Saturday Single No. 79

Originally posted July 5, 2008

We made a stop at the Dairy Queen the other evening, the Texas Gal and I. We weren’t extravagant: She had a small cone and I had a small hot fudge sundae with peanuts. (I have a fondness for the mega-sized Peanut Buster Parfait, but I don’t need the calories.) We sat in the little sun porch area, a structure with maybe six booths that was tacked onto the building a few years after the place opened in the late 1960s.

As we ate, I looked over at the counter and found myself looking back into the summer of 1973. I recalled standing there with Rick and Gary one hot summer evening, watching the harried young servers as they struggled to keep up with a constant stream of customers. From the speaker in the ceiling came the sounds of George Harrison’s current single “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth).” This was before there was any place to sit inside the building, so we got our treats – mine was almost certainly a Peanut Buster Parfait – and went outside to the tables there.

It was an evening of aimless meandering, as were many of our evenings that summer. We’d head out in my 1961 Falcon and wander around town, listening to the radio and laughing, talking about music, girls, sports, parties, our plans. In 1973, Rick and Gary had just finished high school, and I’d just finished my second year of college. In September, Gary would start college, I’d head off to Denmark and Rick, well, he wasn’t sure yet what he would do. (For a while that fall, he worked in a candle factory, moving huge chunks of wax around the place to their appropriate destinations; when someone asked him what he did, he said he was a chunker.)

All of that, though, was about two months away. I don’t recall what the other guys were doing that summer, but I was working two halftime jobs at the college: one as a janitor in the Education Building and the other as part of a wandering crew for Learning Resources, doing maintenance on projectors and other equipment and finishing the painting job a co-worker and I had begun that spring. Neither job was too demanding, and I spent many evenings with the two guys, driving.

One could do that in those days, drive aimlessly for hours at a time. Gas was less than forty cents a gallon, so driving was cheap entertainment. We’d roll the windows down, turn up the radio and wander around St. Cloud. I recall driving in the early hours of July 1. A state law had gone into effect at midnight, allowing drivers to turn right after stopping at a red light. We’d been to a party, and as we drove home – almost certainly a little unsteadily – one of us mentioned the new law, and we decided we absolutely needed to find a red light so we could turn right. For at least half an hour, every light we approached was green or turned green just as we neared the intersection. Finally, laughing madly, we crossed the Mississippi from downtown to the East Side for the third time and were halted by a red light at Wilson Avenue. Cheering out the windows into the quiet night, we turned right and headed for home.

So what did we hear coming from KDWB on the radio as we drove? The Billboard Hot 100 for June 30, 1973 – the day that ended just before we began our search for a red light – has Harrison’s “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)” in the top spot, with “My Love” by his former bandmate, Paul McCartney, at No. 2.

Other highlights from that list, songs that whisper memories of that summer to me, are the Doobie Brothers’ “Long Train Running” (No. 8), “Shambala” by Three Dog Night (No. 10), Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” (No. 17), “I’m Doin’ Fine Now” by New York City (No. 19), Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away” (No. 27) and “Wildflower” by Skylark (No. 33).

But along with the Harrison tune, there’s one other song that says to me “Summer of ’73” more than any other song. I’m not sure why, as I can tie no specific event or place to it. Maybe I heard it late one night as I sat at my window and pondered my Denmark adventure to come. I guess the reason doesn’t matter, just the memory, and that memory is why Seals & Crofts’ “Diamond Girl” is this week’s Saturday Single.

Seals & Crofts – “Diamond Girl” [Warner Bros. 7671, 1973]

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One Response to “Saturday Single No. 79”

  1. In The Valley Of The Unplayed « Echoes In The Wind Archives Says:

    […] with “Summer Breeze,” there are two Seals and Crofts songs that pull me away to another time: “Diamond Girl” and “We May Never Pass This Way (Again)” remain among my favorite records from my college […]

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