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THE GRADUATE, directed by Mike Nichols spoke for the 60's generation

MIKE NICHOL’S THE GRADUATE: A SOCIETY REBELLION/LOVE STORY

MIKE NICHOL’S THE GRADUATE

By Alan Chrisman, copyright.

Mike Nichols & Elaine May, classic comedy team before Nichols became a director

Classic 1950’s & 60’s comedy duo: Elaine May & Mike Nichols (later director” The Graduate”).

Iconic photo from The Graduate, with Benjamin shot through Mrs. Robinson's legs.

The Graduate’s iconic scene, Benjamin seen through Mrs. Robinson’s legs

 A SOCIETY REBELLION/LOVE STORY

Mike Nichols just passed away.  He was an accomplished director in both film and theatre.  He’s directed such films as Who’s  Afraid of Virgina Woolf, Catch-22, Carnal Knowledge, Working Girl, etc. as well as several plays on Broadway.  But he’s probably most known for his film, The Graduate, in 1967.

Like in music, there are certain generation-defining films and The Graduate was that, and like Easy Rider later in’69, The Graduate expressed the feelings of the 60’s generation.  For the main character, Benjamin (played by Dustin Hoffman in his breakthrough role) represented the questioning of society which many young people at the time were going through. It was the height of the Vietnam War and there were demonstrations on campuses and many college students were challenging the values of their parents’ generation.

The most well-known scene is, of course, the seduction scene, where Benjamin is seduced by Mrs. Robinson (sexily played by Anne Bancroft). It was director Mike Nichol’s idea to film Benjamin framed through Mrs. Robinson’s legs.  It became an iconic photo which perfectly represented the film and also the temptation to go along with the “Establishment”.  Traditional values still offered those carrots to middle-class students-get a university degree, serve in the army, get married, and have a secure career.  Another famous scene expressed this too, the scene where Benjamin’s uncle tells him he should get a career in “plastics”. There was a conflict which was going on in American society, between the past and the future, and the film perfectly captured that.

Benjamin likes Elaine, Mrs. Robinson’s beautiful, but innocent daughter (played by Katharine Ross), but when she finds out about his affair with her mother, she rejects him.  Benjamin after he becomes “tainted” by Mrs. Robinson’s temptations, for a while even becomes callous towards Elaine, whom he embarrasses by taking her to a strip club.  Benjamin, eventually repents and tries to win Elaine back again.  The Graduate then becomes a great love story and, against all odds and society, fights his way back to her heart.  There are some of the most harrowing scenes as he drives by Elaine’s house, hoping to reach her, while on the soundtrack is playing Simon and Garfunkel’s sad song, “April Comes She Will”.  Simon and Garfunkel’s songs, of course, make up the famous soundtrack, especially “Mrs. Robinson” (it wasn’t made specifically for the film, but was called, “Mrs. Roosevelt” originally) and exposed their music considerably.  Nichols picked the perfect music to go along with the film.

The Graduate became symbolically, the battle between the system and rebellion against society, which many young people were actually facing at that time and, thus became massively popular with youth.  At the end of the film, like all heroic characters, Benjamin rushes in, just in time to save his damsel, Elaine (who realizes herself finally, Benjamin’s essential goodness and love for her).  The audience cheers the heroic couple as they escape the corrupt Robinsons and the Establishment life they had been offered.  The classic morality tale is up-dated for the times.

But what is most intriguing is the very last scene on the bus they’ve boarded to get away:  Benjamin and Elaine look curiously perplexed for a couple who have just fought society and won.  They each stare straight ahead and not at each other, a look of panic, even on their faces. Why?  What was director, Nichols saying?  I noticed this when I first saw The Graduate in 1967.  But I wondered then and now, if most young people even noticed at the time. That last scene to me has always been the most fascinating one in the movie.  For perhaps Nichols is hinting that for maybe Benjamin and Elaine (and perhaps symbolically, the 60’s generation), it may not be so black and white and simple a choice as youth thought their “freedom” might be.  I still wonder all these years later what Nichols meant to say.  But that is also why Nichols’ films like The Graduate still stand up- he always had a subtlety and psychological layers in his work.  Something he perhaps  learned as an actor himself, at one time, in improvisational theatre in Chicago and later as part of the influential comedy team Elaine May & Mike Nichols.  Nichols was later married to TV journalist, Diane Sawyer. The Graduate is still ranked #17 of top American films by the American Film Institute and #21 on the highest grossing films in North America.

