"Loco-Motion" was the second record I ever bought. Yes, I remember it's hyphenated. Do you know how much I stared at that label? That's where I first saw the words "Goffin/King." At the time, I didn't even know those were the writers!
But how I loved that track. What is that sound? A saxophone? It went straight to my gut, got me moving, and the lyrics might sound stupid but dance crazes were all the rage back then, and really…they weren't that stupid. They were conversational, they made sense, I felt Little Eva was singing just to me.
And I had no idea the same duo wrote "I'm Into Something Good," which introduced Herman's Hermits to America, it wasn't until weeks later that the label put a sticker for "Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter" atop the album, which came from the print shop with "I'm Into Something Good" emphasized. "Mrs. Brown" was the bigger hit, but it's "I'm Into Something Good" that lasts.
And it's funny, because the song means much more to me today than it did back then. That's the power of an exquisite lyric, you grow into it, you know it by heart, but as you age you come to understand it.
"Woke up this morning feelin' fine"
What could be better? Waking up with a smile on your face, knowing that you can't wait to eat life up.
"There's something special on my mind
Last night I met a new girl in the neighborhood"
It was only a year and a half later that I met Betsy at the camp social. She was my first ever girlfriend. Suddenly the song made sense.
But really, the number is even more powerful as I age, because when you walk out of their front door after the first night…you feel just like this song.
Of course Gerry Goffin was Carole King's husband. But back then we knew neither of them, this was long before Carole broke through as a solo act.
They got the music bug early, long before the Beatles. Because despite wars and tech, one thing always sustains, music. It comes right after food, water and sex. At the top of a mountain, around a campfire, you can't show a movie, but you can sing your favorites at the top of your lungs.
And back then life was different, we all knew those songs atop the hit parade. They're part of our DNA.
And Goffin was no one hit wonder. He racked up classics both with Carole and without. Illustrating that success in life is not about the right parents or a degree, but the ability to capture the zeitgeist, to communicate to another human being what you feel inside.
"I think I'm goin' back
To the things I learned so well in my youth"
That life is all about passion, about following your dream.
"I think I'm returning to
Those days when I was young enough to know the truth"
Society is about eradicating your essence, making you conform. Education is not about liberation, but constriction. I've always marched to the beat of my own drummer, instructed by my dad, an iconoclastic loner who lived to connect but was hampered by a tragic personal life who found his refuge in music.
And he found my mother, who shared the same musical values. My father picked her up hitchhiking on the way home from Tanglewood.
In my house there was unlimited money for piano lessons and concert tickets, because my 'rents knew that art was the spice of life.
"Now there are no games to only pass the time"
No time to play the same album endlessly to get into the deep tracks, no time to discover who I am as opposed to being the person I've become.
"No more electric trains, no more trees to climb"
My mother tossed mine. Then she moved out of the house I grew up in, where I nailed a ladder to the tree in the backyard.
"But thinking young and growing older is no sin
And I can play the game of life to win"
That's the truth about this music game, we never grow up, we're young forever, and nothing is as satisfying as listening to the songs from way back when, which remind us of who we used to be.
And I used to be different. I used to be alone. I used to be depressed. But by following my musical dream, my whole life opened up. The songs led me there. I've played the game of life, and I've come to win. And it's thrilling.
But not as thrilling as the music coming out of the speakers this very second, Dusty Springfield's rendition of the Goffin/King composition "Goin' Back."
That's where I'm going right now. Back to the sixties. Before illness, before tragedy, when life was all about opportunity, when the sky was the limit.
Gerry encompassed all of this in the lyrics to a pop song.
So long Gerry! Your body might be gone, but your soul lives on, your music lives forever, in our hearts and minds.
And thank you Carole too!