Steppenwolf and Teenyboppers

Kenny Shapiro and I walked past the gym building and out onto the vast, green playing fields of Far Brook School in Short Hills, New Jersey. It was a Monday morning of the 1969-70 school year.

"Did you see American Bandstand on Saturday?" Kenny asks me.

"No, I didn't," I reply.

In fact, I don't think I had ever watched American Bandstand.

"Steppenwolf was on," he informs me, obviously impressed by this.

I had never really heard Steppenwolf except for maybe the song on the radio, Magic Carpet Ride... I can't remember. The both of us were only 10, but Kenny had an older brother, who kept him apprised and current as to what was adequately hip to be listening to. So, I assumed his musical attitudes to be authentic and informed. I mean, we both liked Hendrix and Cream.

"Yeah," he then scoffs, "and Simon and Garfunkel were on too... Simon and Garfunkel! Echh! They're for teenyboppers! They shouldn't have had Simon and Garfunkel on with Steppenwolf!!"

I really like Simon and Garfunkel, I thought to myself, they're one of my favourites.

Then it occurred to me that there were some songs on the radio I loved that for sure he would judge as "teenybopper". I was not going to reveal to Kenny that I liked Simon and Garfunkel - and that I think he's wrong. They are very serious music, and much more widely acknowledged so than to be dismissed as "teenybopper". And, I was certainly not going to let him know that I liked Tommy James and the Shondells, or that my current favourite single is Reflections of My Life by The Marmalade. Those are obvious targets for the "teenybopper" label.

I felt my first personal alienation from the juvenile hippie-music-listening culture that would emerge in potsmoke filled basements all over North America in the coming 1970s. I liked Hendrix and Cream, but I also liked Tommy James and the Shondells.

"Like, I can just see John Kaye at the side of the stage givin' 'em the finger, man!" Kenny concluded emphatically.