For all of you who wonder how I became the twisted yet interesting individual that I am …
I was at Woodstock. My adventures there will have to be in a future blog because they are lengthy and frankly, enchanting. I bring it up now because while I was sitting in the crowd at Woodstock something happened to me that changed my life.
I was a shy kid in high school. I played the baritone horn in the Platt High band for Christ sake! I got asked to the Sadie Hawkins Dance every year and I gulped and turned red and ran down the hall away from the confused and hurt young girl who was foolish enough to like me. Quite the stud.
At Woodstock something made a huge impression on me. The girls all around me were going crazy for the musicians on stage. Shirts were being lifted. Sexual opportunities were being offered. If any of those players had come down off the stage and walked thru the crowd they would have had girls clinging to them like dryer sheets on a pair of freshly dried socks. I wanted that. (Not freshly dried socks. I gave up any concept of footwear on the second day at the festival) I decided I would go home and learn the guitar and BE those socks! Metaphorically speaking.
A month after I returned I was on the Platt High soccer team doing something I should never do. I was assuming I had athletic ability and I tried to score a goal against a goalie who actually HAD athletic ability. First of all… do any of you know anything about soccer? No? Well I didn’t either. I was a Halfback. Halfbacks, I have since learned, should play defense and stay in the back. The word “back” is actually in the fucking name of the position. Why was I racing toward the goal with visions of being raised on the shoulders of my teammates in my head? I had momentary delusions of talent. Well THAT got dashed out of me real quick. The goalie grabbed the ball. He also, being the over-achiever that he was, grabbed my leg. He fell on both at the same time. The crack was so loud that my friend (the captain of the team… who’s the over-achiever NOW?) thought the ref had fired the pistol signaling the end of the half. It wasn’t the end of the half. It was the end of me walking without a limp.
The coaches rushed over and looked down at me while I writhed. I had never writhed before but this seemed like the perfect time to try it. One of them looked at my leg, now jutting out at a jaunty 45 degree angle and said (hand to God I do not make this up)
“Do you have a trick knee?”
“No,” I replied between writhes.
“Well, you do now.”
I have always silently thanked that coach for teaching me that there is no situation so painful or serious that cannot be made worse by a bad joke.
My Dad met us at the hospital. There are more stories here that I could be begged to tell. Like how that night I was finally going out on a date with the girl I was crazy about and now I had to find a way to let her know I would be three months late. How I laid in the hallway for 6 hours waiting to be seen by a doctor. Cool stuff. That’s all for another time. They finally knocked me out and my Dad helped them yank my leg straight so they could put it in a cast. My Dad was always looking for Father/Son things to do. It didn’t apparently bother him at all that I was unconscious for most of this one. He probably thought he gets the same credit for it as if he took me fishing.
I woke up with a Buick strapped to my chest. Plaster from my nipples to my toes. Two holes conveniently cut out, front and back. You do the disgusting math.
Now we get to the interesting part. I had nothing to do but lie there and teach myself how to play my brother’s guitar. I had a little hi fi set up next to the bed. After the first month I smelled so bad that I stopped having visitors except for the paid tutors who probably put Vaporub under their noses like the guys doing autopsies do on CSI.
I had three records. I had the first Pure Prairie League album. I had heard their tune Country Song on FM radio and fell in love with them and was determined to learn how to play all 11 glorious minutes of it.
I had Carole King’s Tapestry. It made me appreciate a beautifully crafted pop song for the first time. An amazing record and I was playing it over and over again because these songs, properly played, would deliver the chicks!
I had Abbey Road. The Beatles final record. I played along to Octopus’s Garden and Something and Come Together.
Those were the three records I wore out while I taught myself to play and sing.
Then I grew up, (with two legs the same length, something the health teacher at school told the entire student body I would NEVER have) started bands, moved to California, moved back to Connecticut, moved to Nashville … and along the way …
I became the lead singer for Pure Prairie League for 6 years
I played with Carole King and wrote songs with her for 10 years
I played in a band (The Roundheads) with Ringo and wrote 4 albums with him.
See what I did there? Those were the albums I had when I had the Buick on my chest? Come on people, try to follow me here. Don’t you think that’s kind of cool?
Well, fine. I’m not gonna try to convince you. But I think it’s kind of cool.
That’s the part of the story I am willing to share at this time. The prison years, my Broadway “Gypsy” years … you will all have to wait.