Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Band

The best thing that happened to me this week (so far) was spotting my friend Johnny across 40 aisles at Home Depot, sneaking up behind him, and then goosin' him while squealing "OhMyGod!! KennyRogers! Kenny Rogers! Can I have your autograph?!"

Now, the first thing you need to know is that Johnny really doesn't look like Kenny Rogers. (He just has a beard now.) I only call him that because one day I heard this deeply familiar baritone singing Sinatra to his kids, behind me at the DiscoKroger, while I was getting a Coke out of the machine. I turned around and when he recognized me, he laughed and said, "I bet you were wondering who that KennyRogers-lookin' son-of-a-bitch was, singing so loud."

No, no. I was just thinking, MAN, that voice is familiar. And it was, because Johnny's been a key musician in nearly every one of my favorite local bands for the last 20 years. He's a legend.

And for weeks, I wasn't able to get "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town," outta my head. Then I couldn't get Cake's version out of my head. Now I can't stop obsessing about what it would take to get Cake to play here.

Of course, as a rockstar, Johnny had to do time in the 90s as the art director where I worked. His bandmate Rob (also known as Rob v.1, also known as "Big City") worked with us too.  BigCity would shuffle up the stairs to my office every morning (wearing house slippers and a bath robe in my memory of this, but that might or might not be accurate), and greet me in his gravelly voice with, "Mornin' Chiefy. Can I get you a frappuccino?" (He never actually got me a frappuccino. He just said that everyday.)

I knew and loved them when they were young and on the road all the time. And I knew them later when they married happily and then settled down with kids to raise beautiful families, and the transition was pleasantly shocking.

Or as Rob v.1 would put it when he came over to my house many years ago for story meetings, "Man, I bet back in the 80s when you were watching me trash my drumkit on stage, you never thought I'd be storing my wife's breast milk in your fridge."

Yes. That goes without saying. Or it ought to.

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