Feel the groove as guest writer Jim Bullock looks at two of the most pivotal songs in his life during the lauded “Summer of Love”.
To say to Generations X & Y, “You had to be there” is a gross understatement! In the June of 1967, I was one of 4 students from my high school selected to participate in the first session of a then new federally funded program, “Upward Bound” to prepare “culturally disadvantaged” students for success in college. The chapter of the Upward Bound program that I in was located on the grounds of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA – only a few miles from my home in Fluvanna County but my first time of living without parental supervision!
Across Main St., down a narrow alley, there was an old 1930’s style pool hall with old tournament regulation tables covered in green felt and beautifully carved huge legs. The parlor had soft drink and snack vending machines and an old style jukebox. The jukebox contained all of the current hits and someone was constantly feeding it nickels. The University Billiard Parlor became my second home. I spent most of my free time when I wasn’t in class. I would spend 10 –12 hours on Saturdays and Sundays shooting pool and watching the sharks take the suckers!
Two of my favorite songs that were constantly played that summer on the jukebox were “Silence is Golden” by the Tremeloes and “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procul Harem. These songs were just as much a part of the atmosphere as the “clack” of the ivory balls or someone yelling, “rack” to summon the rack man to start a new game.
“Silence is Golden” had a melody that was so beautiful. The harmonizing of the Tremeloes is phenomenal! The song told the story of a young man caught in a dilemma of telling the girl, who is the object of his affection, that her boyfriend is untrue and break her heart or remain silent and suffer himself.
I never really understood what “A Whiter Shade of Pale” was about. Just the haunting sound of the organ was addictive. I would pay it over and over again. To this day, both songs transport me instantly back to the “Summer of Love” as many others from that year: “San Francisco” by the late Scott McKenzie, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” by the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, “You’re My Everything” by The Temptations, “Higher & Higher”, by the late Jackie Wilson, “Cold Sweat” by the late James Brown and “Warm San Franciscan Nights” by Eric Burton & the Animals. Wow! What a summer of love and music!