The great-great-great-great grand children of my future imagination worked up the unmitigated temerity just the another night to put a question to Yours Truly, that silly-ass question that had a deeper meaning to it being nothing short of: "Dude, what's the best thing ever happened to ya?"
I didn't even have to so much as scratch my weary head to shout out the answer to that one. "February 19, 1971, you vile beasts!"
"What's so special about that day?" one of the young puds dared put forth.
I snarled a bit and dipped myself a tad more spinach out of the old receptacle. I studied the lad--or lass; who knows which?--and said, "That was the day, you young pole cat, when Apple Records released something called a 45 rounds per minute single recording, which was stupidly called that. It should have been called a double because it had one song on each of its two sides. The A side was the song the cretins in charge figured you wanted to hear and in those days that was all too often correct, the B side being some sludge that was so pathetic it didn't even make its way onto an album, an old trick picked up in those days by the likes of Elton John so that fans who figured they needed every last dollop of dog drool put out by these so-called amazing artists would have to buy the album and the single--usually, as I say, the whole process was a calculated rip-off. Anyway, in this particular case, things worked bass-ackwards, as we used to say in those glorious days of yore. In this instance it was the A side that sucked the cat's pee-pee, being some piece of mindless gruel called "Another Day." It was all sing-songy and wasn't actually about anything in particular except this woman who works in an office and doesn't much care for it. In a way the song was kind of punk in its influences, meaning that it took something supposedly trivial and made it presumably important. But the melody was so goldarned tedious that you just wanted to die and the vocal was so uninspired you'd have to scratch your head and wonder if all those people who claimed the singer, Paul McCartney, was dead were right all along. I mean, even his old partner, John Lennon, wrote a great and nasty reply to that one called "How Do You Sleep," that's how bad it was."
Then the kids all pushed forward and one of them snarled, "Is there a point to this?"
"Oh, sure. Well, it was the B-side, as I say, where the real jewel was carefully hidden. The song was called "Oh Woman Oh Why" and it was everything that the A-side song was not. The drumming, for instance, was amateurish in the extreme and believe it or not that was a good thing because for too long McCartney had been relying on technique instead of raw emotion. The bass line quivered all over and there was a jangling and distorted guitar quaking across the room, but what I really liked was the vocal, a scratchy, raspy, anguished bit of brouhaha that forty-odd years later I still cannot make out. McCartney had made his bones doing Little Richard impressions with the Fabs, but this here tune was on the stratosphere without oxygen compare to any vocal he'd ever sung before. The words came out sounding like this: WELL I TOLD HER I WAS TRYNA BREAK HER SPELL, which was about all you could make out and then only if the wind was favorable. Then his wife Linda, who was only on the song so that Paul could legitimately pay her singer royalties and thereby nudge a bit of the profits from the parent company, she came back all puny, singing BREAK HER SPELL, as if those were the most poignant words in the whole human lexicon. The Paul goes BUT I CAIN'T GET BY MY HANDS ARE TIED I DONT KNOW WHY BUT IF I WANNA YOU WANNA GOODBYE IF YOU TAKE MY LIFE! Then the song burst out with what such a burst of shit that it sounded like a burst of fire from a cheap revolver about three times, sort of staggered.
"I think the disc jockey who originally played this earlier the same day I bought it got fired for having the nerve to tune it up and is probably all these years later still doing time in a penal institution. I knew right away this song was something special so I turned the big bad stereo machine to Mach-Ten Power Boost, grabbed my drum sticks, sat on my stool right in from of my horrible Ludwig trap set and the song and my accompaniment were not even half over when the first window of my room exploded outward. I kept right on wailing away with my sticks, screaming myself hoarse as I tried like hell to copy those simple licks: Duh duh-duh duh-duh/duh duh-duh duh-duh. Any child could have played it and yet the emotional involvement of McCartney--who clearly played every instrument on the song--blew my mind out the back of my head, even as a second window exploded from the heat.
"Bear in mind this was happening before noon and the guy who lived across the street, a nice fellow, slept days and there I was, the clown of the neighborhood, screeching myself hoarse for no good reason other than simply being in awe of the rawness of this little sixty-seven cent masterpiece. I stood up to play the drums about the third round through and saw through the broken window that Vernon--that was his name--was standing on his front porch, yelling with all his might and shaking his fist in a very threatening way. Still I could not be deterred. I played it a fourth time and a fifth. I played it so many times that day that by the end of the week I had to go get another copy, one that I still have. The damned thing even had the words 'I AM' in a little triangle surrounding the run-out groove of the record and all kinds of other little mysteries that were all the rage way back when."
The littlest of the tribe shouted at me, "You fucked some old guy out of a good day's sleep and destroyed your family's windows. For that you're happy?"
Kids these days have no sense of propriety.
I responded, "Yep. Not because the neighbor was disturbed, no, but if that had been a jackhammer out there on the street making a racket he wouldn't have said a word. If an airplane had been roaring overhead, that would have been acceptable. Why should fun be any less tolerated? And while you try to come up with an answer to that, just keep asking yourself if you wouldn't love to hear what in your great-great-great-whatever's opinion is the all-time gut sloshing marvel of a masterpiece of a record?"
The little bastards took off and I didn't expect to hear from them anytime soon. But sure as cat shit is mean in the summer, all at once I heard that all-too familiar drum pattern, that warbling bass and that jagged guitar lick. You know what else? That's right. I'm gonna need to get some new windows.