2 – Blog 06 – Proud Mary

The next weekend is the Buddy Rich show at a small theater in the Grove. Robby smokes us out, so we’ll be in a receptive mood for the jazz genius. I’m in a band with two drummers, but skeptical about the drums being more than a metronome to keep the guitarists on the beat. For all four of us to sit together, we end up at the back of the hall. Once Rich starts his performance, I am so high and my focus so intense, it seems like I am down front.  I telescope myself past the audience.My consciousness shifts to a point I am almost on stage. It is just me and Buddy Rich. He is so full of energy; it draws me in like a magnet. Afterwards I ask if anyone else had the same sensation. Just Michael knows what I am talking about.
“Yeah. I block out everything other than what I concentrate on. I am transported to a space where there is no one but me and the musician.”
The concert is an hour and a half. It goes by so quickly, I feel cheated. Michael says for a drummer to perform solo for so long is totally exhausting. He feels the performance went on forever. Space and time warps.

After the show, we decide to walk around the Grove. I hope to see Wilkie and Jill, but we cannot just drop in on them with the whole band. We go to the arcade where I got Scott’s and my pukka shell necklaces. We are hanging out at the head shop and I see spoon rings, which are silver salt spoons, bent to fit a finger like a ring.

“Maybe we can all get one?” I suggest.
“Yeah, but who has the bucks?” They’re $5 apiece; none of us had any money, so we just window shop. Soon enough, along come David and Jill.
“Hey, Castle. Good to see you, mate.” He walks over. Jill gives me a peck on the cheek.
I introduce the band, telling them our name is False Gods.
“Sure it isn’t Falsetto Gods,” he teases.
“No way, we rock. Come to our show at the Kappa Sig this Friday after finals.”
“You’re the band everyone’s talking about? There’s going to be a crowd.”
“All right.”
“Get there about seven and help us set up. You can sit on stage with us.”
“Cool. I fly back to the UK on Saturday for Christmas.”
“You’ll be in London for Christmas!”
“Yeah. Coach has me working out at the Crystal Palace pool during break. At least I can get to Aberdeen for a family Christmas.”
“Is Jill going?” I ask. She’s chatting up Jace. She has perfect gaydar.
“Don’t even ask. She’s pretty bummed we can’t afford it. Hey, Jill. Tim wants us to roadie for their show on Friday night.”
She looks sad when she hears him say ‘Friday.’ She comes over and asks if Jace is my new boyfriend.
“How do you know these things? Are we that obvious?”
“He’s just too sexy to be straight.”
“What happened with the kid from the swim team?” David asks.
“He got a girlfriend.”
“You didn’t fight for him?”
“My dad made me quit the team. It kinda all blew up one weekend.”
“Joey involved?”
“Indirectly. I met him in New York, and then we flew to LA where he’s living now. When I got back, Scott had been got caught screwing his girlfriend. He had to move back home. I got injured. We never got back to where we were before.”
“That skinny girl his girlfriend?”
“Yeah, Lydia. We’d all been hanging out. She was jealous when my girlfriend from New York was here, ‘cause she thought she and I were going to out. So, she went for Scott. He forgot about me.”
“Poor boy,” Jill commiserates. “How long before you found this one?”
“Jace? We started the band in my room, he’d stay over, and one night listening to Pink Floyd ….”
“Ah, Pink Floyd, those snarky English bastards,” David says. “Turns every fanboy gay. And, which one’s Pink?”
We all laugh. It is the first time I tell anyone how we got together. Jace comes over. I tell him that David and Jill are our gay parents.
“How can they be gay if they’re together.”
“No, silly. They look out for us – gay parenting.”
“Whatever. Every straight couple should have gay kids. Keeps the population down.”
“Good point, son,” David concurs. We really laugh.

Later I say we will do our new love song at the party and dedicate it to them. David is leaving her alone over the holidays to be in the UK.
Jace says, “We are their gay parents to keep her happy until he gets back. She’s too hot to be alone for the holidays.”

