Where Were We in '73?

Where were you in '62? isn't quite the poignant question it may be to those a bit older than I. It's a perfectly good question; I just don't have a good answer. If we add ten years to that number, the memory banks begin to boot—reluctantly, because those were strange times, and distant now, too. So whoever had the bright idea to market that damnable t-shirt I saw the other day at Wal-Mart should be hauled before the magistrate.

Don't get me wrong. I love Pink Floyd, but seeing that black t-shirt in there, with its The Dark Side of the Moon prism on it was weird enough already; you didn't really have to add that date to it, did you? I know it's a commemorative thing; I know the album was released in 1973. I remember it. It was made of that vinyl stuff, and I bought it, and I played it over and over. Later, I bought the CD, too. But this shirt hanging on the Wal-Mart rack is so wrong in so many ways. Pink Floyd, prism, 1973 . . . um . . . generic concert t-shirt, maybe? Check out my inimitable retro fashion sense, maybe? Or maybe it's more like, I was there, man, as you can clearly see by my t-shirt, and the radical look in my eye.

During the past few years, I had more or less come to grips with the idea that I'm stuck in the Jacob's Ladder film plot. I'd almost gotten used to seeing lava lamps, bellbottoms, and tie-dye all over again. It was jarring, but it seemed to be waning; I was beginning to feel a bit better. Now I'm not so sure. In the throes of caffeine withdrawal, I'm able to avert my eyes from the Bob Dylan albums in the impulse displays at Megabucks, and Cherry Garcia is tasty, now that I'm past my initial discomfort at the idea.

In 1973 Viet Nam was winding down, but it wasn't really over. We had the Yom Kippur War, and Watergate. All painful reminders, in 2006, that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Wounded Knee and the Arab Oil Embargo were part of '73. Jim Croce, Gram Parsons, and "Pigpen" McKernan were among the musicians who died that year. We also lost Pablo Picasso and J. R. R. Tolkien.

The first time I heard an orchestral arrangement of an old Beatles tune in an elevator was many years ago, so that's normal now. But that t-shirt reignited not only the angst of unrestrained commercialism, but an unpleasant feeling of displaced time. Dr. Frankenstein's misguided reanimation it's not, but some things are better left in the fog. Like 1973, for example.

But of course, The Dark Side of the Moon finished The Pink Floyd off once and for all. To be that successful is the aim of every group. And once you've cracked it, it's all over. In hindsight, I think The Pink Floyd was finished as long ago as that.

Roger Waters in June 1987, with Chris Salewicz 


No comments:

Post a Comment