Emily sings her heart out with the car radio, like she’s going to San-Fran-cis-co, arm resting out the window, hair bowing. Summer fields, red-brick towns, and the offer of a good teaching position fall away behind her. From “Marrying Gilbert” in Facing the Other Way.
There are people – like me – that have a song for everything you say. For me at least, it comes out of the 1970s when someone had just written a song for everything you could think. Even if you couldn’t afford a great record player, the sound was now stereo and that sounded mighty good. What year did we start taping all our albums onto cassette tapes to preserve the record? So you didn’t play it on a dull needle and wreck the grooves. Or, god forbid, jump around while you were dancing and make the needle skip so it made holes in a groove. That was later, though.
Saturday nights, [Emily] discovers, there is a kind of dancing, at the hippie community hall down the street – The Hall – where people move against each other, making their bodies into mobile sculptures. Contact improv, Sandi calls it. With live jazz bands for the dancing. She and Sandi, about fifty other people, and a woman from the national Ballet who dances until her feet bleed, move their sweaty bodies around each other for hours.
The Hall was in the same building as the draft counselling centre, down Huron Street from Rochdale College. Jazz was everywhere. A wonderful restaurant, Meat and Potatoes, showcased jazz and the manager played jazz trumpet. There was an after-hours jam that makes a cameo appearance in “Marrying Gilbert.” People who stayed brought little egg shakers and all kinds of small percussion instruments to play along.
[Emily] stays until the very end. Abe pulls a chair in by hers and leans close. “We’re going for breakfast,” he says, indicating the musicians winding up cables and blowing out mouthpieces. “Want to come?” With the musicians? She nods. . . . The woman she sat beside catches up. “They go to The Original Vietnamese Restaurant,” she says. “It’s open all night.” She slows to tie a scarf around her hair. “The egg and toast special comes with a pot of tea. That’s what I always get. It’s $1.98.”
Erik Satie played on our commune stereo. Fraser and Debolt’s self-titled album Fraser & Debolt and Carole King’s Tapestry were everyone’s latest obsessions. I was in a coffee shop this past Saturday and the Tapestry album came on. There were a few quiet tears.
Like so many people did with the LIP and OFY grants (see last week’s post), two guys put together a venue, The Euphoric Tea Room in Kitchener, home of “She Knew I’d Be There” and “Bluffing.” I signed up as the tea room baker. We were on a circuit that got people like James and the Good Brothers and Murray McLauchlan.
The music told our stories, shaped our protests, and gave us a sense of truth to whatever we tried to do. Good sometimes, ill advised other. Remember the Festival Express?
OK, enough. I will make a donation to Wikipedia. All for now.
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