Song written by Bob Gaudio and Sandy Linzer; performed by the Four Seasons
Of course, we saw Jersey Boys when the touring company came through town. This was about the time that they announced it would be adapted to a movie. The show was great because it clarified some things that I sort of knew, but it also conflated somethings in a way that I expected, but knew was a bit misleading.
The real highlight was on one of the off nights for the show. Frankie Valli came to town and performed on the same stage. Now, I never saw him perform live before that, so I can’t really judge, but that voice was still one of the most amazing things that I have ever heard. Yes, you could tell the difference between him and the lead in the show, which is no knock on anyone- just a remarkable truth that we all happen to be alive at the same time as that instrument.
Even as a small child becoming aware on the cusp of the Sixties changing into the Seventies, music meant four things: the Beatles, Elvis, the Beach Boys and the Four Seasons. Then, there were all the others that I couldn’t be bothered to memorize. I was six, so allowances can be made. By the time I turned ten, this was pretty solid knowledge as it did remain my basic outline of pop music.
We moved away
from New Jersey around my second birthday, but I remained vastly aware that I was from Jersey throughout my youth. Jersey meant crumb cake and the Allwood Bakery and Yogi Berra and my grandparents and where people talked like me and thin crust pizza and the ocean and so many other things that were inculcated by my parents and older brothers.
I was not scarred by this move in any way. It just became part of my self-definition. But I was always looking for something to help tune my internal compass. Twice a year visits didn’t really define home for me.
At some point, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons passed through town. I think they played at the local auditorium or maybe even my brothers’ high school. Either way, my oldest brother interviewed Valli for his school paper, I think. Whatever happened, the visit prompted enough dinner table reminiscing about New Jersey that I was able to fine tune a little more that sense of place.
Before Jersey Boys made explicit the trials and tribulations of their lives, the Four Seasons reminded me and so many others of our youth. Those dinner table stories made it clear that the lives of the musicians were not all smiles on album covers. When I go back and listen to their songs and that soaring voice, I notice a lot more pain. That was probably the point of staging the show and trying to clear the air. I’m beginning to think that it will always return to the Beatles, Elvis, the Beach Boys and the Four Seasons for me.
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You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 56 more to go.
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