Please lock me away
And don’t allow the day
Here inside, where I hide
With my loneliness – Paul McCartney, as sung by Peter & Gordon
On Saturday night last weekend, Marti and I had the privilege of enjoying a unique, one-of-a-kind experience featuring Peter Asher, his touring band joining with our local 60-piece concert band for one of two special weekend concerts. Peter is half of the ‘60s duo, Peter & Gordon — Gordon Waller having passed away in 2009. Peter & Gordon’s debut single, “World without Love,” written by Paul McCartney, went to number one in 1964 in over 30 countries including the U.S. and U.K.. Four of their early hits were written by Paul when he and Peter shared the upstairs room of Peter’s childhood home in London, and Paul was dating Peter’s sister.
The evening concert was named, fittingly, “A British Invasion Tribute” and was charming in its informality as Peter talked his way through his life in a disarmingly self-deprecating manner, which was surprising, given his stellar career as a manager, producer and record company executive working closely with hundreds of big name artists, including James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt and Robin Williams; yet he treated our small-town band like it was the L.A. Philharmonic, and the audience as if it were his first time on stage.
Too bad more millennials weren’t aware of this concert because they would have loved hearing the history behind songs they are just now discovering that are mostly memories for my generation.
The concert included some pretty complicated technological challenges as well, including playing along with a couple of videos — Peter & Gordon’s first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show, and (my favorite) “True Love Ways” with Peter singing live along with Gordon on video only months before his death. Getting 60 musicians to play in perfect synch with a recording was no small feat in itself.
It’s truly amazing how hearing one line like “I go to pieces and I almost die,” can still carry all the angst of youth bottled up a melody and let loose without warning on your psyche. Including “World without Love,” Lennon and McCartney had seven number one hits in the span of one year (1964). I was 16. That’s seven big tugs on your teenage heartstrings. It was an invasion of more than a country; it was an invasion of our memories and our hearts.
Beyond nostalgia, however, this concert was a tribute to the timelessness of music — even pop music, and how it can help us focus, not only on the past, but on the values from the past that are just as important today but in so many more ways. Throughout the days/Our true love ways/Will bring us joys to share/With those who really care. It was also a tribute to the artistic generosity of a man who simply appreciates what God has given him in front of anyone who will listen. That is also timeless.
The year after the British “invaded” America, I went away to college where I met Richard (Dick) Murphy with whom I formed a duo, singing covers of the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, and yes, Peter & Gordon, along with, later, some of our own compositions which turned out to be the start of Jesus Music and the spiritual revolution of the early ‘70s.
Our senior year, we recorded a tape of all the songs we had worked up for posterity. I’m so glad we did. We called it our “Garbage Tape” because it was recorded at the bottom of a stairwell in our dorm right next to a trash chute, so that the recording is punctuated periodically by the crashing sound of trash flying down to the basement below.
In a little over a month, I will be speaking in Dick’s church plant in the Buffalo, New York area, and doing some music (yes, some of those covers) followed by three days of lecturing at Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester. I plan to take Chandler with me on this trip. It will be a chance for him to experience some of his dad’s early music, as well as an opportunity to be exposed to the surroundings of a Christian liberal arts college.
So Dick, get out the Garbage Tape; Chandler’s gonna love it!
Sometimes we’ll sigh
Sometimes we’ll cry
And we’ll know why
Just you and I
Know true love ways – Buddy Holly, as sung by Peter & Gordon