Tag Archives: Roger Daltrey

Pre-Pubescent Rock n’ Roll

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Play (Photo credit: Homini:))

In the midst of a 5th Grade Birthday party where the whole point was to play in basketball tournaments and win basketball cards, I encountered my first collaborative musical friend.  After a day of shooting hoops in the hot sun and having a great time, we congregated down in the basement of the old ranch house where I spent my pre-adolescence.  My Dad broke out a guitar and started playing tunes.  He invited any or all of my friends to step in and jam too.  I picked up a guitar and started strumming along as best I could.  A lot of my friends tried to sing, but only one could really pull it off. This is when I found out that my friend, an acquaintance at the time, Percy, could seriously lay down the mouth harp.

After that, my friends and I went on to consume serious amounts of Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper, have intense pillow fights in a tent, and play Sega Genesis all night.  But amidst all the juvenile version of revelry something in both Percy and I’s life had significantly changed.  Our love for music had gone to a new level.

Shortly after that Percy and I got together from time to time to see if we could figure out songs or jam.  The first song we wrote was based on what we wanted our band name to be “The Babies”.  I don’t remember much of the song, but I do remember the chorus, which rang out in great lyrical poetry; “We are the babies, we’re here to rattle rattle rattle rattle rock you!”  We quickly canned the name when we found out that a cheesy late 70′s band had the same name.  You can check them out here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjU50ow95aM

So amidst sports and the pressures of 6th grade social advancement we didn’t really do much after our little stint as “the Babies”.  Percy and I did have one thing in common though, a hunger for trouble and aversion to good grades and behavior.  After a 6th Grade year where I scored about a 1.9 cumulative GPA, they announced that they would have their annual talent show at the end of the year.  Percy and I got amped about the idea of playing our music in front of the 6th, 7th and 8th Grade, some of whom were peers, some heroes and some enemies.  We definitely thought it would make girls dig us, and Percy had a better chance than me because the aftermath of marshmallows and RC Cola hadn’t worn off of my obliques yet.

So we found a drummer named Dan.  Before long we had figured out a song to play called “The Joker” by Steve Miller Band.  I vividly remember playing the song in Dan’s basement as he smashed on the drums and I twanged my dinky Fender Squier.  Percy sang the lyrics really well and decided to throw in Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk as a special move- a real show stopper!  In the middle of all this noise Dan’s Mom stormed down to the basement and gave us the death glare, calling us upstairs in what seemed to be a fit of anger.

Dan’s Mom went on to say that she wouldn’t allow us to sing “The Joker” by Steve Miller, especially because of the lyrics about being a smoker and a toker, and the line about “really love your peaches want to shake your tree.”  Percy and I glanced at each other in laughter as she repeated this line over and over to us in anger.  At some point she told us that we were part of the anti-Christ for putting on this display of apparently Beelzebubian evil.

Percy and I laughed about this for a long time after.  Percy had grown up Catholic and I had no religious background.  This was really one of my first exposures to Christians, and it certainly confounded me.  Obviously Dan’s Mom had never heard Maurice Irvin’s quote; Syracuse Senior Pastor, once said, “People come to God through Christ.  But they come to Christ through us.  We must be careful not to erect any barriers they must climb over to get to Jesus.”  Maybe she even felt that she was truly leading us to know this angry Jesus that she believed in.  We felt like Dan’s mom was a little extreme. Maybe now she would even say that she was at the time.  We convinced Dan to play the song anyways and somehow he pulled it off despite her protests.

The talent show went great.  I paraded around like a clown in my Umbro nylon shorts, t-shirt and black and neon yellow Reebok pumps with my guitar, and Percy dressed up in a Roger Daltrey fringed sleeveless leather cloak, and did the moonwalk, driving the 7th and 8th grade girls wild.  Dan would pull out random drum solos in the middle of the song, and then we’d pick it back up.  I think Dan got a kiss from who we thought was one of the hottest girls in the 7th grade.  From then on, we became “Joker’s Wild” (I really had no idea until recently that David Gilmour of Pink Floyd was once in a band called Joker’s Wild- you can check them out here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbBjhW-OFcc&feature=related).

The addiction to that feeling of being on stage began, and we were noticed for it.  Throughout the 6th grade summer and into 7th grade we became very popular.  We tasted the recognition that someone gets from playing music.  We also began to taste the ego trip that comes with wielding this power over people.  The people I once considered my friends began to be labeled in my clouded mind as “nerdy”, and I was willing to do whatever it took to maintain my image.

Shattered, Broken, Beer-Bottle Hearts

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DSCF1857 (Photo credit: Kdt.)

 

Please fellow readers, don’t be offended, for this is only my opinion, but a lot of the popular music of August 1997 was a disgrace to rock n’ roll.  Again, this is only my opinion!  Sugar Ray’s “Fly” was #1 on the charts in these days.  We heard this song so much on the radio that I thought my head was going to implode.  I would have gladly heard Tom Jones’ “What’s New Pussycat” ringing beneath my eardrums for seven days straight than have one hour of “Fly” by Sugar Ray.  But those suckers in that band knew how to write a catchy, irritating tune!

But I couldn’t hide any longer, and like the irritating melody that it was, the lyrics of “Fly” rang in my mind, providing yet another soundtrack for my love-confused, teenage nicotine heart.

All around the world statues crumble for me

Who knows how long I’ve loved you

I just wanna fly

Put your arms around me baby

I just wanted to fly.  All of the time.  I was stoned practically every waking hour of the day.  Everything in my mental framework was seen through dope vision 3-D glasses.  Who knows how long I had loved my ex-girlfriend and then best friend Harmony.  It seemed like a lifetime to my hormonal self… really it was two years.  Yet here I was, living out a full-on sexual and emotional relationship with my current girlfriend, Madiera.