I have my own personal story, related to The Graduate.   In 1967, I was attending a Midwestern U.S. university and questioning my own place in society.  I had transferred the year before from another U.S. university where I was taking pharmacy, but had decided to change my major to political science and history, partly because I also began to question the Vietnam War and the direction society was heading in the 60’s.  That same year, 1967, was the “Summer of Love” and The Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers’ had been released and it too would become a generation-defining icon and symbol of youth and the changes taking place. I was a big Beatles’ fan and these two cultural events, Sgt. Peppers and The Graduate were to have a large effect on many of my generation and on me personally.

When I had transferred to this new university, I had been required to take a foreign language and I took French.  But I was not very good at languages and the only thing that kept me going to the class was a pretty girl in my French course.  So I asked her out.  But it turned out to be a disastrous first date. For I was now an older 3rd year student because of my two years at the previous university, and this girl, a first year student, I arrogantly found to be too young and innocent (much like the character, Elaine, in The Graduate).    A year later though, still required to take another course in French, which I was still terrible at it, we had to take our French final in a large auditorium.  It was a stressful time because if I failed that oral final (which counted 50% of my grade), I would likely fail the course. I knew with the blaring speakers of the auditorium where it was given and with my worst aspect, being the oral part, that I was likely doomed.

I exited the auditorium, dejected. But whom do I run into there, but the same girl from that first French class and disastrous date the year before.  And surprisingly, she’s quite friendly.  For some reason, out of the blue,(I figured what had I to lose after the day I’d been having!), I asked her out that night to a movie.  And to my astonishment, she said, “Yes”.

We decided to go to a new movie in town that weekend, of which we knew little about.  Well, it was The Graduate.  We had no idea then that it would, as I say, become a generation-defining film.  But we both loved it and we got along well after the film.  This girl was now, to my now less-arrogant eyes, even more beautiful (she even looked like Katharine Ross, who played Elaine in the film), than I had remembered.  We became close for the rest of my university days.

But unfortunately, those days were soon to become to an end.  For with the  failure of that French course and some others (school courses seemed pretty irrelevant any more, with all the changes going on in society and my growing  opposition to the Vietnam War), I dropped out of university and now faced the American draft.  Finally, when there were few choices left (Vietnam or jail), I decided to flee to Canada.  And when I did finally have to leave, I asked this girl if there was anything I could give her for all her support, she said there was a special antique chair in my room that she had long admired, and I carried it in the snow to her place and said goodbye to her for the last time.  So I will always associate The Graduate with this girl and the experiences we had and the bittersweet moment of having to leave her behind and face my own choices about society.  And they were to help determine my own future, much like the characters, Benjamin and Elaine in the film, and ironically, reminded me of that haunting bittersweet look on their faces in that last scene of  Mike Nichol’s The Graduate.

THe curious last scene in tThe Graduate, wher Benjamin and Elaine, seem strangely not very happy despite their rebellion against their parents' world

The curious last scene in The Graduate, with our heroes looking strangely non-content

See Below Trailer For “The Graduate”:

http://youtu.be/hsdvhJTqLak

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsdvhJTqLak

The Turtles had many pop hits in the 60's, Happy Together" ,etc.

THE TURTLES: FUN POP “HAPPY TOGETHER”

THE TURTLES: FUN POP, “HAPPY TOGETHER”

By Alan Chrisman, copyright.

