Wafting Out the Windows: CS&N, ‘Fire and Rain,’ ‘Maggie May’ and All Things Joni

Photo by Eric Yopes ’74

Three out of four of your responses invoked a song or piece of music that summons a vivid memory: happy, sad, peaceful, reverential. Clearly our brains were strongly wired to our tunes. Plus concert responses, and some movies, books and plays. So much to enjoy.
—Wes Bray

Question 6: Tell us about a song, movie, book or work of art that triggers a strong memory of your college days. What was happening at the time? Is there a picture you can share?


Cat Stevens’ “Tea for the Tillerman” album triggers memories of freshman year in #1 Hillhouse, because one of my roommates played it constantly. Similarly, James Taylor’s song “Fire and Rain” is burned into my memory because a classmate down the hall played it over and over. During my years at Yale I learned to play guitar, focusing on learning tunes from Leo Kottke’s “Six and 12-String Guitar” (aka “Armadillo”) album.
Jeff Johnson [CC]

When I hear Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly With His Song,” I’m immediately back in Morse Tower Junior year (I think) in the room I shared with Mike Nyberg, trying to drag myself out of bed. I swear that every day when the radio alarm rang, that was what it was playing. Every day.
Paul Zelinsky

I arrived at Yale in the fall of 1970 as an avid Beatles fan since middle school. I had (and still have) a Beatles mug sitting on my desk holding pens and pencils. One of my roommates had just written a “treatise” on The Who’s “Tommy” that I’m sure was published somewhere. I was a Beatles fan who had written an essay in high school about how listening to music helped me express my adolescent feelings. It got me an A but was definitely not publish-worthy. I felt intimidated.

Another of my roommates had a stereo system to die for on which he constantly played his extensive LP album collection. I enjoyed hearing the music from groups I had not heard or had not appreciated previously — artists like Poco, Clapton, The Dead, etc. — on his spectacular sound system. I, obviously, enjoyed hearing the “White Album” and “Abbey Road” on it as well! Otherwise, all I had was a clock radio. I felt poor, but grateful to be able to share his sound system.

A third roommate was a pianist. He had found an abandoned upright piano somewhere on campus. Several of us helped him lug it up to our 4th floor room in Silliman. He would play and we would all sing. I discovered that, although my voice is only average, I had a knack for harmonizing and really enjoyed it. And, slowly, I began to feel less intimidated and less poor.

Gradually, music, in the form of singing along with Simon and Garfunkel, CSN (and, ultimately, Y) through college, Queen through grad school, Rockapella (once a capella music became popular) and many others through the years, became an important part of my life, in spite of the fact that I had only average talent, at best. And the early Yale experiences fueled a lifetime of joyfully harmonizing along with popular music of all sorts, while driving alone in my car. But my faves continue to be The Beatles! I still frequently (when alone) belt out falsetto harmonies to “Because,” “I Feel Fine,” “Sun King,” “Here Comes the Sun,” “This Boy,” and many others to scratch my Beatles “sing-along itch.”
Lowell Keppel [SM]

All things Joni Mitchell. Got to see her “live and in-person” in Woolsey Hall — a highlight in my life!!
Singie Shepley-Gamble [BK]

I was in the Alley Cats. I learned some retro-cool songs that earlier generations of Cats and Whiffs had added to the repertoire because certain music was happening in the 50’s and early 60’s. Only later did I figure out they were part of the American Songbook thing that Ella and Frank and others helped make into a permanent treasure. I loved doing the Carole King, CSNY etc. covers of our time. Still, the Songbook things are what give me the fondest memories of a cappella: But Not For Me; All The Things You Are; This Is A Lovely Way To Spend An Evening; Dancing On The Ceiling; Every Time We Say Goodbye. With the artists I play on Pandora, these and similar others pop up a lot …
Bill Wilkins [TC]

Excerpt from Rachmaninoff’s Symphony #1 heralding a streaker carrying the Tyng Cup when he entered Calhoun dining hall.

