Come on now, do you really expect me to pass up the opportunity to review a CD set with the title Midnight Cryin’ Time: Teen Angst Classics From The Rock ‘n’ Roll Era after all the ink I have spilled over the past few years in various journals and newspapers going on and on about various aspects of teenage life, teenage alienation and teenage angst in the 1950s and early 1960s, the time of my own coming of age. Of course not, this thing is like manna from heaven and came my way via a book sale at the local library. I had to pick it up at any cost (any cost within reason that being about two bucks to help the library fund), if only to be able to use the above lead-in.
That said, what I want to discuss is the aftermath of the school dance, or those lonely nights when there were no schools dances. After all how many dances can you have in a school year? How many times can you ask, ask pretty please like, certain younger teachers on the faculty to, wink, wink, chaperon these things before they go ballistic on you. And how about those other teen social situations between dances then (and now, maybe, except the communications technology is different). For example; being stood up for a date; or when that certain he or she did not call; or that certain he or she had another date; or that certain "unto death" friend of yours took that certain he or she away from you; or when that certain he or she said no, no for any number of things but you know the real “no,” right?; or, finally, the subject of this CD that midnight cryin’ time when something he or she, did or did not do, or did or did not say, or that he or she forgot to remember, and so on that seems to be the umbrella that these three discs focus on.
Okay, okay that is the cue that I have my story, my midnight crying story, in hand. Let me get out the hanky just in case old sores run deep. I had better start at the beginning otherwise you will accuse me of sour grapes, or something like that. Yes, she had a name, a dizzy blonde (don’t make anything out of that I just had, and have, have a preference for non-dizzy brunettes as a rule) teenage name, Diana, and yes, she looked good in an early 1960s cashmere high school sweater. And yes, she had nice legs and such. But mostly she had six gallons of personality and, well, a smiling interest in me, or rather what I had to say in those ocean edge Olde Saco High days. And what I had to say in those days was almost every arcane fact I could find out about the “beats.” You know on the road Jack Kerouac, om-ing Allen Ginsburg, doped-up drugstore cowboy William S. Burroughs and most of all, mad monk, mad cosmic traveler Neal Cassady (the real life model for Dean Moriarty in that on the road Kerouac search for the great American night).
Yes, I know in 1966 these guys were “old news” in places like Greenwich Village and Harvard Square but in podunk Maine talking about such things was “cool.” Especially if accompanied by the “look,” black chinos, work boots, flannel shirts, and mandatory midnight sunglasses worn 24/7/365. And don’t forget (as if I would let you) the French-Canadian connection, Jeanbon Kerouac was an F-C as were half the residents of old working class mill town Olde Saco (we were just a Kerouac hometown northern Lowell). More importantly so was Diana, Diana Bleu.
And that is exactly where the problem, my problem, began and ended, the midnight crying hour began and ended. See Diana was crazy for beat stuff but she wanted a guy, and an F-C guy, with a little more speed. Literally. She was looking, and looking hard, and I know this because she told me so straight out, for a guy with big wheels, maybe a 1964 Mustang (green, of course) so she could be sitting high and wide on the front. And she found him, Jeanbon LeClerc, a little older, out of school, working at the Saco Valley Textile Mill (like about a quarter of the town’s population in those long gone good-paying ill jobs days) and with some dough to spent . But I am getting slightly ahead of my story.
Diana and I went on a few dates, afternoon dates, after school, mainly down to Jimmy Jack’s Diner (the one on Main Street, not the one on Atlantic Avenue that is strictly for tourists and “summer guests”) to listen to some jazz, rock or other be-bop stuff on the big old jukebox that drew every half-hip kid in town. But mainly we talked, talked late on the telephone, about this and that, mainly dreams, and mainly abstract stuff. I was in seventh heaven and I thought she was too. What I didn’t know, and never thought to know (or really want to know thinking back) was that Diana was working her way into beau Jean’s front seat. Want to know, or not, one night, one Thursday night, when I rang her up about eleven o’clock (her sole provider mother worked the second shift at the mill) her younger sister answered the phone. Answered that her sister, Diana, was out and about with Jean and that she would not be taking any more midnight calls from me. Period.
So what is the demographic that this CD compilation is being pitched to, aside from the obvious usual suspects, the generation of ’68, now the AARP crowd. Well that's simple. Anyone who has been wounded in love’s young battles; anyone who has longed for that he or she to come through the door, late or not; anyone that has been on a date that did not work out, or been stranded on a date that has not worked out; anyone who has had to submit to being pieced off with car hop drive-in food; anyone who has gotten a “Dear John” letter, or its equivalent; anyone who has been jilted by that certain he or she; anyone who has been turned down for that last school dance from that certain he or she that you counted on to make your up until then lame evening; anyone who has waited endlessly for the telephone (now iPhone, etc., okay, for the younger set who may read this sketch as a historical curiosity ) to ring to hear that certain voice; and, especially those hes and shes who have shed those midnight tears for youth's lost love. In short, everybody except those few “most popular” types who the rest of us will not shed one tear over, or the nerds who didn’t count (or care) anyway.
Okay, that is the big build-up and usually at the end of these things, these oldies review things, I give my choices for the tunes that stick out. Well, aside from providing a little fodder for this entry there is not one damn song on this messed-up thing that I can, or would, recommend. It seems impossible that a 3-CD set of old time rock and roll music would provide nothing more than a….headache after I spent my short, sweet life listening to it one afternoon. Hoping, hoping against hope that there would be one song I could listen to that I didn’t want upon hearing to get up and throw the whole thing out the window. May, just maybe, that is why some perverted AARPer “donated” this beauty to the book sale. I want that person’s e-mail address pronto as someone has some midnight crying of his or her own to do.
Note: Before anyone hollers at me that Marcie Blaine, Eddie Cochran (whose work I am going to write a review on soon), and a few other well-known rockers are on this compilation I know that. The material of theirs that is presented here though is the B (or C or D) side of their better known work. I rest my case.