We interrupt the regular ramblings here at Meanwhile, at the Manse to bring us all a reminder of something that happened in the Manse years – that is, the years when I was growing up in this fine old house that I now am happy to call home once again. Those years were 1964 to 1975, and as I have said many times before, they were remarkable ones on many fronts – but perhaps especially for popular music. Oh, and by the way, it’s not just me who thinks that; I imagine it is most, if not all, of you; and here at this link is an excellent take on the subject by John Harris of the Guardian.
Harris’s piece, headlined “The giants of rock are leaving the stage: their music never will,” was prompted by the death this past week of Joe Cocker. What everyone thinks of when they think of Joe Cocker is, of course, his inspired cover of the Beatles’ A Little Help from My Friends, and his even more inspired (and spasmically frenetic) performance of it at no less a time and place than Woodstock, three days of peace and music in August 1969 that were attended by half a million children of God, as Joni Mitchell put it. (And an event that was also the inspiration for Queensborough‘s own rock festival, the Rock Acres Peace Festival.)
I urge you to read the article, the thesis of which is that the generation of musicians that included Cocker “made music that has never been surpassed.” And this from a writer who was born in the year of Woodstock, and thus is much too young to remember the glory days of Cocker, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, the Who, etc. etc. etc. (Including maybe Joni Mitchell, come to think of it.)
“Be in no doubt,” Harris writes of Cocker’s generation of larger-than-life and massively talented musicians: “as they go, these people take an entire culture with them, and by around 2030 our understanding of rock’s essence will be synonymous with recorded music, old footage, and the overwhelming sense of art that no subsequent generation could top.” It’s a great and thought-provoking piece.
And to prove how right Harris is, I urge you to click on the video that’s at the top of this post, and take yourself back to that time and place. Have a listen to Joe Cocker in his prime, and then just try and tell me that when it comes to rock’n’roll and pop, the Manse years weren’t the best years ever.