There are so many: Uranus and the Eight Moons singing along with 1950’s 45s such as Runaround Sue, Teenager in Love and Book of Love (with altered lyrics — you can imagine). Skokorat playing Allman Brothers songs in Calhoun dining hall dances. Leopold Stokowski conducting open rehearsal of the Yale Symphony Orchestra repeatedly noting that the oboes were too loud. Excerpt from Rachmaninoff’s Symphony #1 heralding a streaker carrying the Tyng Cup when he entered Calhoun dining hall. Brandenburg Concertos on infinite turntable replay. Not all movements fit on one side, so I still don’t know how any whole concerto fits together. Freshman counselor, Bob Bookman (head of Law School Film Society) showing Fellini films in his room.
Dan Rouse [CC]

Laura Nyro’s lyrics helped me to forge a positive identity at Yale. In the song “The Confession,” Laura joyfully invites her lover to “love my live thing,” and then sings that “her winsome lover” may leave the fair, but “you’ll be back I swear.” She acknowledges that she loves sex for fun, was proud about being a good lover and that she was OK if sex didn’t lead to marriage. Finally, she demands to define the term “Virgin,” saying that “I have had others at my breast,” but “he has won my heart, so only now am I a virgin, I Confess.” My body, my definition. I see vestiges of this battle in the fight for reproductive rights. In my opinion, just as a woman can claim the right to define her “Virginity,” she should have the right to control her pregnancy.
Priscilla Waters [SY]

Freshman year. Old campus. Springtime. Third floor windows in Lawrence Hall wide open. A stereo system — location unknown — blasting music all over the quad. Derek and the Dominos’ “Layla” and the Dead’s “Casey Jones.” Nuff said.
Bill Mendelsohn [BK]

Too many books to mention, since I majored in literature and aspired to be a writer. Music stands out in my memories, though I’m not a musician, just a chorus member. Senior year of high school, I listened to The Beatles “Here Comes the Sun” every morning to help me through the school day. Most afternoons, it was Crosby, Stills & Nash. The music in my experience at Yale came mostly through my roommate Marilyn Sharpe — her Yale Glee Club shows including Handel’s Messiah, her playing the flute or guitar, always with a song in her heart. First year at Yale, our suite hosted a party to a Neil Young soundtrack. Marilyn and I made “Alice B. Toklas” brownies for the event. Then someone told us that the effects of pot are delayed if you eat it instead of smoking it, so we ate a bunch of brownies. Not sure how the guests fared, but we had a great time. The summer before our second year, Joni Mitchell released “Blue.” I had never heard anything like it before. After wearing out the album on my parents’ record player, I couldn’t wait to get back to campus and hear what Marilyn thought of it. At what must have been a welcome-back lunch for the sophomore class in Commons, Marilyn and I found each other. I don’t remember anything else we talked about, just “Blue” and every song on it, excited over the details of the poetry and the music. On the 50th anniversary of that album, music critics hailed it as a great work of art. We had seen that from the beginning from a woman who pioneered as a singer, a songwriter, and a major star without the “star maker machinery behind the popular song.” “All I really, really want our love to do Is to bring out the best in me and in you.” Not a bad motto for life.
Barbara Borst [SY]

Down the Field triggers a strong and treasured memory of community – people I didn’t know individually but who would be my fellow Yalies forever.

Yale for me was a time when everything was new and exciting. And each new experience seemed to have its own soundtrack, whether it was my first exposure to weed listening to Firesign Theater with my hall mates in our Hillhouse dorm, or playing my treasured album of “Jesus Christ Superstar” as study music, or grooving to Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” on a rainy Sunday afternoon in Calhoun. However, these still have a place in my life today (well, not weed and Firesign Theater!).

So, instead, I ask what music was unique to Yale that has left me changed for the rest of my life? Three songs: “Bright College Years,” “Boola Boola,” and “The Whiffenpoof Song.” No, I was not a Whiff, although I do enjoy singing. Rather I was a cheerleader at Yale, a surprisingly formative experience I have discovered as I’ve aged. These three songs not only pull me back to those lovely Saturday afternoons in the Bowl, the camaraderie of the team, and the post-game celebrations at Mory’s but continue to resonate with my life and shape my personality ever since.

