A to Z Theme 2016

For my 2016 A to Z theme I used a meme that I ran across on the blog of Bridget Straub who first saw it on the blog of Paula Acton. This meme is a natural for me to use on my memoir blog. It's an A to Z concept and it's about me. No research and nothing complicated. I'm given twenty six questions or topics to discuss that are about me.

In April I kept my posts short and uncomplicated. In the midst of it all you might learn a few things about me that you didn't previously know.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Cherry River (Soundtrack of My Life)

Have you ever searched for something only to find it when you weren't looking for it?

       This post is a continuation of sorts from my previous post so you might want to start there if you didn't read it--it's short.   The following post will likely be short as well.

Cherry River

        In 1975 I ran away with the circus--or actually it was a stage magic show.  That would be my lifestyle for the most part for the next 15 years.  There were a few diversionary periods that involved a first marriage, having a kid, getting divorced, being depressed for a while, meeting a new woman and getting married again and having three more kids.  Throughout it all I was working on first a magic show and then a theatrical stage production for over a decade.

        That's not this story though since what I'll be relating is not so much a story as it has to do with the incidents that are interspersed throughout our lives, how we feel about our life incidents, and how they can affect us later.  And maybe in the end what I'll be telling will only appear to relate to any of these things other than only the most remote ways.   An impressionistic memoir perhaps?  Or merely thoughts passing from my mind's memory to your computer screen.

          Spending so much time on the road meant my record collection sat at my parents' house gathering dust.   Now I would be spending much of my time in my vehicle or in motel rooms.  The music medium of choice during this period was no longer vinyl, but now it was cassette tape.  Hours were often passed on the road so that meant I was continually building a cassette tape collection.  If there was time that needed to be killed in towns that were new to me then I mass murdered minutes in record stores wherever I happened to be.  

          I would peruse the cassette bins searching for albums that I might have recently read about or for new releases by old favorite artists.   Sometimes when I'd get to the G section I might think about my old favorite group The Good Rats with little expectancy of actually finding anything by the group.  I was certain that they had disbanded, but it never hurt to look anyway.

           Another record store section I always checked out was the cut out bins.  Since many of my favorite vinyl albums had been discovered in the cut-outs, I was always ready for a bargain price spent on some new-to-me discovery or some old favorite that I was happy to add to my tape collection.   Typically I would come away from my searches with a few selections to while away future travelling time.  Besides, I always had money to blow when I was working on the road.  To me, new music seemed vital to my sanity in a sense.

          It was in 1985 I think it was and, if I remember correctly, I was in Louisiana--Lafayette I believe--when in a mall music store cut-out cassette bin I found a treasure trove that I had never expected to find.  There were something like five different Good Rats releases from 1975 until more recent dates.  I was elated with my find and bought them all along with some other interesting albums.   Upon later listening I discovered that The Good Rats were even better than that first vinyl album by them that I had purchased in the University of Tennessee student center bookstore.  Now The Good Rats were officially one of my number one favorite rock and roll groups.

         The first cassette that I listened to was the 1979 release Birth Comes to Us All.   The song that really hit me and stuck with me was "Cherry River"--a song that in some strange way tapped into everything my road life represented to me.   It's a druggie song from the way I interpret it, but in the more metaphorical sense the song symbolized the hypnotic effect of constant travel and my continual quest for the next perfect experience.   I could especially relate to the image of driving outside of Butte, Montana listening to Johnnie Ray.   Not that I had any Johnnie Ray cassettes, but I had plenty of music that represented all eras of recorded music and beyond back into the eras of classical music.  A Johnnie Ray cassette could have easily fit into my eclectic collection.

         Listening to Johnnie Ray at night on a winding road outside of someplace like Butte, Montana epitomized so much of road life.  Sometimes weary after having put many miles behind us, waiting to get to the next motel or wherever we were heading at the time.  In retrospect it all does seem like some kind of crazy drug-induced dream experience.  So much remembered with even more forgotten. They were the good years, or some of the best at least.  Or maybe they were just vastly different and strange in a life that has been mostly good.

        I can't complain.  I feel as though at some time--or times--in my past I have drunk deeply from the Cherry River of imagination and reality and memory and contemplation of more miles to one day be traveled.  I want more.   More than I can ever drink in one lifetime.  More than any life can hold.  The river of experience and life is worth the search that it takes to find it.

