Rock & Roll Repast: My First Song

Posted: September 27th, 2023 | Filed under: Music, Rock & Roll Rewind | 2 Comments »

I’m a rock & roll lifer. I got stories, lots of stories. Here’s another.

I’ve always been fascinated with how passions germinate, evolve. Still have no clue.

I’ve got a couple, and despite all the contemplation do not understand where the depth of the obsessions came from. Though I’m grateful for them.

I do however know exactly when they started.

For U of L basketball, the date is December 8, 1952, at age 7 when my parents took me to an 89-85 Cardinal win at the Jefferson County Armory.

As for my rock & roll affliction, the moment came early summer of ’57 in Bernie and Bobby Rosenthal’s den.

I was 12 years old, and anxious to start junior high school in the fall. They were a few years older than me. Our mothers were best friends, so I spent a bunch of time at their house.

Though my memory is dim, I don’t recall being too conscious of the music scene then. WAKY 790, Louisville’s first real rock & roll station didn’t debut until the following year.

Bernie was a big music fan. Loved R&B. (I lost touch with him through the years, but ran into him sometime in 70s at an Albert King show at the Water Tower. Figures.)

He’d just received one of those seven record specials from Randy’s Record Shop in Gallatin, Tennessee. The mail order store had become nationally known by advertising on clear channel WLAC out of nearby Nashville.

The records were 78 rpm. 45s were just becoming the new standard, given their smaller size and greater fidelity. The Rosenthals, like my parents, only had a system that played 78s,

( A year or two later, I bought my first 45 player for $19.95, with earned money, after lusting for it for weeks as it sat in Ben Snyder’s Department store window.)

Bernie started playing his new wax.

One was a Billboard Top Ten hit by the doo wop duo of Johnnie & Joe.*

*Anecdotal aside. Johnnie Lee Richardson was the daughter of Zelma Sanders, who owned J&S Records. Johnnie was later a touring member of The Jaynettes, who had a hit with “Sally, Go ‘Round the Roses,” often called the most mysterious tune of the early rock & roll era. 

Anyway, something strange happened to me when I heard “Over the Mountain.”

It cut through to a place inside I didn’t understand.

I asked him to play it again.

Then again. And several times more.

Not sure exactly why that particular song pulled me in, taught me immediately music could make me feel things I’d never felt.

Maybe it was just that time of life, when I was on the cups of pubescence.

Who knows?

What I do know, and what I’ve talked about many times over with my similarly addicted music obsessives, is how I’d never have made it this far along, more than six decades later, staying reasonably sane without rock & roll.

Since that day, this glorious music has been my constant companion, nurturer, energizer, therapeutic support mechanism.

Whenever I hear that Johnnie & Joe tune, I’m back in that den long ago.

— c d kaplan

2 Comments on “Rock & Roll Repast: My First Song”

  1. 1 Michael Brown said at 2:34 pm on September 27th, 2023:

    I was also at that Albert King show at the Water Tower. The year, however, escapes me.

  2. 2 Jay Goldstein said at 2:39 pm on September 27th, 2023:

    Fun read…. I’m sure we all have one or two songs that can immediately transport us back to when we first fell in love with the power of music and lyrics…
    For me, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, transports me back to a slow dance with Candy Cohen up in the Catskills, summer camp!

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