I decide to talk with Mrs. Watt, my summer mom. I need to thank her in some way. A Christmas gift seems like a good idea. But what to get her? I can give a mug that says the ‘World’s Best Mom.’ That is too sad. I do not even know if I can call her Mom any more. Scott probably told all his family that I am nothing but a stoner now. Maybe she will be sad to see me. I have to show her I am proud of myself. I want her to be proud of me. I ask Jace if he will help me play a song for her.
“Scott’s mom. Why, dude?”
“She was my mom last summer. I even called her Mom.”
“You call Susan, ’Mom.’”
“Yeah, but Mrs. Watt asked me to call her Mom. I started calling Susan Mom to keep her off our backs.”
“It works.”
“Mrs. Watt really was Mom after the divorce, even before my mom left for Iowa.”
“Well, what song do you want to do? Do we have to play for Scott, too.? He’s a dick.”
“No. We’ll surprise her while she’s waiting to pick them up after swim team. We can drag the practice amps over and do it in the parking lot.”
“Maybe some students will hear us. We can give them flyers for the frat gig.”
“My, aren’t you the little promoter.”
“Just good for business.”
“Well, what song?’ I ask.
“How about ‘Proud Mary?’ The last verse would say you are doing good and remember her for being supportive when you needed it.”

“Yeah, it’s not too sappy or too much the happy birthday song. It’ll make her think about me and see how much they helped me.”

We set it up. The week before Christmas,  Hippie Greg will drive us to the pool parking lot. He was sent to his grandparents all fall to sober up from too much pot. They gave him a car once he got his driver’s license there. I get an extra-long power cable and hook up our little practice amps, waiting for Mrs. Watt to pull in to pick up Stu and Scott. I hope she will be early, but no such luck. Before she arrives, several kids are already waiting for their rides, recognizing me as I sit with Jace on the curb. No one comes over. Then Mrs.Watt pulls in. I wave, and she parks next to where we are sitting. I run up to her window, saying I have a surprise for her.   She smiles.
“You were such a great mom to me this year; I want to thank you by singing a song just for you. This is Jace, the guitarist in my band.”
“Hi, Jace. I didn’t know you have a band, Tim.”
“Yup, we’re playing on campus this Friday, but this song’s just for you:  

We start strumming our guitars.

‘Left a good job in the city
Workin’ for the man ev’ry night and day
And I never lost one minute of sleepin’
Worryin’ ’bout the way things might have been

Big wheel keep on turnin’
Proud Mary keep on burnin’
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river

Cleaned a lot of plates in Memphis
Pumped a lot of ‘tane down in New Orleans
But I never saw the good side of the city
‘Til I hitched a ride on a river boat queen

Big wheel keep on turnin’
Proud Mary keep on burnin’

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river

If you come down to the river
Bet you gonna find some people who live
You don’t have to worry ’cause you have no money
People on the river are happy to give

Big wheel keep on turnin’
Proud Mary keep on burnin’
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the riverRollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river

Songwriters: JOHN C. FOGERTY

Proud Mary lyrics © CONCORD MUSIC GROUP, INC

As soon as we start playing, all the team kids come running over and surround the Watt’s station wagon. They ask me if I have a band, so we pass out the flyers. Mrs. Watt is so pleased, but all the kids prevent me from telling her how much I care about what she did for me. The kids have us do a couple of songs. Jace tells me to do ‘Daydream Believer,’

and then the Beatles’ ‘Long and Winding Road.’

By the time we are done with these songs, the crowd has grown considerably. I have the kids pass out the rest of our flyers. For the university crowd we do Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid.”

That brings campus police, so we throw the amps and guitars into Hippie Greg’s car. Before leaving, I run over to say goodbye to Mrs. Watt. Stu is jumping up and down with Mike, so happy to see me. Scott and Lydia stand back glaring at me.
“Oh, Tim. That’s wonderful. You look so different. Are you eating?”
“Yes, Mom,” then I realize what I called her and start to tear up. Where is Jace when I need a kick in the butt?
“Come here. Tim. We’ll always love you, even if we don’t understand you.”
The tears are rolling down my cheeks, but I keep it together well enough to say, “I loved being part of your family. I’m doing well, much to your credit for loving me when I needed it.”
Then she starts to tear up, so I walk away. Stu comes running after me, with all sorts of questions and typical Stu pestering. I hand him a flyer, which he looks at like it is the wrong Christmas present. So, I give him a hug, and all is well.
Running back to the car, he waves the flyer, “Look, Mom. Their band is called False Gods. They’re playing here on Friday at a fraternity. Can I go, pleeeease?”
I know the answer to that question. Without looking back, I run to Greg’s car. I collapse into Jace’s arms, sobbing, choking, and laughing.

Christmas sucks. But then Michael’s dad comes through with the hundred bucks we had earned at Pete’s party.  Twenty dollars each, with Mary saying she doesn’t deserve a share. We tell her to get off her ass more at the next gig and really earn her share. She agrees and takes her twenty. Now I have money for gifts. Maybe I can talk the head shop into selling me five spoon rings for the price of four. I must slip away from Jace to make it a surprise. We are only apart when we have different classes in the morning.

