The other night, Bill, Jen, and I went to her daughter Maggie’s house for dinner. As usual, we congregated around the big center island and visited while Maggie and Jen cooked. We always seem to congregate in the kitchen, no matter at whose house we are being entertained. I think that’s pretty common. It’s a great chance for laughter and stories and tinking glasses if a toast becomes necessary.
We began talking about music, and for reasons I can’t recall, Bill brought up the Mamas & the Papas. “Oh yeah,” I quickly responded. “I loved their music.” And before you could say 45 rpm, Jen spoke to a nondescript appliance in the corner of the counter and said, “Alexa, play the Mamas & the Papas. Suddenly the air was filled with the sound of…..
Monday, Monday (bah-da bah-da-da-da)
…..(which all of you Baby Boomers are now singing in your head). I was immediately struck by two things. The first, of course, was could you have even begun to imagine back in 1966 (you were probably in your early- to-late teens at that point, depending on your Baby Boomer birth date) that a time would come when you could simply tell a little black cylinder to play a particular song, and that song would be immediately come out of the box? No 45 to stack. No cassette tape to drop. No CD to insert in the slot. Just your voice being the boss of an inhuman object named Alexa.
After having come to grips with that thought, I immediately began singing along with the song. I knew every word, as I do almost every song popularized in the 60s and early 70s. I mostly sang Michelle Phillips’ and Cass Elliots’ parts, because that’s what I had done as the 13-year-old listening to my transister radio in the back yard while I slathered myself with baby oil so as to get a great tan (and unknowingly perhaps give myself skin cancer in 40 years). Suddenly, I was a teenager again. Because that’s what music can do to a person. It can take you back to great — or sometimes not so great — memories. My teens were great years, so my memories were great.
Alexa went on to play song after song by the Mamas & the Papas. Bill and I sang along. We even danced at one point. I’m pretty sure Maggie threw up a little in her mouth at that point. On and on, until finally I thought my head would blow up. After all, how many times can a person listen to Creeque Alley, which of course includes the lyrics ….and no one’s getting fat ‘cept Mama Cass…. without wanting to cry for the poor overweight woman who had to sing those lyrics. Talk about body shaming!
Anyway, I might have to buy one of them newfangled appliances that play music.
And, by the way, all of you Baby Boomers are also recalling that Mama Cass died choking on a ham sandwich. That’s what I thought too. But I looked it up, and that is simply an urban myth. There was, in fact, a half-eaten sandwich in her room, but post-mortem tests indicated her stomach was empty. The rumor, however, will continue to be reported as fact, because the irony was simply too perfect. She died of heart failure, perhaps brought on by body shaming.