Soul Train & American Bandstand

In February of this year, the original soul man, Don Cornelius, committed suicide. He was 75. In 1971, via his popular music and dance program, Soul Train, Cornelius brought soulful R&B musicians, music, and exceptional dancers like Damita Jo Freeman, Joe Chisum and Patricia Davis to television. In its early days, Soul Train was — as the kids today might say — the bomb! In addition to feating popular recording artists of the day the program drew a widespread Black audience.

I doubt if I am the only of of Cornelius’s fans who wonders whether, as he departed this world, if his last thoughts were of his signature catchphrase which he enthusiastically rendered as he was signing off at the end Soul Train program “. . . and always in parting I wish you love, peace and soul!”  

Two months later after we loss Cornelius another great in the field of musical entertainment moved on to that Boomerland in the hereafter. 

On April 18, Dick Clark, the charismatic host of American Bandstand died of a heart attack. He was 82 years young. During the 1960s, long before Soul Train arrived, my friends and I watched American Bandstand.  As we grew older, I enjoyed watching Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin Eve and unexpectedly I learned that like me many of my friends enjoyed bringing in the New Year with Dick Clark, too. 

It was in the 1970s, and I was throwing a house party. My guests were dancing all over the place to a hot tune by Earth, Wind and Fire that was blasting on the stereo. At around 11:45 p.m. someone lowered the volume and switched on the television set, and all of the revelers stopped dancing long enough to gather around the TV for the countdown and to ring in the New Year with Dick Clark broadcasting from Times Square.  Clark  was cremated on April 18.

How ironic that both Cornelius and Clark would died within months of each other. Gentlemen thanks for the memories. RIP.


Try to Remember

Boomers, who among us hasn’t at some time or another reached for the remote control, planning to turn on the TV news and then, exclaiming “Enough already!” decided not to do it, because you are sick and tired of receiving bad news?  

I know sometimes I feel that it is just too much to even think about the condition of today’s world with its incalculable horrendous crimes and widespread incivility. A US News & World Report article is definitely on target when it states that Americans feel their country has reached an ill-mannered watershed.”

Granted, in our youth we, Boomers, had numerous counter culture and political movements, even so today’s state of affairs isn’t exactly déjà vu. It’s more like tens times ten multipied.

During the so-called turbulent sixties and disco seventies, many conscientious Boomers involved ourselves in trying to change America for the better by participating in non-violent protests or other peaceful forms of civil disobedience against segregation and the Vietnam War. On the other hand, some activist groups opted for more forceful and sometimes violent forms of rebellion – in response to the resistance to social change – by rioting in various cities throughout the nation, and protesting at political forums like the 1968 Democratic National Convention.  

When we look at today’s environmental devastation, and the social and economic chaos, it seems like we have crossed the point of no return. Just as Boomers remember outstanding events from our yesteryears, years from now Gen Xer’s will recall that their generation also was cursed with warfare — in the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Additionally, they also have had their shae of protest activities including the current Occupy Wall Street movement.

Many Boomers are in the September of our life and sometimes we nostalgics want nothing more that to take a time out and reflect on the bygone days, while wishing for peace and harmony in the present, because we know that life is fleeting and time is so much shorter than we realize.How unfortunate that we the world situation requires that we are constantly looking over our shoulder when we are outside, and checking to make sure the windows and doors are secured when we are at home. Compared to the present world order, ours really were the good old days.

To paraphase an old Mickey D commercial, if you feel you deserve a break today — like right now — take one. Enjoy a few seconds, a brief respite, from the hustle and bustle of life. Relax, calm your mind, and listen to the soothing out the words of the Brothers Four, Try to Remember . . . .