A twenty-something year old co-worker came into the office Monday with some purchases he was proud of.
"I just got these for $1.50 each," he boasted. I couldn't see exactly what he was pointing to, but I noticed a sort of musty smell in the air. I went to his desk to take a closer look.
"Wow, I had this one," I exclaimed. "And I had this one, too."
"I thought you'd like them," he smiled.
The apartment building I lived in most my college years had three floors. There were four apartments on each floor and, except for one family that lived on the ground floor, all the tenants were students.
Most weekends there were parties at some of the apartments. Several of us had our stereo speakers connected, so the same music played in different apartments. Friends, acquaintances and sometimes strangers wandered between parties, often via the fire escapes. The music is what seemed to tie us all together.
A friend who lived upstairs had worked in a record store in New Jersey and fancied himself a deejay. Rob spun the records and took our requests: Santana's "Black Magic Woman," Eric Clapton's "Layla," Credence Clearwater's "Born on the Bayou," Joe Cocker's "Delta Lady" were always big hits. My favorites were anything by Joni Mitchell, Tina Turner and Janis Joplin.
My girlfriends and I lived vicariously through Joni's autobiographical references to her personal relationships. I thought she was at the top of her game with the "Blue" album. I saw Joni in concert twice: at the Greek Theater in L.A. when Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young debuted as her warm-up act, and a few years later in Honolulu when she performed with Tom Scott.
I liked Ike and Tina Turner since American Bandstand days. I dragged about a dozen friends to see them when they came to my college campus. The men just melted when Tina danced and pranced and sang "Proud Mary".
One night my roommate asked me to go to a concert with her, but I opted out for some reason. When Claire came back from seeing Janis Joplin that night she told me I'd missed an incredible show. Janis drank Southern Comfort and belted out the blues for 3 hours. I thought I'd catch her some other time, but there was never another opportunity.
Nick's $1.50 purchases were "vintage" record albums. The ones he just bought, I had once owned, 35 or more years ago. The album covers brought back memories of those parties on Fulton Street, and dear friends like the deejay Rob, who passed away some time back.
After work Monday, in the car on the way home, I just couldn't help myself. "Busted flat in Baton Rouge," I started. By the time I got to my driveway, I was singing at the top of my lungs "Feelin' good was good enough for me, good enough for me and my Bobby McGee."