Yesterday I discovered Playa Cofi Jukebox, an Internet radio station that lets listeners time travel back to any year from 1950-1982 to hear a rotation of the top 100 songs from that year. I immediately jumped to 1965 and was transported to my all-time favorite musical year. Go look at that link and see if you can think of any year that has more fantastic hits. What year do you most identify with musically? While I natter away about 1965 always substitute your favorite year and remember your songs.
I’ve been wishing for such an invention for a long time now. Actually, I’d even like to pick the month and year, but I’m overjoyed to have a by year destination for now. I’ve often daydreamed of collecting music with an idea of creating playlists on my computer so I could fake late night radio shows I heard in my kid days while discovering science fiction books.
I’d love to hear the old WQAM and WFUN AM stations from 1961-1967 Miami – and poking around the Internet shows that other people remember those stations with lots of fond nostalgia too. I’m guessing there is something in our biochemistry that burns the pop culture of our teen years into our brains so nothing else ever seems as exciting.
I often reread the books I discovered in 1965 – mostly the twelve Heinlein juveniles that were first published in the 1950s. The books still move me as much as the music. But I have discovered when I see TV shows from that year like Lost in Space, Green Acres, I Dream of Jeannie, The Wild Wild West and Get Smart I have to wonder if I wasn’t simple-minded back then. I know that science fiction and rock music back then wasn’t that sophisticated either, but they feel like art today whereas the television shows seem silly.
I have to wonder how much of the 1965 me is still stored in my brain? Physicists still grapple with the concept of time, some even theorize that time doesn’t exist – suggesting that we live in a continual succession of nows. I know my old brain now is much different from my young brain then, but I’m guessing much of the same programming and circuitry still exist. If I put on 1965 on the Playa Cofi jukebox and start reading Starman Jones by Robert A. Heinlein how close can I get to the original experience? Time appears to be change, but what is changing?
What if I had a brain injury or Alzheimer’s and did this experiment? What if I could move back to my old house in Miami. Would it feel like 1965? Would I feel like I’m 13 and something really bad happened to my body?
Why do science fiction writers and readers love the concept of time travel? Wouldn’t time travel also involve space travel? Wouldn’t we have to jump in a space ship and go back to the coordinates of where Earth was forty-three years ago? (Oddly The Shangri-Las was singing “I Can Never Go Home Anymore,” And “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by the Byrds just started playing. Very appropriate songs for this essay. What synergy with 1965.)
The Earth has gone around the Sun forty-three times, and the solar system has moved around the galaxy, and the Milky Way has moved in whatever direction it is heading, and the Universe is expanding. It’s damn hard to believe that time travel will ever be possible, but it’s also hard to imagine that time does not exist either.
The question I really should ask myself: Why would I want to time travel to 1965? Is it because I had so much fun listening to WQAM and reading Heinlein and watching The Man From U.N.C.L.E. on television? Don’t we all time travel every day when we turn on our TVs and watch movies from the past hundred years?
What is something I couldn’t do now, that I could do then? For one thing, I could go see Bob Dylan perform during the height of his talent. (“Mr. Tambourine Man” just started playing after I typed the words Bob Dylan – this is getting spooky.) How important is that? What does it tell me? I guess I’d like to do all the things back in 1965 that I didn’t do the first time around but wanted to so badly. (The Animals just started singing “We Gotta Get Out of this Place.”)
And I think the Animals song is informative. I think one of the basic urges for time travel is the same as space travel, we just want to go somewhere in space-time where we think it’s better. Was 1965 really a better place? (Jesus, this is starting to weird me out, Sonny and Cher just started singing, “Baby Don’t Go.”) Maybe they’re right, now is the only place that counts.
This makes me wonder how many science fiction fans would jump at a chance to go somewhere fantastic. If a powerful being suddenly appeared in your room right now and commanded: “Name a destination in the universe – any time, anywhere, and I’ll send you there right now” would you jump at the chance? (The Shangri-Las are back and singing, “The Leader of the Pack.” – Umm)
Let’s imagine I say, “Miami, 1965” – and pop I’m there. What would I do then? (I wished I had written “and clap I’m there,” because Shirley Ellis just started singing “The Clapping Song.”) The first thing I’d have to do is get out of my old house because my parents, who would be younger than me now, would find a stranger invading their house very scary. I’d be out on the streets and homeless.
(The Moody Blues just started singing “Go Now.” – I’m not making this up. If you could hear the song like I hear it, it has mystical thrills. It always had.)
