Wednesday, September 26, 2012
When someone like Andy Williams dies...a part of you dies with him. The memories flash, of dancing to his music, cheek to cheek with girls at a high school dance; of Edsel cars and drive-in burger joints with chocolate malts and french fries. My 50th high school reunion is next month. Ah, yes, the the Class of 1962. How many of us are still on this side of the grass?
My high school was torn down after the Class of 1980 graduated, because rising home prices in Silicon Valley made it unaffordable to families with school age children. Dropping enrollments caused many schools to close and mine was one of them. Only a small section of the classrooms survives, along with the dilapidated gymnasium, now used as a community center. A shopping center sits where the school once stood, and a deluxe condo development has replaced the football stadium. As time goes on, I get the feeling that the world I once inhabited is being erased.
Andy Williams was a great singer of ballads and love songs, with his warm, smooth voice. When I think of him, I think of 1958. I was only in the 8th grade then; most people hadn't yet read "Atlas Shrugged" (or even heard of Ayn Rand). Eisenhower was president and Nikita Kruschev was pounding his shoe on the desk at the United Nations. Beatniks were swarming over North Beach in San Francisco, writing and reciting bad poetry in funky little coffee houses, sporting beards and berets.
Today the neat cars on the streets back then are called "classic cars" and their modern replacements ugly and alien to me. Elvis is dead. Rock and Roll and Rhythm and Blues have been replaced with hip hop and rap, and modern pop is garbage, the anthem of the underclass, of drugs and drive-by shootings, gangs and kids born out of wedlock in increasing numbers. Marriage has become obsolete, along with traditional families. Hell, I am obsolete, and I do not fear my departure from this world.
Andy Williams sang many famous ballads during his career, like "Moon River" and "Born Free," but the song I loved best was "Are You Sincere?" For me that song (released in 1958) captures the innocence of my youth, as well as the essence of Andy Williams. Here it is, in the video embedded below.