Can you be nostalgic when you’re only in 3rd grade?
I remember back when we lived in the Chicago suburbs and I was but a wee lad of 7 or 8, my parents got this Greatest Hits album by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. This was the late sixties and even then, Herb and the TJB weren’t exactly “hip.” But their brassy instrumentals were catchy and fun, for a household with 3 little kids.
I mean, we couldn’t play the soundtrack to “Hair” all the time, could we?
Tell me these guys don’t look like they should be playing in a crappy Holiday Inn lounge somewhere… And I could swear that the 2nd standing guy from the left was Dick Martin from Laugh In.
Every so often, mom or dad would put on the Herb Alpert and we would carry on and dance around the dining room table. I remember at the time, feeling nostalgic about those tunes, because I remembered them from when I was an even younger boy.
When we still lived in Pittsburgh, we had this big basement with a bar. My folks would have the occasional New Years Eve party back then, which obviously set the precedent for the NYE parties we had out in The Barn, 15 years later.
I still remember the ritual of Dad sweeping out the concrete basement floor and wiping off the bar. I used to love those parties because of all the fun… the soft drinks that we were allowed to have, the snacks, and the music. My brother and I were allowed to stay up for a little later than usual and enjoy the first hours of the party.
“That’s enough root beer for this one.” 5-year old Bluz and almost 3-year old Bluz Brother, New Years Eve, 1966.
My parents would fire up the record player down there and play 45’s, Herb Alpert’s among them. I used to be fascinated by the sight of the records spinning round and round.
OK, I was a very easily amused kid. We didn’t have Playstations, we had radio stations… AM radio stations at that. But I just always thought that records were cool to play with, from the time I was, like, 3. Anyway, I’m drifting…
The thing is; I could remember those songs from the time I was a very small boy, so that even hearing them in elementary school made me wax nostalgic.
My favorite of the lot, hands down, was “Zorba the Greek.” It was one tune that was nothing like any of the others, most of which had a Latin vibe. “Zorba” was anarchy! It was fast-paced, featuring a bouzouki player, Herb’s lightning-lipped trumpet, and lots of hooting and hollering and “Ayiiiiiii-yip-yip-yip!” It was a four and a half minute party!
A Greek "bouzouki."
Even as a kid, I could picture a loud, wild affair with sunshine, brilliant colors and lots of people dancing around with their arms in the air. Check this out; you’ll see what I mean.
You needn’t even pay attention to the visuals; (some album stills, some dancing video), the music says it all. You can skip the slow part in the middle, but be sure to catch where it starts to speed up again at the 2:45 mark.
My brother used to have his special moves for this song as well, (again, when he was very young.) During the slow part, he’d lay face-down on the couch, and then as the music gradually picked up speed, he’d shake his butt from side to side in time with the beat, faster and faster until he’s practically throw himself off the couch. Used to make me laugh myself silly.
When we finally got around to growing up and throwing our own parties out in The Barn, especially in our first, small, neighborhood Barn Parties, we found a home for Zorba there too. None of our friends had heard any of this kind of things before but they caught the same vibe as we did. In fact, we invented our own dance to it. Granted, it wasn’t nearly as good as the people you see in the video… Ours was more like a long Conga Line, only with more hormones… three ass-shakes, then a pelvic thrust on every kettle-drum beat. Call it a Bunny Hop for prospective pole dancers.
You know, maybe if the Greeks didn’t make such catchy music, their economy wouldn’t be in the toilet. It’s hard to hold down a steady job when you’re always dancing around with your arms in the air. And how could you ever hold a business meeting?
“And now, Cristos will talk about our 4th quarter projections.”
[Climbs up on table, begins dancing…] “Ayiiiiiii-yip-yip-yip!”
[Everyone links arms and dances around the boardroom table…] “Woooooooo!”
Marginally-related thought: If I were Greek, I think I’d like to be named “Cheerios,” or if I was having a bad day, “Belicos.”
I have Zorba on my MP3 player, so it comes up occasionally on my way to or from work. It’s kind of a “WTF” moment when it follows something like AC/DC or Metallica. Or Abba. Such is the peril of “shuffle mode.”
But it never fails to make me smile and look for the party. And want to shake my butt and put my arms in the air. It’s impossible to have a bad day with this tune running through your head.