(Indian Cove, Guilford, Connecticut.)
It was August 1966 and I was fifteen years old. I was just starting to write songs in earnest. I had a band called The Braekirk Aggregation, a pretty strong inkling that I wanted to do music for a living, a heart and head full of passion and angst and a cool, cute girlfriend with really, really long hair.
(The cottage that Uncle Carl Bergengren built, in the 1950’s, showing the shed and the big rock in the front yard where we all spat out a multitude of watermelon seeds. It’s a wonder a watermelon patch didn’t sprout up.)
Every Summer my family would usually stay for a week or two with my mother’s sister’s family at the house Uncle Carl built in a little bay on the Connecticut shore called Indian Cove, in Guilford, Connecticut. This Summer my parents heard about a cottage on Lower Road available for rent in that little community of beach bungalows. So they splurged and rented it for two weeks. And my best friend Deke came to stay for one of the weeks.
(Our rented cottage on Lower Road that faced the salt marsh. It did not have these stairs and deck when we were there.)
That Summer it seemed you could not turn the radio on without hearing a great song. In all kinds of styles, too. I’m talking about Soul. English Rock. American Rock. Pop. Psychedelic Blues Rock. Folk. Folk rock. Folk pop. Punky Frat Rock. People like The Four Tops. The Temptations. Wilson Pickett. The Isley Brothers. Sam & Dave. James Brown. The Beatles. The Byrds. The Hollies. The Kinks. The Animals. The Beach Boys. The Lovin’ Spoonful. Cream. The Young Rascals. Johnny Rivers. Richie Havens. Donovan. The Standells. The Troggs. Bobby Hebb. The Cyrkle. The Righteous Brothers. Percy Sledge. The Supremes. The Dave Clark Five. Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs, just to name some.
To hear “Bus Stop” by The Hollies click HERE.
To hear Wilson Picket’s “634-5789” click HERE.
To hear “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by The Beach Boys click HERE.
To watch the original video for “Sunny Afternoon” by The Kinks click HERE.
To watch The Cyrkle perform their hit “Red Rubber Ball” click HERE.
To watch Bobby Hebb perform his hit “Sunny” click HERE.
To hear “You Can’t Hurry Love” by The Supremes click HERE.
To hear “I Saw Her Again” by The Mamas & The Papas click HERE.
To watch The Lovin’ Spoonful perform “Daydream” click HERE.
Staying in that cottage, perched on a hill with a steep sloping yard of boulders, grass and scrubby pine trees, we perfected a schedule. We’d wake up around 6 or 7 am, with the sunlight streaming in all the windows, and make a pot of coffee. Deke and I and my brother Dave would take our coffee out on the porch. Robbie was too young for the stuff so he stuck to orange juice. We’d turn on the portable radio and listen away. Our mood just got better and better as we heard one fantastic song after another. After an couple hours of listening to all this exciting music, we’d head out to the beach, the boats, the walk along the rocks and the land of Summertime girls.
(The public access, through someone’s yard, that led to the “rock walk” at Indian Cove.)
(The public access steps to the rocks and beach.)
(Falkner’s Island, seen in the distance from the one and half mile “rock walk” that we’d take from Indian Cove to Sachem’s Head in Guilford.)
The loud, chiming 12 string guitars and fourth and fifth harmonies of the Byrds’ “Eight Miles High”. That one alone made you ecstatic to be a live breathing teenage boy. The explosive quarter note drumbeat thumping of The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black”. Primitive and wonderful. I could already see myself performing this at the next Junior High dance. And their madrigal fancy-lad song “Lady Jane”; I performed that one as well, with my band The Braekirk Aggregation, in my best cockney accent. The unabashed romantic soul of “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers. I’d be slow-dancing big time with my girlfriend to this one. The snare drum-like bombs and cheerful Californian harmonies of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by The Beach Boys, who I was just starting to take more seriously and end up loving. The dense, meandering melodies, harmonies and sharp, jagged guitar lines of “Bus Stop” by The Hollies. And when the radio played “Good Lovin” by the Rascals, forget about it. We’d be up and dancing like Frankie Avalon! That song was tailor-made for me, too: Felix Cavaliere played the organ and sang lead. Hello! That’s what I did!
To watch The Byrds performing “Eight Miles High” on American Bandstand click HERE.
To watch The Stones perform their hit “Lady Jane” live on Ed Sullivan click HERE. (It’s interesting to see Brian Jones playing dulcimer.)
To watch The Rascals performing “Good Lovin” live on Ed Sullivan click HERE.
Since a Summer vacation is a way to escape the heat and crowds of the city, it was fitting that one of the biggest hits that August was The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer In The City”. The car sirens, snare drum shots like a weapon, and great electric piano and guitars John Sebastian’s unique voice, all created one of the main theme songs to that season.
