In the depths of the mind

Feb 27th, 2011 | By | Category: Personal Columns

Today FM’s ‘Classic Gold’ programme this afternoon was in fine form: The Rolling Stones’ ‘Get off of my cloud’, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s  ‘Have you ever seen the rain?’, Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Mrs Robinson’; too young to remember them the first time round, their repeated appearances in the years since has made them familiar friends.  Their playing today brought memories of a place at which I have no memory of them being played

In the summer of 1972 there was a cafe in Westward Ho! called The Malibu. We spent three weeks on a campsite in the town, with my Dad going away to work for a week in the middle of it. Some days we had our tea in the cafe, probably fish and chips, I’m not sure.

The abiding memory of The Malibu was its jukebox, at the age of 11 it was probably the first I had seen. There were few names I recognized and even fewer songs. There seemed to be lots of things by Donny Osmond, a young American singer much loved by my sophisticated twelve year old cousins. However, the song that caught the imagination for me that summer was by a group who were unlikely ever to have been teenage heartthrobs. Compared to the clean-cut Mr Osmond, they looked distinctly disreputable, but who cared what they looked like when their lyrics are still in the memory forty years later.

Dr Hook and the Medicine Show sang ‘Sylvia’s Mother’, I can still remember the angst of the time as the refrain was sung,

And the operator says
Another Forty Cents
For the next three minutes.

A few years ago, digging through boxes of 7 inch singles on a Dublin market stall, I found ‘Sylvia’s Mother’. It had a torn paper sleeve that was not its original, but there were no scratches. I bought it (along with Gloria Gaynor’s “I will survive”) for €4. It was probably about ten times what it had cost in 1972, but it was a bargain. I brought it home and played it on the Dansette that I had bought on eBay. There was all the crackly authenticity and the summer sunshine of August 1972.

Why, though, did The Malibu come to mind today?  Did the playing of one of those songs lodge deep in the sub conscious?  The mind is a strange thing.

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  1. Late 1963 I’m at TCD; and I Wanna BeYour Man was on the juke-box of the chip shop at Baggot Street Bridge (and so a convenient stop-off for the walk back from O’Neill’s in Suffolk Street to my cold-water flat in Ballsbridge). Proof that a Lennon/McCartney song actually can rock. Start of the addiction.

    Get off of My Cloud: the grammar, thereof, parse if you will, Ah, the early winter of ’65 that was. In my first teaching job. Still young enough to have the same music as the sixth-formers I was teaching (and by whom I was being taught). Charlie Watts does the percussion intro, then the guitar dialogue between Brian Jones and Keef. Cloud is still on the iPod, right beside Satisfaction. But, hey!, the back-up hard-drive is listing all of 417 Stones tracks: can that be right?

  2. O’Neill’s serves a fine pint of stout.

    417 tracks sounds right for the entire Stones catalogue!

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