of the Phonograph
"Our Song" Phenomenon - A Phonograph Recollection
grew-up in a suburb of Lincoln, Nebraska called Eastridge.
Our house had a basement with a recreation room more commonly
called the rec room. We had shuffleboard "triangles"
inlaid into our tiled basement floor and it provided occasional
entertainment. But the real fun was up the street at the Keister's.
were three Keister boys and their ages were within five years
of each other so it was easy for me to knock on their door and
find someone to play with. It was the 1960's and you would play
with friends, not hang out with friends.
the years we ate alot of Valentino's pizza (2)
in the Keister rec room while we played pool and played cards
and played board games.
also played the phonograph...alot.
Keister rec room could have accurately been called "the
social center of the dateless" since most activities were
pretty much a guy thing. But we had fun and one of my distinct
memories is the sound of 45 RPM records playing on the RCA Victor
record player that sat in the corner of the rec room.
was the oldest Keister brother and he loved Doris Day and Petula
Clark. I can still hear him playing his 45 RPM of Downtown.
was the middle son and he also had a 45 RPM record of Downtown.
However, it was an Italian version of Downtown and for
some reason playing that record seemed to irritate Dave. Which
is obviously why Doug liked to play it.
bedroom was in the basement and in his room he had built what
you would have to call a monster sound system. He called it
The speakers were Voice of the Theatre,15 inch cones
inside two huge speaker cabinets. The large control panel Doug
had made dominated the room with its size and numerous switches
Control Panel, circa 1966
use to kid Doug about that control panel because it seemed like
most of the buttons and lights didn't do anything. I don't remember
the sound being as great as its size but it had alot of Watts
and he could crank it up, much to the displeasure of his parents.
As I recall the Yardbirds' I'm a Man was always turned
all the way up by Doug at the end of the song.
can still hear Mrs. Keister yelling down the staircase "Turn
down that music!"
was closest to my age and he had a quite a few 33 1/3 LPs (e.g.,
The Association, Beatles, Beach Boys, Herb Alpert & the
Tijuana Brass, etc.) and he played them on his Harman Kardon
component stereo system (the purchase of which is documented
by Kim as a story in
Look magazine and listening to Kim's Harman Kardon
with Dave Clark Headphones, circa 1966.
in all there was a variety of music heard in that basement:
"de gustibus non est disputandum" as the Romans would
say (there's no accounting for taste). (3)
if I was to name one song that I connect with those record playing
days and nights it has to be the 45 RPM Red River Rock
by Johnny and the Hurricanes.
a record that we played over and over, which is one way to account
for how deeply it's still embedded in my memory.
"You been playing
that SAME record ALL DAY!"
Harvey, October 1970
"You kids musta played
that noisy record a million times!!"
Kathy, August 1961
embedded sticking of a tune, often called an "earworm,"
doesn't have to be based on the number of times you hear a song.
Associations we have with certain songs can have many sources.
couples a song can be given special status, an Our
Song. This designation usually has romantic connotations
but all songs can trigger memories of a particular time or place.
here to see the full
1945 Crosley radio-phonograph advertisement, and other "Our
I don't associate Red River Rock with any special moment
or the fact that anyone in our group actually thought Red
River Rock was a great record.
also certain that none of us would ever think of it as an "Our
Song." We were a group of teen-age boys in the 1960's and
Red River Rock was really just one of the records we
for me it's a song that has connections and triggers memories
and takes me back to the Keister basement.
call Red River Rock one of my "Time Travel Songs";
not an "Our Song" or a my song, but a specific
song in my memory banks that can take me back in time.
sure most people have more than one of these tunes in their
are the songs that take you to another time or place?
you have an "Our Song"?
wrote The Our Song Phenomenon - A Phonograph Recollection
for two reasons.
I think it's interesting that certain songs stay with us and
take us back in time or place
even if we only hear a few bars of the song.
second, I enjoy all popular culture connections with the phonograph,
celebrate the phonograph and its legacy, and look for any excuse
to repeat, like a broken record, my phonographia truisms.
of course I am a Phonographian.
I'll play my broken record truisms yet again:
Phonograph is an invention that began a revolution of sound.
Phonograph created for each of us the "Best
seat in the house. Forever"©
December 6, take a moment and wish
Edison's Phonograph a Happy Birthday!
magic is alive.
a revolution still turning.
the Revolution ©1990 Black Rock - Portraits on the
here to listen to exerpt (4.8 MB) from Red
River Rock, Johnny and the Hurricanes
here to listen to exerpt (5.4 MB) from I'm
a Man, The Yardbirds
here to listen to exerpt (5.5 MB) from Downtown,
here to listen to Italian version of Downtown, Ciao,
here to watch the definitive example of someone incorporating
memories with their record albums. In the movie High Fidelity,
Rob (played by John Cusask, a record store owner) decides to
reorganize his record albums. How does he do it?: "Chronological?
No...Not alphabetical? Nope...What?...Autobiographical"
(Note this scene rated R for language)
Our Song Phenomenon in Popular Culture
Place in a Song Phenomenon