Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Music is a sanctuary of sorts. It seems to be a place that we all go when we feel that everything else in our lives has abandoned us.

As children we listened to childish nursery rhyme music. As teenagers we listen to anything that had a wild and rebellious rhythm. Especially if our parents didn’t like it. As young lovers we listened to songs that seemed to impart great wisdom in the way of love and life. As our hearts were broken, music seemed to be the only place to go that you could find understanding and sympathy. The blues always spoke to me, and made me feel good. So, I guess that I like the blues the best. The blues with a good rocking rhythm and a thumping base line. Stevie Ray Vaughn, and “Mary had a Little Lamb” is an all-time favorite of mine.

My first real recollection of having an opinion about music was when Elvis became popular. He came howling over our scratchy radios singing "Blue Suede Shoes", and “You Ain’t Nothing but a Hound Dog”. I never really liked Elvis. I liked Bill Haley and the Comets, little Richard, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, The Big Bopper, and the other folks that thought the music was the most important thing, not how to make the girls squeal with orgasmic delight. Somehow, that just didn’t appeal to my male sensibilities. Even though, I have to admit, it was hard to choke back the tears when ol’ Elvis sang Ol’ Shep.

The first music that ever really spoke to me was when Ray Charles came out with his country blues album, I was in high school. My convoluted mixed-up “So many girls, so little time” love life was out of control. I though I was I love with a girl that ended up dating my best friend. “You Don’t Know Me” and “Born to Lose” were just like I wrote the songs myself.

Even though I went to college in San Francisco in the sixties, I was an adult beyond my age, and I never saw the delight in drug abuse. I gave up smoking at ten years old. I drove water truck in woods at fifteen. By the time I was eighteen, I had earned enough money by working in the woods, to provide for my education.(with my parents help) So, when I saw my friends experimenting with drugs it seemed juvenile to me, and I was offended by what they were doing to themselves, and those around them. Of course, I never liked the Beatles when they moved into the drug glorification age. We all knew what “Sweet Mary” was, and we all new that “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was about L.S.D. The beatles were great promoters of drug abuse. They did it with their music, and their lifestyle. They were more than riding the wave, they were creating it. And, of course they always stuck with their “plausible deniability” by saying they were singing about children’s stories, wink, wink,.. I liked Jimmy Hendricks, even though he was involved in drugs, his music was about the music. I liked that.

When I got married to my first wife, we listened to Ray Conniff, Laurence Welk, and what ever was on the radio. We were too busy building a life together, and music was on the back burner. When our marriage started to fall apart, music took on a whole new meaning again, and it became my sanctuary, as is often the case with all of us at a time like that. Every “tears-in-your-beer” song that was ever written became my anthem. I looked for the wisdom that I was so desperately seeking to solve the problems that I so wanted to solve. I still remember every word to Ray Prices “For The Good Times”. Even back then, I was very much involved in the community, and I belonged to a motor cycle club and I raced moto-cross. The motorcycle club used to party a lot, so I got to know a person that also belonged to the club who was in the process of having marriage difficulties herself. Whenever “Cracklin’ Rosie” came on the Juke box we would dance together. We really liked to dance to that song, and we were really good at it. Although we never discussed our marriage problems. We spent a lot of time discussing life in general. As our separate marriages broke apart, we all went our separate ways. One day in my loneliness, as I sat in my rented trailer, wondering what to do with my life, “Cracklin Rosie” came on the radio. I picked up the phone and asked her to go to the Kinetic Sculpture Races with me. I didn’t know it at the time, but she was involved with someone else. I’m Glad I didn’t know that, because I probably wouldn’t have asked her to go. But she said “Sure, I’d like that”. The race was on Mothers Day and I called my mother and told her, “Mothers day is next Wednesday”.

She packed a fried chicken pic-nic lunch and a bottle of red wine, and we hopped in my Jeep and headed to Ferndale. I had my old household speakers mounted in the back of my jeep, and I had a pretty good eight track tape player. She scratched through my tape collection and she gave me a funny look. She finally found a Neil Diamond tape that had “skipping over the ocean like a stone” on it, and an old Eric Clapton “Cream” album. That seemed to make her happy. We went for a drive out Centerville beach, and had a lunch near the mouth of the Eel river. We explored an old water tank that she was curious about. I parked my Jeep next to it and stood on the cowling, I boosted her up by holding her foot like I was a step. That worked great for getting up, but getting down was more complicated. She slipped and fell back, she landed on my head. I grabbed her legs in determination that I wasn’t going to let her fall. I staggered around on the cowl of my Jeep thinking that I didn’t want to hurt my neat as a pin, “Way-Cool” Jeep. Meanwhile, she is wrapped around my head and I can’t see. Finally I was able to sit on the top of the windshield so she can get off. She was extremely embarrassed by the fact that she had just sat on my head, I told her it was alright because I thought that I was in love. We laughed so hard we were in tears.

We dated for awhile, but we both had our separate plans, and both went our separate ways. But, It was a lot of dancing and listening to music while it lasted. She could not resist dancing to “Johnie B. Goode” Or “Jeremiah was a Bull-Frog”... I know it’s “Joy to the World”.

She went to Santa Rosa, to go back to college. I started looking for a job in an area with more opportunity than Garberville had to offer. We spent a lot of time on the telephone, and I was buying a lot of happier music for my tape player, but I was still not that sophisticated musically. I liked Sher at the time, and Sher had just released “Gypsies Tramps and Thieves”, which seemed to fit our lifestyle. There were a lot of trips to Santa Rosa. Finally, I said that I didn’t want to leave my home and go anywhere, and I asked her to marry me and make a life in Garberville. Her response was not as enthusiastic as I’d hoped but she did consent.

We moved our furniture into a house together, and a I still remember coming home from work the first time and seeing the windows shaking at full volume from a Jimmy Hendricks record. My lovely new bride came with a complete rock and roll record collection, and the house has been rocking every since. That was thirty-six years ago.

Is music a part of my life? It’s the theme that’s always playing in the background.

1 comment:

EkoVox said...

Re-reading this post It does bring out a sentimental tear in my eyes.

Good story. Really good.