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The Fabric of Life

The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions. — Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809 – 1892)

The things that interest people enthrall me. Porcelain thimbles from every state, insect collections, bingo, Trekkies, useless blogs(heh)  — it just amazes me the passions people find in life. For me, one of my abiding passions has always been music and that is odd since no one in my family has any musical ability to speak of. Perhaps it was the environment of the day that fueled my interest. I became a teenager in 1968 and those were heady days for the music community. That must be it– how could you grow up during the height of the Rock and Roll era and not be forever altered?

My first real rock and roll experience was attending a Black Sabbath concert in 1970. It was also my first exposure to pot being smoked in public. So call it coming of age or the Age of Aquarius or Emerging from the Dark Ages… things were more than a bit fuzzy back then.

Yamaha XS 650 ca. 1973

Fast forward a few years to High School and I was fully immersed in the music of the day. I had a car with a cassette tape player ( upgraded from an 8 track) and a Yamaha XS 650 motorcycle.

An Aside:

I also had a Lynyrd Skynyrd t-shirt that I had picked up at one of their concerts and I had worn it until it was just rotten. It wasn’t rotten-dirty; it was just rotten-worn out. One day I was riding the Yamaha at speed and the Skynyrd t-shirt just disintegrated right off my body – all that was left was the neck band and a few tatters streaming back in the breeze. That episode has always struck me odd. I have never known anyone that ever wore a t-shirt that disintegrated in such a manner.

I never bought any of the LP albums, always cassettes to play in the car and the cassettes did not age well. it was common back then to see a cassette on the road -dead- with 20 yards of tape strung out in the weeds. The advent of CDs and the re-mastering of all the old rock and roll classics allowed me to rebuild quite a collection during the 80’s. I really embraced the ‘new’ collection enthusiastically and both kids were exposed to rock and roll whether they liked it or not. It was like second hand smoke. If we went on a car trip, Ol’ Dad always brought his CD collection, much to their dismay. Hey! My car, my rules! Buy your own car. Not likely when you are ten years old. 🙂

When my daughter joined the Air Force she was fortunate enough to be trained to join the Armed Forces Network.  She has done reporting, TV and Radio but her favorite thing to do is be a disc jockey.  She did a country music show when she was in the Azores Islands and did well with it as she had quite a bit of familiarity with the country music format.  When she was transferred to Italy,  she inherited a Classic Rock show.  Now that was an animal of an entirely different color.   She had only a passing familiarity with rock and roll and little interest in the subject.   I set out to educate her on the subject, just like any good Dad would do.

Fillmore poster from back in the day

It was not just about the music back then, the music shaped a generation and changed the world.  When I explained to her about the Chicago Democratic Convention in ’68 and Kent State and why Ohio (CSNY) and Fortunate Son (CCR) changed our country, she started to get it.    Once she got into it, she would comment about how other young people her age knew the same 100 Classic Rock songs that the stations played over and over but they knew little else about what I call the ‘back story’.  To those kids, they were just old funky songs.  She set out to educate those young airmen on base and show them that there was more to rock and roll than Stairway to Heaven and Freebird.

She developed quite an audience.  I like to think it is because she is really talented. It doesn’t hurt that AFN Radio is the only radio station in the area that broadcasts in English.  Old crusty Sergeants would call in with requests, Lt. Colonels would tell her they missed her show when she was out sick and she even caused some rules to be broken.  The Security Force guards on the entrance gates were calling in to her show when they were supposed to be doing gate guarding  security stuff.  That caused a memo to be sent out across the base that attention should be paid to the Mission and call-ins were strictly prohibited and her radio show was specifically referenced. .   Shortly after that, the Fake British Accent Guy appeared on the scene with daily call in requests. The Fake British Accent Guy had, as expected, a really bad fake accent and he always said he was from Coventry or London or Kent — always a different place in England.  This went on for weeks.  One day she was coming back in the gate from a shopping trip in town.  A Sergeant looked at her ID and said ” You are that AFN girl?  The one that does the Classic Rock show?”  She replied in the affirmative and he said “Well, Cheerio!”  in a really bad fake British accent.     “You –    are  –    the    –   guy?”  she asked.   Never breaking his composure, he said ” Carry on Senior Airman”  and motioned her through the gate.

As with all things, people move on.  My daughter got moved from her radio show to a desk job a few months ago because they are short staffed. They filled her radio slot with a volunteer whose heart is in the right place but does little more than push buttons   She obviously misses the show but understands the Mission is more important than personal preferences.  I got this email last week:

Hey you-

I have a radio show coming up on March 6 and I wanna do a forgotten classic rock show (aka Anti Top 40 aka THE VAULT) and I need some help on the playlist. Help? Please? If you get a minute? Like I said, it’s not for a little while, but I really want It to be awesome. I love you!

She called and filled in the details… She was doing a show Saturday morning as a fill in type deal and it was going to be three hours long. So for the last week I have been suggesting additions to her playlist and it has been huge fun though it has worked me pretty hard.  The old brain cells are just not as sharp as they used to be.   Thank goodness for the Zune! I have really had to dig into the Moldy Oldie catalog to find the real gems.   Humble Pie, Three Dog Night, Bill Withers,  CSNY, T. Rex — all of them look to have found a place on the  playlist and it has done an old man good to have a part in it.  The playlist is about finalized and she has promised to send me a copy of the whole show. I just know it is going to be awesome!  Maybe the Fake British Accent Guy will pick up the phone and surface as well!

End Note:   Off the proposed AFN playlist  — Stuck in the Middle With You by Stealers Wheel from the Reservoir Dogs Soundtrack.

It has a good beat and you can dance to it.    — ala American Bandstand

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