Story

Tracks of My Tears
Steve Seid, Video Curator at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archives

The music we absorb in that most porous of epochs, our youth, seeps stealthily into the recesses of memory, waiting to provoke involuntary recollections, when, years later, it is unexpectedly re-sounded. We are steeped in our sonic youth, recalling with strange shudder memories captured by a song’s sonorities, by lyric born and melody embraced, uncanny in their evocation of suspended remembrance. 
 
So can we, in retrospect, construct an autobiography of those songs and sounds? Can we return to that forgotten playlist of our life and, post-facto, arrange some chapter around songs that entranced our bright youth? Can those songs in proper alignment bring forth a moment summarized again by words and melodies, and the aural sensibilities that encapsulate a life lived, a youth spent?
 
That is the intention buried in this not-so-musty playlist, songs lifted from 1966 through 1970, from a life played out in Los Angeles by a young “directionless loon,” as Tim Buckley might call him, though the “him,” in this case, is me. A skateboarder, a folkie, a kid untethered but hopeful who by mid-1968 would be drafted and Vietnam bound, carrying with him some of this music including a coveted LP called Goodbye and Hello by the aforementioned Tim. 
 
An important note is that all the music on this playlist is from SoCal, from bands that resided around L.A., and fed off the aura of the place, fed off it and formed it. These bands somehow defined the city–not in the way the Beach Boys valorized coastal spume and surfer girls, but in the way their flowery proclamations grasped those verdant canyons seen from “Topanga Windows” and the “Tribal Gatherings” thriving above Sunset Boulevard. This music was indigenous and best suited to the fragile optimism of my teen soul.

Steve Seid is the Video Curator at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archives. Early in his career, Seid was an arts writer covering San Francisco’s underground alternative arts community, a scene infused by the energy and sensibility of local punk’s heyday.

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