Remember when you used to sit and listen to music with your headphones on, the 12″ x 12″ album cover in your hands as you went track to track? You’d be mesmerized by the cover art. You’d study the liner notes. You’d follow along if the lyrics were printed on the cover. After a few days, you’d know every song by heart.
No. Most of you don’t remember because that was before your time.
But back to our story.
The festival was over. The boys were planning for a fall.
Something’s up. Then we’re introduced to the ringleader.
He was standing in the doorway, looking like the Jack of Hearts.
Back in the golden age of vinyl, songs didn’t have be under three minutes. And everyone knew that serious music, serious songs, ran at least five minutes. Those were the songs you never wanted to end. American Pie comes to mind. Chicago’s Ballet for a Girl from Buchannon ran a glorious thirteen minutes.
Backstage the girls were playing five card stud by the stairs.
Lily drew two queens, she was hoping for a third to match her pair.
It was always best if you were alone. Total absorption into the music.
Big Jim was no one’s fool, he owned the town’s only diamond mine.
If you wanted to hear a track again, you’d have to wait. You can’t (or shouldn’t) pick up the tone arm and place the stylus in the same groove that had just played. You’d risk distorting the vinyl and degrading the sound quality. You had to let the grooves cool.
Rosemary combed her hair and took a carriage into town.
You had to let the grooves cool.
You couldn’t wait to play the song again, but you had to. Made you want to hear it that much more.
The hanging judge came in unnoticed and was being wined and dined.
The drilling in the wall kept up, but no one seemed to pay it any mind.
And those songs would tell a story as good as anything you ever read in a book. No music videos, you had to paint the scene in your head. You were the casting agent, the set and costume designer, the director. It was all yours. You just had to follow along.
The story I’ve been telling is a Bob Dylan classic, Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts, more than eight minutes long. It had hidden in my memory until it came up on my Pandora station during a four-hour trip yesterday. It’s a great driving song.
I won’t tell you what happens. If you want to know, click the link below. But wait until you can listen without distraction. It’s just better that way.
She was thinking about her father, who she very rarely saw.
She was thinking about Rosemary, she was thinking about the law.
But most of all, she was thinking about the Jack of Hearts.