Saturday, March 19, 2011

March 20, 1971
"After all, any given moment has its value; it can be questioned in the light of after events ... but the moment of beauty was there." -- F. Scott Fitzgerald 

This is where I was, 40 years ago, and it was a good place to be. A warm, sunny day in Denver, the first day of spring and it felt like the end of a winter. It was John and Yoko's second anniversary, but we weren't aiming for that. It was simply a Saturday that worked for everyone, but it was a simply beautiful Saturday.

We'd thought about getting married on a mountaintop, specifically, the top of Mount Evans, because that was fashionable, at least in theory, and perhaps practical for marriages that neither family was going to attend anyway. But after driving up there and falling in love with the view, we realized that, given that our families did intend to show up, it would be asking a whole lot of our grandparents and several un-acclimated flatlanders to drag them up to a spot over 14,000 feet above sea level.

Instead, my soon-to-be brother-in-law set us up with a nice Episcopal Church in Denver where the father of his roommate at CU was not only rector, but enough of a social activist and mensch that he was willing to let us use the church and the parish hall, and to even sign the marriage license although the actual marriage was being performed by an ex-priest who had, as I understand it, left the Catholic clergy in a quarrel over his active support of the farmworkers. 

Not that Craig had a lot to do. We had not only written our vows and chosen our readings, but we had written the ceremony itself, and Craig was more of an emcee than a celebrant. But, since he was a friend of Kathy's family, he was able to say some nice things about marriage and drop in a few relevant specifics in his monologue, or preface or whatever it was. As I recall, in the write-up for the ceremony, it just said, "Craig" at that point, which left him a fair amount of latitude.

We wanted something that would express who we were, and that would reflect the culture of Boulder in which we had met, but we wanted something that looked like a wedding, too, and it did. 

Our readings were from Psalms -- I think 128 -- and Kahlil Gibran, and we included a poem that was familiar to all our Boulder friends but new to everyone else, and then we were horrified a few months later when it was set to music, recorded by Les Crane and released in the Top 40, where it became one of the great cringe-inducing cliches of the era. Well, it was fresh when we served it.

We were at the church well before anyone else. Kathy actually got there quite a bit before I did, setting up the reception in the parish hall with her aunt, while I was meeting the band in Boulder and leading them down to Denver and the church. "Magic Music" was a CSN-type group who lived in a pair of school buses up over Ward, which is at about 9,450 feet. I had made the original deal with them at one of their gigs in Boulder but then had to go find them to finalize it, and that involved a lot of driving around and asking people. But it was worth it; they were one of the area's, and the era's, great treasures.

Then, before the wedding, we went out front and greeted people. We all stood and talked until we decided it was time to shoo people in so we could make our entrance and get things rolling. Oh, and while everyone was socializing, we ducked inside with Craig, my older brother Rick, who was my best man, and our ushers, our roommate Dean, and Kathy's little brother Bill, and Kathy's maid of honor, Marcie, so we could have a quick rehearsal. Then my little sisters Lois and Martha handed everyone a carnation as they entered and we got married.

The wedding reception had only the necessary formalities -- the cutting of the cake and the tossing of the bouquet. The rest of the time, people stood around and talked, and it was a great, amicable mingling of people who would have never met in real life. The pictures here, by the way, were a wedding gift by a friend of Kathy's from the Colorado Springs Sun, where she had done two internships and had made friends, and most of what happened that day, except for the band, the cake and the wine, was a gift. That's also how things were, there and then.

It was a beautiful day, and one that went off with no visible hitches, that itself being a tribute to the era, because we all assumed it would work out and we didn't sweat the details. 

We had hidden our car a few blocks away, and Dean gave us a ride over there, whence we left for a one-night honeymoon before returning to Boulder and home.

The rest of the story? Well, we made it for 13 years and we produced a pair of really good kids, and we still get along just fine when fate and family obligations throw us together. 

And we had a great wedding on a beautiful day, 40 years ago. The moment of beauty was there, for sure.


Ronnie said...


Sherwood Harrington said...

This gives a fine impression of the time -- at least as I remember it from a few hundred miles to the west -- and I imagine it gives a pretty good impression of the man, too. Enchantingly done, Mike.