The Turtles were a 60’s band which understood what pop music is about-fun, unpretentious, catchy but well-written songs.  They had several hits: “It Ain’t Me Babe”, “Let Me Be”, “You Baby”, “Can I Get To Know You Better”, “Outside Chance”, “She Would Rather Be With Me”, “You Know What I Mean”, “Eleanor”, and their biggest, “Happy Together”.

These were great teenage love songs capturing both the joy and frustration of young relationships.  The Turtles were really only two people, Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan (later known as Flo & Eddie).  They also didn’t write most of their songs.  Their first big hit was a pop cover of Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe” in 1965.  Their hits were written by two main song-writing duos, P.F. Sloan/Steve Barri

The Turtles's 1969 album,

The Turtles classic “Battle of the Bands” album, 1969, with it’s surprise hit, ” Elenore”

and Garry Bonner/Alan Gordon.  Sloan/Barri wrote: “ Let Me Be”, “ You Baby”, “Can I Get To Know You Better”.  And Gerry Bonner/ Gordon wrote “”She Would Rather Be with Me” and “Happy Together”. “Outside Chance” was written by Warren Zevon (“ Werewolves of London”).  “Happy Together”, actually knocked The Beatles’ “Penny Lane” off #1 on the Billboard charts in ’67 and BMI says it’s the 44th most played song on U.S. radio, along with “ Yesterday” and “Mrs. Robinson”.  Bassist and arranger on “Happy Together” was Chip Douglas, who would soon go on to produce Monkee’s albums and their hit’s, “Daydream Believer” and “Pleasant Valley Sunday”.

I’ve written before about songwriter, P.F. Sloan (see my blog on Johnny Rivers).  He wrote the protest classic, “Eve of Destruction”, “Secret Agent Man” for Rivers, many hits for another catchy pop band The Grassroots, as well as songs for Herman’s Hermits, The Searchers, and played guitar on several Mama’s and Papas songs like, ”California Dreamin’ and wrote “Little Old Lady from Pasadena’ for Jan & Dean. Bonner/Gordon also wrote “Celebrate” for Three Dog Night and later, “My Heart Belongs to Me” for Barbra Streisand.

But The Turtles, getting fed up with their record label pressuring them for another similar song as their big 1968 hit ” Happy Together”,  wrote a satire of it themselves with a song called, “ Elenore”. To their surprise, it became a hit too. On that same album was an unreleased Byrds’ song, “You Showed Me”, which also became a hit. They were both off a 1969 album, Battle of the Bands where The Turtles played all the bands on it in various styles to show their record company, they wanted to try some new things. They even had an album produced by Ray Davies of the Kinks, Turtle Soup.

But when it didn’t sell, they left their record company.  But because they couldn’t record under The Turtles name, Kaylan and Volman became Flo And Eddie and went to record, on the other end of rock, with Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention for several albums, including appearing in his film, 200 Motels, along with Ringo Starr.

Ex-Turtles, Kaylan and Volman, would also provide vocals, for which they were known, on several other musicians’ albums. For example, they sing back-up vocals on Marc Bolan’s T-Rex albums, Electric Warrior and The Slider (Ringo Starr took the cover photo) and T-Rex’s classic hit,  “Get It On (Bang a Gong”).

I saw them perform along with Petula Clark (“Downtown”, “I Know a Place”) in the late 60’s on my college campus in the U.S.  The Turtles, with the chubby, almost clown-like looking, Kaylan, with his frizzy hair, and Volman, with their great vocal harmonies, captured the energy of their hits. They, again, understood what good pop is about- fun, yet well-written songs and delivery.  Mark Volman is currently a music business professor

The Turtles do Their classic hit” Happy Together”, 1967:

http://youtu.be/Tvu3xiFmfDU

Rick Nelson was more than a teen Idol, he was a serious musician

RICK NELSON: MORE THAN A TEEN IDOL

RICK NELSON: MORE THAN A TEEN IDOL

By Alan Chrisman, copyright.

