Woony Memories

Over the Woony Rainbow

Dan Hagman

Music transports us over the rainbow. We’re carried along by the memories which are colored in details. Over the years, we may sometimes color outside the lines as events are embellished to make them more interesting or to protect the guilty. One of my favorite weekend morning pleasures is listening to the Sounds of the Seventies. These tunes fill my head with Woonsocket and South Dakota. I feel fortunate that my senses are still perked to sights, sounds and even smells of the period. I won’t let that go easily.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve logged many hometown memories. I would think it obvious that I loved my childhood growing up in our little parcel of Americana, but I’m not sure that I’ve done justice to Woonsocket of 1978. Kids growing up 35 years later with their connected cell phones and school consolidations could not begin to understand the life we led. As it often does, our music defined us and our generation.
Portable music for us was not found on an iPod or among hundreds of digitized files in your pocket. We had transistor radios, boom boxes and our AM car radios. “Goin’ Cruisin’” might be the extent of our entertainment for the evening. It helped that gas was 80¢/gallon. We’d cruise the loop, the lake, the ballparks, make a U-turn and do it all again and again and again… and loved it. Bored? Nope… didn’t need to check e-mail or send any texts. Top 40 sounds of the Doobie Brothers and Billy Joel and Bachman-Turner Overdrive blasted from our Kraco car speakers. I can’t hear the Bee Gee’s “Night Fever” without thinking about disco dances on the tile floor of the armory. Strobe lights from the corner DJ flash across a hundred faces all now pushing or over 50 years old. We witnessed Springsteen’s “Born to Run” in 1975 and Charlie Daniel’s “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” in 1979. KOKK played that darn Charlie Daniel’s tune every 40 minutes during my lifeguard summer at Lake Prior. Even today it takes me back to the dirty water, damp bath house and sandy days there. Wish I heard it more often now.
This week I heard Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana” and embarrassingly still remember all the words. Ok… I sang along and mortified my wife, which may ultimately cost me some swag value. Manilow was a musical force in the ‘70s. We watched “American Bandstand” on Saturday mornings where his anthem book-ended the show. You can try to deny it, but it’s true. We also lived through John Denver and Carly Simon… and even ABBA. I still strum along to “Country Roads” on my guitar and sing a little if Kathy isn’t home.
Fortunately, we also grew up to Boston, Foreigner, Bob Seger and Steely Dan. Sure wish we’d had better sound systems or even FM radio for this great music, but technology lagged for us. The jukebox at Bear’s Bar worked fine for our unspoiled ears. Three tunes for a quarter and a free keg was tough to beat.
It was wonderful living this great music in more simple times. Although now my mini virtual jukebox has made Bear’s old tinny wall monster obsolete, I can still enjoy those dusty experiences. “What are you doing this weekend, Dan?”
“Going to Woony for a couple hours. Gotta practice my ‘robot’ moves.”

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