I keep this framed print on the wall in my office.

And here are the Whiffs of 1974 singing “The Whiffenpoof Song” (courtesy Brian Gorelick et al):

Wes Bray [CC]

I tried to think of a single song, movie, book, or work of art that made a significant impact. I couldn’t focus on only one. Yale opened my mind to so many things, from The Canterbury Tales to Moby Dick to the Film Society’s screening of The Wizard of Oz, stoned.

I didn’t follow Yale’s athletic accomplishments during my tenure. (My apologies to the athletes.) However, I attended every home football game with a flask full of Southern Comfort (here’s to you, Janis Joplin) and a couple of reefers. I was there for the Yale Precision Marching Band’s half-time performance. I was proud of the Band’s creativity and irreverence — mostly the irreverence. Down the Field triggers a strong and treasured memory of community — people I didn’t know individually but who would be my fellow Yalies forever. P.S. I won’t describe how I made my way back to TD, because I have very little recollection. All I recall is walking in the wrong direction.

“When You Love,” the second movement of Quicksilver Messenger Service’s “Who Do You Love Suite,” with a solo described as between jazz and rock and “Bloomfield-like” (thanks, Wikipedia!) played by Gary Duncan (the second-best guitar player in the band). When high on acid or something, in the dark days of New Haven’s damp winters, we used to refer to this piece as “Gary Duncan’s Trip to Italy.” But it’s more than that. It’s bouncy and fun for a while until it evolves emotionally into something almost traumatic, and then just ends (it may have been cut to fit the album).
Steven Kimball [MC]

My apologies to all those wonderful students that helped me carry my 100-pound harp and now have back problems.

My experience as the harpist in the Yale Symphony was one of my treasured musical experiences ever. The newness of the organization led by the creative and talented John Mauceri brought joy to all in the Yale community. He was able to get the Bernstein Mass performed at Woolsey Hall, he made the Halloween concerts must-attend events, he led us on a tour of France where we brought Charles Ives and Debussy to our audiences. My personal struggles however were the moving of my heavy harp from my dorm room across the campus to the performance hall. My apologies to all those wonderful students that helped me carry my 100-pound harp and now have back problems.
Jane Hamersley McLaughlin [BK]

I don’t even have to think: the final chorus of Bernstein’s Mass (and a few other segments of that piece). I was in the “church choir” when John Mauceri produced Mass in Woolsey Hall — spring 1973, I think. I found it a powerful experience in part because I came from a liturgical tradition and was starting to consider ministry as a vocation. I had seen the original version at Lincoln Center the year before and was blown away. But Mauceri transformed it from glitz and glamor to a hippie vibe. When our choir left the stage in rebellion, I headed for my assigned spot in the balcony where I was just feet away from the Maestro. When the piece came up toward the end of the movie “Maestro” I found myself in tears. We were SO lucky to have Mauceri lead the symphony during our years. He made classical music so cool. I had long ago given up violin but enjoyed singing choral parts in various symphonic concerts — almost as much as I enjoyed just being in the audience other times.
Ann Larson [BR]

My roommate and I went camping in the Virginia/West Virginia Shenandoahs a couple of times during school holidays. Given the setting, we liked to sing “Take Me Home, Country Roads” — in harmony — as a kind of twangy soundtrack as we hiked. Back at Yale, to earn a little money the two of us once took a day job painting a big empty room in a house on Whitney Avenue. The room had lovely natural reverb and we took full advantage with repeated renditions of the song. Later in life I would hear “Take Me Home” now and then as background Muzak in a restaurant or elevator — always reminding me of that afternoon painting and how singing made the work go fast.

Painting requires music.

