The Friday Morning Listen: Kansas – Leftoverture (1976)

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She walked into English class. I took one look at her blonde hair, her bright yellow blouse, and (dear me) her smile and was (as I’m fond of saying) gone. It’s a feeling you can only have when you’re in your early teens, a sort of psychological levitation. It was early in the morning, first period, and I was the new kid in town. The teacher was strict and the anxiety level was high. I didn’t know a single person in the school. I didn’t want to be there, until I saw her.

A few years passed and the tension of that day passed. While I didn’t feel completely comfortable in my own skin (What teen does?) I did feel at home with all of my newfound friends. I remember thinking that all of my worries were behind me, not knowing that half of the world is forever dealing with “…If I can just get past this next issue….” Despite that, the desire originating from that first day in school did not fade.

At some point in those four short (and somehow, incredibly long) years, we did get together for a while. It was a surreal experience, with my body understand what was going on while my mind shouted “IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING?!” For a while, there was music and phone calls, stolen moments and handwritten notes. It was really happening and I could hardly believe it.

But it wasn’t meant to be. The forces that make their way between so many people had their way with us. She became a different person, ran with a different crowd. So did I.

Still, I never forgot about her. And I always wondered what had happened to her. How did her life turn out? What kind of person did she become?

Many years later, a friend at a reunion relayed a few disheartening items: an abusive husband and lots of drug use. In fact, my classmate said that she ran into her on the street and was confronted at first with confusion and then fear. Apparently, the husband didn’t approve of her socializing. Not the life I would wish on anyone.

I stumbled onto the following recording a few days ago. It came from an entry in the 365 Days Project, a celebration of found and outsider audio. The explanation, if you can call it that, is that the tape was “rescued” from a bin at a Sam Goody record store. For some reason, the young lady singing on it reminded me of her. It reminded me of a time (and all of us music obsessives went through this) when music seemed more important than anything else. The music was so strongly attached to people and places that it was not separable from those objects.

Carry On Wayward Son

She used to sing along to the music we played, with a smile that worried about nothing more than me & her, and getting the words right. It was a kind of innocence we all lose. Some people call that “growing up.” I call it sad.

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
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