Well, this should be different. A departure from my usual thoughts about being a father. But, and I know this will be hard to believe, a long time ago, long before becoming a parent, even longer than that, I was a socially uncomfortable drama clubber and third string flankerback (can catch, but too slow and can’t hit) in a college-prep high school fumbling my way through Friday nights on the Mustang field and Saturday nights in the back seat of my dad’s Three-on-the Tree Chevy Biscayne (that car didn’t have a cassette player, but was a great work-car, a great runner) with the blond, pleat-skirted leader of the drill team cheering squad. It was a strange and awkward 70’s time.
Somewhere playing in the background was always that saxophone. Whether from Steeley Dan’s Aja or Gerry Rafferty‘s City to City. Or maybe the weird symphonics of Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra. Rafferty just died today, and I took a few minutes to listen to Baker Street, the song famous for its saxophone solo riffs.
“Winding your way down on Baker Street. Light in your head and dead on your feet. Well another crazy day, you’ll drink the night away, and forget about everything.”
There it was playing again, while Mrs. Hudson tore into my friend during our senior year English Lit class, for not reading Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn before showing up to class. She made him read aloud Thomas Nashe‘s Spring the Sweet Spring. Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo, and asked him to tell the class what he thought it all meant. His most sincere reply, “Mrs. Hudson, I honestly have no idea.” sent the class into spasms of laughter, because, well, naturally, none of us had any idea what it all meant either. I mean, come on, “Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo…” Really. Must be some deep meaning there that I’m just not getting.
“This city desert makes you feel so cold, its got so many people but its got no soul and its taken you so long to find out you were wrong when you thought it held everything.”
There again while our favorite basic-level Algebra teacher Wrobbie, using his patented and often boasted about peer-group embarrassment techniques, passed back our tests from the A’s to the F’s signalling when all of the A’s were passed out by hooting and honking loudly and going on to the B’s, C’s, and so on, and through to the F’s, while everyone either held their breath in anticipation or chuckled and smirked while watching everyone else receive their test papers. Great, so everyone knows how everyone else scored on the tests. Muuuuurrrrrrrrp!
“You used to think that it was so easy. You used to say that it was so easy, but you’re trying, you’re trying now. Another year and then you’ll be happy, just one more year and then you’ll be happy. But you’re crying, you’re crying now.”
There again while the most popular music teacher ever demonstrated the differences in tempo from a Scott Joplin rag to a Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim Broadway number by banging madly on the school’s upright piano and screaming “When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way” to the tune of the Maple Leaf Rag.
“Way down the street there’s a light in his place. He opens the door, he’s got that look on his face, and he asks you where you’ve been, you tell him who you’ve seen, and you talk about anything.”
And there was always that blond cheer-leader. And there was that saxophone again.
“And when you wake up it’s a new morning. The sun is shining, it’s a new morning. But you’re going, you’re going home.”
As I listened to Rafferty’s tune, spacing out to the haunting saxophone solos and the guitar strumming, for just a moment, I was once again that fumbling awkward third-stringer during that awkward 70’s time.