“It’s late September and I really should be back at school”: The start of sophomore year felt very different from freshman year. Geography changed with the move to Ezra Stiles College from Bingham Hall. My suite with three roommates was replaced by a single room (shared, with a bunk bed) in the tower at Stiles, considered a good outcome from the housing lottery held at the end of freshman year. And unlike my total ignorance in September 1970, I now knew my way around Yale and its environs. When allowed into the new accommodation, the first necessary task was to paint the room. Although there were two of us assigned to the room, I must have drawn the short straw and been charged with its redecoration. I selected a vivid shade of yellow paint. Painting requires music. The freshman year stereo had disappeared but there was a radio and the song playing on the local am station was often “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart. The second line states that “It’s late September and I really should be back at school.” Perhaps because it was September and I was back in school, perhaps because it was played incessantly, perhaps because it is quite a catchy tune (130 on the Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time), Maggie May was firmly implanted in my brain. Even today, on the relatively infrequent occasions when I hear it, I feel I am back in Stiles College, paint brush in hand.
Steven Davis [ES]

We were so blessed to grow up during one of the greatest musical revolutions ever-so many fantastic songs that still resonate with all of us.  For me, however, one song puts me right back in the Calhoun courtyard every time I hear it. It was move-in day our Sophomore year and here we were beginning our Upperclass years.  As I walked towards our entryway, I could hear two of my roommates, Gary Balzhiser and Jere Shafir, blasting “it’s late September and I really should be back at school.” Every time I hear Rod Stewart sing “Maggie May,” I’m transported back to early September 1971!
Phil Clark [CC]

… those songs bring me back to a Broadway Pizza booth where my friends and I are sitting shoulder to shoulder, enjoying our banter along with our tuna grinders.

I can think of three songs that evoke – more than specific memories – an almost physical sensation of my time at Yale. It seems to me that Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” and Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” were both playing incessantly on the juke box at Broadway Pizza. I never got tired of listening to them. They’re both great tunes, with strong hooks, compelling melodic contours, and memorable lyrics – assertive, unusual lyrics for the time. It’s possible, I guess, that their appeal had something to do with — what shall I say? — psycho-politico-sexual stirrings: the dangerous allure, for a yearning college boy like me, of a sort of sexy feminism. In any case, those songs bring me back to a Broadway Pizza booth where my friends and I are sitting shoulder to shoulder, enjoying our banter along with our tuna grinders. The third song is the silly but (for me) ridiculously infectious earworm “Rock the Boat,” by the Hues Corporation. “Our love is like a ship on the ocean / We’ve been sailing with a cargo full of [pause] love and devotion.” [Then: buh-dum-dum-dum, buh-dum-dum-dum.] I associate “Rock the Boat” with the cross-country road trip that my good friend and fellow Stilesian Steve Davis and I took after graduation, when the song would periodically leap, bopping, from some AM radio station. I’m embarrassed to say that I still love this song. The lyrics are dopey but in a fun way, and the beat is irresistibly catchy. Inwardly, I bop along.
Dan Laskin [ES]

When I married in 1984, my wife wanted Pachelbel’s Canon for our processional, but I insisted that only Bach’s Toccata & Fugue would work for the recessional.

My junior year, I took the introductory music course over at Sprague Hall. It was an introduction to all the great composers. Probably at that time, I first heard Bach’s Toccata & Fugue in F Major, the most uplifting piece ever written. In law school, I had a set of big Advent speakers and probably listened to it three times a week. When I married in 1984, my wife wanted Pachelbel’s Canon for our processional, but I insisted that only Bach’s Toccata & Fugue would work for the recessional. Although we were married in the church with the best organ in town, we had to find a special organist who could play it. It was wonderful! I still listen to it today and never tire of it. The most magnificent piece ever written!
Bill Lunn [JE]

Freshman year: it was James Taylor’s album “Sweet Baby James,” playing in Rick Okie’s Wright Hall rooms. Sophomore year: it was The Who, “We Don’t Get Fooled Again,” playing in Toby Merlin’s (RIP) Saybrook rooms. Junior year: it was B. B. King. (thank you Bill Oppenheimer). Senior year: it was Eric Anderson’s “Blue River” album in Paul Stevens’ senior single, down the hall from my senior single in Saybrook. Every year 1970–1974, it was Crosby, Sills, Nash & Young’s great album “Deja Vu,” which was the soundtrack for some of my politics. Eternal gratitude to the Law School Film Society for introducing me to the first truly great films I ever saw, twice a week.
Bennett Gilbert [SY]

“Kind Woman” in particular — every time I hear it evokes the mood of perfect youth, beginnings, and simultaneously, the feeling of belonging, and the fear that I don’t really belong.

