40 plus years down the line from the first things that I loved that told me maybe, just maybe, there was another world outside the farm. So I still believe Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves is the greatest pop song ever recorded. It carried me away from the narrow walls of my bedroom, away from the disapproving looks of my father. On to my feet I would slide my incredible black clogs – clogs that no one else had. Clogs I had seen in a mall window and had miraculously made my own. Dangling my feet over the bed, I would put on my big black headphones, drape one of my mom’s scarves over the light bulb for ‘mood’, and turn on my music. With the headphones over my ears, I could escape all the pressures of trying to be the perfect boy for my family.
It took so much energy to bury my true self – and I had buried that true self so deep that I didn’t even recognize it. But in 2 minutes and 36 seconds of pop perfection, I was far away, sitting in the wagon of a traveling show. And in putting on those headphones and knowing every word, I was being my true self. That was the true Eddie. If your a child of the 70’s- admit it – you know every word, and sing along every time you hear it. You rode along in that wagon, too. I dare you to not smile.
And if I could truly turn back time – well, I’d tell that little boy whose father told him he’d have a lifetime of misery if he continued down the path of just being himself – I’d tell that little boy to hang on. I’d tell him a change is coming. I’d tell him he would have a happy ending. But even more, I’d tell him he’d find a happy beginning.
That 45 meant so much to me. Cher’s throaty and androgynous voice was a new kind of exotic – dark, mysterious, and filled with the promise of escape. Her sound was like truth coming over the record player – there was world that wasn’t about conformity. A world that didn’t need another perfect little boy – it needed truth and honesty and celebration in all its forms. It needed me to be myself. I needed me to be myself.
I brought that 45 to a church youth group party once. We had been told we could bring any music we wanted. When my turn came to play ‘my music’ I suddenly sensed that my 45 might not be welcome. I felt the mood among the adults shift and change. And there it was – the disapproving look that I saw so often. Reverend Bierce came over to me and said sternly “That music isn’t appropriate.” I took the record off the player, got my coat and left. Off I went to Ma-Maw’s where I could play that song to my heart’s content.
Sometimes the things you love come back around in unexpected ways. Alger House, New York City, March 31st, 2012. My wedding day. The music trio begins to play a slow, haunting, and melodic version of Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves. I smile to myself. One of my girlfriends turns to me and says, “What is that song? I love it!” She’s just young enough to not recognize it – a different generation. I tell her the name of the song and am immediately transported to my own younger days, listening to it in my room, never imagining it playing at my own wedding. It was now truly a different world.
And I’m happy to know what happiness is, and can be. Early on, Jeff told me to ‘stop trying to be perfect! Put that energy into being happy!”. What better advice could there be? Thanks, Honey….
Being tolerated is for toothaches. Instead, surround yourself with people who celebrate you for being authentic. For being you. And in turn, you celebrate them for the same reason.
So I celebrate what I love. I celebrate the continuity and surprise in all things. I saw an older gentleman on the subway recently in a pair of black clogs. They looked so familiar. They would look good on someone from a traveling show. And they made me smile.Read More