by Darren Clarke, November 2, 2022
Thus far in the 90 Minutes to Love series I have tried to resist the urge to indulge in the tempting delights of honey glazed 70’s nostalgia. Why have I resisted? Probably because the entire world seems to already be simultaneously fetishizing a slim portion of the decade’s most fashionable quirks while ignoring the 70’s warts- warts like, casual racism and misogyny, a lack of tolerance and diversity, along with a complete disregard for the environment. So why would the world need me to further hype the already over exposed? I’m not sure the world does. I do think however that, as someone who entered the decade age two and exited age eleven, there’s a particular, individual, perspective to that time that I do treasure and like to tap into once in awhile.
And that perspective, my personal slice of the decade’s zeitgeist, that I can’t hold off sharing any longer.
There’s this fuzzy, sweet, memory I have of being a kid in the 70’s at a campground named Bissel’s Hideaway located in Ridgeville, Ontario. Though located about a 20 minute drive from where I grew up Bissel’s to me was an exotic getaway spot as a kid. This was the 70s, a world where pools were still a rarity- Bissel’s not only had an enormous outdoor pool, it had paddle boats, it had tons of kids my age, it had Summer.
The memory involves me and a few friends up late, on our own, wandering around a mostly darkened summer night, lit only by a few twinkling lights in tents and outside RV’s. It was such a great slice of what being a kid in, not only the 70’s but just in general was- So much of this relatively uncultivated, slightly wild world around us, scary or not, was a mystery. Adult conversation was still very much in the realm of teachers on Charlie Brown cartoons, in that, it rarely registered with us, the ebb and flow of pubescent and adult relationships, of love and lust and heartbreak falling outside our radar. At age eight or nine, we were more dialled into a sense of energy and wonder. It was in some ways like the magic of a corner store when you were a kid- it was a world of things, packages and packaging, you knew nothing about. It was a world full of possibilities. I hadn’t begun to fully compartmentalize, to assign value to, to elevate, to dismiss. I hadn’t begun to fence in my curiosity.
Bissel’s Hideaway that Saturday night flickered with unexplored possibilities while teeming with palpable joy and celebration. It was a night of laughter from campsites near and far, of cold sweating beer bottles held in one hand with the other arm around a loved one’s waist, it was a night that the suggested that you might be able to wander around in a t-shirt and shorts eternally, it was night that suggested summer might be infinite. And there in that darkness, coasting on the the most languid of breezes, I remember hearing ABBA’s Dancing Queen shining up the world around us.
That’s what seventies summer nights felt like to me- ABBA. At that moment I didn’t know a damn thing about ABBA beyond what that song felt like. And it was perfect.
Time would pass of course and I would grow to learn about ABBA as they increasingly came to the forefront of pop culture via endless radio play, inclusion in any and all dances and weddings as well as frequents flyer miles on K-Tel commercials for their Greatest Hits albums.
Then at a certain point I rejected ABBA as too cheesy, too ridiculous, to pop, to love.
I was a fool.
A few years later I was introduced to Supertramp via 1050 Chum in Toronto playing The Logical Song off Breakfast in America seemingly every hour on the hour in 1979. That and Supertramp’s various albums were all staples in my best friends brother’s record collection (along with Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac and Meatloaf) that we often tapped into on rainy summer afternoons.
Again, I knew nothing about Supertramp beyond their music. I had zero interest in knowing anything beyond their music. Sitting there on my friend Anthony’s porch as the rain rolled down the slightly warped porch windows, as we played a board game- Stratego or The Game of Life, sorted through hockey cards, goofed around with the Etch-a-sketch Anthony got for Christmas that past winter or the Lite Brite he got for Christmas years before. The music was simply fun, beguiling, with lots of room for our fertile imaginations to roam. It was easy music, for easy company, at easy junctures in life.
The Carpenters were a last minute inclusion to the playlist as I heard Rainy Days and Mondays and recognized how much their sound manifested that kind of natural ease of 70s pop music that drew me to Supertramp and ABBA.
So, I’m not going to tell you anything about ABBA, Supertramp and the Carpenters here. You don’t need to know in order to love the music. Instead I urge you to find a rainy day, a lost day, a day without a plan and keep it that way- planless. Find a friend and go for a destinationless drive or walk, or pull out a board game or a puzzle, or a Lite Brite if you’ve got one and let the combined ABBA/Supertramp/Carpenters playlist melt away the world’s pretence into a fading cascade of meaningless sounds from Charlie Brown’s teacher.
Because too often that’s what the demands of the present are- noise. Instead, for a moment, let the glimmering remnants of wonder and wilderness, the best of what the 70s was, provide you with some warm relief from the modern world. Find an easy moment in time, find some easy company and indulge in some music that’s easy to love.
Because life doesn’t always have to be so hard.