When we go to the garage after Nutrition on Tuesday, there are a couple of cars parked there. John tells us someone told several college guys that we hang out at the garage on school days and to come over at 10 am. Word has spread about our pot habit. Jace is pissed at his brother, telling him how narcs will now find out about the garage. But we need to see Max, so we go into the garage to meet our fans.
“False Gods,” they yell as we walk in.
Robby is in charge, taking out a joint, “Get on your knees.” He lights the joint, walking to the first supplicant and passing it to him. Max plays altar boy,   following behind Robby and inhaling as each college kid exhales. Then he sits in the corner with his paw over his eye. They ask when we practice. We say ‘we don’t.’ We never know what songs are going to be requested, so there is no point in practicing. They believe this crap. The legend grows. After they leave, we agree that the garage is a bust. We hang out at Robby’s for a while. We could go to Michael’s, but no one wants to get on the bad side of his dad, our benefactor.
Mary says, “How about going to class for once.” We shout her down.

The twenty is burning a hole in my pocket. How to get away from Jace without him noticing? With the garage out-of-bounds, I see my opportunity when Jace goes to feed and walk Max at night. I always go with him. I come up with a bogus excuse to stay home one night. As soon as Jace leaves, I hop on my bike and race to the head shop in the Grove. With no time to haggle, I tell the sales person I need five spoon rings but only have $20. He says no, but relents when I turn to leave. He even makes up five ring boxes, like I am proposing to five girls at once. Merry Christmas. I do not want Jace to know or want him wasting his twenty bucks on sentimental Christmas crap. That leaves me with the dilemma of Dad and Susan. I hope we will get paid for the frat party in time for Christmas shopping. Jace wants Max to move in with us. I convince him that a dog would put his tenuous residency in our house at risk. With the garage in hiatus, Max is acting like a junkie going cold turkey. Robby supplies us with a joint every night, so Max gets his fix. After getting high, we take Max out on the leash to do his thing. The pot makes him act like a puppy on speed, running circles around us, and stopping to smell all the dog pee and poop in the neighborhood. When stoned he acts just like Robby.

Jace is teaching me how to play rhythm guitar. Since we take requests, sometimes the rhythm is laid down before the lead guitar comes in. Jace does my rhythm parts until I learn the chords. Then he can switch to leads. I learn the fingering by watching his hands and mirroring the strings. Jace really is a prodigy as he can play any song he has heard from memory. I need him to show me what to do. When I run around with the mic in my hand, he switches back to rhythm so my hands are free. If we get a bass player, Jace wtll not have to do rhythm. He suggests we teach Hippie Greg the bass parts. Also, he has a car. Hippie Greg says it is cool to learn, so now we are six. Michael’s dad is glad he does not have to arrange for a truck again, asking if we need him at the show. I know he is just testing us, as we all shout he has to come. Even Michael wants his dad there. Mr. Antonio even calls Martin Spec to arrange a ‘P’ bass and amp for Hippie Greg. Now we have to find out if Greg can learn to play. Michael asks his dad to help Greg, since his dad played standup bass in college. We have to practice extra hard that week to make sure everyone stays on the beat and makes the chord transitions. It is boring for the drummers as they have to play rolls over and over. They find ways to get on each other’s nerves. Often we have to wait until they get over their fights on who plays and when. This gives Hippie Greg time to work with Mr. Antonio while we have to wait for everyone else. The first night we try to practice together, it is a shambles. Finally Robby stands up from behind his kit.
“Mr. Antonio, we appreciate all you do for us but we will never get it together until we can smoke a joint and chill.”
Michael turns white and looks like he wants to hide in his bass drum. His dad laughs, “I wondered when you’d ask. Yes, I did inhale in college. I was in a band, too.”
We all sigh. Michael comes out from under his drums.
“You want to spark this up?” Robby asks Michael’s dad.
“I think I’ll just go have a beer while you guys get it together.”
He comes back about half an hour later with a six-pack.
“This is as far as I can go with breaking the law. I don’t want to know about the other stuff. But don’t be shy in front of me. I work for you. Okay?”

He sits by Greg. They go over the fingering changes to learn. I say we need to do a new song of our own for this gig.
“We do False Gods. It’s like a totally new song now,” Robby complains.
“Yeah, but it’s a rewrite. We need to play our own. We don’t want to end up playing covers at bar mitzvahs and weddings.”
“How about playing at funerals, I bet that would sell.” Robby suggests. We all ignore him.
“How about this love song I wrote with Jace?” I ask.

