them or me, what’s it gonna be? (on cultural oblivion part 1)

Es­ti­mated reading time is 4 min­utes.

THE EVENTS BELOW oc­curred on July 18, 2014, and I posted it on my Rather Rare Records site as “the hol­lies are from man­chester, eng­land – aren’t they?” A few readers sug­gested that this had more to do with is­sues dealt with on this site (such as cur­rent events, so­cial ob­ser­va­tions, and pol­i­tics) as it ad­dresses the per­ceived obliv­i­ous­ness of younger gen­er­a­tions to any his­tory older than six months. (Six weeks?)

This anec­dote has been the topic of sev­eral in-person (‘live’?) con­ver­sa­tions with friends, most my age, each with a sim­ilar ex­pe­ri­ence. In each case, we re­marked about the lack of aware­ness of so many young people to any­thing that wasn’t cur­rently hap­pening on their cell-phone or An­droid de­vice. (I know—we sound cyn­ical. Maybe. Or maybe we be acutely accurate . . .)

So, I am also posting it here as a bit of sociologically-oriented ob­ser­va­tion rather than as one that is music-oriented . . .


Yes­terday I bumped into a young couple at the Bellevue Transit Center. Good looking guy, very pretty girl. Both seemed in their mid-20s, both spick and spanned and nicely at­tired. When we ex­changed “Hellos!” I heard the ac­cent and asked them from which part of Eng­land they hailed.

“Man­chester!” he said.

“Ah,” said I. “The home of the Hollies.”

“What?” said she.

“The Hollies—they’re from Man­chester,” I re­sponded, won­dering what was going on.

They looked at each other and then at me.

“Um, you don’t know who the Hol­lies are?” I asked.

“No,” came from both of them.

“Wait! I know,” I came back. “Crosby, Stills and Nash!”

“Uh, sorry,” the pretty girl said.


Without thinking I blurted out, “You don’t know who Crosby, Stills and Nash are?!?” and then re­al­ized that I was in­sulting them.

So I changed the sub­ject: “Off to Seattle?”


“Make sure you see the Pike Place Market.”

“Oh yeah. We in­tend to!”

“Make sure you sample the dif­ferent kinds of smoked salmon.”

“Of course!”

“When are you going back?”


“Oh well, then I won’t rec­om­mend any­thing else.”

And so I met two ob­vi­ously in­tel­li­gent people from Man­chester who knew nei­ther the Hol­lies nor CS&N and prob­ably didn’t give a whit’s be­hind! And that was that.

Re­minds of the time that Berni and I went for teriyaki and the young guy that took our order was wearing a Bob Marley tee-shirt.

“What’s your fa­vorite Marley album?” Berni inquired.

“I dunno—what’s an album,” he responded.

And so it goes . . .

A very brief history of the Hollies

In early 1962, Allan Clarke and Graham Nash of Man­chester, Eng­land, were per­forming as an Everly Brothers-inspired vocal/guitar duo called Ricky and Dane Young. Even­tu­ally, they were joined by local mu­si­cians Vic Steele (lead guitar), Eric Hay­dock (bass), and Don Rath­bone (drums). By Sep­tember, they were billing them­selves as the Hollies.

In Jan­uary 1963, they per­formed at the Cavern Club, where the Bea­tles were showing off the skills that they had honed in Ham­burg. The Hol­lies were seen by Ron Richards (who had pro­duced the Bea­tles hit Love Me Do for Par­lophone Records months be­fore), who of­fered them an au­di­tion. Steele did not want to be a pro­fes­sional mu­si­cian at that time (he would later) and left the band. For the au­di­tion, the Hol­lies re­placed him with Tony Hicks and got a recording contract. 

Hicks hailed from a band that had been gig­ging in Man­chester called the Dol­phins, which also fea­tured fu­ture Hol­lies drummer ex­tra­or­di­naire Bobby El­liott (he joined in mid 1963) and bassist Bernie Calvert (1966). The rest is history—at least it’s his­tory if young people learn it and carry it on past the lives of those who lived it . . .

While the Hol­lies were one of biggest hit-makers of the ’60s in the UK, their early record­ings did not get a lot of air­play on the radio sta­tions of North­eastern Penn­syl­vania in 1964-65. The first record of their’s that hit big was Look Through Any Window, a record that I fell in love with on first hearing. Need­less to say, I ran out and bought the 45 as soon as I could and it re­mains one of my all-time fav­er­avers of the ’60s. 

The Hol­lies - (Rare) Live

This video fea­tures the Hol­lies on the Hul­la­baloo tele­vi­sion show lip-synching to that record. Note three things:

1. Mr. Aval­on’s near com­plete lack of screen presence;

2. the size of the  five Hol­lies: each weighs in at around 140 pounds, con­sid­er­ably less than the avarage Amer­ican male of their age at the time; and

3. the British lads are in­tro­duced as a team sur­rounded by props taken from Amer­ican foot­ball, not the foot­ball that they would have played back home (or any­where else in the world then). In fact, it’s pos­sible that not a one of the Hol­lies had ever seen an Amer­ican game of foot­ball at the time of this filming . . .


I don’t ex­pect every young person in the western world to know every pop artist of the past who are now rel­e­gated to ‘golden oldies’ radio for­mats. But I do think that ed­u­cated people from a spe­cific town/city/province/area should know a few things of his­tor­ical, artistic, or so­cial sig­nif­i­cance from that area.

For ex­ample, I would not be sur­prised if a 25-year old with a high school ed­u­ca­tion from Biloxi, Mis­sis­sippi, or Darien, Con­necticut, did not un­der­stand a ref­er­ence to “the Big Red Ma­chine.” How­ever, I would prob­ably be a blown away if a 65-year old with a high school ed­u­ca­tion from Cincin­nati, Ohio, didn’t get the reference!

But what the hey! Those two kids would prob­ably be as­tounded by my lack of aware­ness of what’s been hap­pening on the pop­ular music/cultural scene of the past few decades, hennah?

On Cul­tural Oblivion Part 1 (“Them Or Me, What’s It Gonna Be?”) is not nec­es­sarily the be­gin­ning of an on­going se­ries, but it could be. And who gets the ’60s ref­er­ence in this ar­ti­cle’s title?





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