According to facebook memories, this happened seven years ago today.
The first time I heard the song “Arizona” by Mark Lindsay was when he performed in Orillia, Ontario as part of the Happy Together tour in 2016. It was a great line up featuring The Turtles, The Grass Roots, The Association, The Buckinghams, The Cowsills and Mark Lindsay. It was a brilliant night. Great music, great seats, a great “date” (it was the sister of an old friend of mine, and we were not romantically involved but she was good company and was well versed on the subject of classic pop music) and, best of all, we had back stage passes because we were guests of The Buckingham’s guitarist and current lead singer Carl Giamamarese! I had a folder full of 8X10 photographs for autographs, just in case, and I was ready to go.
A big fan of all the groups in the show, Mark Lindsay is a particular favorite of mine, so it was awesome to see him, and he was as dynamic in 2016 as he was on old Bandstand and Happening videos that I found on YouTube. I was obviously familiar with his Raiders hits, but when he started singing Arizona, I had no idea what it was, but the audience went nuts, and sang along to the course of the song with enthusiasm.
Releases in 1970, “Arizona” is a product of its moment, marking the end of the 1960’s and ushering in the cycnicsim of the 1970’s. A song about the love affair between a jaded realist and a spirited hippie girl, the realist is trying to connect with the hippie by crushing her spirit. But does he succeed? Its really not clear if he lets go of his hang ups to meet her on her level, or if they come to a temporary truce of sorts. Its really not a song that could have ever been written at any other ime than the moment it was.
Well, after the show we went back stage, but there was some kind of a mix up and the venue didn’t let Carl know we were waiting for him in the Green Room, and the performers had already descended to their hotel rooms. I’ve actually had similar issues with this venue before, so I was really annoyed, and as we waited I looked at my stack of photos realizing I wasn’t going to get most of them signed.
But as I stood in the hall back stage waiting for the venue staff to fix their mistake, I suddenly saw a tall lean figure walking towards me. It was Mark Lindsay! Now, I’ve met and interviewed a lot of famous people over the years in my work as an entertainment writer, and I don’t often get too star struck. In fact, I had done a phone interview with Mark a number of years earlier, although there is no way he’d remember me. I really didn’t expect he would. But in that moment I was so excited to see him, that I just threw all my stoic professionalisim out the window and just turned into a fan.
“Hey! You’re Mark Lindsay!’ I said to him, as if he didn’t already know who he was. “My name is Sam Tweedle! You were great tonight.”
Mark looked at me through tinted glasses. “Thanks,” he said, slowing down his stride to acknowledge me.
“Hey. Can I get an autograph Mark Lindsay?” I asked. He stopped an looked a bit flustered. He wasn’t being dismissive or rude, but he was obviously trying to hurry for someplace, or to see someone. He had a destination, and I was interupting. But he was cool.
“Uh, sure. But it has to be quick. Do you a pen?” Before he could even get the words out I had a photo of him, and a sharpie for him to use. I’ve done this enough to know how to be prepared. He signed my photo and handed it to me and with a nod walked away down the hall.
I looked at the photo with satisfaction and smiled, and then looked up to see him just about to the end of the hallway and I yelled out “You’re the greatest Mark Lindsay!” He didn’t stop, but he gave me a little wave, turned the corner and he was gone. It was a quick rather insignificant encounter compared to many of the other performers I met, but I was in awe. Honestly, Mark Lindsay oozes cool. He’s just as cool as you’d want him to be.