First Saturday of freshman year, classes haven’t begun, peak summer clear-blue-sky-and-temp-in- the-90s, walking alone and uneasy through Cross Campus. Hundreds of us lazing on the grass; long-haired shirtless boys, almost-shirtless girls, picnic blankets, cheese, bread, weed, wine, hacky sack, frisbees; part Woodstock, part Tanglewood; everyone is pretty; their anxieties, if any, undetectable; sublimated; only the coolness of having arrived. And at each cluster of buddies and buddettes, a boombox — but not dominating or competing; rather at perfect spacing-and-volume to effect sound-radii of ten feet or so. Poco and Buffalo Springfield mostly. “Kind Woman” in particular — every time I hear it evokes the mood of perfect youth, beginnings, and simultaneously, the feeling of belonging, and the fear that I don’t really belong.
Oded Ben-Ami [PC]

My muse was certainly Joni Mitchell. I remember constantly listening to “Ladies of the Canyon” during my freshman year and “Blue” during my sophomore year. Usually, I listened when I was in a good frame of mind, happy, pensive, and hopeful. It makes me feel good to know that I’m now living in her hometown, Los Angeles.
Steve Bauer [SY]

Wes … Good to hear from you. The two songs that remind me of Yale and bring back great memories are: Woodstock by CSN&Y … Freshman year in TD listening to it boom in the courtyard; and Jumpin’ Jack Flash by the Stones … great dancing music!
Gregory Wiber [TD]

The songs we listened to during our college years were all great. What was not so great was the record player I used during college to play my favorite tunes on. My parents bought the record player for me circa 1968 at a now defunct store in the Chicago area called Polk Brothers. The sound was not good, but it folded up like a suitcase so had the benefit of being easily transportable.
Brent Costello [DC]

James Taylor, “Fire and Rain.” Brings me immediately back to waking up on a sunny weekend morning in November.
Margaret Kern Fahnestock [JE]

Buffalo Springfield — For What It’s Worth: The best invocation of the political unrest of our time at Yale, even though it pre-dates our arrival. “There’s something happening here What it is ain’t exactly clear …” Springsteen — Rosalita: Released in the Fall of our Senior Year; recalls numerous weekend parties at Skokorat. “Ah, I ain’t here on business, baby, I’m only here for fun …”
Colly Burgwin [SY]

What comes to mind is a letter I received around Thanksgiving of our freshman year from my first real girlfriend, who was taking a year off in Europe before going to college up I-91 at Trinity. Susan had just gotten engaged to a British barrister who was about 10 years older, and he was going to replace me at a big debutante ball in late December. Shortly thereafter, James Taylor recorded “Fire & Rain,” which has certain lyrics that sadly resonated with me. For example, “I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end” and “sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground.”
George Hauptfuhrer [MC]

Neil Young, “Don’t Let it Bring You Down” (1970) — the iconic phrase “it’s only castles burning” became a watchword on my frosh floor that carried many of us through the next four years (and for me, beyond): anytime one of us messed up a test, a project, a relationship, whatever, a buddy would offer the half-empathetic/half-sardonic shibboleth, “it’s only castles burning,” served up with a wry smile and dismissive shrug. Now, whenever something goes awry that I know I shouldn’t take too seriously but am apt to think is world-shattering, I reflexively mutter, “it’s only castles burning,” think lovingly of my pals of yesteryear, and move more happily on.