  • You act so true,
    • With me so blue,
    • take me
    • calm me
    • you need me,
    • a reason to love.

o Take my hands ,
o Take my hips,
o all you can,
o kiss my lips,
o invade my mind,
o don’t leave my side,
o forget my pride,
o I need you inside.

  • take me inside.
    • take me inside.
    • take me inside.
    • take me.
    • take me.
    • take me.
    • take me inside.”

“How can you write a love song when you ain’t got girlfriends?” Hippie Greg asks.
Everyone gets quiet, until I ask him, “Didn’t you see our show at Pete’s.”
“Sure, you two were crazy on stage.”
“Does that give you a clue who’s in love with who?”
“Oh. I thought you was just fagging it up like Jagger and Richards do.”
“Does that answer your question?”
“Oh. Does that mean no girls will like us?”
“No. It means you get all the girls.”
“Okay. Fine by me.”

Robby says he heard a new song from Queen that was about looking for love, ‘Somebody to Love,’

“Find me somebody to love
Find me somebody to love somebody somebody somebody somebody
Somebody find me
Somebody find me somebody to love
Can anybody find me somebody to love ?
(Find me somebody to love)
(Find me somebody to love)
Find me somebody, somebody (find me somebody to love) somebody, somebody to love
(Find me somebody to love)
Find me, find me, find me, find me, find me
Ooh – somebody to love
(Find me somebody to love)
(Find me somebody to love)
Find me, find me, find me somebody to love
(Find me somebody to love)
Anybody, anywhere, anybody find me somebody to love love love!
Wooo somebody find me, find me love.”

written by Mercury, Freddie
Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

“Yeah. We’ll play it first, then we’ll go right into our song,” Jace wants to mix.
“Yeah. And, we can change our name to Queens.” Michael laughs.

Later Mary asks me if I like the girl I kissed at Sorrento’s the other night. I made quite an impression on her. Mary hopes all four of us could go out sometime. I said sure. It is getting complicated. I tell Jace what Mary wants to arrange, telling him I will not go if he objects. Instead of thinking about it, he just says Mary has to set him as well, so all six of us can go out. That leaves Michael out, so I ask him if his secret girlfriend Jenna can come out with all of us. He says her father is too strict to allow her to go on dates. But he has an idea: get her family to throw a Christmas party for her and afterwards all eight of us can at least hang out, maybe even go to Sorrento’s. Michael’s dad does business with Mr. Lombardi, so Michael asks him to get Mr. Lombardi to host a party for Jenna. Michael’s band will play dance music for everyone. It is a chance for me to sing all the oldies I love. No one really dates anymore anyway. Michael is stoked. Mary promises she will find Jace a girl to like. It’ is like getting the Fender Mustang. It all falls in my lap.

But first we have to come up with a theme for the frat gig. I remember that David is leaving for the UK the day after our show. Since he and Jill are coming to the party, I decide we will only play UK songs. The English Invasion and Blues. And at the end we can play Queen’s ‘Somebody to Love,’ dedicating it to Jill and David; then we will finish the show with David singing the UK National Anthem, ‘God Save the Queen.’ If they want more, we will do an encore of Queen’s “We are the Champions.’ That will send him home to England with the Miami fighting spirit to take on the world of swimming. The English rule.
We have a good idea what to play. We hook up Robby’s stereo at Michael’s, and play acoustic with English Invasion records, starting with Paranoid, Smoke on the Water, Satisfaction, and a lot of other Stones songs.
“Seems like everyone has a song. Who we missing?” I ask, “Who’s the forgotten boy?”
Iggy, who mostly is passed out at practice, suddenly becomes animated and jumps up, “Yeah, yeah, ‘Search and Destroy’.”
I hit the Stooges’ chord first before Jace remembers the song. My vocals come in when Jace hits his leads:

“I’m a street walking cheetah………I’m a runaway son of the nuclear A-bomb..”
Iggy grabs the mic from me: “I am a world’s forgotten boy. The one who searches and destroys”

Writer(s): Iggy Pop, James Osterberg, James Williamson, James Robert Williamson
Copyright: Bug Music O/B/o Strait James Music, Strait James Music, Bug Music, Emi Music Publishing Ltd., Screen Gems-emi Music O.B.O. Emi Music Publishing Ltd., James Osterberg Music

Jace is totally into it. “You know this, Iggy?”
“That’s my song.”
“Are you mad that we’re playing it?”
“No way, but I’m way better at it than Tim.”
Jace enjoys this tidbit. “Think you can take the mic away from him on stage?”
“I’m Iggy. It’s my song.”
“Okay, here we go again. Tim will just play rhythm and you sing.”
“Won’t Tim wanna kick my ass?”
“He has other plans for your ass.”
“Fuck him, then. If I do good, I’ll be the new singer.”
“No, just stay being Iggy, okay,” Then to everyone, “One, two, three, four..
I come in a beat late, “I’m a street walking cheetah., with a heart full of napalm,
I’m a runaway son of the nuclear A-bomb.”