I wish I could find some recordings of Magic Music to hear. From what little I could find about them online, I'd probably enjoy their jams. One thing that keeps popping up in Google searches on them is an article by a fellow named Gil Asakawa, which says in part:

"Although the band had no hits, the name Magic Music looms large in the annals of Boulder rock. The group, featuring a young Chris Daniels who had come from an earlier group named Rosewood Canyon, played acoustic-based 'hippie' music and walked their talk. 'We did the hippie thing. We lived in school buses and a donut truck in Eldorado Canyon,' Daniels recalls. 'The music was like a mix of String Cheese Incident, Leftover Salmon and the old British folk band Pentangle - we had two acoustic guitars, a flute, bass and percussion, usually tablas. The songs had a lot of elves, druids and faeries in them. We had all kinds of brushes with fame.'

"The group performed at the first two Telluride Bluegrass Festivals, but also held its own in nightclubs, and was often booked at the Good Earth along with the Freddi-Henchi Band. 'Back then it worked,' he says. 'The hippies would get all blissed out and mellow with Magic Music, and then Freddi-Henchi would take the stage and everyone would get the soul shakes.'"

We had some pretty good bands like that then in the Bay Area, too.

ronnie said...

This is a really beautiful post and evokes great memories of our own wedding, which was unconventional in its own ways and just as 'right'.

Terry said...

Pete - Thanks for the trip down memory lane. T-Bone

Mike said...

Sherwood -- Found that article (Googled "Magic Music" and Boulder). Had to laugh at “I came here in 1972 so I’ve seen everything come and go” He didn't see me go -- we'd left for Denver by 1972.

But the music scene was lively. Kathy saw my crewe before we met, at a July 4 concert in a field up at the Caribou recording studio property -- as I recall, when we discovered this, her exact words were, "Oh my god, that was YOU guys?" We were a colorful lot.

And it was a small enough community that you did feel you knew these people and sometimes you did. In 1980, we had a reunion of my old house up in Sunshine Canyon at a house owned by one of the guys in Poco and rented by one of my old housemates. Had a beer with him (the housemate) and one of the guys from Firefall a couple of years later. Helped Flash Cadillac haul amplifiers for a gig one time (didn't ask for or get a shirt). And those were all after we'd moved clear down to Colorado Springs.

Memory Lane is a pretty sweet stroll, Terry. Hope you're well!

And, ronnie, you've mentioned the antics at some of your family gatherings and I hope your wedding wasn't one of them, though it would have been unconventional, yes. ;-)

Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

This is delightful! Too many of us cringe at our past choices (sometimes with real good reason). You guys didn't have it easy, but you seem have to have gotten it right.

Never mind the pop recording - there's a lot to like in Desiderata.

Brian Fies said...

That's a very sweet reminisce, and fine piece of writing (I like Sherwood's word: "enchanting"). But who's the goober in the suit with all the hair?

Anonymous said...

Very nice, Mike. As you probably know, the recorded poem you mention was aptly parodied by the National Lampoon folks.

-Ted Kerin

Mike said...

You know, Ted, as offensive as that was, and as much as it introduced the "Me Decade," I laft because of the people who embraced Desiderata without any intent to even marginally make its values part of their lives.

But here's how I first encountered it: I had just arrived in Boulder, with two hitchhikers in my car, one of whom had just finished a masters by identifying types of brain coral off the coast of Trinidad, the other of whom had just shot Tricia Nixon for Ladies Home Journal. Talented, amazing people were all over the place in those days.

We were hangin' out, looking for a place to crash, and stopped at a house up in Sunshine Canyon that flew a Theta flag. The girl there not only allowed us to crash in her yard but invited us inside, to crash on the couches and use the showers and so forth.

This was Boulder in June of 1970, and it was an open and enthusiastically positive era that ended quickly, thanks in large part, to people who pretended to be part of it, but were, sadly, not.

Wendy Clark said...

I found your blog while I was searching for Magic Music because I am working with Chris Daniels to help him promote the Magic Music One-Night Reunion Show that they are reuniting at Swallow Hill's Daniels Hall this next Friday, November 18, 2011.

Here is a Magic Music page we made that has one recording called "Mole's Stumble" as well as a video with a slideshow of the group. I know Chris has some recordings of the band from some live shows if you guys really want to get nostalgic... I let him know of this post too, so hopefully you can catch up with him sometime.

Here is the site with the Magic Music information:

Cheers to you all!