Friday, August 23, 2013
40 Year Itch : American Graffiti
"Where were you in '62?"
-American Graffiti tagline
Just months after That'll Be The Day charmed UK moviegoers with its 50's/early 60's nostalgia, leading to a soundtrack album that topped the charts there for three weeks, George Lucas's American Graffiti became America's top grossing film of 1973. The double album soundtrack went gold and sent Bill Haley and The Comets's twenty-five year old "Rock Around the Clock" back into the Top 40 .
Nostalgia for the Eisenhower era was already very much in evidence in the early 1970's. Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt Kickers's 1962 #1 hit "Monster Mash" was back in the charts in 1973, peaking at #3 in the UK. From Don McLean's #1 hit "American Pie", a remembrance of Buddy Holly, to the remakes of early 60's hits like Donny Osmond's "Puppy Love", Ringo Starr's "You're Sixteen", Grand Funk Railroad's "The Locomotion", the 50's were back. Elton John's "Crocodile Rock" was an updating of the the 50's sound.
Concert promoter Richard Nader can claim some credit for the revival. He sent 50's acts on the road as early as 1969 beginning with Bill Haley and the Comets, Chuck Berry and the Platters. In 1972 he managed to get Dion and the Belmonts to reunite.Gene Vincent did one of his shows. A Nader produced revival sold out Madison Square Garden in 1970 and 1974.
American Graffiti inspired TV hits "Happy Days" and "Laverne and Shirley".
These were soundtracks to a less complicated time when America promised of happiness and prosperity. By the early 70's, the first rock and roll generation had faced not just their own disappointments but the ugliness of war and assassinations and a crook in the white house. Can you blame Americans for taking a little break back in time?