To Skate Away

I figured since this journal is about relationships and friends, I should share a little information about one of my closest friends. I suppose this friend is not specific to me. However, our relationship is specific to me. This is about music. This is about the real phases of my rebellion and the soundtracks of my youth. Some were loud, hard and fast. Some of the music I listened to was quiet and soft.

It’s been a while though . . .
It’s been a while since we all got together. It’s been a while since we went to a show and screamed the songs and sang with the bands. I miss live music. I miss the feeling after a show when the energy is still flushing through your system. I miss the crazy angst before the concert and then finally, the band took the stage and like a switch, the blood beats faster.

I wonder if kids actually know what music is. I wonder if their love for a song is the same as what mine was when I was their age. I mean, do they even know? I do. I remember the connection to the albums. I remember listening to the songs, over and over again, just so I could learn the lyrics.

As a kid, I had my own special anthems that fit the times. There were songs that captured the mood. There were nights when I spent hours lying flat on my back and looking at the ceiling. I’d listen to Hendrix. I’d listen to Pink Floyd. Sometimes, I’d put on some Jethro Tull, or Zeppelin, The Doors, or The Who.
Then I moved into the harder sounds, the more aggressive sounds, and the angrier bands, the thrash, the speed and I moved into the crazy realm of underground music and heavy metal bands. And keep in mind, my teenage life was in the 80’s so I was a product of this genre – although, in an effort to protect my dignity, I must add that I never went for too much of the glam scene or listened to the bands in makeup and hairspray.

There were nights when I climbed out of my bedroom window of my childhood home. I would climb onto the roof above my garage. Then I would climb up to the top of my home. I would have my eyes scan across the suburban world. It was here that I played my special anthems. I contemplated the moments of my life. I thought about the people I knew and the need I had to go and run and above all, to feel free. 

Let’s not forget Skynyrd. . .
I know I told you about this. At least I think I have. I can tell you there were times when music was my best friend. There were times when my lonesomeness wasn’t quite so lonely, so long as there was music.
Music didn’t need any explanation. I didn’t have to say anything. I could simply hit play and let the chords take over.

There was an early morning sunrise one winter. It was cold. I had spent the night in a field behind our Junior High School. I wasn’t alone this time. No, it was me with some of the local knuckleheads (aka: my friends).
We had spent the last several hours laughing at nothing. We were red-eyed and hallucinating after dancing with Lucy in the Sky. And please, for the record, I am not writing this in promotion of hallucinogens or promoting the connection with music and mind altering substances. But yes, there were times when the two went hand in hand.

I remember walking home, still high, but I was descending from a long strange trip. The grass on the field behind the school was covered in frost. The green was laced with the view of crystalized white. I was longhaired and crazy, young and smoking a fresh Marlboro Red. I remember the sky put on a show for me. The colors of the new sun rising were orange and purple. It was cold but I didn’t care. I was in trouble; but again, I didn’t care. I was flunking in school. I was uncomfortable in my skin and to be clear, I was never someone who saw myself as attractive or wanted. My eyes were shaped differently, My ears were shaped differently. I was painfully thin and much smaller than the other kids my age. I looked much younger and saw myself as less-than, weaker, unattractive and mainly undesirable.

I can remember the need to fit and the worries that perhaps I said too much. Maybe I laughed at the wrong time. Maybe I looked like a fool. Maybe my act was too obvious and I tried too hard. Who knows? Maybe someone noticed or no one noticed. I didn’t know. All I knew were the struggles in my head which led to that inner voice and sparked the internal narrative. 
But not when the music played.

At the conclusion of a crazy night, I walked home during the sunrise. I had my headphones on and wired my ears to the sound of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Perhaps this was the first time I had ever heard this band. And for the moment, I was untouchable. I remember breathing out the cold air, smoke leaving my mouth and for the moment, I was fine. The first song was Tuesday’s Gone followed by Simple Man.

There has always been something about music to me. Suffice to say that my old anthems will always be cherished. Suffice to say that I will always have a connection with the songs of my youth. There will always be a connection to the songs that helped me through the times when I was coming of age. Safe to say that yes, music is my friend. Maybe music was my first true friend.
Friends make you feel and think. And that’s what music does for me.
I love the way music can either make me crazy enough to scream or quiet enough to close my eyes and drift away.
As a matter of fact; the song River by Joni Mitchell comes to mind, and dig it, maybe this isn’t a song for everyone, but there is a line that says, “I’m going to quit this crazy scene . . .  I wish I had a river I could skate away on.” For me, there was something to this.

I remember one of the last shows I saw live in Madison Square Garden. The band left the stage and the lights came on. There were three girls standing at the stage, holding each other, weeping, and amazed by what they saw. I wasn’t quite as emotional. But I could relate.

I wonder if kids know what this means.
Do they know what it’s like to love a band or feel the strength of something so awesome?
Do they sing along?
Can they feel what we felt?
I hope they can
(for their sake).

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