I’ve read a lot of time travel stories over the years, and I’ve always wondered what time or event would be first on my list were I given the opportunity to go back in time. The premiere of Hamlet at the Globe Theatre? Watch Lincoln deliver the Gettysburg Address? Chat up the Beatles at the Cavern Club? But I think the absolute first place on my list would be Saturday, October 16, 1965 when the Ramsey Lewis Trio played “Hang On Sloopy” at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, California. As far as I’m concerned, 1965 was the last good year before we all got so cynical and selfish and ironic. Listen to this recording with headphones. I can see the crowd at the Lighthouse. A bunch of twenty-somethings, half in the bag, still smelling of sand and salt from a day surfing or just hanging out at the beach, dressed up for the night – the guys in narrow-lapel grey suits and crew cuts, the girls in square-neck sleeveless dresses that came to two inches above the knee, a perky-girl flip in their hair and little Lesley Gore flats – smoking Newports and sipping on Tanqueray and tonics, feeling all cool and edgy and hip to be listening to three black dudes from Chicago whip the shit out of some forgettable little top-40 ditty. Just kills me to know that I was only 400 miles away (and, regrettably, only eight years old) when RLT played this date. You never hear great music in little clubs like this these days, and it’s a damn shame.
(The video above is from an episode of “Hullabaloo” – not the recording on Cloth Monkey. Damn shame you don’t see more dancers in cages these days.)