Sometime not long after my high school graduation I was studying at Michigan State University when my long-time girlfriend dumped me. I entered such a state of depression that I could not continue in college. So I dropped out and decided to hit the road with Chris Kingsley, my best friend in the world. Chris had much more experience of life on the road than I did, had actually hitched to New York City and back several times. He knew the ropes. He is a singer/songwriter and plays guitar and keyboards. The man is one of the cleverest lyricists I know. He can write a song about anything, and it’s usually funny.
We caught a ride just outside of Fort Worth and twenty-four hours later, after speeds up to 120 miles per hour, we were let off at the corner of Haight and Stanyan streets in San Francisco, just in time for the Summer of Love, which we had never heard of. That evening we ate free boiled chicken necks at a place called the Diggers, and chanted Indian mantras with Allen Ginsberg. (Ginsberg made a pass at Chris.) That night we slept in an abandoned Victorian house on Masonic Street called “The British Embassy,” and smoked marijuana (my first time) with a bunch of Hell’s Angels. It was a crash course in being on the road, and in being a hippie, a term we both heard for the first time that day.
During the next crazy years Chris saved my life a couple of times. We kept each other sane. And all that time, Chris was playing music and writing songs. So far he has not established much of a presence on YouTube, but I hope that is about to change. A few days ago he sent me this video of a new song, a bit more serious and dark than most of what he writes. After listening to it a few times, I realized that what it reminds me of is some early Dylan, songs like “Desolation Row.”
I just had to pass on the link. I mean, what are friends for? I hope you enjoy “Gothic Dreams.”
© 2015 by John Varley; all rights reserved