The job of a time traveler is a tough one. At least in 1965 Miami, everyone speaks my language, but walking the streets with only the clothes on my back and a wallet full of funny money wouldn’t be an easy start to a new life. (I hear Joe Tex telling me to hold on to what I’ve got.)
A lot of science fiction stories starts with this very problem, remember John Carter arriving on Mars. But how many of us would buy a ticket to another city and start an adventure by being homeless. (The Four Seasons sings “Let’s Hang On” repeating and emphasizing the wisdom of Joe Tex “Let’s hang on to what we’ve got”)
I guess 1965 is telling me to stay home in 2008. What if I never owned a radio or discovered Heinlein in 1965? What if I had taken up sports instead and all my memories of 1965 would be about ball games – this essay would be about how I remember seeing some great games. Time is always something we did. The year 1965 is just a label I put on a period of my life when pop culture was very impressionable on my mind. For other people that might be 1983 or 1942, and all my fond memories would be meaningless to them. In forty-three years some guy is going to be writing about 2008 and his nostalgic memories of Rap music.
Last night my wife and I had a party at our house celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary and everyone sat around trying to remember 1978. Our wedding reception had been at my wife’s parent’s house, the house where we live now. And a number of people who had been there thirty years ago sat around looking at photos of the 1978 event. We sure do love to time travel. In 1965 I was terribly anxious to live in the 21st century. I wonder if I’ll ever live in a year that is the one I want to be living in?
The Four Seasons just started singing, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right (The Wonder Who).” I think I spend too much time thinking twice. I can’t go home to 1965, but along the way time has eroded my desire to live in the future. I think reality has overtaken science fiction.
I keep waiting for The Rolling Stones to sing, “Time is On My Side,” which came out in late 64 and was popular in 1965. I need to get over looking backwards. What I really want from 1965 is a way to live looking forward again. I need to stop thinking about 1965, and start planning for 2065. Having a grand distant future inside of you waiting to unfold is the way to feel young again.
11 thoughts on “1965”
I’m fond of 1965 too, but for slightly different reasons. I was born that year in September. When I was thirteen it was the middle of the 1970’s and all I can recall about that time musically, was how much I hated Disco and loved Big Band music that my dad played on his eight-track.
I didn’t really discover rock and roll until the early eighties when I had to force myself to listen to rock for the social education. I also listened to a lot of movie music from Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams. I guess I was a little weird then.
That’s also when I first started reading SF and I started with the juveniles from Heinlein and Asimov. Then I moved on to Alan Dean Foster and the like. Today I write mostly what is considered Space Opera, so I guess that’s why, I’m reliving my personal golden age of SF.
I used to wonder what it would be like to go back to that time in my life, but I can still vividly recall hating being a teenager and wanting to have my own life and be free to do what I wanted. So now that I am an adult, I feel a little different about it.
I loved spy music – especially Our Man Flint by Jerry Goldsmith, James Bond and Ipcress File by John Barry. Peter Gunn by Henry Mancini. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. by Hugo Montenegro. I also love the soundtracks from John Willaims. So I guess I’m weird too if loving soundtracks makes you weird.
I had to deal with a lot of problems during my teenage years, but basically I loved growing up. I too wanted to be free, especially of my parents. I think one of the reason the Harry Potter books are such a success is he is free of his parents, even though he misses them, and kids relate to that freedom.
If you liked the Playa Cofi Jukebox 1965 collection last week, you will love it this week.
With the help of the good folks at Cash Box Magazine, we have replaced 30 of the 150 or so songs that required it with their originally released versions. “Time Is On My Side” by the Rolling Stones is one of these, and it is ranked #72.
For the next few days – while we are testing this collection – you will be able to scan forward and back to songs of interest. After that, it is back to programmed play in the 1965 collection as needed to meet the RIAA requirements for a statutory license to play all these songs.
We are updating all of our year collections at a rate of one to two per week. We are working on 1966 now and moving on until we reach 1982.
Enjoy The Music!
Music doesn’t have a hold on me the way it does a lot of people. Most of my childhood was spent in an aural vacuum. I could hear enough to learn to speak (if I could lip read at the same time) but never enough to make sense of music or musical instruments, not even tone of voice and all the social cues that go with that. So music meant only a few screechy warbles shivering down my spine or thumping bass reverberating through my chest. I’ve come to appreciate it more as I’ve grown older although I still don’t need it in my life. Silence is my sound of choice.