Among my many nostalgia-laden musical memories, one song has long stood out as the most powerful trigger of an intense re-experiencing of a specific time and place at Yale. At the beginning of Freshman year, as I dealt with the various challenges of getting oriented and preparing for the first semester, it seemed that everywhere I went I heard a radio (AM, I guess) playing “Her Name Was Joanne,” a bittersweet ballad by ex-Monkee Michael Nesmith. I particularly recall hearing the song while taking a blue Yale shuttle bus on a rainy day to the medical school to meet with my assigned faculty adviser, an oncologist who knew very little about the college curriculum. He tried to be helpful, extolled the value of pursuing a medical career, and recounted how emotionally gratifying it had been to share a jar of pickles with a cancer patient the day before. I’m certain that I heard “Joanne” on the bus returning to the Old Campus. Personal memories aside, the song was a moderately successful Top-40 single and became Nesmith’s signature number in concert performances for years to follow. He died in 2021 at the age of 78. One can choose from many performances of “Joanne” on YouTube, which I do on occasion to send myself into a Proustian rapture. Try it on a rainy day in New Haven.
Michael Gotts [MC]

At the time…I was making decisions as to what my priorities would be and connecting with the call to put God first in my life.

The majestic hymn “God is Working His Purpose Out” reminds me of springtime at Yale. The beauty of the campus, both its buildings and plantings, spoke of grandeur and magnificence and mighty purposes beyond what was presently in view. It was truly inspirational to be in such a setting and benefit from the contributions of the many who had gone before and fashioned such an environment. No doubt you all have experienced these scenes and can readily imagine them when not present on campus. At the time, in addition to regular studies and activities as a college student, I was making decisions as to what my priorities would be and connecting with the call to put God first in my life.
Sharon Vaino [SM]


I had first heard The Grateful Dead at Woodstock and was amazed so when the opportunity came to see “Midnight with the Dead” at the Fillmore East in December 1969, I jumped at it. That night The Dead introduced the New Riders of the Purple Sage, and I heard “Uncle John’s Band” for the first time. But I didn’t buy the record until I saw it at the Yale Co-op at the beginning of freshman year. It became my favorite song and I still think “the first days” are in fact always the hardest days. I played it all the time. I still play it all the time to remind me that “when life looks like easy street, there is danger at your door”. My kids love the song as well. My youngest daughter adopted it going into high school. She knows I want it played at my funeral. Not for me but for the ones I’m leaving behind.
Alec Haverstick [SY]

OK, this one is interesting. To be precisely responsive, The Day the Music Died always brings me to the dark (probably blacklight-illuminated) dorm room where a bunch of us sat in a circle passing a joint. Maybe wine was involved? The joint made me cough (I DID inhale) and that was the end of my illicit drug career. No pictures, needless to say! Tony and I also clearly remember the Woolsey Hall Shanana concert and seeing the musical Grease at the Taft — both were the first time we noticed our generation having nostalgia for the past. To be imprecise, I was introduced to a host of cultural and artistic experiences (the Art Museum! Shakespeare on Cross Campus!) that changed my awareness and became part of my esthetic awareness from then on. But those aren’t really college days memories–mostly Yale shaping the trajectory of my life.
Joan Hendricks Garvan [CC]

In attendance at John Mauceri conducting Bernstein’s Mass, some of the best of Yale music and Bernstein. Just saw a 50th anniversary viewing of the Vatican performance with rows of cardinals in the audience — what were they thinking?
Sharon Hessney [ES]

My musically talented roommates introduced me to Rock, Blues, and Firesign Theatre. I remember seeing Blues greats Buddy Guy and Luther Allison play up close — in one of the dining halls (no stage), but the mists of time have blurred that event somewhat. My strongest musical memory was from 1972 in Sprague Hall. Our Trumbull posse saw Bonnie Raitt in concert — early on in her career. It was Bonnie Raitt – guitar, vocals, Freebo – bass, harmony vocal (and kazoo), Lou Terriciano – piano, Maria Muldaur – harmony vocals, and David Nichtern – electric guitar. Bonnie’s incredible career was launching — her talent was hugely evident. Freebo was a great bass player — and iconic hippy-looking-type individual. I became an instant fan and post-Yale bought her many vinyl albums and CDs (oldie media) — Saw her again at UC Berkeley’s Greek Theatre in 1980. Amazing artist.
Thomas Corbi [TC]

One of the highlights of freshman year was a whole bunch of us cramming into someone’s small car (I vaguely remember a red Volkswagen Beetle) and driving to his concert in Hartford, Conn.

