Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Vehicle.

I've written so much about music one way or another over the years that you'd think that I'd have nothing much left to say. It has all landed in some piece somewhere before, right? I mean it has to have. I remember interviewing for a newspaper job years ago and the managing editor saying to me, "So you've come to terms with the fact that you're a writer and that this is what you're supposed to do with your life?" and I thought before finally saying yes. His response, "It's devastating isn't it?" just completely leveled me in hysterical laughter (which then equally leveled him). I made a friend for life that day because it actually IS devastating. I've set myself up for a work-life filled with rejection- and that's if you actually make it! If you're established editors will take the time to reject you and if you're not... you'll pitch and submit pieces until your fingers fall off with absolutely no response. 

It's soul-crushing, ego-killing, and whatever else until it's finally just not. You go through the motions with this little glimmer of hope that someone will crack a door open for you to have an opportunity to prove that everything that you type doesn't suck. What's that saying- if you throw enough crap at the wall you'd be surprised what sticks? 

That.

Music has always been like a homecoming for me. I can babble about all kinds of things but nothing else is quite the same and I owe that to dad. I was five the first time I was in a radio studio. Mom was teaching exercise classes at night and one of dad's friends had just started a new nighttime radio show and so we had to visit. I can still remember dropping mom off in dad's big old Buick Skylark and then driving to this studio. 

I did not want to go. I wanted to go jump around with mom but instead, she crammed me into my Holly Hobbie pajamas and told me it would be fun at the studio. I didn't believe that and I can still remember dad ringing the doorbell of what looked like a pitch-black building. I mean I was sure no one was even there and kind of thought that maybe I'd get out of this field trip to boredom. Then his friend George unlocked the door and let us in. He led us down a dark hallway and brought us into his studio.

The room was all dark wood, very dimly lit with a whole bunch of lit-up controls that looked like something from Space 1999. It looked like an otherworldly spaceship to me and the sound was so clear. "Vehicle" by Ides of March, "Kid Charlemagne" by Steely Dan, and other things that I knew dad played all the time. I was in a chair off to the side while they talked about woofers, tweeters, new turntables that were coming out and God knows what else. At that point, dad was entertaining either a job in radio or opening up his own record shop and George seemed to be giving him a crash course in on-air life.

I don't know if I dozed off at the station or in the car coming home, but it was another night falling asleep as the music washed over me. The bits of memory that I have from that studio has always been so clear, yet I'm positive I'd never have recognized that studio in daylight. I'm sure it would completely lose its' luster and might have even been much more forgettable for me. Instead, it's like catching a lightning bug in a cup. It's a flash I couldn't miss and will never forget.

Years and years later I was offered an evening live radio shift, something I'd never done. For years I've always been a morning radio voice because I've learned to talk about everything and nothing all at once. I'm also sharp with the banter and kind of shameless so whatever kind of bit gets thrown at me, I can always find a way to make it hilarious. I'm proud of that because it's a skill. But night radio? I found myself accepting the job over the phone while shaking my head no. 

How the hell was I going to literally talk to myself for 4 hours a night? 

The first night there everyone left and the studio was lit up like an operating room. I figured I was going to have a headache while talking to myself on air, so I started playing with the lights. I mean rows and rows of light switches, some were like spotlights and others were really dim. I kind of figured out what switches went to which panel of lights and then all of a sudden I was there- back in George's studio. 

Dark wood blending in with the shadows, soundboard, and computers lit up like a command center while the rest of the room was kind of lost in the blackness. I had not thought of that first studio in years, if not decades yet I was standing in it all over again and this time the "vehicle" was all mine. 

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