By Suzanne Sparrow Watson


45's - remember those?

45’s – remember those?

T.S. Eliot once said that April is the cruelest month.  Perhaps that is so, but this year it seems that January is vying for that ignominious honor.  In addition to the cold winter storms hammering both coasts, and the plummeting stock market, we also seem to be losing icons of the entertainment industry at an alarming rate.  Pat Harrington, Dan Haggerty, Alan Rickman, and Wayne Rogers to name but a few.  Perhaps the greatest loss has been experienced in the music world – most notably Natalie Cole, Glenn Frey of the Eagles and David Bowie of, well, David Bowie.   For those of us of a certain age, it seems that with each death a bit of our youth gets taken away.  I got to thinking about that the other day as I was listening to a tribute to Mr. Frey.  The radio host played “Peaceful Easy Feeling” and I was instantly transported back to 1972, remembering exactly where I was living and the beat up record player on which I played their LP.

Summer Place

I don’t know about you, but I can bookmark my younger days by the singers and songs of the era.  In 1964, I was standing waiting for the school bus when everyone’s transistor radios began playing a song from a new group: the Beatles, singing “I Want to Hold Your Hand”.  Just to illustrate why I never became a record producer, I remember turning to my girlfriend and saying I thought the lyrics were stupid.  So much for my ability to spot a trend.  But somehow that first exposure to the world’s most successful quartet is forever etched in my memory.  In the summer of 1966 I was at a party with a young man by the name of Greg Susser.  When the 45 of Percy Faith’s “Theme from A Summer Place” dropped on to the turntable Greg and I went out to the dance floor.  Mid-way through the song, under the starry skies, he leaned down and said to me, “For the rest of our lives, when we hear this song, we should remember this moment”.  Quite a romantic play for a 17-year-old with chin stubble.  But the fact is, for the past 50 years, every time I’ve heard that song I do think about that party.  It would be a more sentimental story if I said that we went on to have a great romance but actually I never saw him after high school.  Still…the moment is cemented firmly in my memory because of that song.   And in 1973, after a day skiing at Squaw Valley, I was in the bar dancing with a ski patrol member who was a new arrival from Germany.  The song “It Never Rains in California” came on and he whispered to me – “Do you mean to tell me it never rains here?”.  It seemed like such a ridiculous question, given that we were surrounded by several feet of snow.  Every time I hear that song I think about him and wonder whether he was smart enough to figure out how to get back to Germany.

A Legend

Legendary Glenn Frey

With the passing of Glenn Frey and David Bowie every media outlet has played their songs in tribute.  For the most part, I could place where I was when their songs were hits and miraculously, I could remember most of the lyrics.  Yet, if you threatened me with my life, I could not tell you the name of the book I read last month nor could I quote any passage from it.  I gave this some serious thought – why can I recall lyrics from 50 years ago but not remember anything I read last month?  I did some quick research (meaning I Googled the phenomenon) and found several interesting articles addressing the issue.  Clearly, I am not alone in my selective memory.  It mostly comes down to this: repetition and rhyme.  It turns out that our old piano teachers were right – the more we hear something the easier it is to memorize and ingrain that “muscle memory” into our brain.  Part of the reason that we recall songs from our youth is that we played them over and over.  Remember when your mom yelled “Turn off that darn record player, I can’t hear that song one more time!”?  Well, turns out, we were actually imprinting the song in the deep recesses of our memory.

The second reason we remember is due to the rhyming nature of most songs (think “American Pie”).  Our brains anticipate a rhyme, thus making it easier to remember the whole phrase.  For example, in the song “Mary Had a Little Lamb” the first two lines are ‘Mary had a little lamb, whose fleece was white as snow’, so your brain anticipates not only a word that rhymes with ‘snow’ but one that can also be joined to that sentence in roughly the same amount of syllables or ‘beats’. This greatly reduces the number of available words your brain has to consider and so helps you remember the whole lyric more quickly.  Since we are programmed to remember song and rhymes better than prose, we can hum our high school fight song well into our old age.

