Wanted Man: Laura’s Music Memories, Age 8-11

Laura, at age 9 or 10.  The beginning of my own hippie phase.
Laura, at age 9 or 10. The beginning of my own hippie phase.
My parents got divorced when I was 7-8 years old. My brother and I lived with my mother and visited my dad on weekends or holidays. His life was chaotic, to say the least, and he never lived any one place for very long. Most of my memories revolve around being in cars with my father–when he picked us up, dropped us off, or took us on long rides or outings to go here and there, visiting his motley crew of hipster friends.

My dad had an 8-track cassette in the car, and he tended to get fixated on certain music, so us kids did, too. To this day, I can still remember Johnny Cash blaring loudly as we drove here or there, or the soundtrack to the movie Bonnie & Clyde. (In fact, we heard that soundtrack so often in the car that to this day, my brother and I can recite from memory virtually every line of dialogue from that film.)

me, at my father's house in Barre, Massachusetts for the weekend, watching TV late at night, with brother Andrew asleep,
me, at my father’s house in Barre, Massachusetts for the weekend, watching TV late at night, with brother Andrew asleep,
The other important source of musical influences during that time was movies. My father took us to movies a lot, sometimes two or three in one day. He took us to see grown up films, something for which I will always be grateful. He had no patience for children’s movies and believed it was downright wrong to censor or deprive children of worthy movies just because they contained sex or violence. (At least, that’s what he said. In retrospect, it’s my guess that he may simply not have cared. He wanted to see the movie, that’s all that mattered, and he wasn’t going to be bothered with making arrangements for a babysitter or an alternative children’s movie.)

Consequently, I got to see all kinds of fantastic movies that none of my friends were seeing, such as Arthur Penn’s Bonnie & Clyde, To Sir With Love, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The Last Picture Show, The Graduate, and of course, endless visits to theatres to see James Bond films.

During this time, my music was still heavily influenced by what my parents listened to. But I did start, in small ways, to exercise my own preferences, independent of them. By the age of 10, I had developed a bit of an obsession with Donovan (Season of the Witch, Hurdy Gurdy Man), for example. And through the repeated exposure to those damn James Bond movies, I developed an independent interest in Shirley Bassey and Louis Armstrong.

My father was obsessed with Johnny Cash. In particular, I remember this song playing frequently. Listening to it now, it makes sense that my father would have liked the song. At that juncture in history, my dad had started to turn the corner toward being alienated from society and his family and friends, indeed eventually becoming a fugitive himself. By this point, he felt misunderstood and persecuted much of the time. Wanted Man.


And here’s the rest of the playlist from that era:

Finally, it was during this time in my life, specifically at about age 9, that I identified and purchased my very first album of my own, inspired by Randall Huntsberry, a hipster professor and father of my friend Joanie. An album that changed my life. Rubber Soul. (I can’t include any of the tunes from this extraordinary album here because evidently the Beatles have never licensed their music for streaming on Spotify or any other service).

5 responses to “Wanted Man: Laura’s Music Memories, Age 8-11”

  1. So much of mine was also influenced by my parents.My father’s French Canadian roots brought me “Acadien” toe-tapping music.My grandmother loved Johnny Cash and my mother hummed Pat Boone tunes.Then,when I was 10-12, I discovered WRKO AM out of Boston…rock and roll!

    • Janice, do you remember any of the French-Canadian artists/recordings listened to by your family? My paternal grandmother was French-Canadian and I have often wondered what she might have listened to in her girlhood. I just don’t know that much about “popular” French-Canadian music back in the day, but I’d like to know more. The Smithsonian Folkways people have some of that traditional music posted on their site, but not that much of it.

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