Monday, March 10, 2008
Music Monday - "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" - Traffic
For other tales of musical adventure, please visit Soccer Mom in Denial.
There is nothing more evocative from my high school years than "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys".
I switched from a very alternative, small school that I had attended from pre-school through 8th grade, to a power prep school for high school.
My old school was in Harlem; my new school was in Riverdale (what was really a suburb and extremely nice area). At my old school, we called most of our teachers by their first names; at my new school, everyone was Mr. or Ms. or even Dr. At my old school we did term projects on topics of interest - we built African villages in Central Park, we created a speakeasy for our studies on the 20s, we passed petitions on Hudson River clean-up, we participated in moratoriums against the war. At my new school, we wrote essays, we read Beowulf in the original, we wrote out mathematical equations, we carried masses of textbooks. At my old school, the school song was "Make New Friends, but Keep the Old;" at my new school, it was a theme in Latin that took me until Senior year to get through without a hitch (and I never did understand what all the lyrics meant).
I was, in my own small way, in culture shock.
My parents tried to help by "fixing me up" with a couple of their friends' kids who went to that new school before I entered. And the interesting thing I found out, was that no matter whom I met, when our talk turned to music, as it generally did in those days, Traffic was a constant. And I almost always found the familiar sky blue album cover with the checkered floor somewhere in a new companion's collection.
I got over my culture shock eventually and made many good friends. I was always a "floater" - rather than having a particular group, I had friends in several. The one common denominator continued to be "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys." I could listen to this album in an apartment on Park Avenue with a bunch of preppies, or with my hippie friend, Jose, in his apartment in the South Bronx, with my partying Irish friends in Yonkers, or with my theater crowd on the Upper West Side. It didn't matter. We all liked Traffic, apparently.
And to this day, I can not understand the connection. But maybe you can. If you have some time, listen to the track below. Or maybe you already know it. What do you think is the magic that brought together so many diverse kids of the early, NYC 70s?
PS. For some reason the video isn't posting, so if it doesn't get here, you can find the piece here