          Have you ever searched for something for a long, long time and then found it later on when you weren't even looking for it?     What is one big experience that you would like to relive?   What one thing that you haven't done yet are you still looking forward to doing eventually?

In this post I offer another in my Soundtrack of My Life series.    Robin at Your Daily Dose has been doing the Soundtrack of my Life posts on her blog for a while now.   I had done a few of my own "life soundtracks" on my Tossing It Out blog as well as the song series (starting at this post) I did for my 2014 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge on Wrote By Rote. Be sure to visit and follow Your Daily Dose for more Life Soundtrack info.


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Anybody Got the Time (Soundtrack of My Life)

        Once spent, time is a commodity that can never be replaced.  I've squandered more than a few precious hours in my life with television or other similarly idle pursuits.  Agreed that rest and relaxation are important--a necessity--to each of us so I won't condemn all the idle time that I've spent.   Still though, I could have done better in the past.  And likely I will waste more time in the future.  That's the nature of life for most of us.

Anybody Got the Time

          In the fall of 1969 I entered college at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville as a shy young man after having spent the previous twelve years as a shy guy in public schools.  I always had friends so I can't necessarily say that I was lonely even though I spent a lot of time being alone--that was often by choice.  After entering puberty the one thing that I probably wanted most was a girlfriend.

         Being in college didn't change my love life to much extent and any dating that I did do had no relationship to anyone I knew at the university.   Since I didn't live on campus, but instead still lived at home with my parents, it was almost as though I lived two separate lives--one in the daytime as a student and one in the evenings with my friends, most of whom were not going to school or not going to school where I was going.

         My friends at the university were not many and at such a large school as I was attending it was very rare that I even saw anyone that I knew as a friend during the daytime hours.  I might see some of them on the hour-long ride to and from school where we might engage in conversation, but those were for the most part bus friends whom I rarely encountered in any other setting.   To put it plainly, I had essentially no social life at college.

          However this is not the real story that I wanted to tell here.   What I wanted to tell about is how I spent my free time during the school day when I wasn't in class.  I spent a lot of time in the undergraduate library reading books and magazines or occasionally studying or listening to music.  I was especially passionate about music during those years.  When I wasn't listening to music I was looking for new music that I could buy or plan on buying at some later time.  My wish list was long, but money for music was not in great abundance.

         The library was free.  Spending time there was well within my monetary budget while time spent there studying was better than time spent watching television and the passing parade of people at the student center.  My hours at the library were a cerebral adventure especially when I got sidetracked exploring things that were interesting to me.

        For example in early 1970 I found a classical music magazine on the shelves.  What drew me to that magazine is unclear since I was neither an audiophile nor a buyer of new releases in classical music.  I did buy a fair amount of classical music albums, but they tended to be older releases I found in the cut-out bins.  Whatever it was that made me pick up this magazine, I began to read through it and discovered a section where rock and pop albums were being reviewed for the first time.  I suppose they were trying to expand their readership.  Unsuccessfully I would guess judging from their odd album picks--in other words, unknown artists that would probably never get mentioned in the mainstream rock music magazines.

         One album review that caught my eyes was the debut album by a New York group called the Good Rats.  I immediately recalled having seen this album in the record section of the university center book store--a place where I spent a good amount of free time.  The album sounded interesting enough for me to actually go to the book store and spring for the full price of a new album.  After I took the album home and gave it a listen I was pleased that I had gotten it.  Perhaps the album wasn't the most unique music in my collection, but it held a place in my heart.  Maybe it was because I read about the album in that classical music magazine at the library.

           The magazine had taken a chance on reviewing a genre other than classical and jazz so I had taken a chance on purchasing an album based on that review.   Over the next few years the album received many spins on my turntable.  Even if none of my friends seemed to notice the album, I liked it and that was what mattered most to me.

           For a while I watched the record bins for a new Good Rats album release, but I never ran across any more after that first one.  Eventually I stopped thinking about the group.    When I happen to see the first album in my collection I'd ponder whatever happened to the group, but I figured they had disbanded and faded away.

            That was until years later...

 (to be continued next week...)

        In this post I offer another in my Soundtrack of My Life series.    Robin at Your Daily Dose has been doing the Soundtrack of my Life posts on her blog for a while now.   I had done a few of my own "life soundtracks" on my Tossing It Out blog as well as the song series (starting at this post) I did for my 2014 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge on Wrote By Rote. Be sure to visit and follow Your Daily Dose for more Life Soundtrack info.