Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Summer of Love: The Association

By the late '60s, The Association was one of my favorite bands. (Yeah, the guys who did "Along Comes Mary.") At the time, I wasn't entirely enchanted with the direction that rock was headed -- to this day, I don't understand the fuss over Jimi Hendrix -- but I appreciated good vocal work and tight harmonies. These guys came out of California, and were naturally influenced by The Beach Boys, as well as the "folk-rock" phenomenon. I also found their lyrics very poetic, a step above the "I-love-you-oooh-let's-go-steady" variety that ruled until the latter part of that decade.

An example is in the clip above, which I first saw on the CBS show "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" in 1967.

In the songs I've been singing, quite often a phrase
Comes close to the feeling of you
But I never suspected that one of those days
The wish of a song would come true...

I remember reading an interview of theirs once. It seemed they were going out of their way to eschew a clean-cut matching-blazer-and-tie image, with all this talk about peace and love and f*** the Establishment and f*** this and f*** that and whatever. Tryin' pretty desperate to look hip, from what I could tell. Otherwise I don't know who they were trying to impress. The interview didn't impress me. But their music still did.

They didn't last much into the seventies, though. There were personnel changes by then, and bassist Brian Cole was found dead of a heroin overdose in 1972. But some surviving members -- including Brian Cole's son, keyboardist/vocalist Jordan Cole -- continue to do reunion tours today. Among the early members with the reconfigured band is Larry Ramos, formerly of The New Christy Minstrels in the early 60s. He replaced Jules Alexander (no relation) in '66, then stayed when Jules came back in '69.

And for those who are as yet unconvinced of the influence of Catholicism on Western civilization, the following appears below. Enjoy.

(Excerpt from lyrics of "Everything That Touches You," written by group member Terry Kirkman.)

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