Rick Nelson was more than a Teen Idol.  He started out as “Ricky” Nelson, part of the very popular all-American  Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson family TV show in the 50’ and 60’s, where he would end the show singing his latest hit, with his eyes closed, as the girls swooned.  And only Elvis and Pat Boone were to have more hits from 1957-’62.  He spent most the rest of his career though trying to get past the public image and be taken seriously as a musician.

But like Elvis, he also had the ability to pick the best songwriters and musicians to record. Nelson was influenced by Carl Perkins and rockabilly.  His first big hit, “Poor Little Fool”, in 1958 was written by Eddie Cochran’s 17 year-old girlfriend. In fact, he gave the first big breaks to many composers when he had big hits with their songs: “Lonesome Town” and “Never Be Anyone But You” (Baker Knight); “Traveling Man” and 23 others songs for Nelson (Jerry Fuller); “It’s Late” ( rockabilly duo, Dorsey and Johnny Burnette, who before had had a hit with  “Sweet Sixteen”, but camped out at his doorstep until he recorded their songs), and Gene Pitney’s ” Hello Mary-Lou”.

Jerry Fuller is especially interesting because he would go on to write many hits and even produce several other groups. He had originally been part of The Champs (“Tequila”), when their members included Glen Campbell, and Jimmy Seals and Dash Crofts (later Seals and Crofts with the “Diamond Girl” and “Summer Breeze” hits in the 70’s). Fuller produced The Knickerbockers and their hit “Lies”. He also discovered Gary Puckett and The Union Gap and wrote and produced their big hits,  “Young Girl”, “Lady Willpower” and “ Over You” and “ Little Green Apples” for O.C. Smith.

And Nelson always had the best musicians in his bands, such as guitarist, James Burton, who was 18 when Nelson met him and he lived with the Nelsons for two years.  Of course, Burton would go on to become a legendary guitarist and play Elvis’ Vegas  years and with every big name from Emmylou Harris to Elvis Costello.  Burton played the guitar solo on Dale Hawkin’s  ’57 classic ,” Susie Q”, and on Buffalo Springfield’s 2nd album and became part of Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band with Rodney Crowell after Gram Parsons died. He then toured with John Denver and played with Elvis Costello from the King of America album on.  And was in Roy Orbison and Friends: Black and White Night TV special in ’88.  Basically James Burton played with anybody who was anybody and is considered one of the best guitarists.  Nelson also used Presley’s vocal group,The Jordanaires, on his recordings (but Presley didn’t want anybody to know).

But It was Nelson who first recognized the above talents and gave them their first chances, which led to them all having many more song writing hits and involvement with several well-known musicians.

Also Nelson was one of the first California musicians to move toward country-rock before Linda Ronstadt and The Eagles, some of whose later members were in his Stone Canyon Band. He had a hit with a re-make of Dylan’s “She Belongs to Me” in 1970.

But Nelson was still trying to get past his old “Ricky” Nelson pop image when, ironically, he had one of his biggest hits “Garden Party”. He was performing at an oldies Madison Square Garden show when fans booed him off the stage for trying to play some more contemporary songs. In disgust, (but with a sense of humour) he wrote down these frustrated lyrics. They sum up everything he’d been through:

GARDEN PARTY

I went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends A chance to share old memories and play our songs again When I got to the garden party, they all knew my name No one recognized me, I didn’t look the same

But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself

And people came from miles around, everyone was there Yoko brought her walrus, there was magic in the air An’ over in the corner, much to my surprise Mr. Hughes hid in Dylan’s shoes wearing his disguise

But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself

Played them all the old songs, thought that’s why they came No one heard the music, we didn’t look the same I said, hello to “Mary Lou”, she belongs to me When I sang a song about a honky-tonk, it was time to leave

