KYW – Cleveland – Jim Stagg – April 15, 1963 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
When asked, a lot of people (not everybody) will say their last year of high school was the last good year before everything changed. Before life got complicated – before responsibilities grabbed you – before being an adult crept in.
There’s that – but there’s other factors. In the 1960s, many would say 1963 was officially (for the most part) the last good year. People who grew up on Elvis Presley and Fats Domino would tell you the music stopped when The Beatles went on Ed Sullivan – in 1963 The Beatles were still only names known mostly in England. Rock n’ Roll was still the exclusive property of America and there was no such thing as a British Invasion.
And a lot of people would tell you 1963 was the last good year before a place called Vietnam would become part of our daily lives. That the grumblings in Asia were distant and had nothing to do with your life and your last year of High School.
That by the end of the year we’d have an assassinated President and we’d suddenly wonder about everything. That there was still a Cold War to consider but Berlin, like Vietnam, were distant places you sometimes heard about on the news, if you paid attention to the news. If you were in your last year of High School, you probably weren’t – you had a social life and that took precedence.
But the thing is – the last good year could apply to just about any year, any year that was your last as a High School student. Whether that was 1963 or 1973 or 1993. Same thing – it was the last year with few responsibilities and a sort of innocence that goes with the territory being “of a certain age”.
But maybe 1963 wasn’t your last good year – maybe you weren’t even born yet. The last good year for you was in some distant perplexing future. Or your last good year was the last year of the 1960s or the 70s, or the 80s or 90s. Or maybe it never happened. Maybe you’re one of those people who prefer to stay in the now – less complicated that way.
It’s different for everybody – there is no “one size fits all” where the feelings of nostalgia or recollections of the past are concerned.
So you can listen to this half-hour of Jim Stagg from KYW in Cleveland Ohio from April 15, 1963 and cringe in embarrassment, gaze with perplexed shock or drift into a state of sense-memory euphoria. Those older than you or younger than you won’t get it – they have their own defining series of moments – own floods of songs and places and experiences – own sets of decisions and commitments. You may find yourself agreeing that the music of 1963 left a lot to be desired, and that the upheaval of the 60s was just around the corner, or you may think it all went to hell in a handbasket within months of this broadcast.
Funny thing about nostalgia – every one’s is different.