Expect the Unexpected

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Open Birthday Card to Mick Jagger

mick-jagger Happy Birthday to one of my heroes, Sir Michael Philip Jagger!

You turn 70 today. Wow.

I wonder how you’re spending the day?

Maybe you’ll play hooky from work and catch a baseball game, then take Keef and the boys to TK’s American Cafe sports bar in Danbury, Connecticut. At TK’s when it’s your birthday (ID required) they give you a free chicken wing for every year you were born. Man, that’s nearly six dozen wings! Mick, party of 12, right this way.

O.K., I doubt we’ll see you at TK’s, but congratulations to the guy who once said he’d rather be dead than singing Satisfaction at 45.

Mick, you’re 70 and you’re still singing it. I love you, and this is why you are one of my heroes:

When I was a sixth grader in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, we had music class on Fridays with Mr. Hogan. Mr. Hogan also led the school’s concert band which had the nickname “Hogan’s Heroes,” cute huh?

A pink 45 record case, just like the one I had when I was a kid.

A pink 45 record case, like the one I had when I was a kid.

Around that time I expressed interest in playing an instrument — the piano. I absolutely loved piano. As a little kid, I loved Chopin and then Elton John. So I told my mother I wanted to play piano, and she went out and bought me a used clarinet. “Piano’s too expensive, this is just as good. It’s this or nothing,” she said thrusting the clarinet at me.

So I was a puffy, tooting clarinetist in Hogan’s Heroes.

At the end of Friday’s music class, if we had behaved, Mr. Hogan would pick one of us in the class to play “a 45” of our choice.  A “45” for you young whippersnippers out there, is a “record” made from “vinyl plastic,” also called a “single” because it had a main song on the A side, and a lesser song on the B side. Us old folks played “45s” on an antiquated machine called “a record player.”

We all used to bring our 45s to school on Fridays in portable cases. Mine was a pink one, and wow, look at the photo above. It’s just like the case I used to bring to school. Man, there’s a photo of everything online these days.

Anyway, I had my record case with me and it was jampacked with Beatles, Monkees, Bee Gees, and  a lot of British invasion singles. But no Rolling Stones. Not a fan. Too rough and hard for my taste.

So at the end of the class, Mr. Hogan said we had behaved, and did anyone have a 45 they would like to play?  DID WE? We all raised our hands, “Oh please Mr. Hogan, pick me, pick me….” But no, he picked Bobby Bowman. Bobby “The Bully” Bowman. I won’t get into Bobby Bowman for now, that’s a story for another day. Just suffice it to say, Bobby Bowman got picked that day to play one of his 45s.

Mr. Hogan took the single from Bobby, put it on the record player and started erasing the chalkboard. It was Honky Tonk Women by the Rolling Stones. Eh. But Bobby was happy. He gave a loud belch of satisfaction as the guitar riffs and cowbell began. Then the lyrics started,

“I met a gin-soaked bar-room queen in Memphis. She tried to take me upstairs for a ride.”

The record that made me kinda love the Rolling Stones.

The record that turned Mick Jagger into a hero for me.

Mr. Hogan turned around from the chalkboard. If he had been a cartoon character he would have had a stream of smoke coming from his ears.

Just as Mick sang, “gimme, gimme, gimme the honky tonk blues,” Mr. Hogan turned RED. He yanked the 45 off the turntable and threw it to the floor.

“Don’t you EVER bring a RECORD like THIS in here again! Put your heads down on your desks!!!”

So we put our heads down on our desks. That was the standard punishment when a teacher wanted to punish the whole class.

But that gave me some time to think.

Obviously Mr. Hogan was upset, very upset about that record. I didn’t even know what the lyrics meant. What the hell was a “gin-soaked bar-room queen?” What was a “honky tonk woman?” All I could think was it must be something dirty, bad, sexual, whatever… Something adults didn’t like, but kids did. Bobby Bowman-type kids.

I didn’t like the song either. But I wouldn’t yank someone’s record off the turntable like that and throw it to the ground. He probably scratched it and ruined it. You don’t do that.

Besides, it’s just music. It’s sold in the store. It’s on the radio. It’s the Rolling Stones and Mick Jagger and they’re rock stars! Maybe you don’t like the song Mr. Hogan, but you said Bobby could pick a 45 of his choice and HE DID. You went back on your word.

Finally, the bell rang and class was dismissed. That was quite a lesson I got that day.

When I got home I told my mother she could sell the clarinet. I didn’t like the clarinet and I was NOT going to play it in Hogan’s Heroes.

And that’s how I ended up in chorus.

Even cheaper than the clarinet, so we were all happy.

Thanks Mick!


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