I’m interested in your philosophical comments about time. Your visual representation of time is powerful but I don’t think I agree with it. Time isn’t always something we did – that’s memory. Memory might be connected to time but it isn’t time and it isn’t dependent on time. Every memory of exactly the same moment is different – impacted by experiences and perceptions and coloured by time. But it isn’t time itself.
Time is something more than that. Something amorphous and intangible. And so far, not understandable. The only thing we’ve been able to do with all our intricate brain structure and technology is measure the passing of time. We don’t even know if time is as structured (linear) as it appears to us or if it swirls and twists and turns in on itself and we just don’t notice because all our experiences and personal and emotional and not connected to time itself.
We use our created measurement of time as an anchor for our memories so that life makes sense to us and we don’t feel like we’re floating through space without direction or purpose. The development of our bodies is a good indicator for us as to when things happened. “I was about 15 so that must have happened in 1975 …”
But what if time isn’t linear? What if we’re really jumping around uncontrollably and our bodies (or our perceptions of our bodies is) are shrinking and swelling like some unfortunate allergic reaction just so we can anchor the memory into a place that makes sense in our brains. What if it’s US who are linear and simply cannot conceive of any other way of being?
Wonderful comments Elaine.
I don’t remember if you told me about your hearing before. That’s hard for me to imagine a world without music. By the way, music is an emotional stimulant for me. So are books and movies, but I think music is the strongest. Do you have other arts you consider your emotional stimulant that takes the place of music? Is there anything you can consume (other than drugs) that can change your moods instantly?
Time is such an enigma. We feel it in our bones that time exists but scientifically we can’t prove it. I said we relate to time as an activity, but you think that only works for memories. What if I say, “Tomorrow night at 8, let’s go see a movie?” Even if our day isn’t spent together we can coordinate our lives so we meet at 8 pm. We both plan time and remember it.
Actually, we seldom think of time in the moment – in fact, when we’re doing something we really love we’ll say, “I forgot all about the time.” On the other hand, if we’re doing something tedious we’ll say, “I spent a whole hour on the treadmill, I bet,” not knowing if it was an hour but thinking it felt like an hour.
If we put a time lapse camera in front of a house and film it for a week there would be long stretches where we think nothing happens. We’d feel it was timeless. We would demark time by activities, such as a squirrel jumping on the window sill, shadows passing over a wall, the color of house changing with the angle of the light. If we filmed for years we’d see wood rot and metal rust.
If the universe was created without time then space and matter would have appeared but there would have been no movement. We mark the history of the universe by the changing positions of its contents. We mark the history of our world by wars, inventions, births and deaths. Thus we assume time is the fourth dimension. If we walk down the street we’re moving along the dimensions of space but we imagine that from point A to point B is both the length of space and time. To the billions of microscopic creatures inside of us they have no sense of that movement – it’s as if their universe exists separately from ours, and they might live on a different time scale. A giant redwood would sense time differently too.
Some scientists say that time does not exist, but that feels wrong. Elaine, you suggested that time might not be linear, but that’s hard to picture either way. To me time seems to be movement in all directions at once, like how the universe is expanding. We do use time as a way to anchor or memories, and I think that’s where my obsessions lie. That past time no longer exists. We can’t move backwards in time. I want to hang on to that past and keep it in some way. I’m mourning my own endless deaths. If I was a true student of Zen I’d never think about the past and just listen to the music of the now.
If we could see time people wouldn’t look like they do now, but like long worms. I wonder if there are wires that stretch from one end to the other that would allow communication?
I grew up in a small country town (less than 3000 people). Peak hour traffic was five cars driving down the road in half an hour. I woke up every morning to the tail end of kukkaburra laughs as they flew from point to point marking their territory. Magpie warbles and sparrow twitters punctuated the song. In the afternoons the galahs and cockatoos landed to feed and their chatter, mixed with the rosellas in the trees was nearly deafening. In the evenings the cicadas in the grape vines across the road drowned out every noise inside. Beneath it all was silence. Absolute peace.
That’s the sound that always makes me breath slow and deep and brings a smile to my face. The birdsong, the occasional creak of a gum tree, rustle of dry grass as native rodents rush about their lives. The only things I don’t like about that scene are the ants that bite, the mosquitoes and midges that worry and sting. If not for them I’d sit for hours and let the world go by.
I visited the town a few weeks ago. The population is now closer to 45000 but except for a few apartment blocks (four storeys high) and two new housing estates, it doesn’t look or feel much different. The streets and footpaths are still so wide it takes half the morning to cross them, the cars still drive at 5mph just so the drivers can call out ‘hello’ to everyone in their front yards. The pace is still slow and easy.
