One of my favorite episodes of Sex and the City is I Heart NY, in which the love of Carrie’s life, Mr. Big, is about to move away to Napa, leaving her nostalgic for their time together in the city they both love so much. The episode, which aired in February of 2002, is a valentine to New York — a love letter dedicated to the city just months after the heartbreak of 9/11.
Early in the episode, Big plays a record (remember those?) of Moon River for Carrie and dances with her in his now-empty apartment. He tells her that he remembers his parents dancing to that song when he was a kid, and, although she finds it kind of corny, that memory truly touched my heart (all right, I’m closer to his age than to hers). I have the same memory of my own parents — and of that time of early 1960s suburban innocence. Before Camelot came apart.
But while our parents (mine, Big’s, my friends’) danced to Henry Mancini, the generation who came of age in the 1960s (the early wave of Baby Boomers) made their own soundtrack. Theirs was the music that fueled protests and demanded attention, that had Bob Dylan and Joan Baez as its prophets, and Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin as its preachers.
For the Baby-er Boomers like me, born toward the end of the postwar wave, we heard the music but were too young at the time to live it. We were too young for a lot of things — Woodstock, the draft, and the fears that kept our parents up at night (if we’d known that those air-raid drills were supposed to protect us from nuclear holocaust, we would have been terrified instead of glad for a chance to get out of the classroom and into the school hallway — “curl up against the wall, cover your head with your hands!”).
Maybe we can’t blame our parents too much for listening to Moon River on the hi-fi (remember those?) and for embracing their suburban dreams. Those dreams were their haven from the decade’s turbulence — and a safeguard, real or imagined, from a world going a bit mad. I have to admit that, although the song is somewhat schmaltzy for my taste, I’ll always remember how watching my parents dance to it (and to lots of other ’60s suburban easy-listening classics) made it seem like everything was going to be ok.
A very Big deal, my huckleberry friends.
© 2013 Claudia Grossman