ANTHEM, Book 3 of the Sixties Trilogy, publishes on October 1. Each of the book’s 47 chapters begins with a song from the Sixties to set the tone, mood, and scene. Every day between now and October 1, come have a listen and read a snippet from each chapter. On October 1, these posts will be archived with a link at ANTHEM’s webpage for #teachingAnthem1969
This is Chapter 16 (day 32):
THERE IS A MOUNTAIN
Written by Donovan Leitch
Performed by Donovan
Recorded at CBS Studios, London, England 1967
Percussion: Tony Carr
I shake him and call out “Norman!” but he doesn’t budge. The band is so loud and the guitars are screaming at each other and the drummers are trying to see who can be the loudest and there is no song!
“He’s okay!” shouts Marvin Gardens, who is standing there over Norman, weaving and bopping like a lunatic. “He’s diggin’ it. He’ll be back.”
“Where are his shoes?”
Marvin Gardens shrugs. “Somewhere.”
I cover my ears. “I’m going to the house!” I shout. Marvin Gardens waves a loopy hand in acknowledgement and I pick my way around all the hippies and find my way out of there. I see a short kid in blue jeans wearing Norman’s shoes — they are way too big for this kid. But I keep walking. I am not the keeper of my cousin’s shoes.
If I live to be a hundred, I will never understand this music.
It definitely helped me with coming to love “Mountain Jam” to know it was a riff on this Donovan song that I listened to on my record player dozens of times in the Sixties.
British musicians were a fascination to American girls (this one, anyway). We fell readily in love with them, including the Beatles, of course. The whole British Invasion beginning in the early sixties was heady and exciting, and composed of not just music, but fashion and make-up and movies and television (“The Avengers,” “The Saint,” “Secret Agent,” and we got David McCallum in “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”).
We were growing up against the necessary noise in our own country, the confusion of the Cold War, and the backdrop of the Vietnam War and everything that bewildered and scared us. We hung on to Donovan, and the Troggs (“Wild Thing” and “Love is All Around“), Peter and Gordon (“Nobody I Know” — my favorite), Herman’s Hermits (“Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat?“), Gerry and the Pacemakers (“Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey“), and the Nashville Teens (“Tobacco Road” which was so risque :>).
It was fun and it was pop, and it was all very “white” music in the early-to-mid sixties, very straight-ahead, something most of us didn’t register at the time — or I didn’t, anyway. It would be years before 1969 showed me that there was so much more richness to American music than I had realized, that it had blossomed into soul, R&B, funk, folk-rock, almost heavy-metal, and it was there for me as I began to navigate the end of the Sixties.
We’re heading there, in ANTHEM.