But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself

Someone opened up a closet door and out stepped Johnny B. Goode Playing guitar like a-ringin’ a bell and lookin’ like he should If you gotta play at garden parties, I wish you a lotta luck But if memories were all I sang, I rather drive a truck

But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself

An’ it’s all right now, yeah, learned my lesson well You see, ya can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself

Songwriters NELSON, RICKY

Published by Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Some lines are especially interesting:

“Yoko brought her Walrus” (John Lennon and Yoko Ono were there)

“Mr.Hughes hid in Dylan’s shoes wearing his disguise” ( George Harrison was originally going to record a Dylan cover album and Harrison was Nelson’s next door neighbor in California and his friend, and was also supposedly there, incognito.)

And these great lines, of course:

“If you gotta play at garden parties, I wish you a lotta luck But if memories were all I sang, I rather drive a truck

But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself”

Ironically, as I say, it became a big comeback

“Ricky” Nelson with legendary guitarist, James Burton, whom he first discovered and played in his band.

hit in 1972, reaching #6 on the Billboard charts.

Rick Nelson and his band came to Ottawa in the early 80’s playing a little out of the way bar, and I didn’t make it; something for which I’ve kicked myself ever since.

The “Travelin’ Man”, was still on the road in 1985, when his plane crashed in Texas, killing him and his fiancé. Some at the time said it might have been a fire caused by free–basing cocaine, but the plane had a history of mechanical problems and it was later ruled it was because of a faulty heater. But Rick Nelson had some great songs and helped some great songwriters and musicians get exposure and he was more than a teen idol.

Rick Nelson’s “GARDEN PARTY”, 1972 LP and hit where he summed it all up having to always be stuck playing his old teen hits, while trying to move ahead as a musician.

See “Ricky” Nelson doing “ Hello Mary Lou”, 1961

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0janfcZ8LUw

See Rick Nelson doing’ Garden Party”, 1985:

SONGS TO ACCOMPANY BOOK"IT"S A LONG WAY HOME"

“IT’S A LONG WAY HOME”( & HOW BEATLES’ MUSIC SAVED MY LIFE), A Musical Memoir, Book Description

“CAVERN DAYS”, THE 1st. OTTAWA BEATLES CONVENTION Sept ’95, anniversary of THE BEATLES playing Canada

Original Beatles Drummer, Pete Best & his Band from Liverpool, Guest.

Original Beatles Drummer, Pete Best & his Band from Liverpool, Guest.

EXCERPTS FROM THE BOOK: “IT’S A LONG WAY HOME”(& HOW BEATLES’ MUSIC SAVED MY LIFE), A Musical Memoir 

By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015 (A Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them). 

Alan Chrisman, grew up in the innocence of a small U.S. Midwestern town.  But that was soon to change with two world-shaking events, The Vietnam War and The Beatles.  The 60’s were a tumultuous time and their music was a large part of its soundtrack.

Propelled by both events, he moved to a cold but welcoming land and its capitol, Ottawa, Canada, a place with similarities and differences from where he was raised.  There, inspired especially by The Beatles’ founder and co-writer, John Lennon, he became involved in various aspects of music, setting up one of its first used record stores, ”IMAGINE”, organizing The Ottawa Beatles Conventions and meeting many whom were there from the Beatles’ beginnings.  Several of the chapters are named after Beatles’ and Lennon’s songs and parallel his own experiences.  Later, he would also learn of an intriguing story how this revolutionary music even helped change a repressive system half way around the world.  

It was to be a Long and Winding Road with many curves and he describes some of the characters he met along the way and their sometimes trying, but humorous stories.   He also writes about the joys and pains of relationships and how pop music and culture affects our views of them and with some of his own song lyrics.

Ottawa, which one of its well-respected musicians called the“Liverpool of the North”, had more direct connections to England and felt the British Invasion earlier than the U.S. and he includes its 60’s and 70’s scene as well as his own involvement with musicians for the next several years. 

So come along for the journey and see how Beatles’ music influenced him and millions of others and why it still resonates decades later.

