I’m sitting in my room on the 12th floor of the Rio All Suites Hotel in Las Vegas, NV. My room faces The Palms Hotel and the mountains to the East. I’m watching the clouds roll in and simply enjoying the view that Mother Nature is giving me without having to drop any money into any machine!
On the drive over this morning my son-in-law had the car radio set to Sirius 60’s on 6 and we found ourselves singing and laughing and telling stories of our lives in the 1960’s. We tried to guess the bands and found ourselves saying what most old farts tend to say: “Now this – this was music.”
In those ten years of the 1960’s so many things happened in the United States of America that forever changed the face of who we were as Americans.
- 1961 gave us the Bay of Pigs Invasion – The fatal CIA-lead invasion of Cuba to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro. The Cuban forces defeated these forces in three days.
- IN 1962 the Cuban Missile Crisis took us to the brink of nuclear-missile war with Nikita Khrushchev and the Soviet Union.
- John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, which ended abruptly the short period of time in our Country’s history known as Camelot.
- The Beatles become a part of American music in 1964 and changed the face of music forever.
- Also in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act which was to outlaw major forms of discrimination against racial, ethnic, religious minorities and women. It was supposed to end unequal voter registration requirements, racial segregation in schools, in the workplace, and in facilities that served the general public (i.e. – Woolworths).
- In 1965 American starts sending troops to Vietnam – this would change millions of lives – and to this day some 47 years later, we still carry the burden of this ill-fated conflict.
- In 1966 – “Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.” Yes, it’s the beginning of Star Trek.
- January 16, 1967 – Super Bowl I was played in the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 35 – 10.
- Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were felled by an assassin’s bullet in 1968, changing politics and civil rights as we knew them.
- Apollo 11 landed on the moon on July 20, 1969
I was 8 years old in 1960 and by the time 1970 rolled around I was graduating High School, trying to figure out how to keep my gay self from taking over the fake Barbie that was allegedly living the American dream.
It was during the 1960’s that I fell in love for the very first time, and realized that yes; I most certainly was a lesbian when that person I so loved was another girl, and this changed who I was forever.
My brother was one of those who left for Vietnam in 1967 and came home a year later also changed forever. Nothing in his world would ever be the same which meant nothing in our family would ever be the same.
What is it about music that transcends time and space? I may have been in a car headed east on Interstate 15 toward Las Vegas but I was also once again a little girl struggling to grow up…
When I heard the Vogues ”Turn Around Look at Me” I was that young 16 year-old version of me aching to be with this girl, this first love, knowing it would never, ever be. Still – I knew I loved her, and I knew those feelings were real and true no matter what I was told in 1968 about “the queers.” This morning I still knew those feelings to be real and true and hoped she had found the same happiness I have.
The Beatles – Love, Love Me Do – had me playing a wooden guitar with strings made out of twine, in the basement of a friend flipping my hair back and forth in my best Paul McCartney imitation.
“Hello darkness, my old friend – I’ve come to talk with you again…” When I heard this – I was 15, alone in my room feeling that I just don’t fit in anywhere…
“Hang on Sloopy” had me doing that little “Sloopy” dance at the Quarryville Pool on a Friday night in 1966.
By 1969 – The Stones were singing my theme song for my life at that time… “You can’t always get what you want…”
Now this – this was music…