It was the summer of ’68. We had just graduated from high school. It was that space in time between where we were and where we were going in our journey in life. It had been a year of turbulence, both nationally and locally. As anxious as I was to move on, I was also apprehensive of what would be, and I often longed for a space to go – somewhere to just be me. I found that space, in the words of a song, in the summer of ’68.
A group of us attended a concert of a local group. The concert was held in a high school gym. It was a ticketed performance back-in-the-day when students could use their baby-sitting money or earnings from the five-and-dime to pay for a concert – and maybe go out for a Coke or ice cream afterwards.
I had not heard the band before, The Cryan Shames, but thought it would be fun. Once they started playing, I did recognize a few of their songs.
It was a warm summer night, in a high school gym, basketball nets to the sides, high ceilings. You have all been in these gyms, and this was in a time before schools were air-conditioned. I think we were all standing, swaying to the beat, picking up on lyrics, being kids. Then, a song started, and it became mine. I have mentioned it before.
When this old world starts getting me down
And people are just too much for me to face (Up on the roof)
I climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space (Up on the roof)
It wasn’t a new song in 1968. Others recorded Up on the Roof before then, and others have since, but, it was on that warm summer night that the song and the music gave me a place to go. Now, mind you, I did not have a roof to go up to, nor would have gone up on one. My ability to fall on flat pavement is legendary, let alone an urban roof. My roof was a place in my thoughts, where my dreams and wishes and even my troubles could flow. It was a peaceful state of being, or a good, long cry. An inner place where “all my cares just” drifted “right into space”.
I was thinking about that summer night in ’68 as I watched PBS’s American Masters presentation of Carole King. Ms. King has been richly and deservedly honored lately, with her recent Kennedy Center Honor, the hit musical “Beautiful” and many more tributes to her work. American Masters’ feature was beautiful rendered, as it always is. I was, yet again, overwhelmed by the phenomenal talent of Carole King and by her voluminous body of work. Her talent, her gifts, her many collaborations. As I watched, I closed my eyes, I breathed in deeply, and I climbed to the top of those stairs and felt my cares just drift . . .
Is there a song that takes you to a peaceful place? Do you have a favorite Carole King song – or a singer who sings her songs?
Here’s our “friend” James, who the Antler Man and I love, at the Kennedy Center honors for Carole King, found on YouTube.