I turned on my Ipod this morning, picking up the shuffle from yesterday where it left off. The first full song I hear is Jethro Tull, Acres Wild from his CD Heavy Horses. Jethro Tull triggers a few memories of growing up. I think of Aqualung and the creepy face my mom would make when we would break out in those rare moments of terribly off key family sing along. The next thing that comes to mind would be the album Heavy Horses, my overall favorite for obvious reasons, and one song specifically. And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps. Not one of his greater known works and perhaps not his greatest, given the grand finale tapers with sounds akin to the hacking of a hairball, but a song I love, again for obvious reasons.
I believe it was our sophomore year of high school, it was definitely English class. There were four of us bent on misbehaving as much as possible that year, our instructor was a bit soft around the edges and the four of us together combined in such a way the word ‘inappropriate’ did us no justice. One of our merrily inappropriate four was not much longer for this world, so this memory is one I think of often and try not to lose as I continue to make more.
The story starts with Deep Purple, Knocking At Your Back Door. We decided it would be fun to ask our teacher what ‘cunnilingus’ meant, just to see if she’d answer. Yes, we knew the lyrics were really ‘cunning linguist’, but we all sang it the way we sang it, be honest. She stumbled over the question for a minute, gave us an awkward, vanilla explanation and asked why we wanted to know. We heard it in a rock and roll song, of course! So began a half hour tirade about how rock and roll song lyrics are garbage and have no artistic value, etc. There exists no less close minded assertion in life than the gross generalization of something. I wanted to make a point, but realized Deep Purple was not the best example for a counter argument, although they should get credit for their creative play on words described above. As it often does, opportunity knocked. The class’s next assignment was a creative poem. I opened that door.
Enter my buddy Jethro and the Mouse Police. Before you cry plagiarism, I did write an original creative poem which I submitted along with the lyrics to Mouse Police. I handed in two assignments and asked her to grade both. She did not know in advance one poem was not my original nor did she recognize the prose of the great Jethro Tull for what it was. She believed both papers were my original work when she graded them.
My original poem received an A-, a very respectable grade. Jethro received an A+++ and verbal praise during which I believe the word amazing was tossed about. She was curious why I had bothered with the pesky A- version of my assignment since Mouse Police was so on point. Spoiler Alert. I explained to her the poem she loved so much was, in fact, the lyrics to rock and roll song. Descriptive, beautiful, well considered prose which painted a picture in my mind and forever changed how I’ve come to view cats, Mouse Police remains to me the epitome of the creative poem. In my opinion, Heavy Horses is one of the most beautifully written albums I’ve had the pleasure to hear. Yes, I am biased because it’s all about nature and animals, but it’s still some incredible, descriptive writing.
Our teacher had to acquiesce and she went so far as to retract her rant from the day before and accept the existence of artistic value in rock and roll music. I received an A- on my assignment and a warning never to copy from others in the future, full disclosure or not, and a big smile for a point well made.
Aqualung is still one creepy notch below clowns, evil or otherwise. But as I skate away on the thin of ice of a new day riding a heavy horse across acres wild, I will work hard not to be thick as a brick. Sometimes, the sweetest part of the day springs upward from the imagery someone else plants in your mind. Today, I’m thankful for the things which take me away when I can’t afford to go anywhere and don’t have enough vodka in the house to drink myself someplace new.
Side note: We eventually disrupted this class to the extent she felt she must banish us to the hallway for the remainder of the semester. There are more stories here, another day, perhaps?
RIP my dear friend Shawn Lytle. Maker of trouble and fun, you are forever missed by so many. I still have that Zeppelin T and I can still conjure the image of you wearing my fancy top while we watched your Beta’s fight to the death.