Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Last Week Of August, 1975

I remember it well. It was a sunny, warm day.
I had just moved to St. Charles Mo. after I was laid off from International Harvester in East Moline, Illinois, my hometown at the time.
Every once in a while, there would be a hiccup along the parts supply route or rarely in those days, orders would be down. Sometimes these lay offs would be a couple of weeks, sometimes a couple of months, you didn't  know how long you were going to be out, but in the meantime, a person needed to find work.
I had earlier talked to my uncle who was a shop steward at Artra Foundry in St. Charles. He told me to come down and he would put me to work. My cousins lived in St. Charles for many years and pretty much ruled the town. There were four bad ass brothers who would just as soon kick your ass as look at you. Harley riding guys who liked to live life on the edge.
As far as I could, I'd go and hang with them, but I could never party as much as they could. Like I said, in their day, they were bikers and all that came with that. Draw your own conclusions, most of them would probably be not far off base.
I temporarily moved in with my cousin and his friend in a two bedroom shack of a trailer located in the Princess Jodi trailer court not far from Boschertown, which wasn't on the right side of the tracks in a town that wasn't on the right side of the tracks.
Yes, three guys with quick tempers in two bedrooms at the end of August.It was only temporary so not a big deal as I was going to work, right?
I loaded up my truck in the Quad Cities and hauled my stuff to St. Charles because, as stated before, my uncle promised me work. Moving to St. Louis wouldn't be bad, I had always had an affinity for the big city and KSHE was one of the reasons why.
KSHE played music that was unheard of in the Quad Cities, so, at least the radio would be decent. As I threw just about everything I owned in the back of my truck and headed to St. Louis, I was informed when I arrived that the foundry had burned to the ground the very night before. Ergo, no job for me.
Not a good thing for a guy temporarily living with two other guys in a two bedroom trailer. I was very disappointed as the air had been let out of my tires. I scrambled for a job that ultimately didn't exist, my dauber was down, my mojo wasn't mojoing.
On that warm sunny day late in August 1975, while riding in my cousins El Camino (you remember those, don't you?), KSHE announced that it had a copy of one of the most anticipated releases of the year from some guy named Bruce Springsteen.
This was truly the big city and KSHE because I had never heard of him. "Born to Run" hit the airwaves with the sound of a run away freight train through the speakers of his truck. Four and a half minutes later, I looked at the radio and said to no one in particular, "what was THAT?"
This song, with it's Phil Spector wall of sound sonics, talked about chucking it all behind, grabbing your Wendy, hopping on the bike and roaring out of town with the power plant in your rear view mirror. "Wendy, I'll love you with all the madness in my soul...whoa oh!" I counted three times where this song had an orgasm so big there was NO way it was faking it. THREE different times this song led me on a roller coaster. Up, up and then YESSSSSSS! I was there. Living in my hardscrapple existence, trying to find a job and a gal who I could make it right, with, grabbing something, anything that would add to my dignity and self worth.
For the love of God, I was living in a trailer park with two other guys and not even a bedroom to call my own. This cat had nailed it, painted it, wrote it and had this tune special delivered to me in a four and a half minute package.  There are very few times you can go back in your life and say a milestone ocurred here or there but when I heard the song "Born to Run", I knew my life would never be the same. I had to have this, all of it, the whole record.
I remember heading to the record store with probably the last ten bucks to my name and getting the album. As I walked home, LP in hand, I couldn't wait to put it on some cheap turntable in the trailer. As the LP unfolded, I thought this guy didn't write songs, he wrote little movies...
"The screen door slams,  Mary's dress waves, like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays ..Roy Orbison singing for the lonely, hey that's me and I want you only, don't turn me home again..I just can't face myself alone again"
Jesus, he was the Scorsese of music. I could just see Mary standing in the doorway.
"Hey, Eddie, can you lend me a few bucks and tonight can you get us a ride? Gotta make it through the tunnel got a meeting with a man on the other side..."
Track after track. movie after movie, each featuring a protagoinst and an antagonist, agood guy and a bad guy. A wall of sound production and the tightest band ever. This record makes me cry, openly. Just listen to Clarence Clemon's sax solo in "Jungleland" and tell me Beethoven or Glenn Miller is better. A life changing event in music. You may not think so, but that's what makes music so subjective. It's like women, I like a certain kind, so do you. Next to Abbey Road, no other piece of music has affected me so, no other has fille me with such awe. In my lifetime, I doubt any other piece of music will, either.
"Kids flash guitars just like switch-blades, hustling for the record machine
The hungry and the hunted explode into rock'n'roll bands that face off against each other out in the street... down in Jungleland..."
Rest in peace Danny and the big man, both of you bigger than life...

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