Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Ooooh! Listen to the Colors!

I stumbled across this Internet radio station the other night, "Technicolor Web of Sound: 60's Psychedelic Internet Radio." Okay, I didn't actually stumble across it; truth be told, it showed up in iTunes under 60's and 70's Pop. I think iTunes has been keeping tabs on the kind of stuff I've been browsing and downloading from their Music Store and luring me accordingly.

This is the kind of station where, if you're a certain (old) age or an aficionado of late 60's-early 70's pop and rock, you go, "Oh my God, I can't believe they're playing this!" Where Moog-ed out Monkees co-exist with King Crimson, plus an assortment of one-hit and no-hit wonders. The kind of stuff that heads toward Oldies Station and Classic Rock but then takes an unexpected, delightful twist.

Like, they'll play Tommy James and the Shondells, but instead of playing "Crimson and Clover," they'll play "I Am A Tangerine" from the "Crimson and Clover" album. It's like being plunged into a parallel universe that's somehow nostalgically familiar yet amazingly new.

Hubby says it's like the "Underground" radio, before became "FM" or Album Oriented Rock. "It was more free-form then." Instead of a medium to get you to pay for an album when most of the time you wanted one song.

It also reminds me of being 13 and going into a dimly-lit head shop/jeans emporium, like this Manhattan one described by The Preppy Handbook author Lisa Birnbach in an old New York Magazine essay:

My favorite was called A Different Drummer, on the west side of Lexington, somewhere between 58th and 62nd Streets. It was dark. Peter Max designed its paper bags. It smelled of patchouli and sex . . . whatever that was.

The Zombies' "Time of the Season" was always playing on its sound system when we walked in wearing our uniform skirts rolled up to mid-thigh and knee socks. A guy would look you up and down and, practically grazing your buttocks, say, "You're 27" -- and hand you a small stack of Landlubber bell-bottoms. Oh my God! Then you'd go into the dressing room with a door that barely covered you and try on these new, skintight, flare-legged pants. And we'd have to wear them out with our uniform shirts!

There were places like this in Queens, too--Instant Pants on Austin Street in Forest Hills or Hot Ash on 63rd Drive in Rego Park--and we'd also go to the above-mentioned Different Drummer in the City. The Queens Boulevard bus deposited us on Second Avenue and 60th Street, with us all coltish and blinking and trying to look nonchalant about being in The City. And looking nonchalant about changing our pants in said dressing room with a door that barely covered your torso. "Hey, it's the human body." "We're all one body."

We imagined ourselves as cool, worldly hippie chicks, but if anyone had looked at us a little too long, we would have run like hell: Beads, bells and medallions clinking and clanging all the way home. Where we would have giggled, bragged ("He was looking at me!") and listened to groups with names like this.

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