Why “Alongside Your 78s?”

In 1976, singer-songwriter Jackson Browne released an album called The Pretender.  The title track and a song called “Here Come Those Tears Again” were released as singles and their success propelled the Album to a Grammy nomination and an eventual peak at number five on the Billboard charts.  Almost buried as the second track on the second side was a great little song called “Daddy’s Tune.”   It is from this song that this blog gets its name, and in a more general sense, its purpose.

It is a song about reconciliation and is addressed specifically to his father.  The song begins with Browne lamenting his station in life, and regretting “unkind things I said to you.” There is minimal instrumentation and a melody that projects a slow, sad vibe.  After a bit more lamenting (this IS a Jackson Browne song, after all), the song takes an abrupt turn toward the optimistic.  The beat picks up, Chicago-like brass is added, the melody upticks and you can feel the hope rise as Browne sings:

“But Daddy, I want to let you know somehow

Those words you said are so much clearer now.

And I would turn the pages back,

But time would not allow.”

Expressing the desire to put aside differences, he sums it all up with the penultimate line of the song:

“Make room for my 45’s

Along beside your 78’s”

Baby Boomers will know exactly what he’s talking about.  For the reader who is unfamiliar, vinyl records are commonly classified by the speed at which they must spin in order to play that particular disc.  The speed is expressed in Revolutions Per Minute (RPM).  The first commercially successful vinyl discs were played at a speed of 78 RPM, and eventually gave way to the 45’s (singles) and the 33 1/3 (Long Play albums).  Browne’s father would have grown up with the 78’s (as did my father) while he himself would have no doubt had a stack of 45’s (as did I).

For a generation so tightly-knit to the music of its era, this is a powerful metaphor for acknowledging differences yet peacefully coexisting.  While Browne is reaching backwards across generational lines toward a goal of harmony and accord; I’m looking ahead, with the same end in mind, via the same medium – music, to the generation that we’ve brought into this world.  These lyrics perfectly embody the spirit of this blog, which is to encourage those of us who are loyal, sometimes fiercely loyal, to classic rock and 70’s pop music to at least put and ear to that brick wall and listen to a tune or two playing on the other side.

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