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A departure for Vintage Leaf—re-discovering the folk music of my 1960s youth

This is a site devoted to hockey past and present, the current Leafs and particularly my memories of some wonderful and not so wonderful moments in Maple Leaf history.

However, lately, for whatever reason (probably the time of year) I’ve been harking back to my youth as I recall it, especially in the summertime. I would work regularly on my dad’s farm, mostly in charge of…let’s call it weed control. “Picking weeds” by hand and with a small hoe across acres of land often times felt as though I was digging a hole simply to fill it in. Weeds have a habit of returning as they wish.

It was work I disliked immensely, and when I wasn’t playing baseball for Assumption (where I went to high school) in the nearby Windsor or Detroit sandlot leagues, my relaxation came from listening to the music on my tiny transistor radio.

The few times I would be alone in our very small house (I was the youngest of five, and my older brothers had largely moved out, along with my oldest sister so there were some moments of solitude), I took advantage of our “hi fi” as we called it to play records. I had a couple of precious Beatles’ albums and would listen to songs like “Ticket to Ride” and “Help” over and over. (My dad liked the Beatles about as much as he liked Gordie Howe, which is to say not at all—though at least he acknowledged Howe had talent. I’m quite sure he thought the Beatles had none. He used to say, “You’ll be able to buy those albums for a dollar next year…” I wasn’t allowed to buy the albums myself. My rebellious older brother had to buy them for me.)

Yet the music I probably enjoyed the most was from an album that same older brother had brought home from McGill university, where he was studying in Montreal in the mid-1960s. The group was called “The Seekers”. Now, I had liked Trini Lopez as a kid and appreciated Peter, Paul and Mary, along with the rock and roll stuff, but I’d never heard anything quite like what this group was able to do. The harmony, the remarkable voice of the lone female singer (Judith Durham, apparently still going strong to this day in her late ‘60s), well, it was just something that stays with you.

When I started looking for some old music of my youth online recently, I came across some classic clips of The Seekers. I discovered that the songs I loved as a young teenager I still love today. I sang them for hours when I was 14, 15 and 16 and cannot believe how much I enjoy them still. I know there were many fine groups in the ‘60s, and outstanding artists today and in every era, for that matter. But if you’ve never listened to music by the original Seekers (1964-1968) and you enjoy hopeful, thoughtful and powerful folk music, you may well enjoy their work.

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