At dinner one night last week, the conversation turned to what I’d written that day on the blog, in which I had mentioned “The Association.” For those of you too young to know, or for those of you old enough to’ve already forgotten, The Association was a male harmony group that had a number of big hits, the biggest of which was “Windy.” If you like, I’ll sing a few bars for you. For those of you who instantly recall this number, you can thank me later for causing this catchy little number run to through your head endlessly the rest of the day.
That led The Counselor to recall that The Association played a concert on campus when we were in college. I said something tactful like, “Well, I didn’t see them, so you must’ve gone with someone else.” She ignored that and wondered what concert tickets cost us back in those halcyon days. I tried to recall and guessed, “Maybe six or eight dollars a ticket.” I knew it couldn’t’ve been more than that, because I was sure that my checkbook never had more than sixteen dollars in it at any time in those days.
(That was, of course, before William Jennings Bryan got us off the gold standard and before economies like Japan and Germany had recovered from the war and before China existed, so the dollar went a lot farther.)
I recalled, though, that I possessed the means to determine precisely what tickets cost in those days. Being the romantic that I am, I had kept a little plastic Tupperware container of ticket stubs from dates with the very individual who was asking this question, and I dug it out. There they were. A lot of them were the nondescript generic tickets you got at the movies back in those days, before computers ruled the world and printed the name of the movie you were seeing right on the ticket, but I had written on some of them the date and what the movie was. I won’t say exactly what era this was, but let’s just say that one of the films was the first run of “Little Big Man” and leave it at that. The tickets DID show the price. Movies in the bustling downtown of Oxford, Ohio cost $1.50 then. Read ’em and weep, baby.
Although we saw a lot of movies at the Miami-Western Theater and The Talawanda (not to mention the 50-cent movies we saw at the student center), I only have stubs for a few: Kotch (Walter Matthau, directed by Jack Lemmon), Little Big Man, Made for Each Other (I have no memory of it, but imdb.com tells me it had Paul Sorvino and Olympia Dukakis, among others), Friends (oh YES), and the ultimo … Love Story. Oh, man. Yes, I saw Love Story with The Counselor for a buck-fifty each. You can hide your jealousy, but you can’t make it go away.
I have some stubs from performances by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra that the very generous Dr. Mann, took us to. There are stubs from lots of plays performed by the University’s theater department: As You Like It, She Stoops to Conquer, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Camelot, Ten Little Indians and something named The Promise (I have no memory of this, but Wikipedia tells me that it was written in 1965 by a Russian named Arbuzov about the seige of Leningrad?). Although I know I have them, I do not find the ticket stubs from our first date, when we went to see “Johnny Johnson,” a thoroughly depressing anti-war drama by Kurt Weill. I must have those first-date tickets stashed somewhere safe where I’ll never find them. Am I a romantic? Yes, I am.
And, as for big-name concerts, we did see some great acts. At the very beginning of freshman year, before we knew each other, I went with my roommate to see Simon and Garfunkel perform at the time they had released their “Bridge Over Troubled Water” album. To this day I remember Paul Simon mocking all us good midwestern kids for wearing ties and jackets to a folk concert. Well, we were brought up to dress up when we went out. We soon got over it, Paul. If today’s kids dress like they’ve just spent the night under a bridge over troubled water, it’s your fault: you and your folkie bohemian ne’er-do-well fellow travelers!
As for shows we saw together and for which I saved the stubs: Chicago (I remember that Uriah Heep opened), Doc Severinsen, Andres Segovia, Three Dog Night, Bill Cosby, Harry Belafonte, Dionne Warwick.
The biggest show certainly was Elton John. Yes, we saw young Mr. John in those glory days when the outfits and the glasses and the platform shoes were a brand-new thing. It was one rockin’ show.
In answer to the question, what did these tickets cost? Dionne Warwick and Elton John seem to’ve been the most expensive:
Yep. Now, that’s a subsidized price. The university’s “Concert Board” underwrote some of the cost, maybe as much as half. That would be a good historical research subject for a young Ms. Nixon who is studying theatrical management at this very moment, but, nevertheless, it’s impressive that we attended concerts by some of the biggest names in the business for less than five dollars a ticket.
My handwritten note on the back of the Elton John stub says that The Dillards opened. Now, that’s interesting. I had forgotten it ’til right now. You may not know The Dillards, but they were an immensely influential group that had an impact on pretty much everyone in the early-70s L.A. folk-rock scene, from the Flying Burrito Brothers and The Byrds to Linda Ronstadt and The Eagles. I am fairly certain that Byron Berline was playing fiddle for them at the time we saw them. If you doubt that an electric/bluegrass group had an impact on Elton John, just listen to his “Tumbleweed Connection” album: that’s why The Dillards were opening for him.
Since I grew up playing bluegrass music with my grandfather, I knew something about that kind of music, though I hadn’t heard it electrified quite so much. Nor did I have any way to know the impact that band was going to have. In addition, Doug Dillard had not long before this time done some work with Gene Clark, one of the original Byrds. And THAT is interesting to me, because as the 70s wore on, I became a big, big fan of Clark’s. At this moment, I probably can pick up the guitar and play more Gene Clark songs than anyone you can find if you spend six months asking around. The Eagles and some other groups recorded some of Dillard and Clark’s material. I like the thought that there was some of Gene’s vibe in the room, all that time ago as we waited for Elton John to take the stage.
Finally, there in the little trove of tickets, I found it. A single ticket stub, dated Oct. 24, 1970, about 5 months before I met The Counselor: