My skin shifted on the sticky leather car seat as it curved left onto Main Street in the dinky town I would eventually call home for twenty years. It being only my eighth year into my run, though, I had yet to learn about the dangerous adventures I could encounter outside the reaches of my mom’s Pinto.
The car speakers bellowed the chorus from “Magic Carpet Ride” by Steppenwolf through the dusty plastic speakers by my legs. Listening to the oldies station was still new to me, not having a history of thirty years with the song like my mom had. She kept the station on, though, and I sang along as if it was new. The song transitioned into the part when things get fuzzy and weird, the organ player going wild on his instrument while the guitar wailed in the background, clearly following no script. Later in life, I would skip over this stupid mayhem due to impatience and having had years of listening to it already, but now, in this car, it was fresh. The organ played on with persistence, and after the first thirty seconds, I asked my mother something I never question the validity of until I became a teenager a few years later.
“Why does the song have this long, boring part in it? All it is is them playing the organ over and over and it’s not interesting or fun to listen to at all.” I didn’t know much about the music business, but it seemed like someone would have noticed how long and boring the three and ½ minute jam session would be to listeners and would have given it the axe it before it was sent out into the world.
My mother looked over at me, no doubt trying to figure out how to answer. She opened her mouth to speak:
“In the sixties, when this song was first released, the organ had just been invented,” she informed me. “People were…really excited…about this invention, and how they were able to include it in their music, so they played the organ in songs like this to show off their talent for the instrument” she lied. I looked at my mom quizzically. She looked back at me. I turned and faced forward.
This actually made perfect sense to me. I had taken piano lessons just a few years prior, and could understand how someone would love an instrument so much that they really wanted to show off their talent. I knew nothing of acid trips and the kind of effects it had on ones judgment of terrible music. In my clean mind I imagined the band members with their large afros (this was all I knew about fashion from the past—everyone had afros, no matter the decade) sitting around in chairs during a creative session in some anonymous studio, discovering the kind of sounds they could create with the organ. “Yeah, man! Listen to that! Wow, you really have a talent for that instrument! We should have an organ solo at the end of that new song to show all those other bands out there how better we are at playing the organ than them!” And then, in my mind, all the band members gave each other high-fives.
This answer appeased me, for the time being.
Years into the future, driving home from a punk show late at night, “Magic Carpet Ride” made its timeless appearance in my life once again. “….close your eyes, girl, look inside, girl, let the sound take you away….” The organ solo starts up again. I reach out to change the channel, but then stop. That conversation with my mom comes back to my memory, and I realized I had been duped. My mom just didn’t want me to know that these dudes were all on drugs! I pounded my palm on the steering wheel. The organ has been around way longer than the 1960’s. My mother is such a liar!
This really was the moment I realized that parents really had to lie to their young children in order to keep them from being exposed to the dark world too early in life. After thinking about it for a moment, it actually seemed humorous that my mom would make up that specific lie for my prying question. When I asked my mom about what she remembers saying about the history of the organ, all she did was laugh and say “I said that to you, really?”