                       

 “IT’S A LONG WAY HOME” (& HOW BEATLES’ MUSIC SAVED MY LIFE), A Musical Memoir 
                                                  BOOK, CD, AUDIO CD, & ebook:  COVER BELOW

Picture

CONTENTS                     

Introduction                                                                                                                                                   

Chapter 1:  Crossing the Borderline (“Paul is Dead” rumour)


Chapter 2:   Midwestern Childhood (“Thank God For The Beatles” lyrics)
                                                    
Chapter 3:  University Days (“Woman the Muse”)
                                                                                     
Chapter 4:   Ottawa,Canada
Chapter 5:  “IMAGINE”, (John & Yoko in Ottawa)

Chapter 6:  Vancouver (J. Lennon shot, Dec, 8, 1980)
Chapter 7:  Back in Ottawa

Chapter 8:  Walls and Bridges
Chapter 9:  Rock This Town! Prods. (’85-’93)

Chapter10: Birthday and NY Dakota Visit (Strawberry Fields Memorial)
                                               
Chapter 11:  Connecticut Beatles Convention (Cynthia Lennon, May Pang)
Chapter 12; #9 Dream (Stu Sutcliffe Art, Astrid K.)

Chapter 13:  Ottawa Beatles Convention, ‘95 ( Pete Best, Cavern, Liverpool)
Chapter 14:  Ottawa Beatles Convention, ‘96( L. Harrison, Lennon car, Day John Met Paul)
                                       
Chapter 15:  Long Lost Weekend (“Real Good Woman” lyrics)
Chapter 16    Lady In Red ( P. Best Gets His Due)

Chapter 17:   ‘Get Back’ Records
Chapter 18:  Clean-up Time(Never Knew Who’d Drop In)



Chapter 19:   Lady in Red 2 ( “Annie Hall”)
Chapter 20:  Lister in L.A. ( “So You Want to be a R’ n ‘R Star”)

Chapter 21:  Time for a Change (G. Harrison passes)

                                                                                     
Chapter 22:  “Back in the U.S.S.R.”(The Beatles Help Bring Down Communism!)
Chapter 23:   Music Never Dies (“Al & THE G-MEN”, Still Rockin’)

Chapter 24: Long and Winding Road ( P. McCartney Plays Ottawa, 2013)
Chapter 25: “Liverpool of the North” (Ottawa music 60’s/70’s)

                                                  

   

(This book published by Alan L. Chrisman © 2013; All Alan Chrisman lyrics © 2012, 2013; Cover graphic by ‘G-Man’): eBook version c.2014
           
                         

 

FOR COMPLETE BOOK on CD(MSWord), AUDIO DVD(narrated), e book,(2014) or Original SONGS CD To Accompany Book, CONTACT: Alan L. Chrisman     www.rockthistownproductions.com  

Link To ebook(2014) version:

                                                                             ALAN L. CHRISMAN—BIOGRAPHY:

Alan L. Chrisman ( http://www.RockThisTownProductions.com) ran the used vinyl stores (Imagine, Get Back, Rock This Town!) for several years in Ottawa, Canada, and a coffeehouse, an alternative newspaper, promoted musicians, put on concerts and organized the two Ottawa Beatles Conventions ‘95 & ‘96. and met several in The Beatles’ circle.  He wrote a  memoir/book and an original songs CD, “It’s A Long Way Home”, about his life, and his influences, including “LIVERPOOL OF THE NORTH”: The Story Of Ottawa 60’s/70’s Music, in 2013.

Today, he continues to be involved in music: writing and recording songs (for AL & The G-Men), helping local musicians, shooting videos ( Youtube alanchrisman1), and organizing shows.   He also writes short stories, reviews and articles and blogs on a wide variety of subjects.  Several of his songs have been played on and he has been interviewed by CKCU-FM and CBC Radio.  And some of his artifacts have been on display at the “Ottawa Rocks” City Hall archives exhibit.