The shorter, mosquito-free days of early autumn were the perfect time to head to one of the few remaining Drive-In movie theaters in Vermont, like the Sunset Drive-in in Mallets Bay, where they showed the Minions movie. For my son, who sewed his own Minions Halloween costume a few years back, this is a “must-see.”
My son gives the flick two thumbs up while I’m overwhelmed by the impression that the director made the movie simply as an excuse to load it up with a great soundtrack of 1960s rock and pop hits. It’s got “Mellow Yellow” by Donovan, “I’m a Man” by the Spencer Davis Group and others. But when The Turtles “Happy Together” starts playing, it’s as if I’m being transported back to my youth in the late 60’s.
My older twin brothers got a short wave radio as a present in 1966 and they spent the rest of the decade listening to the BBC’s Top of the Pops programs and recording them on reel-to-reel tapes that they still have! They became groupies of one of Burlington’s commercial rock stations – WDOT – and they gathered what became an impressive collection of 45 records that filled our house, and my childhood with both great, and not-so-great, rock and pop songs.
Once I hear “Happy Together” in Minions, it’s as if a switch goes on. I can’t stop singing it! It’s as if those 60’s songs left huge imprints on the growing neural pathways in my youth. But I also notice that within a few days, my entire family is singing, humming or whistling it too, in every context.
Mind you, this has happened before. When Very Merry Theatre put on a production at Flynn School, they also used 60s music. And as soon as I heard one of the songs, “Red Rubber Ball” by the Cyrcle, I couldn’t stop singing it either. Within a day, my son and I were singing it in two-part harmonies.
I’m fascinated that my family so eagerly embraces this music. My dad did his best to indoctrinate my siblings and me with his favorite music - Gershwin and Porter, Mozart and Beethoven, Ella and Ellington. And though my dad’s long gone, we still listen to his music. But it’s not like we walked around our old house, spontaneously singing those songs, while playing, say, Twister.
No, the music of the 60s is something else entirely. And in my humble opinion, those of us who grew up surrounded by the British and American rock and pop music of that era were just incredibly lucky.