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Almost Famous in a 1969 Cover Band



Looking back, it’s hard to believe we survived. Between 1968 and 1969 the world seemed to tear itself apart. Nothing was sacred, especially to a high school senior about to enter a frighteningly real world. Nothing was sacred except the Top 40. In the chaotic Sixties, a rock band was the safest place to hide.




ALSO:  Rooming with the Love Generation  

Who can forget the Crystal Prison?  

I have a recurring nightmare. At first it's just a tension dream. In it, I become increasingly aware that I never graduated from high school. Thirty years ago I must have skipped a class, or the guidance counselor tallied my credits wrong. The math is fuzzy. Anyway, in this dream, I've got to take some horribly boring course over again. Sitting still at a little metal desk, listening to my old teacher droning on from his ancient lecture notes is excruciating.

There's a heavy sense of powerlessness too. My life is not my own. Those of you who have a boss or a family know how it feels. Worse, no matter how many dreary courses I take, I cannot seem to matriculate. Whatever the teacher says doesn't stick. I can't even remember what subject this is and a big test is coming up. If I fail, the truth will get out, my college degree too will be revoked, and my entire life will have been a nasty rotten lie.

I twist in my sleep and claw the pillow.

On the day of the big test my legs are like iron pillars. It's taking forever to inch toward the classroom door, up the long empty hall. The bell rang long ago. Then it dawns on me that I'm on the wrong floor, in the wrong wing, possibly at the wrong school. Now I'm running, drenched in perspiration, legs numb. I'm moving faster now, heart racing, but to where? I've forgotten the room number and the name of the teacher. If I don't pass that test, I'll end up here forever running down halls of green concrete.

crystalprison01.jpegThat, in a nutshell, is how much I hated high school. Apparently my subconscious still does. That's probably why I joined a rock band. For those parents planning to hide this column from their teenaged kids, relax. This is a moral and uplifting tale. I graduated fifth in a class of nearly 400. For those readers straining to see what this all has to do with history, relax. I'm getting to that too.

Two recent events triggered my old nightmare. First, I saw the film "Almost Famous" again on cable TV. It’s about an innocent 15-year old journalist who writes a cover story for Rolling Stone magazine in 1973. This "coming-of-age" movie resonates with the truth of the times. Despite the hormone -injected drug-addled images of the 60s so often depicted, some of us made it in one end and out the other unsinged. You can hear more dirty words on a grammar school playground or prime time TV show today than I heard playing in a rock and roll band back in 1969.


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