Answer: Maybe He didn’t have my mind in mind. In my daily walk with Moses and the Blood of the Golden Calf, I key-in my spiritual GPS way-points by one thing and one alone; the message has gotta either rhyme, or even better yet, be, like LEVEL.Well, here, let me sing it to you-uns.
1967. I was leading a psychedelic band, playing covers and originals. Sky-Blue-Pink. I was proud of the name. If anybody still has one of our business cards I’ll pay dearly.
Anyway, hitch-hiking to Pittsburgh in the late-November frozen tundra on Rt 22, all the better to get an early copy of Magical Mystery Tour, I was picked up by a big trucker. Ok, a little guy in a big truck. Turned out he owned the company; a hundred-or-so semi-trailers plying the Mid-Atlantic. And his daughter had been at one of our concerts and had raved about the light-show.
The ‘light-show’, if anyone’s interested, was two sheets of glass, vegetable oil, food-colouring, and a giant overhead-projector we ‘borrowed’ from the AV guy, with a silent promise not to ‘out’ him to the school administration.
At any rate, the trucking magnate was heavily financing the Altoona Symphony Orchestra; for tax write-off or whatever motive. And he asked me to do a light-show for an up-coming concert, somewhere between Everett and Holidaysburg. In the cab, that is. The concert was in State College, PA, and for $140, money in those days, I showed up ready, with my keyboardist’s sister as able assistant.
We’d done our homework together, charting out the moves for Ravel’s Bolero , pink and blue tension building bar by bar. Musical tension, that is.
And here’s where the story, the epiphany starts… or ends. All set up in the hall, I had only to quickly find a place to pee first, and then let the music begin. But before you could say: “Where’s a nice hippy find a bathroom around here?” my patron-trucker approached our station with a grim look upon his face.
“Kettle-drums? You can do kettle-drums?”
“Sure.” I told him. “Percussion’s a trip, man.”
“No, can you fill in? The fellow who’s supposed to play ’em flipped his car out on 522 and we’re on in ten minutes.” His look said ‘Help me Jesus!’ and I needed only to quickly reasure my girl-friday that she could handle the light-show, throw on a uniform which felt like it was made of Kevlar, grab my mallets, and sorta feel comfortable with my place in the rear of the orchestra, there only inches from the back-drop curtain.
Of course the first selection was Handel’s Water Music. Just what I needed! The score had me tacet
for a couple thousand measures, and no one saw me slide under the curtain, hope against hope that there was a back-stage bathroom. No luck. There wasn’t. Not a pot to piss in, so to speak. I re-emerged, to the visible relief of the conductor, but quite un-relieved in the final-urinalysis department. Figured I could hold it, even through Respighi’s ‘Fountains of Rome(!). What is this, a sick joke, God?
Somewhere in the beginning of the Bolero I admitted defeat. Slipping back under the curtain, I frantically tore off my bullet-proof suit-jacket, then my tee-shirt, and gracefully(?) pissed the shirt full and running over. Something told me it was preferable to a puddle on the floor. Tossing the shirt, I re-dressed and appeared as if by magic right on cue. Boom, Boom, Doom, Boom Bolero. Ole! Hell, I can play tympani in my sleep. We got a nice ovation, Ravel was happy, Altoonians satisfied, my love-interest assistant proud of herself, and the conductor grateful and wielding a check. Happy ending, except for history’s first ‘wet-tee-shirt’ backstage. Somehow I couldn’t
finesse retrieving it. Probably lying there to this day.
It was God’s Will. Now I’m sure.
Only last night, did I realize the divine inspiration:
DOOM. TYMPANI. And I’m IN A ‘P’ MY ‘T-‘ MOOD.
Dog works in mysterious ways, sometimes after-the-fact. And yeah, a true story. Otherwise they’d spell tympani different…