and tight
The girls can’t stand it
When you’re doin’ it right
Let me up on the stand
And let me kick out the jam
Yes, kick out the jams
I want to kick ’em out!
Yes I’m starting to sweat
You know my shirt’s all wet
What a feeling
In the sound that abounds
And resounds and rebounds off the ceiling
You gotta have it baby
You can’t do without
When you get that feeling
You gotta sock ’em out
With that mic in my hand
And let me kick out the jam
Yes ! Kick out the jams
I want to kick ’em out
So you got to give it up
You know you can’t get enough Miss Mackenzie
Cause it gets in your brain
It drives you insane
with the frenzy
The wailin’ guitars girl
The crash of the drums
Make you want to keep-a-rockin’
Till the morning comes
Let me be who I am
And let me kick out the jams
Yes, kick out the jams
I done kicked em out!!!
Well praise God for those lyrics and the affirmation of a misspent youth. I seriously doubt the worship team will be rolling this one out at a Vineyard service any time soon. All bias aside, we didn’t listen to music back in ’72…we lived it. We didn’t attend concerts–it was a Gathering Of The Tribe. We took that shit seriously. Music before Big Biz snuck in and ruined everything was a celebratory melding of the species. It was like going to church. It was a form of church. The Grande Ballroom was our version of entering the Promise Land. A tad misogynistic? Of course. A dash of idol worship? Sure…but we were too young, stupid and unable to discern the dark forces behind our drug-fueled, psychedelicsized roadshow of a rainbow. We were having too much fun! How could you not at an all day gig like this at the State Fairgrounds?
Oh’ my sweet Lord. Look at those bands. All for $5.00. With three headliners representing the past (Chuck Berry), present (MC5) and the future (Sun Ra)… under-girded by bands like the Amboy Dukes, Stooges, James Gang, Johnny Winter, the Frost & SRC, this was visceral music. So puhleeeze, get the hell outa’ here with your Matchbook Zero, Marooned 10, Nickelback, Madonna, Rick Ross or Lady Gagme. This was some serious music for a maniacal Detroit audience of reprobates who’d boo you off the stage in a heartbeat. Kick Out the Jams or get off my stage and go home…PUNK! That’s just the way it was kids. Nothing personal. Actually…it was very personal. Detroit Bands would take the stage like mounting an assault to annihilate and destroy any out-of-town interlopers. No posers need apply. Young tigers flashing guitars like switchblades; Marshall Stacks at 10. We’re talking tube heads…not the solid state crap of today. No effects. No sound processing. No demonic auto-tuning. Just pure volume so loud…it would literally (on a good night) move your shirt. On a better night, you’d tear it off by the end of the gig. Fred “Sonic” Smith, was the baddest of the bad. His playing prowess and stage presence was a thing to behold…not to mention his threads.
What a stud. That shot was taken at the aforementioned Fairgrounds gig. The “SS” on the front of his silver lame’ outfit stood for “Sonic Smith”…but my readers already knew that. He remains my all time fav guitarist. Why? Because he was the best and took no prisoners.
We all had our favorite bands back in ’72. The only difference between the music of then and today is simple. Our generation experienced real music…with real soul…and power…and majesty…and the expectation that we’d be moved deeply. Yeah, good jams are still being kicked out today. Howevah…ahem…a perusal of the Billboard Top 100 in 2012 is confirmation that we’re living in the end times. Back in ’72 there’d only be a couple of ringers in the top 100. Today, there’s only a few artists making music with a potential to be soul moving.
