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The Blog Bog

The Mag Rack


The Soundtrack of My Life - September 2013
Phillip Giambri


I've been very blessed.
For as long as I can remember,
my life has been accompanied by music.
Moments and memories
are recorded and then replayed,
whenever a song connects
to a memory.
My parents are part of "The Great Generation."
They listen and dance to the sound of "The Big Bands."
My childhood is filled with the music of the '40s,
and I know the words to every pop song,
before I start school.
This innocent generation of pop music fans,
unwittingly gives birth to a new generation of music fanatics:
Greasers & Rockers.
At thirteen, I listen to the only black radio station in Philly: WPLJ.
Jocko Henderson is the DJ and he's badass.
I hear "Work With Me Annie" for the first time,
listen to that dirty sax screeching and wailing,
and my body wants to move.
I want more.
The back-beat of the song Sha-Boom,
gets stuck in my head.
I beg my mom for $.75.
I go to Nipper's Record Store
and buy my first '45 record.
I listen R&B and want to know more.
At the main library in Philly,
I become a student of "the blues."
They have recordings from the Library of Congress.
Listening on a primitive set of headphones,
I discover Leadbelly, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Louis Armstrong,
Bessie Smith, Chicago Blues, Barrel House piano, Ragtime, and Jazz.
I'm listening to PLJ in my bedroom
and my dad yells up, "Turn off that Goddamned moulinyan music,"
Too late. The music is in me.
After school we meet in Jack's basement



drink warm beer and apple wine,
and listen to Jocko's show.
R&B gives birth to Rock & Roll.
I know immediately that this is my music.
I can't afford to buy records
so I go to the local soda shop
on days when the guy puts the new records in the juke box.
I beg him to sell me the old used ones.
He sees the hungry look in my eyes,
and sells them to me for $.25 cents each.
A young addict connects with his first "dealer."
After school,
while my parents are still working,
I take long swigs of Seagram's 7
and dance alone in the basement
to the beat of the music.
Little Richard and Jerry Lee Louis are my dance partners.
At fourteen,
I'm going to YMCA dances
to watch the dance contests.
"Hell, I can do that shit."
I study the dancers to until I find a girl
that I think really feels the music and the beat the way I do.
I work up the courage
to ask her to be my partner in a dance contest.
She agrees.
We click, and easily win the first dance contest we enter.
I soon realize,
that with the right music, mostly Little Richard or Jerry Lee,
and the right partner,
I can't lose.
My mind and my body enter
a kind of altered state when I'm dancing;
as though watching myself from above.
It's not me dancing;
It's the music and the beat, that's taken over my body,
like some mystical religious experience.
I'm in a state of ecstasy when I'm dancing
and it's as addictive as any drug could ever be.
I'm inexhaustible and unbeatable.
I never lose a contest.
In the mid-sixties,
I'm still collecting R&B, Rock & Roll, and Blues music,
and I discover British rockers,
who, like me, have been immersed in American blues music;
specifically The Rolling Stones, The Animals, Clapton, Van Morrison,
and other Brits of that ilk.
I keep on dancing, but not in contests any more.
I'm in New York City now, so it's endless SoHO loft parties,
with hopes of getting laid and copping drugs or free booze;
and it works for me, for a long time.
And everywhere . there's always the music,
synced with my life and locked in my memories forever.
The Rolling Stones, James Brown, Neil Young, Tom Waits, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Four Seasons, Aretha Franklin,
Janis Joplin, Kris Kristofferson, Martha Reeves, The Four Tops... and on and on it goes.
"Disco Fever" breaks out in New York City.
I don't like the beat, or the sound; too plastic for me.
I abandon pop music for the sound of Outlaw Country Music,
whose writer/performers,
have absorbed the classic Grand Old Opry sound,
added electric, and a heavy back beat,
and moved from The Opry
to the back rooms of dive bars,
where they're embraced by a new generation of rockers.
Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Paycheck,
Hank Williams Jr., David Allen Coe, and Johnny Cash.
I feel the beat and love the lyrics;
They sing of freedom
and life outside the world of suits.
Country goes Vegas:
It's back to the roots of rock again,
and I'm liken' the hard beat and sound
of the Punk and Indie bands popping up
all over the Village.
The rhythm, the beat,
and sound of all these influences
echo endlessly through my head,
connecting to images from my life.
My body still responds
when I hear and feel the beat of the music.
The music is in me
and is the soundtrack of my life.

           Phillip Giambri___