August 1972: BREAD - Guitar Man & THREE DOG NIGHT - Black & White

Even while distracted by The Electric Company and The Bugaloos, I could tell something was wrong. Dad wasn’t around the house much, and even though he was mowing the grass right on schedule, his long absences were odd.

And even though that meant Mom and I spent more solo time together, she seemed distracted. Then on one gray, misty early morning as she drove me to nursery school, I picked up on a deep sadness seeping out of her. She said nothing, so I said nothing while bleakly watching a rain-soaked soybean field out the passenger window as Bread sang, “Then the lights begin to flicker and the sound is getting dim…”

A bit later, I got to “go bumming” with my Dad on a Saturday morning. This used to be a normal routine for us, and I loved tagging along while he took care of business, but it just wasn’t happening as much as it once did.

As were heading back home, “Black & White” by Three Dog Night came over the AM radio, and me merrily singing along was interrupted by Dad giving me a pop quiz: “Do you know what this song is really about?”

I recalled seeing an animated version of the song on The Sonny & Cher Show, but no, that wasn’t it. He proceeded to give me a basic overview of the song’s symbolism being about racial equality (“black ink is black people, the white page is white people”), which threw me off because one thing I knew for sure is that Dad didn’t like colored people. So what was he getting at?

In light of what was coming around the bend, I realize in retrospect that my Dad was probably trying to diffuse massive guilt by taking a stab at imparting racial harmony, which was probably easier for him to swallow than the things that could have been said.

"Guitar Man" by Bread.
"Black & White" by Three Dog Night.

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