Sunday in CinCity. The Oldies Version.

Cruising with the Beach Boys

by Dana Gioia

So strange to hear that song again tonight
Travelling on business in a rented car
Miles from anywhere I've been before.
And now a tune I haven't heard for years
Probably not since it last left the charts
Back in L.A. in 1969.
I can't believe I know the words by heart
And can't think of a girl to blame them on.

Every lovesick summer has its song,
And this one I pretended to despise,
But if I was alone when it came on,
I turned it up full-blast to sing along –
A primal scream in croaky baritone,
The notes all flat, the lyrics mostly slurred.
No wonder I spent so much time alone
Making the rounds in Dad's old Thunderbird.

Some nights I drove down to the beach to park
And walk along the railings of the pier.
The water down below was cold and dark,
The waves monotonous against the shore.
The darkness and the mist, the midnight sea,
The flickering lights reflected from the city –
A perfect setting for a boy like me,
The Cecil B. DeMille of my self-pity.

I thought by now I'd left those nights behind,
Lost like the girls that I could never get,
Gone with the years, junked with the old T-Bird.
But one old song, a stretch of empty road,
Can open up a door and let them fall
Tumbling like boxes from a dusty shelf,
Tightening my throat for no reason at all
Bringing on tears shed only for myself.

I'm not sure if this song is from 1969 or not. I don't know your tastes, but there's only so much Beach Boys I can take in the morning before an entire cup of coffee. Hubby loves them. Me, not so much, even back in the 60's. I was always leaning more toward Motown and the old R&B singers. Now those surfer boys have a bittersweetness about them; singing about a time that never really existed except in our longings, which really makes it more real than anything.


  1. Love the image of the Further bus, evoking Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, Grateful Dead and Acid Tests and all the rest... those incredible years of the late sixties when experimentation took on so many incredibly creative forms...

    I too have shed a tear or two, hearing things from those long lost days.

    Funny, speaking of Kesey, I just saw "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" again, for the first time in years, the other day. Vintage Nicholson...

  2. There are many songs from that era that bring me to tears, especially if I'm alone in the car while hearing them.
    Love the bus photo!

  3. Don't those boys just look so sweet!


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