Iggy is ready,

“I am a world’s forgotten boy;

The one who searches and destroys
Honey gotta help me please;                                                                                                                                                     Somebody gotta save my soul…

The one who’s searchin’, searchin’ to destroy,

And honey I’m the world’s forgotten boy

The one who’s searchin’, searchin’ to destroy,

Forgotten boy, forgotten boy,

Forgotten boy said hey forgotten boy”

Writer(s): Iggy Pop, James Osterberg, James Williamson, James Robert Williamson
Copyright: Strait James Music, Bug Music, James Osterberg Music

That jam goes on awhile. Iggy is running around screaming, “I’m in the band, I’m in the band.”
“Stop, Iggy. I’m still the singer,” as I take back the mike, “But if you jump up with me we can sing it together, and if’n you do real good, I’ll concentrate on my guitar, and then you are the band’s singer. And, when you finish, just hand me back the mic, or we will never do another Iggy cover again.”
“Okay, Tim. But no one does Iggy but me.”
“Okay, but I might have to be a little bit James Osterberg if you’re not ready to sing. And, Iggy. if I don’t give you the mic, you have to grab it from me. Don’t worry, I want it to look like you want to hurt me.”

Jace sees the confusion on Iggy’s face, “Listen. After we play all these English songs. You start yelling, ‘Play American, Play American.’ We’ll try to reason with you, but be an asshole, jump in our faces and grab Tim’s mic. Turn to the drums and yell ‘Search and Destroy.” Tim and I will play an intro, You jump around facing the crowd, and yell, ‘one,two,three,four,’ “ I am a world’s forgotten boy; The one who searches and destroys.”
“We’ll just follow you. At the end, throw down the mic, and yell, “Detroit, yeah. Stooges.” And walk off.”

“Whada I do then?” Hippie Greg yells.

“Fuck all them ladies who want your rock star dick.”

Robby yells, “Little as it is.”

Iggy goes to look for another six-pack.

Michael comes out from his drums. “Listen up. I gotta talk to you about my dad.”
“He’s cutting off the beer.”
“Marshall Stacks, Marshall Stacks.”
“Shut up. I’m not Santa’s helper, okay?”
“Okay, okay.”
“He thinks we need to have a sound engineer. He wants to find someone not in the band to do it.”
“You think he’s trying to take over and is raining on our parade?”
“Fuck you, Robby. You think I don’t love my dad?”
“Are we takin’ a break?”
“What is it, Mike?”
“It’s about Hippie Greg. Dad wants someone to turn down the bass feed when he gets lost in a song.”
“Hippie Greg can do that just by listening to himself and blocking his strings.”
“Okay, look. He’ll buy us a sound board. We can mix our sound the way we want, but it’s over two grand.
“It’s up to you Jace, you’re the music man.”
“Naw, we don’t need it. We’re raw right now, that’s what I like. I don’t wanna end up playing jazz. Tell your dad, however you can, that we love his help, but that’s not gonna do it for us.
Then Jace turns around and yells at Hippie Greg, “If you get lost, stop playing until we get to a part you know. I’ll try to tell you when to come in, like when we practice.”
“Don’t you think it’s bad if we look like we’re practicing in the middle of a song?” I ask.
“Shut up, Tim. You play the bass line when Hippie is out of it. You tell him when to come back in.”
“Sorry, guys. My mom won’t let me practice at my house,” Hippie Greg tries to excuse his sloppy play.
“Tim, I think he wants to move in.”
“No, way. I won’t get fooled again.”

“Sorry,” Hippie Greg apologizes.
“Right, that’s you, Hippie sorry, sorry Hippie.” Robby pronounces.
“Fuck this shit; I need a blow job.” I announce.
“I gotta do that, too?” Hippie Greg whines.
Robby reassures him, “I think that comment is for Jace.”
“Oh?? ..ooh.”

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