So what does this have to do with a 40th High School reunion? In a word…everything. The soundtrack of our lives was playing in the background last Saturday Night. It was fun & righteous. We were just so glad to be amongst the living. More cases of cold water were consumed than alcohol. No one (that I know of) was in the john doing lines of coke or mainlining smack. Naw…that shit is dead. There was no one holding up the food line, staring glassy eyed at the pan of excellent meatballs float away on a cloud of lysergic induced nirvana. Where were the hemp clouds? Dang…what about giant bongs filled with crushed ice and Boones Farm Strawberry Hill? We use to smoke an ounce of weed through one of those and then drink the putrid liquid and like it. Oh my. The Class of ’72 was a hard-core bunch. Perhaps that explains the joy permeating Steve’s little gathering in Bloomfield. Many in attendance have made peace with God and now cultivate a real relationship with Father. It was great to see and share that with others without being religious dickheads. Not bad for a bunch of former pagan reprobates. Another nice development was a sub-set of us who’ve found recovery from alcoholism & addiction. We know who we are and nary a one was a flaming prohibitionist. Our attitude is “Live and let live“. If you can drink and/or smoke a little weed and it’s not a threat to your life…go for it. Have a drink on me. Have two tokes too! If politics were discussed, it was kept on the down-low tip. Noper…the best part of the evening was hanging with a teacher from back in ’72.
Mr’ Sterritt was a favorite of many because he really cared for his kids.
Back in ’72, my hair was like the wild mane of a Lion. In this shot, bald rules. Either way, temporal crap like that never mattered to Mr. Sterritt. He wanted the best for his kids and was one of those rare birds who knew how to draw it out of us. Not much has changed over the years. He still has a protective and supporting arm around the shoulder of a big kid trying to front off his fear as toughness. He was one of the very few who could pierce through the madness…back in ’72. His class was a lighthouse through the fog of a long school day. Believe me…there was a lot of smoke back then. He’s one of those guys with a presence so immediate that it was difficult to look him in the eye and tell a lie.
“Timothy…are you high today?”
“Yes Mr. Sterritt“
Wimper, wimper. With a slight sigh of exasperation, he’d tell me to go sit in the corner. Depending on the substance of the day, I could usually comply–especially when Mr’ Sterrit asked. He was no phony hip-liberal who tried to be cool with his students. Mr’ Sterritt put the “H” in Hip. He was just hip. We respected his ass and his class. He never co-signed any madness…relatively speaking. Hehe. Now in our mid to late 50’s, we all addressed him as “Mr. Sterritt” at the reunion. That’s some real respect…not the Adrian Regional kind of prison yard respect. Even though John said we could call him “John”…no can do dude. It’s just not happening. Thanks for caring. Thanks for trying. Thanks for never giving up. Thanks for appointing me to the board of parents, cops, politicians and teachers as a student rep when we decided what the foaming youth of Madison Heights needed was a taxpayer-funded hangout named “Madison House”
What a disaster that was.
But your heart was in the right place and I’ll never forget you for it…John.
This is a cool shot of us protecting the rear flank at the Class of ’72 reunion.
God Bless All Your Hearts
Let”s Do It Again on September 28th. Greg Beeman and Larry Fry…if you know what’s good for you, you’d best show up.
OK, OK…what’s a Hurlco Blog without one last song? This is a very cool remake of a classic jam. Note the harmonies. Paul Fry taught me my first song on guitar. Amy taught me how to listen for the keyboards. Joe taught me to pick out the guitar parts. This version is more suited to our age bracket and goes out with a prayer and special mad love to the Madison Heights, Michigan, Lamphere High School…Class of 1972
(Special Note to my bud and fellow minstrel Laurel at Renaissance Vineyard) Yo!…check out the guitar fingering at the .47 second mark. That’s called a Chuck Berry barr chord and it’s what you caught the Hurls doing at RVC’s last practice. Busted!
OK…fine. As cool as the Beach Boys version is, here’s our Detroit version of “Do It Again” recorded live at Lamphere in 1976 by a couple of Hurley Brothers and Greg Clore. Ending a rich story about growing up in the Mad Heights, the music of Detroit and the power of our unique brand of music seemed to borderline on blasphemy by leaving you with the Beach Boys. This one goes out to the memory of brother Joe. PLAY IT LOUD