The Boomerang Series
Dr. Richard Cirulli discusses the issues presented in this, his most recent article, “Hey Mr. Tambourine Man By Dr. RICHARD CIRULLI”, On Friday, March 17, 2017th, at 10am DST. Listen to the broadcast “Live” or “On Demand” … http://tobtr.com/s/9879523
Hey Mr. Tambourine Man
“Hey Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I’m not sleepy and there is no place I am going to”
— Bob Dylan
For this article the author will digress from the usual stoic politic/socio commentary to a personal nostalgic topic of lighter fare. Although, many of the folk/rock songs of the 60’s shared an angst with the rebellious youth of the sixties, and often times being its voice. What the youths of the sixties, like all eras share in common is that special song that brings one back to that special rite of passage. The “folly” of youth, and those first yearnings for Eros; one’s Bacchanalian moment. For some of us fledging “Hippies” of the day, The Byrds’ rendition of “Mr. Tambourine Man” was one such song. The song was the perfect collaboration of Bob Dylan’s poetic and political lyrics, and the innovative guitar work of Roger McGuinn’s, electric 12 string Rickenbacker guitar. Especially for us aspiring guitarists who were being humbled by trying to master the bar chord- wow the 12 string really upped the anti – blistering would be an understatement. Maybe callous would be a better choice of words.
On one rainy Saturday afternoon on a spring day in 1967, I opted to cure my boredom by attending the two feature matinee at the Embassy Theater in Port Chester. Well actually, practicing those bar chords on my cheap acoustic 12-string was taking a toll on my patience, not to mention ego. For the price of 65 cents it was not a bad deal, and in hindsight a rather fortuitous decision.
As I approached the dark and menacing ticket booth, expecting to see the phantom of the opera selling tickets behind the dark cage. I slipped my ten dollar bill under the cage for my ticket to a double feature horror show, waiting for my change – I was also a budding capitalist. As I peered into this dark unknown booth, my eyes were met with surprise and delight by quite a cute blond, blue-eyed girl. With a smile she said,” cool cloths!” Well I guess I did look cool with all the rave fashion of the day; Beatle boots, bell bottoms, tie-dyed Tee-shirt, “long hair”; well it was approaching the ear lobe, and of course, my Roger McGuinn granny glasses.
“She woke me from my silent reverie and fantasy by asking, “Like hey man! Do you dig the Byrds.” “Like cool”, she must be a psychic or something, hopefully she is not reading my mind as we speak. She was quite an experienced muse. “What’s your name? Do you play the guitar?” In a confident response that hid my hidden trepidation”, “Yes I do”, as I whispered my name. “Why this is really good Karma man, can you play Mr. Tambourine Man?” I responded with reserved honesty, “ like yea no proble; piece of cake”. She responded, “ Like really groovy, can you meet me at my bus stop Monday afternoon, at the corner of Irving Avenue and North Regent, ummmh, say about 3:00”, as she smiled out every word. “ I attend Catholic School in White Plains, you can walk me home and we can go to my house, and make sure you bring your guitar to serenade me. Don’t worry about meeting my parents they return from work around 7:00ish” My lucky day, she even goes to Catholic School, for sure my Novena’s were being answered. “No problem, see you then; rain or shine.”
After the show, I walked passed the ticket window, as we both flashed the peace sign, “See you Monday!” we said. Monday seemed like an eternity away. Strange I thought over the weekend, I have no appetite, can’t study, and all I want to do is practice my scales and bar chords. Why this may be the beginning of my career as a Rock Star, or maybe love?
Arriving home from school on Monday, I hid my baseball glove, and made the decision not to compete in the baseball tryouts, unbeknownst to my parents. I grabbed my 12-string acoustic guitar, along with a few albums and sheet music, along with my granny glasses, and ran to the bus stop to meet her. Standing at the street corner chomping at the bit during my fiv-minute wait in eternity and praying I would not get mugged by the local greasers as they did not appreciate the latest fashion. She did look quite cute in that Catholic girl outfit getting off the bus- a magic bus at that, so why did I not appreciate this when I attended Catholic grade school? Her smile was electrifying, as I mumbled to myself, “I hope these Catholic girls don’t start too late.”
While walking home, and trying to juggle my guitar and sheet music, I navigated this painful conundrum in order to hold her hand. She then whispered in my ear, “Remember, my parents won’t be home till 7:00ish”- “Oh, what a lucky man I am,” I said to myself! Arriving at her home, I put down my guitar to ease the pain in my aching arm; the things we do for love. She looked at me with those blue eyes, and said, “excuse me while I go to my room and change, in the meantime take out your guitar and get ready to serenade me.” Quickly I removed my guitar, waiting her return. She returned from her room wearing some rather form fitting jeans, and equally revealing blouse. Proving to be quite the inspiration for me to rip right through the opening guitar solo, to be followed, yes, even with the bar chords. Well it hit the mark, and we never made it to the third verse. What seemed like a few moments of bliss, the hours had passed? We heard her parent’s car pull up in the driveway. One last kiss and hug, and I went flying out the back door trying to put my disheveled self together to some respectable order. By now my adrenaline was raging more than my hormones, where I soon found myself confronted with a menacing backyard fence, easily scaling it with guitar and sheet music in hand. Well, maybe there is a Gold Medal for me in the future?
Arriving at home, I quickly hid my guitar, picked up my Baseball glove, while trying to look presentable. As I entered the living room, my parent’s inquired, “looks like you had quite a workout at baseball practice, how did you do? I responded, “Well I can’t lie, Boy Scout’s Honor, (Yes, I was really a Boy Scout) not only did I make it to first base, I actually scored.” My parents were equally impressed at gullible- me an athlete? The next day, they even bouught me a new baseball glove?
Our afternoon rendezvous lasted well into the summer, until autumn’s first chill separated us like a leaf falling from a golden tree. Now fifty years on, retired and divorced with two grown daughters of my own, I now have the time to play my electric 12-string Rickenbacker guitar, now having mastered those bar chords and timeless guitar solos better than I have mastered the art of aging. And equally, I find myself fortunate that none of those pictures of me in my granny glasses exist, or have appeared on Facebook. It was worth the blackmailer’s price. Now in the autumn of my life, I find myself at times reflecting on this youthful interlude with fond memories as I drive past the now defunct Embassy Theater, listening to the Byrds’ CD.
In hindsight, this was more than just a youthful rite of passage, or in sixties parlance, rather good Karma. In the folly of my youth I acquired maturity’s wisdom to know that I was not born to be an athlete. It set my life’s compass to seek the shores of academics, poetry, music, and the arts, making me the existential philosopher and romantic I am today. I believe Bob Dylan’s lyrics sum it up best:
“ Ah, but I was so Much older then, I’m younger then than now” and ith no regrets!?
Dr. Richard Cirulli is a retired professor, business consultant, writer, columnist, and innocent bystander at large. He welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org