I like The Cowsills. I like their music, and I like the way they occupy their space up there on stage in the changing spotlights, flashing and throwing off sparks and they receding darkly.
And all the time the music is driving, pulsating, riding an insistent new beat in a joyous stampede across the barren wastes of the generation gap.
Iím on the other side of the gap, and no one knows it any better than I.
But for just a short time on a recent evening with The Cowsills out at USM, I almost made it back across.
These kids and their audiences have something going in their music, and thereís no use trying to tell them they donít. Itís a mystique that derives not just from the music but from the total scene Ė the beat, the colors, the warmth, the cool challenge, and yes, even the hair.
And I say this as one who can change channels as fast as the next fellow when hairy rock comes on TV, and who can demand in a voice ten decibels higher than an amplified guitar that a record player be turned down.
When you encounter it live, itís different. I like it, and the harder the rock, the better.
For an awful moment there, I almost put down that I dig it. But that, if anything, is what this column is about. I donít dig things. I like things, and so do most of the people I run around with.
Thereís a feeling I used to get sometimes. I used to get it sometimes after a football game, and I used to get it sometimes on Saturday nights in Nashville way back when I was paratrooping for the U.S. Army and my stomach pooched inward instead of out. Itís a feeling that can and does lead to sticky scrapes and rare adventures, but in total effect itís good. I think they call it youth.
I got the feeling again, for a few fleeting moments when The Cowsills whammed into the second set of their program, the part where they said they were going to sock it to us, and did. They were driving through with ďGolly, Miss Molly,Ē which I thought I recognized from my Little Richard days, and it made me want to yell and stomp my feet. A young man with long sideburns sitting next to me was doing just that.
The feeling passed. I didnít yell and I didnít stomp my feet, although I did pat them with unusual vigor. The program ended, and I gathered up my small party of ecstatic sub-teens and went home.
Next day, sitting out in the quiet of my backward watching my grass grow and my roses unfold. I felt 10,000 light years removed from Saturday nights in Nashville.
And although I want to thank The Cowsills for giving me a brief life back across the gap, I never felt better.