A go-go can't be far
Going to a Go-Go #0: Introductions
As my life moves forward, my musical tastes continue to be pulled backward.
I enjoy my share of new music and try to stay on top of what’s happening. But if given my druthers, I’m usually playing something old—something by an artist I really love, something classic I’ve yet to discover, or something that comes from out of nowhere and blows my fragile little mind.
Except it doesn’t come from “out of nowhere.” I’ve decided it comes from a mystical place in the ether—the Go-Go. Immortalized by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles in his 1965 hit single “Going to a Go-Go,” the Go-Go is first and foremost a kick-ass party with amazing music. For me, it’s become a state of mind—a stack of 45 singles next to a beat-up old portable record player that still does the job, friends taking turns slapping on the next cut, everyone cheering and loving and dancing their way through the night.
To really boil it down, you’re transported to the Go-GO in a single split second when you hear something from the dim past and everything stops around you, and you immediately think, “Where the hell has THIS been all my life???”
History is written by the victors, and nowhere is this more true than in pop music, where there’s an established “canon” of our shared history that has plenty of forks and rivulets to explore. Beyond even the dusty corners of that space, there lies the Go-Go. Songs from bands that flared up in a garage or a juke joint just long enough to cut a couple singles and vanish forever. Local and regional hits that dominated the airwaves for a season, a week, a few days—and now live only in faded memories.
It’s these endless tiny pockets of potential, where guys and gals gathered to make music for a million reasons, put their best jams into the universe, and then wisped away like the fog that hugs the grass in the early days of spring. Rock, R&B, soul, pop, instrumental, novelty—so many voices, so many songs and riffs, so much passion and effort and LOVE that’s just floating on the fringe, waiting for you to stretch your fingers just a few inches beyond your comfort zone and grab it.
I’m not really a music historian, so maybe some of these songs will be familiar. I’m hoping I can reveal the occasional lost gem, but I’m not putting any rules or guardrails around what belongs in the Go-Go. My moderate Google skills and appetite for too many books about music are my only “skills” so I can imagine I’ll be printing a lot of the legends.
But there is NOTHING more electrifying to me than uncovering something I’ve never heard from the glory days of rock ‘n’ soul, something that I can’t believe even exists, something that emerges from nowhere and becomes as vital as the next breath I take.
That’s what I hope you’ll find…in the Go-Go.
But enough of my yakkin’. Let’s boogie.