It was the fall of 1976, the fall I started college, and the world was good. I didn’t have a girl friend at the time, but I had a good friend who was a girl, A, who had recently arrived in the United States from what was then termed “Eastern Europe.”
We met in a language class at the University—she was on her fourth or fifth language, and I was struggling to learn Hebrew. But while she communicated well in English, she didn’t understand idiomatic expressions, and that was where I came in.
We spent a lot of time going to movies and plays and restaurants, and generally getting A immersed in American culture, which was a lot of fun. Coming from where she did, she was moderately conservative but skeptical of government. Where I was moderately skeptical but a fan of government.
We got along.
As language students, we learned that there were “listening rooms” on both the East and West Bank campuses of the University, where you could sit with a set of uncomfortable Telex headphones while someone on a record spoke in English and then in the language of your choice.
The University had three “neighborhoods”—Stadium Village, the West Bank, and Dinkytown. One day I was in the latter when I discovered a record store. I don’t remember its name any more, but it had stuff. I would end up buying music by Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span there (before I moved to the West Bank and discovered The Wax Museum) but this one day in the fall of 1976 I bought a two-record set called The Best of the Mamas and The Papas.
The band had broken up eight years before (and that seemed an eternity in those days) but I knew some of their music, and I was excited to be able to share this with A. I ran to our Hebrew class, and immediately after, dragged A to the West Bank listening room and put the record on. We plugged in two sets of headphones and sat there for the full four sides, even though our ears hurt like hell.
When the record was over, A was wearing one of the biggest smiles I had ever seen on her.
The Mamas and the Papas. It was just that way.
This morning, someone posted a link to “Monday, Monday” in the course of a discussion, and it’s worth listening to. So here are some things you should hear, just in case you never have.