With our coronavirus semi-quarantine stretching into six months now, it becomes increasingly easier to delve into the past and let my memory pull me back to a happier, safer time and place. It’s rewarding, in this instance, to have lived a fulfilling and satisfying life, and to be able to recall much of it when songs, tv shows or things people say stir the memory of good times had, adventures survived.
These days, being pretty much home-bound, my memory tends to go to places I’ve been, things I’ve seen, people i’ve known. The human memory can’t really wrap itself around a 70+ year life… it has to be gathered and tasted in small increments. I guess it’s easier if one worked in a cubicle most of one’s life, and commuted to work every day along the same route for 25-35 years; always mowed the lawn on the weekends and always went to the beach for their summer vacation. Probably that would become just one big blur of sameness. Then, things like your marriage, your daughter’s graduation, your gall bladder surgery, would pop up brightly and clearly. I would not wish a muddy, boring memory of one’s life on anyone…
As a retired musician, I am lucky to have a “veritable cornucopia” of memory delights from which to choose; mostly good memories, some surprising, as in “Did I actually do that back then??” On these quiet Covid days, it’s fun to reminisce. Time passes, I usually have to smile at some point, and sometimes tell B what I’m remembering. She does that too, and our memories are so different, so interesting. She remembers much of raising her kids, some of the crazy things they did, things that happened on their family outings. They were a fairly large family of 6 kids for a good portion of her life… her second husband’s four boys, and her own son and daughter. They were active – they skied every winter and boated during the summers. All the boys played sports and were good athletes in the Seattle area. Her stories about all this are many and varied… most of them with a humorous twist of one sort or another.
B and I are different as far as remembering things. She stays busier during the day than I, dealing with “life right now.” I, on the other hand, spend much of my days writing, reflecting and listening to music. This is the reality for many of us over 70… we’re tired, especially if we’ve lived a full life. “The golden years” are suddenly a reality, and here we are, smack dab in the middle of them. The trick to making these years truly golden is to be a relatively good health and to have lived a full and fruitful life. As I said earlier, there is no satisfaction to be found in memories of 30 + years of cubicles that never lead to the corner office. There can be pride in the “cubicle memories,” of course, if those cubicle years supported a family and put a kid or two through college. A healthy pride in what we did with our lives becomes increasingly important as we grow old. For me, however, it’s the little details of so many of those special moments in life that help keep my memory roaming.
One Simple Tune, A Ton Of Memories
Yesterday, for instance, I was listening to an old track of mine that I’d recorded back in the early ’80’s – an original song called Don’t You Think It’s Time, on the headphones. For some reason I tuned into the bass part, played by Ricky Keller. It was flawless, seamless, and played in 3 completely different styles, depending upon where he was in the song. And it helped the song so much! I started thinking about Ricky, about all the sessions we played together during those fine years, about what a quality person he was, about how much fun it was to work with him. Ricky was exceptionally bright and intuitive. Musically, he was incredibly versatile and played with many different groups over the years. he was well-respected by the best musicians in Atlanta, and was the first-call bassist for most sessions in town. He played electric bass, I never saw him play an upright, and would guess he never played acoustic bass. But on electric he was a killer!
Over time someone (maybe Jim Ellis) nicknamed him “Snick Bass.” I never knew why that particular name, but it stuck. Ricky became a good composer in his own right, and finally started his own recording studio, which did very well for a time. Ricky died in 2003, at the age of 51. Google Ricky Keller and you’ll see all the things he did in his short lifetime and how many people he supported and helped along the way.
Also on that track are super musicians Yon Rico Scott on drums and ( I think…) Bill Hatcher on guitar. There are a ton of musical “hits” in this song, accents that have to be played in sync by the rhythm players. These guys nailed every one of them and helps them sound natural and smooth. How lucky I was to be able to work with that immense talent! Steve Davis was the audio engineer on that piece, and also did an incredible job.
See How That Works?
One simple tune, an impeccable bass part, and I began remembering good sessions, and good times for well over an hour… and then decided to write about it! Bet you all wish you’d been musicians, right? Just kidding. Well, sort of.