When we settled into our freshman dorm room, one of the first things my roommate Lynn (Brachman) Gryll and I did was hang a giant poster of James Taylor over the mantlepiece. We thought he was gorgeous and loved his music. One of the highlights of freshman year was a whole bunch of us cramming into someone’s small car (I vaguely remember a red Volkswagen Beetle) and driving to his concert in Hartford, Conn. The biggest surprise was discovering Carole King who was his opening act. That was my first concert! I never thought I’d still be going to James Taylor concerts in my sixties, but I see him every time he comes to the Beacon theatre in NYC, one time touring again with Carole King. Lynn sees him perform at Tanglewood every summer. He’s not nearly so young (but then neither are we!) and always wears a cap to cover his balding head. But still his voice is sweet, and his music carries so many wonderful memories.
Susan Klebanoff [DC]


I read Love Story and watched the movie when it came out. I had not been at Yale very long and there were times when I missed home. I vividly remember lying in bed and staying up late to finish the book, being drawn to the romance in the story. When Roger Ebert reviewed the movie, he wrote that “the film of Love Story is infinitely better than the book. It has something to do with the quiet taste of Arthur Hiller, its director, who has put in all the things that Segal thought he was being clever to leave out. Things like color, character, personality, detail, and background.” It would be a fair assessment to conclude that I had not read much literature in high school and did not recognize all that was lacking in the book. I was just beginning a long, upward trajectory toward becoming more widely read. Perhaps the strength of my memory about Love Story is due in part to the anger that so many people directed at Erich Segal personally. It is sad to me that his decision to do something for fun and very different from his career as a classics scholar led to so much criticism.
Bill Wardle [JE]

… Yale hit me like a meteor.

Having grown up in developing countries in Southeast Asia, where English language books and recordings were hard to find, Yale hit me like a meteor. I explored the English language canon from Blake and Milton and the Brontë sisters, spent a year studying Dante’s Divine Comedy in Italian, and unbelievably had friends who were actual musicians and could take me to the treasured seats above the orchestra in Woolsey, or introduce me to their famous teachers. Other friends who were actors. Or who knew Leonard Bernstein or Meryl Streep. I was a kid wandering in a candy shop, maybe unfocussed, yes, but enthralled. I read William Blake until my eyes were bleeding. This aspect of Yale was not what I intended to bring away — since I was focused on a career in Asia — but what I think of when I think of Yale.
Edie Terry [PC]


Easy Rider was released in 1969, but I didn’t see it until my freshman year at Yale. Peter Fonda’s “Captain America” Harley became a metaphor for me, elucidating in metal and chrome the meaning of “Truth, Justice and the American Way.” It is one of the most recognizable motorcycles in the world, and helped spur an interest in motorcycling which has never left me. “You don’t stop riding because you get old, you get old because you stop riding,” they say. “Rubber side down,” everyone!

… we came upon a mother grizzly and her cub blocking our path …

Movie I most remember was The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, not because of the movie but because of the great 24 hours starting when I saw it. After sophomore year in summer 1972 I worked in Glacier National Park. I was at the front desk at Many Glacier Hotel. It was the best summer ever. You could hike almost every day. Absolutely beautiful. We had about 150 college kids working there. I made $1.40 an hour, 48 hour a week. Food was great. Lived a bare bones dorm with 3 roommates. You would see bunnies in the bathroom. I had to go the girls’ dorm to iron my shirts. Mamma taught me how before the trip. I made enough to pay for the plane tickets, “rent” for the dorm and employee meals, film and a few beers (50 cents then). One night the hotel showed The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Going back to the dorm, we stayed up late watching a spectacular Northern Lights. Early the next morning two friends and I got a bus to the continental divide at Logan Pass, planned a 15-20 mile hike back to Many Glacier. On the way back up to the continental divide, which we would have to cross to get back to Many Glacier, we came upon a mother grizzly and her cub blocking our path, so we ran away and had to backtrack cross-country to the highway on the wrong side of the continental divide. It was getting late, and I could only hitch a ride in a hippie van going the wrong way and spent the night in the employee dorm at Lake MacDonald Lodge on the western edge of the park and bussed back to Many Glacier the next morning. I rank that as one of the all-time best days of my life. The summer was best summer ever.
John Heller [SM]

