HBDTM: The Beat Goes On

 british.jpg  The neighborhood kids piled in our Chrysler, front and back, all eyes fixed on the odometer. And on the 5th or 6th trip around the block, there was what we’d come to see: all those zeros rolling up at ten thousand miles–an incomprehensibly large round number. Wow!


It is called “The British Beat Live! and was a gift recently from my wife. On the CD, the stars from the sixties–those who survive and can still stand and sing–do so before a live audience of those who knew their songs as Top 40 hits. They perform some more or less mutated version of their original music (even while the backup bands provided for the event are often decades younger as rock band members of the era probably had rather short performance or life expectancies).

I used to sing those songs and play them on the guitar, so small wonder I had to sing along with my peers (where do those lyrics live in the brain all these decades?) in their noble if not always impeccable efforts to recreate those lived moments from a time long ago. Don’t Let the Sun Catch you Crying. A World Without Love. Groovy Kind of Love.

A thousand gray heads swayed and bobbed in the swirling stage lights to the rough beat as Reg Pressly and one or more Troggs hammered out Wild Thing. You make my heart sing. I had to wonder if that much excitement might make their hearts go into fibrillation. Old people, young hearts, and the deep places that melody and memory live together. Life goes on within us and without us, another British group told us.


I watch the miles add up, having been around the block a time or two myself by now. So adding a six on this particular date to but a single zero is just one more mile, and yet also makes for what seems like an incomprehensibly large number. Wow!

So climb on in, lets see where this thing is headed. And by all means, roll down the windows and let the wind blow what hair your have left; turn on the radio to the Oldies Channel and crank up the travelin’ tunes! Let’s see what kind of music the sixties give us this time ’round the block.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Happy Birthday Fred! Geeze…the Big Six Oh…When the first little whipper snapper tells you that age is just a number or you’re only as old as you feel, I hope ya’ punch ’em in the jaw! Have a good ‘un.

  2. I’ll give you the same birthday advise I give everyone…Go out and have a day of photography. A birthday gift to yourself…

    Happy Birthday Fred!

    I don’t know about you (though I suspect it’s the same with everyone) but I don’t feel any different inside from the 18 year old kid I was all those many years ago. It’s only the outside that keeps changing. Which always surprises me when I wake up in the morning and find my father staring out of the bathroom mirror at me…

    Which might tend to explain the song memory burned into that 18 year old brain…

  3. So during my morning visit I find that it is your birthday. Have a great one and share with us a birthday photo. I am having one in a few days and first thought of just letting the approaching dreaded event drift by unnoticed. But I realize that just being alive and able to photograph another day is cause to celebrate.
    Oh the sixties… I was a little too young to enjoy them the way I would if they happened all over today. I was on a search for the sixties on a recent trip to San Francisco where I hung out at the infamous summer of love haven of Haight-Ashbury. With camera in hand, I focused on the crossroads and the homes of the likes of the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis and the flat above the smoking paraphernalia shop where Jimi Hendrix stayed (the tie-dye still hangs in the windows.)

  4. well, if i remember right from meeting you, you still have plenty of hair to let blow in the wind. but if you ever need extra, i have plenty to spare…. not that i’m rubbing that in. 🙂

    happy birthday, again!

  5. Love you, Pop. Again, happy 6-oh. I was at Alfred’s when Mom discovered that 60s flashback event — should’ve known she would find the CD.