Friday, July 18, 2008

I Had The Bell Bottom Blues


Bell Bottom Blues Derek and the Dominos

My first foray into rock-blues arrived at the very time when I was breaking up with my first real girlfriend. Or maybe that's just the way I remember it, for perhaps I had just never really paid much attention to the blues until I was down and out - under the influence of a broken heart.

At the time my hair was down well below my shoulders, I wore hand patched pairs of bell bottoms, and I, along with all my west-side friends, managed to stay high most of the time - especially during the summer.

My luck would have it that my best west-side Springfield-Leland-Grove, Illinois buddy, Dave, was moving upstate and he and his girlfriend decided that I would be the perfect person to take over as her boyfriend.

This may have been a seemingly generous gesture on the part of Dave, but I don't think he was too happy about leaving his girlfriend. Dave ended up drinking like a fish, and one evening he broke a large window at Penny Lane which at the time was located at the corner of Ash and MacArthur.

A rather dangerous, and fully grown adult, Tony Wables (one of the "founders" of Penny Lane) quite seriously threatened to kill Dave if he ever stepped foot near Penny Lane again - which scared off Dave for about one week.

Dave was a bit cocky as Tony was straight out of prison at the time on an attempted murder charge in which he tried to kill a cop by running him down in his car. Oh well, we were young at the time - and Dave may have felt that death would release him from his broken heart.

Anyway, Dave's girl was a friend of mine and had been for what seemed like ages. I was very conflicted about just stepping into Dave's boyfriend role, and Dave's obvious jealously didn't make it any easier. I had betrayed my best buddy by holding hands with, kissing and making out with his girlfriend - at least that is what I felt at the time - even though they both agreed that I was the heir apparent.

There was also the matter of which kind of person I was supposed to be. All my buddies wanted me to be a total burn out - which I was at that time - and which they were at that time - and which they wanted me to remain at that time - and which they wanted to remain at that time.

Pot, acid, and booze were like gods to be worshiped. And yes there were girls in our little gang, but it was getting high which was paramount above all other considerations - not love.

But my new girlfriend didn't approve of this lifestyle. She had fought Dave on this, and lost, and she was quite determined to win me back from the dark side. For she had known both of us before we ever took our first puff of the evil Mary Jane. In fact she was a jock.

I recall literally watching about five of my friends heading on foot over to Penny Lane, to pick up some rolling papers, or god knows what, and there I was standing across the street with an open invitation to join them, and get high with them like I had a thousand times before.

My girlfriend made it very clear that she was not going to come with me, so I just waved my friends off, but I knew then that my relationship with this girl wouldn't last. It was over - that's how stupid I was at the time. Pick the girl! Pick the girl - not the drugs! Damn it, he can't hear me!

Still I had feelings for her big time, and as we were headed toward the inevitable, "You have to choose either your stoner friends, or me" choice, I often felt confused and brokenhearted. I had never felt brokenhearted before. Having those feelings allowed me to understand the blues for the first time.

And it was Bell Bottom Blues by Derick and the Dominoes (Eric Clapton, et. al.) that I'd end up listening to when I'd get home from partying with my friends during that period.

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