January 28, 2012

There were few greater things in childhood than popcorn.

Popcorn was a foodstuff that you ate at the movies or a basketball game.

Pretzels, potato chips and their ilk might be in the pantry at home, but popcorn was not such a common nosh.

Popcorn was an event.

I was likely munching on popcorn as King Kong ascended to the top of the Twin Towers and, later that same winter, when Rocky almost upset Apollo Creed for the heavyweight title.

Popcorn meant spectacle.

Of course, there was the occasional tin of Jiffy Pop on the stovetop. If it lacked the scale of the cinema, popcorn at home in the household den still made an impression. In the more intimate setting, popcorn was the spectacle.

The exploding corn under the ever-expanding foil of the Jiffy Pop container was a bit like playing with fireworks in the house.

And, as any kid exposed to a billion hours of Brady Bunch reruns in the ’70s will tell you, it was a trail of popcorn that played a pivitol role in Mike and Carol rescuing the boys from the clutches of Vincent Prince.

Yeah, popcorn is all right.

It would have been early 1972 when I would have seen the first movie I recall seeing in the theater, the cinematic classic Godzilla Vs. The Smog Monster, the trippiest of all the Godzilla flicks and an experience I’ve recounted before.

As I was four, music wasn’t really on my radar, but here are four songs that I might have heard at the time that were on Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 during this week in 1972…

Don McLean – American Pie
from American Pie (1971)

Few songs have been as dissected and parsed as thoroughly in the history of mankind as Don McLean’s magnum opus, so, really, what more is there to add.

Climax – Precious And Few
from Have A Nice Decade: The ’70s Pop Culture Box (1998)

I remember Precious And Few from some television commercial in the ’70s – Kodak, maybe? I don’t know and I’m too lazy to care, but I will consider it a middle finger to the marketing world that I still know the song if I can’t recall what was being shilled.

The Stylistics – You Are Everything
from The Stylistics (1971)

I know that Philly is famous for soul music, but there are a lot of gaps in my knowledge of the genre. The Stylistics are one of those acts who I love the handful of songs I know and keep intending to check out their music beyond the hits.

They’re still on that list – thanks to a combination of apathy and forgetfulness – because I never tire of songs like Betcha By Golly Wow, I’m Stone in Love With You, Break Up To Make Up, and the silky smooth You Are Everything.

Elton John – Levon
from Elton John’s Greatest Hits Volume II (1977)

One of the few times I remember taking note of a song as a kid was hearing Elton John’s Benny And The Jets blaring from a jukebox in a Pizza Inn in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I don’t remember hearing Levon from a couple years earlier.

I do love Levon, though. The lyric has always intrigued me and the song is more striking to me the older I grow.