July 20, 2020:

This was the Led Zeppelin era. That peculiar interregnum between the failure of the 1960s and invasion by Punk, although for us the latter lacked the sociological weight it carried in Britain. The louder contingent loved the Zep, Deep Purple, Sabbath, Kiss. The mainstream went to Eagles concerts and dug Don McLean. The radio was crowded but had nothing to say.

I loved the Stones. Is' all 'bout dat riddim, brahdah. I could put on "Honky Tonk Women" and transport. The intoxication of motion multiplied by repetition salted with acceleration. I'm sure my diet of amphetamine, alcohol and junk food contributed.

There were arguments. A kid who grew up to be a landlords' rights lawyer challenged me: "Bowie plays guitar better than Keith Richards." I don't think that point of view has aged well. Another was all about Deep Purple. "Keith Richards just plays the same chords over and over." "You mean unlike that duh duh duhhh, duh duh duh-duhh...", mimicking the "Smoke on the Water" riff. I thought he would punch me.

A small clique of music snobs worshipped Steely Dan. Down to mimicking the Dan's snide, side-eyed posture of pseudo-sophistication. Empty pose by empty people.

Life changed when I discovered the Quadrophenia double album. The gifted program had a little stereo in its common room; I put on the album because the cover was intriguing and the liner notes poetic. There were two immediate consequences. First, I understood it's possible for popular music to be art. That insight led to Brian Wilson, Ray Davies, Court and Spark, and a deeper appreciation of the Beatles post-Fab. Second, Rock 'n' Roll bands had a charismatic lead singer, a guitarist with mystique, a virtuoso drummer, and something to say. The models were the Stones, the Who, and for a few minutes Led Zeppelin, until I realized the final criterion was lacking.