We all have our songs that transport us back in time. For me, “Bad Time” by Grand Funk Railroad (see video above) takes me and slams me down in the passenger seat in the car of my best friend in high school. Richard Foster’s Volkswagen Beetle, took us all over Oklahoma City – hitting the Mustard Seed, cruising 39th street, Shotgun Sam’s Pizza, Northwest Hiway Drive-In theater, MacArthur Park Speedway, Hemi’s Pizza, NWC Knights basketball in the gymnasium, football at Taft Stadium, Highlander bowling alley, on and on. “Bad Time” ( and “Jackie Blue” by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils – “Magic” by Pilot – Elton John’s “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy” album, The Beach Boys “Endless Summer” album…so many) was a part of the soundtrack of my life during a very exciting time in those early years. My four years at Northwest Classen High School, class of 1977, had its ups and downs, but the great memories with Richard and our friends in the Summer of ‘75 come back in an instant with this song. Good memories.
Nostalgia is one of the most powerful, and underestimated, emotions known to modern mankind. The simple dictionary definition doesn’t do justice to the power of the word:
Nostalgia: näˈstaljə — “A sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.”
The definition is true, but doesn’t capture the dark side of the term. Melancholy is linked to nostalgia when those memories recall a time you feel was better than today. In reality, nostalgia is rooted in change. As change occurs – friends have moved on, passed away; landmarks are torn down, values change, we see all this and wonder, “What has happened to the world I knew?” It is a near universal feeling that can bring on sadness, not just memories, for days gone by. There is no question that nostalgia is a double-sided coin.
I will admit to a certain sadness remembering the high school days I mentioned above. The “simpler” time, the good fun, the mistakes made, the feelings I am sure I hurt, the realization that I never fully appreciated what a great time of life it truly was. I was very much the political and cultural rebel in high school. It was, after all, just a short time removed from the disaster known as Vietnam. It was still a time of campus upheaval on college campuses across the country. Injustice was the enemy. Empowering students was the new call of the rebel, while administration seemed more interested in turning out good little robots. Some of us believed that little consideration was given to students as thinking people with lives ahead that included more than simple preparation to enter the work force and sell our labor/knowledge. Now, don’t get me wrong, most students at Northwest Classen 1974-1977, in all honesty, couldn’t have cared less about student dissent. For better or worse, I was an outlier to be sure. For me, political/student rebellion is still a very real part of my high school memories..
However, I am only a song away from remembering all the good times from the summer of ‘75. Other songs, like Rod Stewart’s “Tonight’s The Night,” Pablo Cruise singing, “Whatcha Gonna Do?”, David Bowie’s “Young Americans,” Manfred Mann’s “Blinded by the Light,” and many other tunes, define different times during my years at Northwest.
Nostalgia: It can bring misty eyes, it can bring a big smile, but make no mistake – it is a powerful emotion that we all fall deep into at one time or another (especially later in life). High school memories can bring on some of the most powerful feelings of nostalgia, but there are many others — for me, childhood is filled with nostalgic longing; my early years in broadcasting bring back memories very strongly. But thinking back to NWC, class of ’77, it’s mostly bliss. Memories of another time.
– Mike Swickey