If you want to get an idea of how much we’ve changed in the past forty years, try watching an old variety show. If you watch The Smothers Brothers like I just did tonight, it might hit you like a ton of bricks that we used to be so dang sweet.
I mean when you watch Mason Williams play “Classical Gas” in a tux with a fog machine, and then the brass kicks in, you just feel so bleedin’ shiny and new. And sweet.
I know I’m not suppose to say sweet twice but I’m not coming up with any other word. Naive? – no we weren’t naive back then; we were actually pretty woke.
Next on The Smother’s Brothers 20th Reunion Show (in 1988) Glenn Campbell sang Wichita Lineman which is poignant now because of his Alzheimer’s. My father’s own Alzheimer’s came before Glen’s, and I find it odd that both men have had to deal with such a thing. My dad had a voice that everyone, especially my Norwegian babysitter, thought was better than Glen Campbell’s. I belted out “Gentle On My Mind” as a kid, with no idea what it meant, but with the certainty that my daddy could sing it just great and that since I was related to him, I must have special insight into making that song sound really nice. I might have sounded pretty croaky, but I felt a little bit like country royalty when I sang that, on account of my dad’s beautiful voice.
I can’t tell if Glen Campbell is still alive anymore. Google “Is Glen Campbell dead or alive?” and you’ll discover that he’s passed into Stage 7 dementia, which means he no longer speaks. Or sings. Once I read that I stopped googling. I get it. Ooblah-dee, ooblah-dah.
If that doesn’t get ya (watch the whole show; it’s worth it), try this.
As a principle, I don’t want to say that everything was so much better back then. But it’s hard to resist the feeling that there was so much more feeling when we watched these little shows. Of course, I know there’s feeling now too, but it’s a different kind of feeling than the feelings we had back then. All in all, we seemed more feeling-y years ago.
That Woody Allen movie aside, it seems like maybe everything actually was so much better then. It could just be that I was a kid, so remembering feels magical. I’m too close to it all to tell. But when I see rust and avocado and lemon yellow – the colors of way back when….I get pretty swoony.
Yo-yo Man is a personal Smother’s Brother’s favorite, because I remember yo-yo’s as a thing, and because I remember watching the skit when I was young.
Maybe that’s why I love those fidgets that all the kids are going crazy for these days . They’re a bonafide, old-fashioned crazy CRAZE. Crazes make us innocent and sweet and shiny because we all agree to go nuts over something silly, plastic and cheap. We just lose our shit and it’s all we want to do with our hands. Collectively, we know something BIG is going on. We gotta share it with our friends.
Watching old variety shows, your mind kind of wanders and you wonder about things, like life. And crazes.
You’ll have to try it: Carol Burnett, Sonny and Cher, Donny and Marie, The Dolly Parton Show….pick your poison, choose your path to yesteryear, breathe deep and then slap yourself hard. Because today’s Kanye is gonna be tomorrow’s Smother’s Brothers. Well not to me, but you get my point.
The here and now is probably just as good, only different. One might even argue that every today has to be better than any yesterday or tomorrow could ever be. We’re all so damn mindful. It’s really important to be grounded in the moment. Says everyone.
Well, not if you’re remembering the past and loving it, not if you’re remembering your father and missing him, and not if you have Alzheimer’s. If you have Alzheimer’s then the here and now is impossible to pin down since, in your head, it’s forty years ago some days, ten years ago others, and today, only occasionally.
Really, all I know right now is that I want to practice and get my fidget to spin fast and furiously without dropping it. I kind of want some click-clackers, and I’m also thinking that a game of jacks might be fun. A long time ago (feels like yesterday), I could do around the world and pick up two’s and three’s and four’s. I remember that.