1965 has been turning up a lot in my life these past weeks. I know admitting that means I am older than dirt, but so be it. I'm feeling sentimental.
In the summer of 1965 I was thirteen and, as an aspiring folksinger and guitarist, went to the Newport Folk Festival (which was only twenty miles and a thirty-minute ferry ride from my house). Arlo Guthrie would perform "Alice's Restaurant" for the first time. Bob Dylan would "go electric". The rain would pour. Joan Baez would join her sister on stage. Peter, Paul and Mary would bring the house down. I would buy a necklace engraved "Newport Folk" that I would lose in Robert Redford's NYC apartment (but that's another story, and boring).
Last Christmas my mother gave me a PBS DVD chronicling 50 years of Peter, Paul and Mary. I saved it until last week and then watched it. There was footage from 1965. I cried. I still knew all of the songs. Sniffling, tissue in hand, I sang along. Thank goodness my husband was out of town and I was alone!
Last night I went to another concert (I'm visiting my sons in Austin, Texas this week). Geoff Muldaur and Jim Kweskin, both well-known musicians from the 1960's, performed. They were wonderful. I knew a lot of the songs. They talked about the Newport Folk Festival, in 1965. Thank goodness I didn't cry--something that would have horrified the music critic from the Netherlands seated next to me. I also didn't stand up and yell, "I saw you in Newport, fifty years ago!"
I resisted singing along and I totally behaved myself.
It wasn't easy.
I've received many lifesaving pieces of writing advice over the past thirty years, and one of them was to make a timeline for each character. I once wrote a larger book with a significant back story involving three generations. Intersecting historical events made for a much richer character background. And a much better story. I suppose making a timeline should have been obvious to me at the time, but I was immersed in the characters' relationships and not thinking how they would play out against the backdrop of the nineteen fifties and sixties.
We all have those special landmark years--when we were married, had our first child, graduated from high school or college. 1994, the year Nebraska won its National Football Championship, is special to my oldest son. My husband's life changed in 1961, the winter he spent in a snowbound cabin.
I have 1965, even if I didn't know how significant it was at the time. I was just a thirteen year old kid listening to the songs, taking in the sights, thinking I was the luckiest person in the world to be in the middle of the music.
Which, fifty years later, was exactly the way I felt last night.
So what's your year? What's on your timeline? And what kind of music brings back memories?