The soulful growl of David Ruffin on the Tempations’ hit “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg”. The knee-droppin’, gospel-style pleas of James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s World”, with those iconic piano chord triplets. The elastic, sliding vocals of The Isley Brothers on “This Old Heart Of Mine”. The kings of soul Sam & Dave singing “Hold On, I’m Comin'”. Besides those amazing voice straight out of the the church, and the unstoppable groove of a runaway trolley train, this tune had the strong-as-gravity staying power of Steve Cropper’s guitar curls and stabs.
To watch The Temptations performing “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” click HERE.
To hear The Isley Brothers’ “This Old Heart Of Mine” click HERE.
To watch James Brown performing “It’s A Man’s World” click HERE.
To hear “Hold On, I’m Comin” by Sam & Dave click HERE.
(On the rock walk, looking back towards Indian Cove .)
(Pausing on the rock walk.)
(Sea grass and good diving rock, seen from the shore along the walk.)
Then there was the good-natured quirkiness of “Yellow Submarine” by The Beatles, featuring Ringo’s happy go luck singing. And the song you had to love, even though it sounded like it was written for your parents: “See You In September” by The Happening. I never could remember that band’s name. And there was Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35”. I really liked the blues shuffle of the song. It was fun and a good Set Two closer for my band, in those days of playing three and four sets at clubs. And there were the great stupid songs. Songs with lyrics you knew were inane, but they were just good old rock ‘n roll, begging to played by your band for screaming girls, even if it was in your basement, and the girls were your little brother’s friends from the neighborhood. And you played them LOUD. Songs like “Hanky Panky”, by Tommy James & The Shondels. “Dirty Water” (The Standells). “Cool Jerk” (The Capitols). And the menacing testosterone-laden “Lil’ Red Riding Hood” by Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs. A good follow up to “Wooly Bully”.
To watch The Standells performing “Dirty Water” click HERE.
To hear “Cool Jerk” by The Capitols click HERE.
To hear “Hanky Panky” by Tommy James & The Shondells click HERE.
To hear “Wild Thing” by The Troggs click HERE.
These were the songs that fueled my dreams, both romantic and musical, in the Summer of 1966. They played on our transistor radios, in our minds as we walked down the dirt roads to the beach, as we rode in cars into town to buy corn and clams and hot dogs and soda. They played all day, all night, ALL SUMMER LONG!
To this day, when I hear these songs, I can taste the salt of the ocean air in my mouth, and feel that same happiness I felt on those sailboat rides through the Thimble Islands with my cousins, uncle, aunt and brothers and on those long walks along the rocks and down those wandering beach roads.
To hear “Paperback Writer” by The Beatles click HERE.
To hear “I’m Only Sleeping” by The Beatles click HERE.
Here’s a more complete list of the songs that blasted out of those radio speakers that Summer:
HOLD ON, I’M COMIN’ (Sam & Dave)
YELLOW SUBMARINE (Beatles)
PAPERBACK WRITER (Beatles)
I’M ONLY SLEEPING (The Beatles)
BUS STOP (Hollies)
634-5789 (Wilson Pickett)
HANKY PANKY (Tommy James & The Shondells)
RED RUBBER BALL (The Cyrkle)
PAINT IT BLACK & LADY JANE (The Rolling Stones)
AIN’T TOO PROUD TO BEG (The Temptations)
THIS OLD HEART OF MINE (The Isley Brothers)
SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER (The Happenings)
WOULDN’T IT BE NICE (The Beach Boys)
EIGHT MILES HIGH (The Byrds)
GOOD LOVIN’ (The Young Rascals)
I’M SO GLAD (Cream)
SUMMER IN THE CITY (The Lovin’ Spoonful)
MORNING, MORNING (Richie Havens)
RAINY DAY WOMEN #12 & 35 (Bob Dylan)
SUNNY AFTERNOON (Kinks)
IT’S A MAN’S WORLD (James Brown)
WILD THING (Troggs)
LIL’ RED RIDING HOOD (Same The Sham & The Pharaohs)
COOL JERK (The Capitols)
SUNNY (Bobby Hebb)
DIRTY WATER (The Standells)
MONDAY MONDAY (The Mamas & The Papas)
I SAW HER AGAIN (The Mamas & The Papas)
A GROOVY KIND OF LOVE (Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders)
DON’T BRING ME DOWN (The Animals)
YOU CAN’T HURRY LOVE (The Supremes)
PLEASE TELL ME WHY (Dave Clark Five)
(The beach at Indian Cove, where the rock walk began on the right.)
(The diving board at the beach, at high tide. When the tide was low, you could walk out to it.)
(One of the houses and lawns we’d see along the walk.)
(Walking down a back dirt road at Indian Cove, through marshes.)
(Mother In Law Island, one of the Thimble Islands. I took this photo in 1978, sailing with cousin Charlie and Uncle Carl.)
(One of the smaller Thimble Islands, with egret.)
(Coming over the hill to the Indian Cove entrance on the right.)