Some of us only have memories of the ‘60s. But not Jim Potter. He’s got his music. And today, it’s more important to him than it seemed when he and a brother and a friend wrote it. You can read Jim’s more complete story at www.roarof64.com, but here’s a version abridged from a piece he wrote for Newsweek Magazine. Call it The Roar of ’64.
Blame it on February 9th, 1964. Like many baby boomers, watching the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show” was a turning point in my young life. The Beatles and other bands in the British Invasion gave us an immediate love for R&B and pop music. We were inspired to take up guitars and drums and sing our hearts out.
My brother Don, our friend Nic, and I formed a band based in Nic’s Salt Lake City basement. We covered countless songs from such bands as the Kinks, Rolling Stones, the Animals, and (most of all) the Beatles. Over the next two years we also started writing our own material.
During the heady years of 1964-1966, our basement band NB3 (Nic Baker Trio) wrote more than a dozen songs. Fortunately we kept the lyrics and chord progressions (recorded for posterity by Nic, the group’s designated typist) in a bright yellow plastic binder. On June 22nd, 1967, our family moved away from Salt Lake City. Around noon on that bright sunny day, Nic walked up the street, his dog’s leash in one hand, the yellow binder in the other, and gave us the song file. Somewhere deep inside me, I knew this file of our own pop songs would someday have a profound effect on my life. Since this was the only written record of our musical odyssey, I always stored it in a safe place. I was never sure why, but I did.
Throughout my years in high school, then college, then a 28-year career with an international telecommunications company, plus marriage, kids, dogs, and day-to-day life, I kept the song folder in trunks or boxes that followed me from state to state. I would occasionally reflect fondly on the songs inside, while subconsciously whistling a familiar melody from long ago. Somewhere in the house (and in the back of my mind) was a treasure neatly packed away and stored in some basement or attic.
Fast forward to December 2003. My career had suddenly ended with an early-retirement package. What would I do in my spare time that had previously been dictated by a career that followed the principle that “the management clock has no hands?” Two thoughts came to mind: (1) Find that old song folder, and (2) Find Nic.
I found the file neatly stashed away in a large box in the garage. I carefully thumbed through the lyrics, which were fast approaching their 40th year. When I told my brother Don about this rediscovery and showed him the lyrics, he commented that their antiquated state made each lyric sheet look like papyrus.
My good memory and fertile imagination have always compensated for my feeble academic skills. As I combed through the archive of the Baker/Potter catalogue, all the melodies and harmonies, chord progressions and drum rhythms surfaced. I asked Don if he would be willing to resurrect one of the songs and record it professionally. We’d try to recreate the sound of pop music from 1965. Don agreed, and in a long one-day session in 2004, we recorded “When I Met You.” But we agreed that only if we could achieve the sound we strived for as kids would we record the remainder of the dozen songs. What we found was, we could. The recording process required 20 months of diligent planning, performing, editing, and polishing these sounds that once captured our adolescent imaginations.
The search for Nic was harder. Thanks to the internet, we found him after 18 months, discovering that he lived just a few hours from us, not halfway around the world as we had begun to believe.
To say that Nic was surprised to hear from us is an understatement. But to learn that we were revisiting all the old songs from our past was, well, shocking! Don and I recruited Nic’s musical services for piano accompaniment. We had come full circle, bringing our dreams to life and completing what we had started almost 40 years earlier.
If not for that fateful handoff of the files back in 1967, this project would have never seen the light of day. And our magic of 1965 never would have been reborn.