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Talking about Mill Valley

author198 Sep 6, 2010

Before the Bay Area became synonymous with technology, its music scene made it famous. 

From ROLLING STONE, July 23, 1973: Photo by Annie Liebowitz

From ROLLING STONE, July 23, 1973: Photo by Annie Liebowitz

In 1970 an elementary school music teacher named Rita Abrams wrote and recorded “Talking About Mill Valley” with her third grade class.  The song shot up the pop charts and became an nostalgic anthem for the quiet small town life.

And if you caught today’s show, you know any kid who grew up in Mill Valley still knows that song, and is willing to sing it.

Before the invention of the Blackberry, Mill Valley may have been the kind of place where people stopped to say hello on the street, and where neighbors paid attention to each other. Still, by 1970, it wasn’t the kind of 1950s suburban ideal you might envision when you here the Abrams’ song.

Here’s how Rolling Stone described it:

MILL VALLEY – This smallish community north of San Francisco has long been known as a sanctuary for rock and roll musicians (Janis Joplin and Mike Bloomfield, among many others), a place where heads can live side by side in peaceful coexistence with suburban America.

And when Abrams drove across the Golden Gate Bridge to record the song with her eight- and nine-year-olds, they were dropping into the heart of rock counter- culture.

The Wally Heider Recording Studio was a scene.

There I’d be with my little third graders, and in would pop David Crosby to chat with Erik and sneak a peek at us; and then the head of one of the Dead would peer in, utter “Far out” and disappear. The kids were too young to grasp it…

Of course, if anything remotely like that happened today, we would all be able to follow it live via some third grader’s Twitter feed.

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