At least now I understand WHY I remember old lyrics.  But I can’t recall the name of that nice appliance repairman that was here in October.  Perhaps if he’d sung a song I would stand a better chance.



My Evening with the Eagles

by Bob Sparrow

Eagles      I have a friend, who happens to know a guy, who is an acquaintance of the road manager for the Eagles, so I felt distantly-connected for getting good tickets for the kicking off of their History of the Eagles concert tour at the ‘Even More Fabulous Forum’ last week.  My friend said, that his buddy told him, that the road manager indicated that we’ve got great floor seats with back-stage passes AND we’ll have an opportunity to grab a bite to eat with the Eagles prior to the concert – are you in?  “Am I in?  You’ve got to be kidding me – the Eagles are my all time favorite group.  Book it!’


The limo was real

Our limo was waved up right next to the entrance to the Forum Club, a well-dressed gentleman escorted the four of us into ‘the club’ and then into a separate room where there were only about twenty people.  Among those twenty were Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Timothy B. Schmit and Joe Walsh – the Eagles, who were casually moving amongst the guests, meeting and chatting with them.  I personally got to meet them all and in fact carried out a plan to give Don Henley a $2 bill saying, “I sang one of your songs, For My Wedding, at my daughter’s wedding, but changed the words to fit the occasion, so I figured I owed you a royalty of some kind.” I held out a $2 bill.  He looked at me sternly, grabbed the $2 bill, then smiled and said, “It’s about time you paid up!” and we both had a good laugh.  He kept the $2.

I thought I was too excited to be really hungry, but the food looked and smelled so good I had to try it – I ended up trying it a lot.  I didn’t think I was that thirsty either, but how do you pass up ‘having a cold one’ with the Eagles?  OK, maybe a couple of cold ones.  OK, OK, it was more than a couple, but it was free . . . and it was the Eagles for crying out loud!   After about 30 minutes the Eagles said their good-byes and went off to prepare for the concert.  We stayed a while longer, eating, drinking and thanking the people that made this all possible; we were then escorted to our seats – floor level, middle, 6 rows back – perfect!

The concert started with just Don & Glenn (yes, we’re now on a first name basis) coming on stage with guitars and singing Whatever Happened to Saturday Night?’   Other band members, including former member and guitar virtuoso, Bernie Leadon, gradually joined them on stage.



Pink’s hotdog

Reality first struck when we picked up our tickets at Will Call, which I now refer to as ‘Won’t Call’ – no backstage passes!  So instead of a gourmet meal with the Eagles that I had envisioned, we bought a Pink’s hot dog from a vendor wandering through the masses in the Forum lobby.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Pink’s – it’s an LA landmark that started with a funky little hot dog stand back in 1939, but it wasn’t the beef filet tornados sliders on Hawaiian rolls that I had imagined.  Of course, there was no personally meeting the Eagles and the seats . . . well, not exactly floor level, but we could see the floor from where we were, more importantly, we could see the ‘Jumbotron’, which is where we watched most of the concert.  Right before the concert began, I was almost expecting to hear the announcement, “Sitting in for Glenn Frey this evening will be Stir Frey, Glenn’s older, tone-deaf brother.”

top of stadium

Not our actual seats – I was visiting a friend . . . really!

Further reality sunk in when the concert actually began – the Eagles are still amazing – great harmonies, great musicians and great guitar riffs.  They talked to us between songs and provided stories around the history of the group and the songs.  Glenn Frey said he wrote Lyin’ Eyes’ after the divorce from his first wife, whose name was ‘Plaintiff’.  The sound system, which was an integral part of the recent $100 million makeover of the Forum, was second to none in the world (so I’m told, I haven’t actually heard them ALL).  In my opinion, the only thing they neglected in that makeover was to move the Forum out of Inglewood.

All in all it was a wonderfully entertaining evening, both real and imagined.

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