The Yale Law School Film Society had so many memorable showings of classic films, but Jean Renoir’s, The Grande Illusion, still resonates in my head. The WW I German officer, Von Rauffenstein, plaintively calling out to his fellow aristocrat, “Boildieu, Boildieu,” as the latter helps a working-class guy, Marechal, and a French Jewish prisoner (“Boildieu, un Rosenthal?”) escape. Yale was not ever a prison camp to me. I could, and did, escape Yale and New Haven at will when the mood suited: whether a Saturday jaunt through Connecticut (with a favorite “aristocrat”), a mixer at Smith, an impromptu drive to West Lafayette, Indiana with roommates, or spring trips to Amsterdam and Florida. As a blue-collar kid who came to know and befriend many classmates from well-to-do backgrounds, Yale and the residential college system helped me to appreciate and see beyond class and cultural differences.
Jim Pavle [BK]

All of the Above!

The band that played, that no one had heard of, was … the Grateful Dead. 

Book, song, movie, and the arts at Yale Book: I recall reading “War & Peace” by Tolstoy in a Russian Literature course. It’s not difficult to read; it’s just very long. Determined to read it in a week over March break, I holed up in my bedroom and read over 100 pages a day. It was a marathon but satisfying. I thought Dostoevsky’s mental anguish in “Crime & Punishment,” which I read in high school, was more interesting. Song: My favorite was “Uncle John’s Band” by the Grateful Dead. I wouldn’t say I was a Dead Head, but I did go to a few concerts. A funny story about the band harks back to the 9th grade when my family lived in Greenwich Village in New York. I went on a date to the Café Au Go Go — great name. It was a small place, tight seating. The band that played, that no one had heard of, was … the Grateful Dead. I could have snagged Jerry Garcia’s autograph! Movie: Who will ever forget the midnight Halloween viewing in LC101 of George Romero’s “The Night of the Living Dead”! The room had horrible wooden desk chairs, so many of us sat on the floor. I still can see all those zombies slowly marching towards the survivors boarded up in that Pennsylvania farmhouse. Creepy! Art: If you failed to take Vince Scully’s Introduction to Art History course, you missed a gem. He was a master of making art come alive with all his gesticulation. The artist that intrigued me was Albrecht Dürer from a course with Robert Herbert. Dürer’s woodcuts were so detailed and complex. Amazing craftsmanship. Two prints stick out: “The Knight, Death & the Devil” and “The Four Horsemen.” Another funny story is when I took a course with Anne Hanson and the class assignment was to create a catalog for a Yale Art Gallery show of contemporary art. My artist (I had to travel to Devil’s Kitchen in NYC to interview him) took a thin wire and attached it to a white wall. He then traced the shadow. Art? Jeez!
Cilla Leavitt [TC]

Music at Woolsey Hall · Beethoven’s 7th conducted by Leopold Stokowski in an amazing open rehearsal with the Yale Collegium Orchestra · Beethoven’s 7th conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas with the Boston Symphony · Tom Rush (late, stoned, and performed only briefly) · Woolsey Hall itself: The last two rows of the second balcony. Due to the shell behind your head, acoustically, it is the same as being on the stage. Film: · Little Big Man, pre-opening with the director · Walking out of Days of Wine and Roses — Who needs to watch a couple decay into alcoholism? · Hissing at the end of “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” during the showing of Cabaret at the Yale Film Society. (The only time I ever did that) · Marx Brothers movies. Plays: · The Roar of the Greasepaint — The Smell of the Crowd with Chip (now Professor Emeritus, Charles) Manekin · Jean Anouilh’s “One Flew Over the Moon” in a residential college performance and later seeing, on Broadway, the similarly themed “A Little Night Music” · Macbeth, (at Stiles or Morse) so bad, it was funny? Probably seeing Meryl Streep at the Yale Rep. Art: · A painting in the Art Museum of a scene in a men’s club, where one person is holding a cigarette. The lit tip sparkles and wispy smoke rises from it in a very realistic way that stands out from the rest of the scene.
David Kra [DC]