Photo courtesy of Flickr, uploaded by Epiclectic.
From 1964 to roughly 1967 or so, America experienced what was called “The British Invasion.” Following the success of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, any four guys from Britain with guitars and long hair could have their music played on American radio. One band, which had already begun making its presence known as early as 1962, stood up to defend the honor of American pop music.
That group was The Beach Boys.
Their music, based on surfing and girls, had an all-American sensibility that no imported group could match. They had their first Top 20 hit, Surfin’ Safari, in 1962. The next year they entered the Top 10 for the first time with Surfin’ USA, which peaked at number 3. Their first number one single? I Get Around. To put that in perspective, in April the Beatles had the top 5 songs on the Billboard chart, and 14 songs in the Top 100.
The Beach Boys were serious about taking on the Beatles, as evidenced by the production of Good Vibrations. It took more than ten months to create, and at the time was considered their masterpiece.
I remember hearing it when I went to see The Beach Boys at The Dome in Virginia Beach in April, 1969. Looking back, I’m startled to find that the Dome only held 1000 people, since it was the primary music venue at the time for all of Tidewater, Virginia. I remember the girl I went with, the couple we double-dated with, and the single innocent kiss in the car on the way home.
I’m picking up good vibrations. She’s giving me excitations.
Photo courtesy of Flickr, uploaded by Tobyotter
Such a big night in the life of the teenager. For us, it was a senior prom, so we had to wait till the very end of our high school experience to enjoy it. Well, some girls went earlier with older boys, but never mind that.
I took a girl named Pat Hand. No, really, that was her name. (Pat, where are you now?) I wore a yellow double-breasted tux with a ruffled shirt. I thought I was the stuff. Today that seems hopelessly corny, but it’s easy to make fun in retrospect.
Our prom was away from the high school, and we were the first class allowed that privilege. A group of us went to dinner before the prom and again after it. Not sure why we felt that was necessary, but it was part of making the night special. This was before the era of limousines and renting hotel rooms, and I’m actually glad about that. We did stay out all night, in a chaperoned environment, and when the sun came up you felt like you had conquered the night.
Now, when I go out to dinner in the spring and a group of kids in formal wear arrives, I think it’s so cute. But for us, all those years ago, it was a rite of passage, something we’d waited for all our young lives. It was the prom.
Photo courtesy of Flickr, posted by sholden.
They’re loved. And they’re hated. But the temptation to go back and see what’s happened to the people with whom you spent the most traumatic years of your life is irresistible.
Of course, the secret reason you want to go is to see what he’s done with his life. You know, the boy you thought you’d end up marrying. Or how she looks now, the girl who mixed your hormone cocktail.
There’s always the person you thought was a geek who now is Vice President of Microsoft. And the people who never left high school in their minds, who want to revive the clique and hold a pep rally.
The food’s not good, the music is too loud, and dammit, you were going to lose those twenty pounds. But you go, and in the end, you’re glad. Because you realize that you’re doing okay after all. And the head cheerleader who thought she was God’s gift now tips the Toledo at over two bills.