Madiera and I weren’t only a serious item.  We were pot buddies.  We both loved to get high…  all the time.  Yet I knew that I had to break it off with her…  I knew that my feelings for her were clouded by my desire to be with Harmony.

Harmony and I definitely didn’t talk like we once had throughout most of the summer of 1997.  But when August rolled around she began to appear in my life again.  She was on the verge of her sophomore year, and me my junior year.  She was more beautiful than ever to me.  A young hippie chick with long brown hair who loved Led Zeppelin and smoked weed.  She was my close friend, and the truest love my naïve mind and soul had ever known.

Madiera left for a weekend to go and visit her friend, Andrea, at Bowling Green University in Ohio.  It was my chance to re-connect with Harmony.  I set up a time with her to hang out.  I called her on the phone on a cool summer evening…

“Hey, how’s it going?”  I said,

“Good!  How’s it going Ben!”  She replied in all her perceived luminescent perfection.

After some small talk, I went for it;  “So do you want to go and hang out at the park tomorrow?  The weather’s supposed to be good.  We could have a few beers or something.”

“Uhhhh…  yeah Ben, that’d be alright.  But are you sure you want to drink in the park!  That’s like totally illegal!  You’ve gotten really crazy in these past few months, what happened to you.  And would it be ok with Madiera?  Aren’t you guys still going out?”  She replied.

“Oh no worries.  Madiera knows that me and you are just friends Harmony!  C’mon, it’d be good to hang out!  It’s been too long!  And it’s cool- we’ll find a spot to drink in the park where we won’t get busted.”

“Ok Ben…  then do you want to go to…  Hudson Springs Park?”

I couldn’t believe it.  Was she really into me like I was into her?  She was going to come and hang out with me…  alone, in the park!  And she was going to drink with me…  alone!  In the park!

“Sounds cool to me- wanna meet at like 12 noon?”

“See you then!”

“Ok, bye!”

Adrenaline was surging in my veins as I lit up a cigarette that night after getting off of the phone with Harmony.  I couldn’t wait to see her.  Would I be able to contain myself?  Harmony and I had been friends for two years.  We had dated once for a couple of months.  We had never kissed because I was so nervous around her!  Now here I was, no longer a virgin, and she still was.

It’s difficult to explain the twisted mind that was within my cranium.  I felt that now I was more experienced, I could approach Harmony with more confidence.  I knew she was jealous about Madiera.  I had told her everything…  what Madiera and I had done.  After all, Harmony and I were friends, right?  Yeah right.  I was using the experience to make her jealous.  I thought it would make her want me more.  I was narcissistic, like Pete Townshend wrote and Roger Daltrey sang in The Who‘s “Behind Blue Eyes”;

But my dreams they aren’t as empty

As my conscience seems to be

I have hours, only lonely

My love is vengeance

That’s never free

But in all of my vainglory I had a whisper of love.  The Greeks would have called it Eros and Phileos… a combination of romantic and friendship love.  This was a love that I felt heavily for Harmony.  I wasn’t capable of unconditional love…  I had no way to tap into that extreme power…  at least not yet.  My conscience was empty, and the way I expressed my love was all too selfish.  I suppose if I would have actually put Harmony before myself all along she wouldn’t have ever questioned or denied my sincerity or character.  Nonetheless, my chance with her had arrived.

We met at Hudson Springs Park at noon.  It was a cooler summer day in the upper seventies.  I had acquired a six-pack of Molson Golden beer, and had a full pack of fresh Camel Light cigarettes and a blue lighter in my pockets.  I put it in a backpack to remain inconspicuous to any legal bullies roaming about.  Hudson Springs was about a half hour walk from my house, so I went on foot to meet her.  Even though I was sixteen I was literally too lazy and stoned all of the time to try and get my driver’s license.  Plus, I had so many older friends that carted me around it didn’t seem to matter to me.  One caught up in a life of hedonistic addiction doesn’t care about personal progress, as much as they care about the next kick.

And there she was standing in the gleaming daylight, a phosphorescent seraph.  Harmony was beautiful to me.  I was a young kid in a puppy love daze.  I still remember the fuzzy light blue short-sleeve sweater shirt and bell-bottom-like jeans she was wearing, with her long brunette hair parted down the middle.

I had a continual agenda of intoxication.  We quickly walked out into an open field where I knew we were alone.  We broke out the beers and drank them, smoking cigarettes, laughing awkwardly and potentially falling in love all over again, or maybe for the first time mutually.  We each drank three beers.  Harmony and I had a strange, paradoxical innocence in much of what we did, even though much of what we did was not innocent.  We were friends, and we were beginning to become truly more than that.  At one point I just put my arm behind her shoulder and we laid there… looking at the clouds in the sunlit sky and basking in the afterglow of alcohol, hops, and sentiment.

We woke up an hour later.  We had fallen asleep amidst the infatuation and beer buzz.  We laughed about it.  “Whoa, I guess we passed out!”  I said.  “Yeah, that’s totally crazy!”  She replied.

“But I don’t want to be anywhere else”  I said back, with a boldness I had never had before with her.

“I don’t either”  She replied, as my heart pounded with life and vigor.

I remember rolling over and looking into her eyes.  I brushed her hair away from them and almost leaned in to kiss her.

“Wait a minute!”  Harmony said.  “You’re still going out with Madiera…  We can’t do this.”

I sheepishly and unwillingly agreed, so as to appear somewhat honorable.  “Yeah, you’re right.  I need to break up with her.”

Harmony and I walked away from that scene.  It had been a whole two years that I had known her and been completely crazy about her.  We had never kissed before.  We came close to having our first kiss ever but it didn’t happen.  I needed to break the news to Madiera when she came back from Bowling Green.