“Accordion and Mutation”

Regarding Blue Oyster Cults’ appearance on The Lawrence Welk Show, one is filled with both horror and a strange sense of relief. The horror was no doubt shared by both sides. One side was the dark-hearted rock fans looking for BOC’s guest spot to bring apocalypse to the long running bastion of gentle, glucose laden, bloodless song and dance. The other side is the Nixon labeled silent majority, those consumers of that weekly pastel mediocrity, the effects of which have now been superseded by the subsequent generations of Prozac’s chemical children. Those dark-hearted rock fans no doubt wished to see BOC spew forth lasers from their mouths and immolate the pastel lit soundstage walls, thus freeing the brass-band musicians seated quietly behind them to run wild and play something other than Henry Manicini arranged by Morpheus.

The Stones were censored on Ed Sullivan, but the time spent together with Welk and BOC had no such twists of lyrics. “Quick Lime Girl” was performed as written, with shots of the aging studio audience looking like her victims before tossed into ripe and ready graves. “ME 262” soared as one would expect. But it was no chapter in a career of evil. One wonders if dominance and submission were in play, spoken back stage with a mid-west influence on a Polish accent.

One can imagine the last hope for a fiery collision of worlds would come at the end of their set when Lawrence walked over to greet the band. But only quick pleasantries were exchanged. No eruptions of fire, verbal or literal. There was even a thank you from Don “Buck Dharma” Roeser, and a quick hand shake by a seemingly nervous Eric Bloom. It was as if all mystical portents sung about in glib references in the songs of their three albums of the time had manifested in a 70’s suit and flaming telepathic necktie hung on the tall band leaders frame just as a quilt rests across the back of a couch whose springs creek under the weight of TV viewers during a particular hour every Sunday evening. Did the seldom used conductor’s baton suddenly look like a scorpion’s spine? Mild applause died out with that accent so well known, so well mocked and then suddenly spoken live to BOC and bringing with it the realization of where they were and what they had just done.

What BOC had just done was soon forgotten. Most fans of the band likely never watched Welk again. The loyal, Geritol addicted viewers of his show probably snapped out of their hard rock induced anaphylaxis during the first commercial break after the band’s set. Guy and Rolna came on next. They sang some forgettable and oft sung show tune, and all was right with the universe, or at least the nursing home lobby or staid living room where a fading picture of Kennedy still hung opposite the cracked image of the Virgin Mary.

The band would go on to greater infamy. Sandy Perlman did not die of shock, nor was he sacrificed to a long necked monster or drowned in Absorbine Junior. One wonders if the dark themes of many of their subsequent songs (and many unreleased tunes that made it onto reissues in the 21st century) were a to ease the memory of the excruciatingly pleasant experience. Or perhaps this event’s legacy was “Burnin’ For You.” On that day BOC gave the devil his due. The devil to some, or the messiah of laxative funded, static entertainment, unchanging, bland and white bread safe. Strangely, it is unlike the effects of too strong a dose from the huge Milk of Magnesia bottle hung by precariously thin wires over Lawrence’s head just before he introduced Sissy and Bobby to assail us with motions similar to just that sort of fate.

It happened long ago. But in this You Tube universe, nothing ever truly becomes the past. The deed was done. And now it’s time to eat cheese.

BSL