Friday, August 17, 2012
In the old days, there were songs about seeing an alligator later, about purple people-eaters. Johnny with his hurricanes. Charlie Gracie’s butterfly. Duane’s bass guitar. And a not so familiar name these days, Joe Dorati, who had a one-hit wonder: preacher creature. You could hear all those songs – even Joe Dorati’s – on mighty wurlitzers of the musical spirit called Juke Boxes each with a tentacular arm taking its pick from the shuttling whorl of black discs and slapping down ... the disc's middle missing: punched out – and, indeed, in those days, I don’t think I ever heard one single middle, but just the beginnings and ends. Like the whole of life, I guess, with things going blurred with strangeness in my twenties and thirties - and since I died in my fifties those fuzzy years became my lost middle. The middle that was punched out to make a bigger empty hole ... so that the brimming music could be threaded by the chunky central spindle, dropped upon a round rubber mat that all those Juke Boxes had at their heart. Where the spinning was. Where the grooving was. Where the friction was. Where the needle was. Where the needle sometimes got stuck, hanging from my pick-up like a huge foreign insect with a tubular torso. Yes, that was my lost middle. Once upon a time, though, I woke up to find myself fifty. I looked downhill in both directions of coming and going. Finally, I went to meet my maker, my own preacher creature. I’d forgotten my name when asked. But it came back to me briefly – Joe Dorati – before I forgot it again: this time forever.