My Guitar Couldn’t Hold You, So I Joined the Band

It’d been brewing for some time.

In high school I’d been hanging around with new musician friends Jeff, Steve, Don (who everyone called Skeeze, because his father’s name was also Don), Greg (below right, mugging it up in the MRC) and Loren.

As I mentioned before, students who weren’t in either Band or Choir weren’t allowed in the Music Resource Center (MRC) without specific permission from another teacher. I always thought this was idiotic, since how are you going to get kids interested in music if it’s just for the anointed few?

Still, I decided not to fight it and signed up for Choir, as a back-row bass. Mr. Hotvet, the Choir teacher, now had to admit, albeit grudgingly, that I was allowed in the MRC.

Jeff, Skeeze and Greg formed a rock band named Tempest sometime in 1976. They auditioned a few people to fill in as a fourth member, to play keyboards. That went to Loren, who was far and away the best piano player in school. He’d learned all of Elton John’s “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding,” which impressed the hell out of everyone who happened to walk by the practice room when he was playing.

To most guys, being in a band meant a lot of things: learning a new skill, playing a favorite song and sharing it with others … and, probably somewhere near the top of the list, impressing girls.

Everyone was getting into the act. Dan Rogers bought a rickety upright piano from some guy in Minneapolis for $150. Dad and our neighbor Mr. Strom, who let us use his pickup truck, made the trip downtown with Dan and my brother on Thursday, April 22, 1976. Once we got it securely into the Rogers’ downstairs rec room, I spent a good part of the night banging away on it.

Then, on June 15, Dan and I made a trip up to Third Stone. Later, I wrote in the diary: “I’m thinking about getting a bass guitar. Seriously!” Up until then I’d been taking guitar lessons at Schmitt Music in the Ridgedale Mall, returning my rented acoustic guitar to the store when the lessons ended on June 16.

All that summer I was mooning over Linda, who lived in Orono and whose father owned a boat landing. If I wasn’t working at the Club, I went to the evangelical church in Navarre to see if she was there. At that point I was on my own, since Mom, Dad and Brian had started attending the United Methodist Church in Mound. I don’t think my ruse of “preferring the old church” fooled anyone, especially my family.

Linda proved elusive. It didn’t help that I was so painfully shy and insecure around girls. I wrote in the diary, on June 22: “…it was a beautiful day. I’ve got to see Linda soon. It seems like ages. Why is it always that way??”

Love back then seemed like something to be attained, rather than shared and settled into.

When you’re 16, you really can’t see it any other way. It didn’t help that American culture made it clear what the roles were for boys and girls, and how we were “supposed” to court each other.

So, with dreams of attaining my fleeting Orono girl—who positively oozed Jesse Colin Young and Bob Dylan, as she herself admitted—I plunked a down payment on an Ibanez electric bass guitar from Third Stone Music after picking up my paycheck at the Club on Friday, June 25, 1976.

Nearly a month later, after making weekly payments, I finally got to take it home, totally forgetting that I’d need an amp to even hear the damn thing. Fortunately my friend Steve brought over his and I was able to hear it, pretty much to the groaning dismay of the folks.

I’d gotten the guitar.

It was only a matter of time before I’d “get” the girl.

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~ by completelyinthedark on September 25, 2011.

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