Sunday, April 19, 2015

Hello, I Love You

I have always had my suspicions that the first song I recognized and understood as something my mother didn't custom deliver to me was a song by The Doors: Hello, I Love You.

This song was on their 1968 record Waiting For The Sun. Yes, the bio pic by Oliver Stone would have you believe Morrison was having a mental breakdown through 1968 into 1970, but The Doors released The Soft Parade, then Morrison Hotel and finally L.A. Woman* sequentially from 1969 to 1971, when Morrison died soon after I was born.

Now, the song itself was playing in a Maine town department store over the public speakers, the kind that would be interrupted with announcements about lost children or discounted cereal. I was wearing my plaid bell bottom pants and the year is, I believe, 1974, and I'm out shopping with my mother. I was drawn to the song, though I did not know Morrison was dead when I was hearing it. This is my memory, at least, and I feel it's accurate, though I was young. It would make sense that this song would be licensed in some way by this department store as it was a popular song and Funk and Disco didn't really fit Maine department stores. I am leaning toward saying the store's name was Ames, but it could be Marden's. Agway was an agriculture distributor. There was no Sears in that town so I think it was Ames or Marden's. The Marden's is actually still there, but Ames makes more sense.
This is an actual photo of the Ames in Sanford, Maine. That could be my mom in the photo. I think it was black & white in 1974 too.

 It was a simple department store and lots of polyester clothes and stainless steel toys and Schwinn bicycles and rows of sugar cereal. The houses in town had lead paint and asbestos siding. People collected junk. Everyone smoked cigarettes except my parents. Piles of snow were magnificently high in December.

The song's lyrics are memorable because they basically describe a man introducing himself to a woman and announcing he has already fallen in love with her, and would she tell him her name? Morrison's delivery of these lines is trademark understated so when he erupts later on there is a nice contrast. The song is barely 2 minutes long and is very repetitive, which is why it makes sense I would remember this song, like a tribal chant delivered from California. Although the lyrics are memorable, I think what stuck in my mind is the band's drum and distorted guitar introduction. This too repeats twice and continues to repeat through the song. It's a pretty classic introduction and I don't remember much else about the song except the introduction and the first lyrics:  

"Hello, I love you, won't you tell me your name. Hello, I love you, let me jump in your game." 
The vocals kind of blend together after that and maybe my mother distracted me with a question about cereal or hot dogs. But this memory is accurate and while I know there was a Cat Stevens Greatest Hits 8 Track tape in our house also, that album was released in 1975, so I feel strongly that it was The Doors song that I recognized first, before all other extra-domiciliary recorded music. Yes, there was definitely a Winnie The Pooh plastic 'record player' from Sears that we had,
Not my photo, but it was very similar to this
And if I heard the Pooh songs I might be able to tell you it was earlier than The Doors, but I know that the first song I heard and recognized in public, outside of my house, and can remember the event, was The Doors tune. It's interesting to note that this song vibe/groove was determined to be a copy of "All Day And All of the Night" by The Kinks. But it was really taken from Sunshine of My Love by Cream. The Kinks claim has only a miniscule hint of merit but definitely doesn't warrant any royalties going to The Kinks. The Cream claim has no merit.

A John Denver album was released that year and then the Beatles "Blue" and "Red" album, their greatest hits albums also released in 1973. And a Harry Chapin and Jim Croce cassette tape in the car. I wish I had a memory of a piece of music that did not stand the test of time, but all of these artists have proven they were highlights of the 1970s and beyond. The Doors were especially bold as their first album in 1967 included a seven minute Light My Fire, and The End, which was 11 minutes long. But that's a topic for another day.

I sometimes wonder if this odd song by The Doors, admittedly inappropriate for a 3 year old toddler, had some impact on my romantic designs. I could speak by that point and I could actually understand the words, "Hello, I love you, won't you tell me your name?" It's basic 3 year-old vocabulary and the fact Morrison sings it like ten times in the song cemented it in my head. Did I mistakenly think this was actually how one should go about introducing oneself to women? Judging by my romantic history it seems I took the wrong message from this song.

I sometimes wonder what impact these sounds have on people as they age. Today, I turned the television on and in a 2 minute commercial break I probably witnessed 18 cold blooded murders. I'm not exaggerating. There were at least 30 images of someone shooting someone else, only in the commercial break. Don't ask me the lurid nightmare that was the featured program. Awful. What would a child think of all that violence? I felt like scrubbing my eyes out.

*In a bizarre coincidence, L.A. Woman, Morrison's final album, was released on April, 19, 1971...44 years ago today. What are the odds I'd write this on the same day that Morrison's last album was released, and he died the year I was born? I guess it's fate.

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