by Adam Golub
We practiced every Saturday in the drummers garage. Technically his mom owned the house, but she always found errands to do while we were rocking out. The yellow Colonial sat at the end of a usually quiet street, surrounded by woods and farmland. We would get dropped off by our parents, unload our equipment, and try to renegotiate the time they would return to pick us up.
We never wanted to quit. We only wanted to jam.
We would set up in a semi-circle in front of the drummers dark blue five-piece kit. Guitar. Another guitar. Bass. Keyboard. Wed get in tune and start with a real ass kicker, something like Born to Be Wild or You Really Got Me. We performed for the empty driveway or the occasional cow in the field across the street, imagining a sea of swaying girls and record label execs. Wed dance in place, jut out our chins, shake our five heads of feathered hair.
When we finished, the drummer would raise his arm and twirl a drumstick and hang his head, eyes closed, like he was in prayer.
The drummer was our singer and he was also our band leader. He would stop drumming whenever we made a mistake, no matter how small, sometimes throwing one of his drum sticks at the guy who had messed up. He was always threatening to quit.
I could form another band like that, he would say, snapping his fingers. You know how many people in this town want to jam with me? Do you realize how lucky you are to be in this garage right now?
Every week, wed teach ourselves new songs. Something by The Cars, or Blue Oyster Cult, or Cheap Trick. When we could play a song all the way through, twice, with no mistakes, we added it to our master list.
Some of the songs on the master list had stars next to them. This meant they were key songs. As in key to our existence. Central to our identity. The songs that defined us.
The drummer usually decided which songs were key.
*Sympathy for the Devil
A decade later, the four of us would take turns reading that list at the drummers memorial service.
Our goal freshman year was to win Battle of the Bands. But then the drummer got suspended for beating up Jimmy Sullivan in the Boys room. The drummers mom banned practice for three weeks. When we finally started again, we made even more mistakes. Our rhythm was off.
On the last day we played together, a week before the drummer moved to Florida to live with his dad, we were trying to learn a tune by Bad Company. The drummer got so mad that he broke the bass players tinted eyeglasses. It was an accident, we supposed, but the drumstick did nail him right in the face.
Still, we didnt want to quit. The drummer was right: we felt lucky to be in that garage.
We added our last key song to the master list that day.
*Ready For Love
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