Hey Fella

Dad in the middle.

You put yourself through college playing gigs and working odd shifts at the local hospital.

Were you buddies with the other guys in the picture?

Is one of them actually Al Anderson?

In my head I hear you say, “They were all nice fellas.” That was one of your words.

Years later, when I was about eight, you said to six of my boy friends who were playing a bit too rough for your liking, “Hey fellas, take it easy.”

To this day I’m not sure if they stopped because of the inherent authority of your presence, or because they were so startled by the word “fellas.”

You called Steve, my brother, “Ace.”

Even me, once in a while too.

Neither of us knows from where that came.

I imagine you taking a break at that gig in the picture. Outside the back door of this school auditorium? Dance hall? It’s freezing cold, and you’re all hunched over in stiff tuxedos with smoky breaths rising, cigarettes cupped in your hands. You talk about what song to play next, which girl is the prettiest, how much snow will fall.

Isn’t it funny, this life you had? I’ve spent countless years trying to understand the Dad you were. These days I wonder about the younger you…before you were a Dad, a husband, a businessman, a coach. When you were just a horn player. Just a fella.

Day 24: Tunes with my dudes

If you’ve been following along, this post is part of a (nearly) once-a-day-month-long-blogging-brouhaha with my pals Amanda Hollinger, Monica Wyche, and Ami Worthen.

Perhaps one of the greatest answering machines greetings ever: the one my friend Koz left on our friend Brian’s family’s answering machine. The opening to this song served as background music. Solid gold.

Memory: driving fast in Koz’s car, windows open, singing this.

This one’s for Patrick, my U2 soul mate.

Memory: Koz, Brian, a bottle of Jaegermeister, and a broken light. Oh, and this. You can call it just another summer night during college.

Day 19: College Tunes

If you’ve been following along, this post is part of a (nearly) once-a-day-month-long-blogging-brouhaha with my pals Amanda Hollinger, Monica Wyche, and Ami Worthen.

I’ve been slogging through a chest cold this week, and it’s left me feeling tired, none too talkative and rather uninspired. Aren’t you glad you tuned in?

Never fear, I will let the music do the talking.

Join me, if you will, for a short stroll through some memorable tunes from the college days.

Please note that I first heard all of the songs mentioned below on tape. Yes, tape. Now please, fetch me my cane.

My friend Dawn and I didn’t know the actual title to this Jane’s Addiction number for months, so we naturally dubbed it, “The Dog Song.” We did a lot of rewinding and replaying of this one, most memorably in Dawn’s red convertible while procuring cinder blocks on which to place my bed.

I first heard The Sundays from my friend Carla, and I immediately fell in love with the sound of Harriet Wheeler’s voice. I did not rest until I saw them play live at Count Basie Theater in Red Bank, New Jersey that summer. I keep waiting for a new album.

My friend and roommate, Kim, nearly got us killed by our fellow dorm dwellers by putting this ’90s classic on heavy rotation. OK, incessantly. But God, it’s good.

I am not what you would call a rocker chick, however, my friend Jane introduced me to a select few heavy metal songs during college I really enjoyed. Even this totally misogynistic one! Yipes. Still, the guitar riff at the end is solid gold.

Also, Jane endeared herself to me forever when she told me that one of her best concerts in her native Chicago was a triple bill: Raven, WASP, and Slayer. Insert horns here.

Day 15: Finally

This post is part of a once-a-day-month-long-blogging-brouhaha with my pals Amanda Hollinger, Monica Wyche, and Ami Worthen.

1994. Recipe for fun:

Gather five or six of your best pals. Take one bottle of champagne. Open at the beginning of song. While singing and dancing in a circle formation, take a healthy sip from the bottle, and pass to the next person. Repeat until bottle is empty or song ends, whichever comes first.*

*If champagne remains when song ends, finish in circle formation as you cue up song for replay. Open new bottle of champagne. Play song. Repeat as needed.