Friday, February 24, 2012

SOTW - February 24, 2012

As I sat yesterday enjoying the buena vista on the shores of Lake Buena Vista, I became sentimental. (One is prone to nostalgia when experiencing the "magic" of the Magic Kingdom for the first time in nearly three decades). A thought occurred. Music always sounded a little better when blasting three inches from my ear out of the C pillar speakers in the back of Brian Pheil's '91 candy sucker blue Camaro (6 cyl, Ttops, A/C, auto, clean!); 60 mph with the windows down. In the ignorant bliss of youth, freedom gave music the type of sheen that only a $5,000 custom sound system could put on it today. Life itself was so high fidelity then it didn't matter if the soundtrack was played through an overloaded $10 Taiwanese crap speaker with one of those pointless cardboard cones around the tweeter. 7 o'clock on Friday night. Summer's over. Home football game. New pair of Nike airs. 11:00 pm curfew (one hour weekend extension). "I hope you brought your wood screws, cuz' I'm about to blow your doors completely off!"

Music was best then in short, intense doses. How many 10 minute guitar solos do you hear on an Alice in Chains record? There just wasn't enough time for the anything long; even "November Rain" tested the patience. (Were all those horns at the end really necessary?) The optimum song was long enough to take you out of the parking lot behind "E wing" during a skipped lunch hour and down Pecan Street (at 55 mph), through the hard right onto 16th Avenue, directly into the parking lot of the former DQ. There was never a better example than your Early Evening Song of the Week for February 24, 2012. The feedback statco whammy bar fuzz at the beginning was my first taste of psychedelia. About the time I got my head wrapped around it, Bam! Hard gut shot of Canadian-American electric jive: "I like to dream yes, yes ..." Who needs the trippy stuff when you're skipping lunch? 

There's a bit of very little-known history behind this song that need not be lost. For about 11 minutes, this was going to be the official graduation song of the Crisp County High School class of 1994. Before the class meeting where such matters were taken up, a series of smoky bathroom meetings and "coach, I don't feel so good today" locker room pow-wows resulted in a loose coalition behind this scrappy insurgent candidate. (Or maybe it was just a few outspoken class members who successfully hijacked the meeting from Zackary Wade's less than authoritative hand on the President's gavel). Once the ballots had been cast and counted, your SOTW held a narrow margin over the "Establishment candidate," Mariah Carey's "Hero." Victory! The supporters could just see themselves grooving out of the stadium in their mortarboards as a bona fide hippie anthem filled the Cougar Den! Democracy in action. Majority rules! Then, Principal Brinson caught wind of the disaster that was unfolding in the lunchroom and inserted himself quickly (with walkie talkie in hand). Realizing that such foolishness at what was supposed to be a solemn and inspring event could imperil his seat at the head of the Politburo, he did what any smart dictator would do; he changed the rules midstream and quashed the insurgency. The initial ballots were swept away in a cloud of controversy amongst some muttering about absentee and ISS students not having their chance to vote. "Folks, we forgot to mention this in advance, but this is going to be a two round balloting, and the second round wins." The dream born in molded plastic chairs under flourescent lights was thus shattered. The "re-vote" was a forgone conclusion. Mariah Carey it was.

Though it narrowly missed its place on the ultimate throne of history, your SOTW lives on. While Prinicpal Brinson got the best of me in the Great Senior Song Vote of '91, I snaked through the lunch hour DMZ that surrounded that place my fair share of times. More often than not, Pheil would be the driver in that old blue Camaro. Once we cleared the gravel lot good, we'd roll down the windows and fire up a Camel Special Light. He'd open the old cracked vinyl center console lid and fish out his casette copy of 16 Greatest Hits. (A couple of taps on the knee and a good strong blow would usually suffice to get the McDonald's french fry salt out of it.) The rewind button was long gone, so a Bic pen jammed into the dashboard had to suffice. Song 1, side 2. Turn it up to where he could hear the tape hiss good. Yes! A single hour of freedom never felt so good ....

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