You know how an old song can bring the past back like it was yesterday? When I hear Charlie Pride's The Snakes Crawl at Night it takes me back to the backseat of my parents Ford LTD, singing at the top of my lungs. Of course that would be a likely memory with a lot of music. I sang along with all the songs, I couldn't help myself. Come to think of it...I still do.
I love how a song can spark a memory. For instance, whenever I hear Lynyrd Skynyrd's Free Bird, I can't help but think of a road trip I took when I was fifteen. I had run away from home and was pretty much living on the streets. My best friends seventeen year old boyfriend was telling us about how he was going to drive to down to California. It was August and in a couple of months, it was going to be fucking cold where we were, in Prince George. The beach and sunshine sounded pretty good to me. I asked if I could hitch a ride and a couple of days later we hit the road.
We left Prince George, and headed south. We had Lynyrd Skynyrd's Gold & Platinum in the 8 track player, a case of beer and a bag of weed. With the windows rolled down in his Nova and the wind whipping through our hair, we wound our way down through those mountain highways. There had been no time in my life up to that point when I had felt more free. By the end of the day we had made it as far as Cache Creek. We found a place to camp and set up a tent to spend the night. I can't tell you what happened in that tent that night! That's for a whole other kind of story, hmmmmm......
Anyway, the trip turned out to be a bust. The next day, after a little more X rated fun in the tent...he decided he needed to go back to Prince George, I can't even remember why. So we never even made it to Vancouver let alone California. The trip was still a lot of fun though! And by the way, if you are feeling bad for my best friend, she stole him from me first - and I didn't even steal him back - I just sort of borrowed him...
There are a number of songs that bring back that summer.....Boston's More than a Feeling, brings back memories of push starting a friends volkswagon bug. He always had to jump the clutch to get that thing started. ACDC's Highway to Hell takes me to a wild house party with a 5 foot bong....yeah I couldn't take it all...choked every time...fuck!
The one song that might mean the most to me from that year though is Smokey Mountain Rain by Ronnie Milsap. This song will always remind me of one of the most pivotal people to come into my life. And he came into my life in the early fall of 1980. Roger was a guardian angel disguised as pizza delivery man. The night I met Roger, I was with a young friend of his, we were checking into a hotel room because his parents wouldn't let me stay at his house...hehe. Anyway, Roger was delivering a pizza to the hotel. His wife was driving the car because Roger was on an acid trip. Keep in mind at this meeting he had only seen me for a couple of minutes and he was stoned on acid.
Two nights later, as I was wandering the streets, Roger was out delivering pizza again. This time he was straight. He recognized me, even remembered my name and asked me if I needed a ride home. When I told him I didn't have a home to go to, he took me to his. His live-in babysitter was taking care of his and his wife's two children plus her own child. He felt she could use a hand and asked me if I was interested. He would give me room and board and $50 a month. I had nothing, I had nowhere to go. He took me in and never once laid a hand on me. His wife, who was a saint by the way, was kind to me as well.
Shortly after I started working for them, the babysitter I was supposed to be assisting ended up taking off all the time leaving me with the three kids. Roger and his wife asked her to leave and gave me the job. They raised my pay to $150 a month plus room and board. They saved my life. I can only imagine where that young 15 year old runaway was headed without the intervention of this particular guardian angel...can't you?
I stayed with them for nine months. I came to realize that I wanted more options in life, so I moved to Winnipeg to live with my biological father. I've never forgotten the gift Roger gave me. To this day, he is still one of my most highly valued friends....BFF's, right Rog? And you know I'm waiting for you there, Roger, somewhere in the Smokey Mountain Rain.......; )