Crocodile Rock

It was the spring of 1973, and although rock was no longer young, I still was, being only 9 years old. Elton John’s single, “Crocodile Rock,” was extremely popular in central North Dakota, as it was everywhere else in the country. Dad had every radio on the farm set to his favorite country station, KTYN (Kitten Radio), but when he wasn’t around, I turned the dial over to my favorite station KFYR (K-Fire Radio), hoping to hear my favorite song.

We had a young man named Richard working for us at the time, and he lived in our house each week from Monday through Saturday. Many evenings he would go upstairs to his room and listen to the radio, and his favorite station also was KFYR, much to my delight. Mom put us kids to bed at 8:00 on school nights, so I have many memories of lying in bed, falling asleep, while listening to the sound of Richard’s radio coming from the next room. Tuesday nights were the best because that’s when KFYR had their “Torrid Twenty Countdown.” Each week they played their 20 most popular songs, ending with #1, although I wasn’t usually awake by the time they made it to the end.

The spring of 1973 was different, however, because Richard spent his evenings remodeling my sister Debbie’s room. He put up paneling, and constructed a very nice desk, which he built into a little corner nook. Although Richard was working across the hallway from my room, I could still hear his radio because he had it louder when he worked. I was in heaven because I was virtually assured of hearing “Crocodile Rock” every night. I think Richard enjoyed the song too, because he whistled along with the Farfisa organ during the “WAAAA” parts!

“Crocodile Rock” sat at the #1 spot on the “Torrid Twenty Countdown” for a long time that spring. Each Tuesday night was suspenseful as I waited to hear if it was still at the top. It got to be a weekly ritual: The DJ would announce that “Crocodile Rock” was still #1, Richard would whistle along, and then I would drift off to sleep knowing all was still well in the music world! Richard and “Crocodile Rock” will forever be linked together in my memory.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to revisit the house I grew up in, thanks to the gracious hospitality of the wonderful family living there now. As I peeked into Debbie’s old room, I saw that the paneling and desk were still there. I honestly heard Elton John’s music still drifting through the air, and I got a tear in my eye as I remembered falling asleep in the safety of the house that I will always call home.

3 Responses

  1. Don’t you just love how memories are often tied together with music? I am going to be humming Crocodile Rock all day now! 😉

  2. Wow, I’d forgotten about those radio stations. I listened to them growing up. It was a big deal if mom would let me buy one of those top 40 records on 45 rpm vinyl at Gibson’s Discount Center for 99 cents.

  3. Mom

    Boy am I glad I never knew what was going on upstairs when you were suposed to be sleeping. I might have put an end to it, and what a shame that would have been. I still remember you doing your rendition of “Crocodile Rock” whenever the mood hit you and how your sisters and I would laugh at your antics.

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