Saturday, September 17, 2005

'Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy

UTBT/Gardner 4.1mi

I missed another training session on Friday, so I traded out my cross training day and decided to run this morning. The sun is coming up a little later these days and the start of my run is pretty dark, but the solitude is nice, if not a little spooky at times. My training run pace has been slowly increasing, and I seem to be maintaining a 10-11 minute mile pretty comfortably on a run of this length.
My headlamp is having trouble penetrating the darkness, and as the sun comes up I can see that there is a thick blanket of fog creating an artificial horizon where it hangs about four feet over the trail. I plug along with my feet on the ground and my head in the clouds, a disembodied pair of legs to the passers-by.
Since the Castles Made of Sand Run on Tuesday, I’ve had an insatiable appetite for Jimi Hendrix. That afternoon I stopped at the record store and bought a couple of Hendrix cd’s that I must have lost years ago. Actually, the original copies that I had were on vinyl and they weren’t in the best of shape. Listening to my new copy of “Are You Experienced?” in the van, I realize that the version of “Purple Haze” that has been playing in my head for the last fifteen or twenty years has been permanently altered by my Uncle Steve.
As a kid, Uncle Steve was my hero. He was a sort of William Hurt-esque record producer in Nashville who claimed to have hung out and shot heroin with the likes of Jimi and Janis. He had also been the voice of Jesus for a version of the Bible on tape. Man, talk about track marks.
As young aspiring musicians, my brothers and I were always eager to impress Steve with our knowledge and interest in all things musical. On one of Steve’s trips to Florida, after what had probably been quite a few beers on his part, we all ended up in the “guy’s room” listening to records. Steve sat on the edge of a bunk bed smoking Buglers and listening patiently as we showed off our record collection. In the middle of “Are You Experienced?” Side One, Steve just reaches over and stubs his cigarette out on the record. In the middle of a song.
We just sat there aghast. Maybe it was just a mistake, but now I think this was Steve's drunken way of showing us that his connection to this music was so much deeper than ours would ever be. His relationship to it was so close that he could even commit acts of violence against it. Besides, the Columbia Record and Tape Club would send us another one for just a penny.
I can imagine myself now, not much younger than Steve was then, listening to a Minor Threat album that my nephew has “discovered”. Or, better yet, Nirvana. I’d put a cigarette out on that for sure. Right in the middle of the Ipod’s scroll wheel.
Anyhow, Steve succeeded in editing out the entire second verse of the song and that’s the way that it stayed until I finally lost the record years later. At first, the skips were infuriating because they obliterated a part of the song that I knew was in there somewhere, but over time that verse just stopped existing for me and I came to love the record for what it was. Or, rather, for what it had become: my own unique version of “Purple Haze”. I’ve listened to that record so many times now that I could notate the rhythm of the skips from memory.
Steve’s version of “Purple Haze” became even more important to me than Hendrix’s. He left a mark on that record that forever changed my perspective of something that I thought I knew, and I’m richer for it.
That’s how you make a map. Scratch your temporal existence on the infinite.


Blogger Taylor Brady said...

I had completely forgotten this until I read it here today. Now I can hear the particular texture of that skip so clearly it's almost tactile, a little tickle in the ear.

Funny, though, that it wouldn't have occurred to me on my own, since I've been thinking about Steve lately. A somewhat later version of him popped up in a poem recently, calling with news of the Lutz porn industry.


1:03 PM  
Blogger Devon said...

I thought about that call for awhile last night as I was writing this post.
"I'm in Lutz filming a porno with a bunch of Puerto Rican girls who can't wait to meet you."
I'd like to see your version, send me the poem.

1:48 PM  

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