Hop Heads

It was a hot summer’s day. I put on the Jimi Hendrix LP my brother & I had chipped in to buy. I was trying to play my flute along with the wild music of “Stone Free.”

After just one song, Dad came down to the den and told me to turn the volume down. It was up to 11! 

That guy is a genius but like every jazz musician, he’s a hophead. All great musicians get on drugs or become alcoholics.”

Why, Daddy?”

Their brains run too fast. They need drugs to cool themselves down. Like Poe took laudnum.”

If Hendrix is a genius, why can’t I listen to him? I’m trying to play along.”
I held up my silver Bundy. I aspired to become a first chair flautist in George J. Horan’s symphonic band.

You can play anything you put your mind to but don’t get on drugs like him.”

Dad went back upstairs to read the Washington Post. I thought about being born a genius musician or writer & getting addicted to drugs & alcohol. I was fifteen. I had never drunk a whole beer. Bob & I tasted leftover cocktails while cleaning up our parents’ party messes. But we both made horrible faces and wondered how the heck grown-ups could stand such putrid stuff.

So I went outside, wandered into the woods and played my flute as I strolled through the oaks, maples & summer flowers. Notes came to me from trees, sky and birds. I was lost in music. Stone Free. I needed no friends, nothing but my flute and Mother Nature.

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