C’mon Get Happy
I don’t know exactly when I started watching “The Partridge Family.” I imagine from the very beginning, in 1970. Wiki says it ran from September of that year (shortly after I turned eight) until ’74, and was of course syndicated after that. I know that it hit me pretty hard. I hadn’t had the slightest inclination to do anything whatsoever with music – my little monster skits didn’t need a soundtrack, after all.
I have little bits and pieces of memories from those many episodes, but a spark was ignited by one episode in particular – or at least a single scene from that episode: Keith (David Cassidy) is sitting on his bed, writing a song. He’s playing his guitar, a notebook and pen beside him as he works through a little bit of it. He plays part of it for Danny (Danny Bonaduce). Danny says it sucks, so Keith stabs him right in the fucking eye with his pen. Danny bleeds. Danny dies. THE END.
Of course, that didn’t happen. It’s just a cool dream I have. You know, ‘cause Bonaduce turned out to be such a dick. In fact, I don’t recall how that episode ended. It was just the act of songwriting which had captivated me. I remember thinking that was about the coolest thing I’d ever seen. It’d be ten years before I’d actually become a songwriter, and more than twenty before I’d write a song about Keith Partridge (below), but that’s what started it all.
Sure, I watched “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Brady Bunch,” just like everyone (it seemed to me, from watching those shows, that one didn’t have to be particularly talented to be on TV – or to write for it). But TPF was my early muse. I wrote down the lyrics to their biggest hit, “I Think I Love You,” my young ears glued to the Top 40 station for those opening harmonies, rushing for my notebook to scribble as fast as I could, adding a line or two each time until I finally got the transcription completed. Probably about the same time it fell out of heavy rotation. I remember scouring the music magazines any time we went to the store, aggravated that none of the fan mags seemed to give a shit about lyrics. I wouldn’t have been able to buy a copy even if I’d found such a publication, but how tough could it be to rip out a page and stuff it in my pants? Fuckin’ sociopath.
I also fell head-over-heels in love with Laurie Partridge (Susan Dey). I was smitten. I dreamed about her, yearned to comfort her when she got braces and had her heart broke. Later, when I was in my teens, Susan Dey had a pretty hot sex scene in an R-rated movie, I think with that feller William Katt, who was the Greatest American Hero (dumb dumb dumb). Anyway, watching that movie made me feel particularly tingly.
Laurie wasn’t my first love. I’d just gotten over my Judy Garland infatuation, come to grips with the fact that the star of “The Wizard of Oz” was not going to un-overdose, when I started watching the Partridges. I remember riding home from my Aunt Bev’s place in Dallas, looking out the window into the night sky, wondering if Judy Garland (who’d just died) was watching from Heaven. I knew she sure as shit wasn’t in Kansas any more.
It would have been for my ninth birthday that I got Mom to get me a guitar – it was just a toy, and I never did anything but bang around on it. But it was enough to prompt me to organize Stacy and two kids from across the street (the ones whose parents we extorted, not the ones we ran away with. Another brother and sister duo. I’m wanting to say the little boy’s name was Rex. Then again, I wanted to attribute “Rex” to the dog in “Dick and Jane.” Somewhere in my life there’s a goddamned “Rex”) to form a band. I don’t think we ever even tried to practice, or decide what the fuck everybody else would play…and I couldn’t play either. I doubt this whole thing took up more than a couple of days, but it stuck. I’m sure I wrote all sorts of band names and plans in my notebook. I do remember Stacy and the others at least feigning enthusiasm.
I imagine feigned enthusiasm for my whimsies and notions has been a recurring theme throughout my life. Overall, I don’t think anybody’s ever been as thrilled with me as me. And, if I weren’t me, I wouldn’t blame them.
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