I feel very fortunate to have grown up in a place like that. I have that sense of community and peace inside me and because it’s such a deep and integral part of who I am I’m not upset if I can’t create that in other parts of my life now. In some ways that mirrors some of your comments about time – if we went back would we be the same. I don’t think we could be because everything we experience makes an impression on … our soul (for want of a better word). It’s permanent, whether we’re aware of it or not.
I like your analogy of time worms. I’m still not sure about the tangibility of your time analogy. Thinking of time as something concrete doesn’t feel right to me but I think I understand where you’re coming from – probably the opposite end of the philosophical spectrum to me!
Damn Elaine, you don’t need to be writing stories about a fantasy worlds, you need to be writing memoirs about your real life. Your descriptions are enchanting. You really should write a memoir about your childhood – memoirs sell good in America, and your Australian town would be exotic and beautiful to us.
I lived in small towns and cities and places out in the country when I was growing up. We move every year to eighteen months, so I don’t have that permanence that you had, but I do have some fond memories from slow rural life and tiny towns. I don’t remember the details like you do, and that’s what’s needed for great writing.
You need to write more about how you feel about time – it’s got me curious. I’m still not picturing your end of the spectrum. Since I moved around so much I have a lot of notches by which I gauge time. I think since you lived in a timeless place you have one big expanse of time that felt different.
Thanks for the comments, Jim. I have thought about writing more on my blog but between work (teaching means bringing work home every night), study and writing I don’t have a lot of time for introspection. I keep telling myself when I finish this degree I’ll have more time but maybe I just need the incentive.
To that end I’ve posted the link to my blog here. You can tell the blogs that have been written when my head has been in ‘uni-mode’ – either very dry or very impatient! Some of them might not make sense as they were written within a context that was in my head at the time and might not have been articulated fully. I’ve thought about editing them but have decided to let them stand – a record of that moment.
I think you’re right about our perceptions of time being different because of the different ways we grew up. While I am aware of how we measure time – hours and minutes as well as by linking it to significant events or ages – it’s difficult for me to consider time as anything tangible. That might be because I spent 14 years in the same house, cooking on the same stove, sleeping in the same bed. That huge chunk of time only has a measurement of relative age. Nothing concrete changed. We had the same furniture for most of that time, never renovated the bathroom, didn’t change cars unless we had to. Everything but me was timeless.
I have a small pine table that lived in the kitchen as I was growing up. When that table came into my possession I sanded it back and put a clear varnish on it. It took me two years to sand it back. I did it by hand and paused between each coat of paint I came to and tried to remember when it was painted that colour and why. I left some streaks of cream and lemon and blue in the crevasses and didn’t sand out all the gouges made by young fingers wielding sharp instruments. They give the table character.
Those marks in the wood are another way of measuring time but they aren’t a record of time passing. They’re a record of lives lived. They record memories and experiences that happened over time but don’t record the passage of that time.
You should copy these replies back to your blog and then expand on them. This is good writing. Lots of vivid detail. You can’t let the university and work grind out all your creative time. You need creative time to energize yourself.
You should write a thousand word blog about refinishing that table. That would be a great essay I think just from the hints you’ve given me just now. You have all kinds of things to say about your experiences with that table.
I was into my thirties before I ever lived in one place for two years. I was amazed when I lived in our last house for seven years. It was the first house my wife and I ever bought. Then her parents died and she wanted us to buy their house, which we did. I regretted leaving our first house. I’m happy now in this one, but I had to restart the clock.
It’s no wonder my wife can’t get me into home improvements. However I just spent a pile of money to get an energy efficient HVAC for this house, so I’m more rooted now.
I think we’re beyond the definition of time now. We’re into vivid details, at least you are. I’m working on that kind of writing. The best thing I learned at the Clarion West Writer’s Workshop was “writing is the accumulation of specific details.”
Hi… I enjoyed your reminiscences.
What, no Time Tunnel or The Second Hundred Years?
Also… thought you might enjoy my article about being a guest deejay on WFUN in 1971: http://radiopages.net/radio/wfun1971.html
I’m listening to The Do Ron Ron on WKPX-FM (88.5) right now. I saw a concert by The Crystals a few weeks ago.
Silly TV? Well, maybe, but a lot of today’s TV is downright stupid. And much of the good TV of that era wouldn’t have appealed to kids like us.